In the last post I explained my reasoning behind the various ways that the grain can be oriented in an axe handle. However if the handle is straight then it makes no difference and any of the methods I described would work, you could even steam some curved branch wood straight if you really fancied a challenge.
Archive | 2013
The course went well. We had two forges, two anvils and six students, I decided that we would have Dave and Tom making axes using the coke forge, and Dick, Angus, Mark and Peter making adzes on the gas forge, it sounds unfair but as the gas forge holds the steel at a constant temperature it is possible to have more than one adze being heated at once, in the workshop I will typically run three blanks in the gas forge, this way as soon as I have finished forging one blank I can pull another one out and immediately start on that, there is no down time waiting for a piece to come up to heat, having many irons in the fire. At Tyntesfied we ran one axe in the coke fire against two adzes in the gas forge.
I broke the process down into stages and demonstrated with Rob striking for me. Next, everyone paired up and would forge to the same stage, then the director and striker would swap places. This way everyone got to experience every process, and if all went well I wouldn’t have to take over at any stage.
Although the starting stages of making an axe and adze are identical they obviously diverge at some point and generally Rob looked after Dave and Tom on the axes and I concentrated on the other two pairs on the adzes. I took some photos but they were totally eclipsed by this set that Peter took.
Although I did help out at a few stages some of the adzes were completely untouched by me, so brilliant efforts all round, it was quite an effort to transplant all the equipment needed to a Marquee 170 miles away but the results, as you can see were definitely worth it.
I spent the best part of a week getting ready for an axe and adze making workshop I was running ar Tyntesfield for the Sommerset Bodgers. Originally I was asked just to make axes, however some pictures I posted recently of adzes made on a course at my workshop had over half the participants jumping ship and wanting to make adzes. In a way this is more difficult as I need to teach making two different tools rather than one, but then with Rob along to help out it won’t be so difficult to split the group. Adzes are quicker to forge, but take longer to do the final finishing which may help to spread the load, or, if I don’t get timings right make for a big crush to get to the grinder. One thing is certain though, as I already have one set of tools for making axes and one for making adzes I needed to make less extra tooling up for the course. There are going to be 6 participants so I will need multiple sets, luckily not six, as everyone will pair up taking it in turns to strike for their partner.
Firstly the starting point.
From the left:
1. A section of EN9 Tool steel that I will make a fuller for, this will be for spreading the steel in one direction to shape it, the action is similar to that of a rolling pin on pastry.
2. A chisel that was hurriedly rolled up to make into a gouge at a show, this needs flattening and resharpening as it will be needed for marking the steel stock prior to slitting it.
3. A Large sledge hammer head that I want to reshape, in axe forging a find weight is really important, especially as I tend to use heavy drifts, a light hammer really struggles with these.
4. a section of silver( tool) steel that I will make a slitting tool with, this isn’t really thick enough and will be upset under my power hammer to increase the section width around the eye.
5. An axe eye drift that has suffered over the summer show season, just needs reshaping and smoothing.
6. Adze eye drift that needs similar work.
7. A section of mild steel that I will use to make a couple of pairs of tongs up with.
8 and 9 A section of EN9 Tool steel that I will use to make a fuller tool that will fit in the anvil that is available at Tyntsefield. The section next to it is a failled axe head in mild steel, this will be the section that fits in the hardy ( square ) hole of the anvil.
I started with the tool steels that needed forging first, I was in a real hurry and kept telling myself not to dwell on aesthetic beauty in these tools. as it was they turned out even and went quickly, but in forge work this often goes hand in hand. from the left:
1. The marking chisel
2. The silver steel slitting sett.
3. EN9 fuller top tool
4. En9 Fuller bottom ( anvil ) tool.
Then on to the tongs- these were a joy to forge, mild steel is so much easier to forge than tool steels, especially by hand, and tongs do need a fair amount of hand forging, although a lot of the heavy work can be done under the power hammer. In woodworking terms you could compare the tongs to fresh birch, the tool steels to seasoned ash.
1. These will be used for gripping inside the eye of an axe or adze.
2. A pair that can be used to grip rectangular or square section steel. These work best over quite a narrow size range so I have lots of tongs in different sizes, these are going to be sized to hold the steel bar that the adzes will be forged from.
And the finished set.
2. Drifts were easily smoothed out.
3. Fuller (bottom) tool fitted to my anvil, will be a loose fit in the Tyntesfield anvil ( a few wraps of duct tape cures many problems and this will not be an exception)
4. Chisel – has been heat treated and sharpened now.
5. Hammer – With a very rough handle fitted, despite saying that weight was important I decided that this could afford to lose a pound or so as it was nearly 7 pounds, made sense not to forge the pein on in this instance as the goal was to lose weight not preserve it. Cut away with an angle grinder and shaped on the linisher.
6. Fuller tool- this has a very small radius and will shape the steel quickly, these are not swung but struck with a sledge hammer, so the handles can be even cruder than the hammer.
7. Slitting tool, similar useage so similar handle, I had been told that you should leave the heads loose on tools like this to reduce the chance of breaking the handles, but after spending the summer continuously correcting wobbling heads I decided to fit them more securely, not a great loss if the handles do break.
8. Tongs for holding an axe or adze securely from the poll, allows the blade to be inline with the tongs which makes it easier to keep things straight and balanced.
9. Tongs for holding adze stock these will either hold across the flats of the bar, but as I have forged the jaws into a right angle section they will hold much more securely if rotated 45 deg to hold across the corners.
And that is hopefully all the extra tooling I will need for the course, its not finished to the level of my usual work, but I am happy that they will do what I need them to.