Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Small Tool Axe

Although this hardly matches the work I am seeing other artisan smiths exhibit of late...

This is a 'Norse styled' small tool axe, which I finished the rough forging on yesterday:

Small tool axe - shown life sized
The construction style is from a later period, in that it is made of one piece folded back on itself and welded to create the eye. This shows most clearly in the top view. The sides of the eye and back peen are roughly 1/2 the thickness of the base of the blade (just forward the eye).

I would refer readers to a couple of earlier posts on Norse axes :

3/4 view - enlarged version
Side view - enlarged
Top view, showing thickness variations - enlarged
This small axe has the measurements:
- total 18 cm long,
- blade is 7.5 cm
- the base of the blade is 1.5 cm thick x 4 cm wide
- the eye is  about 3 cm long x 2.5 cm wide x 4.2 cm tall
- as rough forged the weight is 695 gm (expect some loss with final shaping and sharpening)
The blade has an inset carbon steel wedge welded in. (The small surface crack seen mid way along the fold and weld will be ground out when the finished profile grinding is undertaken).
The eye has been reshaped (via drifting and hammering over the drift) to closer to the correct D profile. There is a slight point drawn down to the bottom side of the eye, while the top line is left straight. 

Group of Viking Axe axes, weapons to the rear, two tool axes at the front
Jim Austin is who I would consider has given the most thought and practical experimentation into the actual blacksmithing problems related to creating Norse axes :

Looking at the artifacts, you clearly see the difference in shapes between the small tool axe (likely intended as a splitting axe, given the shape) and my forging.
Jim and Jeff Pringle have been able to look at a number of heavily corroded artifact samples (not the nice clean 'perfect' ones usually on display like those above!). The corroded axes clearly show the welding lines. This indicates the two main production methods use by the Norse were:
- cut to Y and fold for peen
- draw and profile bar end, fold and lap weld at base of blade / eye

If Jim's original work had any limits, it was that he was (understandably) working with modern mild steel, and also using (very) modern tools (gas forges / large anvils and vices / power hammers).
There are two cautions here:
- First is the dynamic of working with a bloomery / wrought iron, which has pronounced grain and potential failure lines. If anything however, Jim's methods *reduce* those potential problems over other possible production methods. (Especially the use of the 'split and drift' method I have used in the past (see the Norse Tool Axes reference above).
- Second is the limits imposed by actually available Norse blacksmithing tools. This is a thorny problems for two reasons :
- The available tool sets are limited number, and primarily intended as grave goods (so may or may not represent actual 'working' tool sets). It should be remembered the old axim 'Absence of proof - is NOT proof of absence'.
- Norse smiths *obviously* were fully able to utilize both the ,split and lap, and  ' draw profile and lap' methods - and extremely well as the artifacts prove. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Day and Night

This is not about iron or the Norse either.

Here at Wareham, I have squirrels in the attic.
(Some might say *I* show 'squirrels in the attic', but that is another matter.)
It sure beats raccoons in the attic.
(I also have skunks denning under the house foundation from the workshop, but yet again...)

Now, I kind of like the red squirrels. They really don't do that much damage upstairs, mainly coming in through small holes that more are less there already. Piles of pine cones, but not that hard to clean those up once a year. (Again, not like raccoons. Who are horribly destructive. And filthy. And toxic.)

There look to be a pair of red squirrels. They don't co-operate with each other. They do manage to pretty quickly empty the bird feeder.
(Sorry for the image quality. These shot with a zoom lens from the other side of a glass door.)

One night last winter, I was surprised by one of *these* little guys!
I had to double check to be sure, but it turns out these are flying squirrels.
Saw this just once last winter, but several times this season so far:

(Again, image shot through the glass, using a flash this time.)
You can see that there are in fact *two* of them, nicely sharing the feeder. A breeding pair? I can sure hope so.
These are the first flying squirrels I am certain of seeing ever before. I'd like to encourage them to take up residence and stick around.

Of course the problem there is that the raccoons *also* have known about this feeder for generations now. I've taken to taking the feeder in at night to stop those bastards. (Who are 'trap smart', as are the skunks.)

Thursday, January 08, 2015

...and now for something completely different.

" Quite tasty, smokey, a bit sweet. And of course, an appropriate name. "
Suggested by Vandy...

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

' I heard it through the (on) line... '

I just realised that I have a number of past presentations at Forward Into the Past available on the FITP web site:

FITP XXIII - 6 April 2013

The Cutting Edge : Considering Blades (slides)
'll Huff and I'll Puff - Observations on Air Delivery in Bloomery Iron Furnaces (slides)

FITP XXII - 31 March 2012

Designing an Interpretive Program
Experimental Vikings - Vinland Iron Smelt

FITP XXI - 2 April 2011

Basic Blacksmithing

FITP XX - 27 March 2010

Smelting in Vinland 

Most of these are pdf versions of the powerpoint presentations. So what you will get is the images and the main talking points.

Thanks to Neil Peterson - who undertook the work of converting and publishing.

(Note - the contents of all of these are strictly © Darrell Markewitz. I do apologise for images I used that were sourced off the general internet )

February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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