New Iron Age socketed axe

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New Iron Age socketed axe

Postby Ben Abbott on October 20th, 2009, 5:07 pm

I've always wanted to make myself one of these ever since I found out that this style of socketed axe was made in iron, and survived well into the 1st century AD in Britain. I have an archaeological report that shows the roughly 12 axes that had been found at the time (early 1970s, I believe). The iron part his one fits within the size variations that they saw. The socket is made from wrought iron, and the edge is made from a tough tool steel. The handle is made of ash, and it is all lashed together with rawhide. What do you think?
-Otuell
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Re: New Iron Age socketed axe

Postby Terry Sebolt on October 20th, 2009, 7:58 pm

That looks really cool. Any chance of getting a full picture, with the complete handle?
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Re: New Iron Age socketed axe

Postby Clinton Wiltse on October 20th, 2009, 8:46 pm

Terry, zoom your browser out.
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Re: New Iron Age socketed axe

Postby Wenzel Ribbens on October 20th, 2009, 11:54 pm

Or just try to view the image itself: http://www.ligo.caltech.edu/~babbott/ho ... ff/axe.JPG

Can you give the source of that kind of handle? I'd love to see it ^^
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Re: New Iron Age socketed axe

Postby Dave Budd on October 21st, 2009, 2:53 am

nice axe :)

you don't see many of the more complete socketed axes constructed, I've seen a few of the really small ones that don't have the loop and the socket is not closed up.

I made one of those for a customer to try a few years ago and it wasn't a fun project I have to admit, but that could've been partly because he wanted the largest one in the collection of papers he gave me: it weighed almost 4lbs!
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Re: New Iron Age socketed axe

Postby Andrew Malcolm on October 21st, 2009, 8:50 am

Im inspired!
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Re: New Iron Age socketed axe

Postby Ben Abbott on October 21st, 2009, 11:18 am

Wenzel Ribbens wrote:Can you give the source of that kind of handle? I'd love to see it ^^

I have never seen an extant handle for a socketed axe. There is that Halstatt pick-axe thingy that has a crooked handle like mine, but it is a pallstave head instead of a socketed one. All of the reconstructions of socketed axes and adzes (bronze and iron) that I have seen have a handle of similar shape to mine, but that's not primary evidence, by any means. There must be some existing example of a socketed axe with its handle in place somewhere. One of the axe heads in the archeological journal I got these from had a fragment of ash in it from the handle, but not enough to show the overall handle shape. This handle is more of a mock-up than a final design. I made it by gluing two pieces of ash together, with the seam just outside of the socket, running parallel to the handle. I have some oak branches that ran nearly perpendicular to their trunk that I cut a while back, and they'll form the handle of the next revision of this axe. Maybe they'll look more rustic?
-Otuell
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Re: New Iron Age socketed axe

Postby Dru Durman on October 21st, 2009, 11:31 am

Not sure about using oak Ben. Ash is still the wood of choice for tool shafts for British Farmers (oh, sure, you buy any old hardwood if you get a pre-made shaft, but according to the old boy working in my local agricultural supply shop, farmers who now what they're doing will go for ash every time.)
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Re: New Iron Age socketed axe

Postby Dave Budd on October 21st, 2009, 2:31 pm

on a small axe ash, oak, and pretty much any other nice hardwood will be fine normally. Ash is chosen as the ideal due to the springyness of it, but I have hatchets with all sorts of wood on them! one of my smaller axes that gets a lot of use has a hazel pole that never got replaced (6 years on). Holly was used by the romans et al for hammer handles, beech is often used for cheaper axes these days too.

One thing that would be problematical is the grain orientation of the current version. If you strike at a funny angle or over-reach then the part where the head is fastened may shear off from the main handle! That said, it would take a fiar whack to shear that thickness of wood and is something that needs testing *wink* Two betyter options would be to find or make an elbow in the wood (so steam bend a cleft ash piece or find a natural elbow in a grown pole). Or carve the right angle from a lump such as a root bowl or stem of the tree (like L-shaped walking stick handles are made from, or branch'n'trunk type of mallets)
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Re: New Iron Age socketed axe

Postby Ben Abbott on October 21st, 2009, 3:02 pm

Dru,
I agree, I just don't have any access to ash trees at the moment, aside from the small ones I planted in my yard. The oak was more accessible because it lived on property owned by my wife's uncle back east. Not many European deciduous trees here in Pasadena, CA.
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Re: New Iron Age socketed axe

Postby Dru Durman on October 22nd, 2009, 4:22 am

Fair does. I'd follow Dave's advice, he's far more into tools than myself. Also, there's the old argument, you use what you've got to hand...
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Re: New Iron Age socketed axe

Postby Jeff Scharp on October 23rd, 2009, 1:31 pm

For the life of me I can't find the picture of the original find, but I have seen it somewhere recently in a book or on the Web. In any case, the find looked a lot like the picture below, even missing the rawhide. I made one of these with the mini bronze version i have and it strikes me more as a splitting wedge rather than an axe head. Maybe the iron ones were hafted like this too?

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Re: New Iron Age socketed axe

Postby Ben Abbott on October 23rd, 2009, 4:39 pm

Yeah, I've seen that replica before. Man is that ugly. I found a cool picture of the handles for the palstave axes from Hallstat. I don't think it's too much of a leap to keep this kind of handle for the socketed ones.
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Re: New Iron Age socketed axe

Postby Colin McGarry on October 7th, 2015, 4:10 pm

How long is that axe? It looks like a massive, unweildy monster! But it could be just having three lights make it look a lot bigger than it is.
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Re: New Iron Age socketed axe

Postby Edwin Deady on October 9th, 2015, 4:43 am

Natural grown crooked handle for a bronze or iron celt seems logical because of the bend in the grain must be stronger than carving across it.
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Re: New Iron Age socketed axe

Postby Edwin Deady on October 9th, 2015, 4:47 am

When did axe become the preferred term for the socketed celt? See, for example , the word celt in use in The Ancient Bronze Implements of Great Britain and Ireland by John Evans.
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