Oversized hawk head?

Discussion in 'Accoutrements' started by SacramentoJohnson, Nov 3, 2018.

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  1. Nov 3, 2018 #1

    SacramentoJohnson

    SacramentoJohnson

    SacramentoJohnson

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    Hi all!
    A friend in Illinois sent me what he called a very large old "camp axe', but when I received it today, I realize it is put together like a very large tomahawk. It looks to be forged. The blade width is 5 3/4 inches, the length from edge to back end is 8 1/4 inches. The handle is obviously hand made of dark brown hard wood and 31 inches long There are no visible maker's marks, rather a good coating of rust (only some of which I was able to remove). I'll try to get a pic up tomorrow. I've never seen a large 'axe' made like this. Is this something anyone else has seen or heard of? Thanks!
     
  2. Nov 3, 2018 #2

    Artificer

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    If the handle is round and tapers down away from the head, then you almost certainly have one of the old H&B Forge 18th Century Axes. I bought one in the 1970's and while the head is good, the handle makes it VERY difficult to control with the round shape. Always meant to rehandle that axe with a handle that went from round at the head to oval as it went down towards the grip end, but just never got around to it.

    Gus
     
  3. Nov 3, 2018 #3

    Artificer

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    P.S. I should have taken the measurement of the hole in the head to get a replacement handle. I ran across spare Mattock or Pick Axe handles that may/probably would have fit, but didn't have the measurements on me when I ran across them. Either of these two types of spare handles often have a large enough top to fit to the round shape in the axe blade, but then taper down to the oval shape that is SO MUCH MORE controllable when using the axe.

    Gus
     
  4. Nov 3, 2018 #4

    SacramentoJohnson

    SacramentoJohnson

    SacramentoJohnson

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    The handle is oval the entire length. There are some splits lengthwise in it; I suspect if this were to be used, a new handle would be in order.
    Can you post a pic of the H&B Forge 18th Century Axe?
     
  5. Nov 3, 2018 #5

    Artificer

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    Sorry, I don't have a computer capable camera and H&B Forge stopped selling the axe I'm referring to long ago, so to my knowledge, there is no photo link on the web.

    Is the hole in your axe hex round? It still may be the same axe, if so, and someone may have already put a new handle on it.

    Gus
     
  6. Nov 4, 2018 #6

    necchi

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    Yeah, it's an axe. What we know as "tomahawk" is/was called a "half-axe".
    Now we could get into the whole language thing again about "toma-a-hach" meaning a tool used with hands that cuts,, or just plain trade records about axes and half axes,,
    "shrug"?
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2018
  7. Nov 4, 2018 #7

    Dave Orchard

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    I was given an original "over-size hawk head" by a good friend many years ago.
    It is almost certainly a colonial period full-size AXE.
    I mistakenly hafted it short like a tomahawk.

    Even w/tomahawks I block plane or crooked knife "flats" on each side of the handle to "index" it in my hand to keep from tipping the blade off-line of my throw or chop.

    Good luck learning what design handle will make your repro usable like the originals had to have been:)
    Dave
     
  8. Nov 4, 2018 #8

    SacramentoJohnson

    SacramentoJohnson

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    axe 4.jpg Here's a few pics:
    axe 1.jpg axe 2.jpg axe 3.jpg
     
  9. Nov 4, 2018 #9

    Artificer

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    OK, I am pretty sure that is not an H & B Forge 18th century axe, that they no longer make.

    Is that leather between the round eye of the axe head and the handle?

    Definitely a hand made handle. Not sure why it is shaped like that. Maybe the owner wanted a smaller handle for more spring?
    http://axeconnected.blogspot.com/2011/02/devolution-of-axe-handles.html

    FWIW, 18th century axe handles were usually straight.

    If it were mine, I would sharpen the blade and try it out. If the head held a good edge, I would replace the handle for use with a straight handle and flatten the sides of the handle more for better control. Oh, I would take the leather out of the eye in the axe head, if that is what is there, before fitting a new handle.

    Gus
     
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  10. Nov 5, 2018 #10

    Loyalist Dave

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    It's hand forged but I wonder if we shouldn't cue the Sitar-music? o_O

    LD
     
  11. Nov 5, 2018 #11

    Black Hand

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    I've seen similar for sale at the Ft Union trading post - looks like an over-sized tomahawk, but is a full size axe instead.
     
  12. Nov 5, 2018 #12

    Artificer

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    Maybe there is something I don't understand about the way the handle curves? It looks to me like it is backwards, if one even wanted a curved handle? That handle as it is attached to the head, just looks like an accident waiting to happen because the strike of the blade seems like it could easily bounce off the wood, rather than biting into it?

    Gus
     
  13. Nov 6, 2018 #13

    Black Hand

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    I'd rather the handle curved towards the blade than away (much like a modern axe handle curves towards the blade). Either way, I suspect the curve is due to drying of the wood pulling it to the stronger side (much like a board warps to the stronger side as it dries) or it was purposely made curved to mimic a modern handle. An axe like this should have a straight handle if made according to period pieces.
     
  14. Nov 6, 2018 #14

    Artificer

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    If you are referring to the modern classic "bent" or "fawn leg" handle, then I have to politely disagree. The top handle in this link is that shape and it doesn't curve anything like the handle on this axe.
    http://www.tennesseehickoryproducts.com/products.shtml

    If one draws an imaginary straight line through the center of the eye of this axe, it shows the handle curves hugely towards the bit. That combined with the angle of the cutting edge, looks to me like even a slight mistake in swinging this axe would cause it to bounce back towards the person using the axe.

    After sharpening this axe, I would never attempt a full swing with the axe handle bent or shaped this way. I might grip it close to the head to see how well it cuts with short chopping cuts, but that's all I would do until I replaced the handle.

    Gus
     
  15. Nov 7, 2018 #15

    necchi

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    Gus,, it's not rocket science, it's a bent piece of a poorly installed rather green wooden branch from a tree.
    Who ever did it at least tried.
     
  16. Nov 7, 2018 #16

    Artificer

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    I mentioned what I did about the poor handle as both because it is historically inaccurate and I believe a safety problem, should the OP try to use it with that handle.

    Gus
     

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