Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I wanted this AXE

(so I took it from a dead Saxon! No, wait a minute THAT'S a different situation...)

" Could you give me a price quote on a bearded axe the head weighting 2-3lbs,blade 4".I have included a picture of how i would like it to look but off course you can give you suggestions. "

What is in your image is a mass produced commercial 'hatchet' weight axe. ( I think I may actually have one around here some place. ) It is an investment cast head, lower carbon content steel. This means inexpensive, but not such a great tool. The edge bevel is also set for splitting, not for fine slicing. This size and shape is supposed to be for fine woodworking, not chopping kindling.

I did some fast Google searching using that image as the reference. What I found pretty matched my memory. The axe seen above sells for something around $50. (Admittedly, the description at Axminster Tools in the UK does state 'laminated steel blade' : cost 35 GBP / $55 CDN)

You are also asking to have the weight increased considerably - and with that I would expect the size of the handle. So actually a full sized axe - originally intended for timber finishing (ship building / house construction).

Now, I made up a set of replica working tools for L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC two years back. There are commentaries here :
Norse Woodworking Axes
VA Ship Tools - Adze & Broadaxe

The *correct* way to make the tool you are asking for is to take a heavy piece of metal, which is then cut back and spread, then folded over and welded to make the peen. (See the excellent set of tutorials by Jim Austin & Jeff Pringle.) On the blade side, it should have a carbon steel edge welded on, either cut and inserted (better) or lap welded. Note that the pictured axe has neither!

In the excellent Gransfors 'Ancient' line, the closest available is the 'Bearded Axe with Eye-Socket' (Note that your sample is a stripped down and reduced size, mass produced version of the Gransfors, which itself is just one interpretation of the original object prototype samples). This full sized version has a punched eye however. Remember that even Gransfors is tooled up to use shaped dies on power hammers to allow for mass production.
Cost of the Gransfors runs about $365 US +

For me to hand forge & weld up a proper working tool axe, based on the artifact profile, and in the 2 - 3 lb range you ask for, the cost is going to be about the same. Quote is $350 CDN.

50% non refundable deposit secures the order (into the work cycle here) Balance due before shipping. Does not include shipping costs, taxes inside Canada. Should be duty free under NAFTA.

Some notes to potential customers:
- I always run a fast Google search on any 'can you make one like this' request.
- First, outside of obvious historic objects, I will not duplicate some other artist's original designs.
- Second, Don't bother to price shop. I'm not at all likely to be cheaper. In most cases, anything mass produced is likely to have lower quality, and I do not have the 'economy of scale' available that comes from specialized tooling and set ups that allow fast bulk manufacture.
- Third, I may not be any faster than anyone else. Speed of completion of a specific order depends on just what else is already in the schedule. Normally larger, higher $$ value projects take precedence over small orders. The fastest turn overs are Spring and Fall. (Winter its too damn cold - Summer I'm on the road.)

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

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