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Building a Frame Saw
Forging a Copper Kettle
Making a pair of leather work boots
Forging and Fletching a Bodkin
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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Examinaton of a Medieval Axe

Last week I was afforded the opportunity to visit the Oakeshott museum in Minneapolis and handle a number of artefacts there. Although unable to see may of Oakeshott's typographic swords, there were several other interesting pieces on hand. One of which, which I will now detail, is a curious axe from the late medieval period.

This axe is peculiar in that it challenges everything I know about the evolution of the axe as a tool. A combination of its weight, dimensions, and proportions make for a tool that I cannot quite figure out. In the time of its creation, it was more common to split larger timbers with the aid of wooden wedges, which were easier to make, cheaper, and more readily available than the use of their handled metal counterparts. That is not to say that splitting axes did not exist, but this one in particular is strangely thick and heavy for its age. It was not until later development of iron making technology that the liberal use of material in common tools became more readily practised. However, I am by no means a historian, so I will refrain from making any more commentary on what I think on the matter.

Length of eye, underside
Width of eye, top, edge side
Width of eye, underside, edge side
Thickness of the poll, both langets, and width of the eye at the poll were consistent between both sides of the axe. On the edge side of the eye, the disparity of the width is likely due to corrosion that seems to have travelled about 7/8 of the way up from the bottom, leaving only the top undistorted. No visible weld seam suggests the eye was slit and drifted to the final shape along with the development of the langets. 

Width of eye at poll
Width of langet, top
Width of poll
At some point in the future, I may recreate this axe to better understand the need for such a thick poll and blunt geometry of the edge. 

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