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Thread: Aizkolariak, Basque axemen competitions and bets, and more

  1. #61
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    The golden axe competition of this year has started, not all the events have been recorded I'll post the ones which have been retransmitted.

    2016/11/27 Zizurkil fourth knockout of the Golden axe 2016. Joseba Otaegi vs Jon Irazu, note both have born and lived all their life in Zizurkil the same town they are competing, the axeman who makes 12 cuts fastest passes to the semifinal, enjoy it!

    http://www.eitb.tv/es/video/herri-ki...ako-kopa--1/2/

    Axemen never tend to left being axemen. They retire, but it's usual to see them in axemen related events or cutting logs by pure pleasure. Like Enrique Bildarraz, he was a very good champion of the 60´s. Now he is 80 years old and continues cutting a beech log 40 centimeters in diameter each week. Here you have him one year ago,

    Last edited by Ugaldie; 01-07-2017 at 02:14 AM.

  2. #62
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    2016/12/11 Otxandio second semifinal of the Golden axe 2016. Joseba Otaegi vs Iñaki Azurmendi, the axeman who makes 12 cuts fastest passes to the semifinal, enjoy it!

    http://www.eitb.tv/eu/bideoa/herri-k...ako-kopa--1/2/

    Continuing with old timer axemen who continue practicing their passion here you have Patxi Astibia, the big champion of the 70's. Here you have the 72 years old axeman cutting a well seasoned 80 centimeters wide log with traditional and actual racing axes,



    You can see him here again. The 73 years old axeman is cutting even a bigger oak (I think) log than the previous video,



    Note the precission, technique and endurance of these men, not many actual young men can equal it.

  3. #63
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    I enjoy and watch all the videos in your posts on this Ugaldie.

    That older guy there doesn't look winded at all doing that chopping. Awesome.

  4. #64
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    2016/12/18 Zarautz third and last semifinal of the Golden axe 2016. Joseba Otaegi vs Jon Rekondo vs Ugaitz Mugerza, the axeman who makes 13 cuts fastest passes to the semifinal, enjoy it!

    http://www.eitb.tv/es/video/herri-ki...ako-kopa--1/2/

    One very loved rural sport by the Basques are the scythe challenges, they use to be very hard events like the next bet in Zizurkil. They had one hour and a half to do their work, it consisted in running 5 kilometers and then cutting as much grass as they could.



    As you can see the event is very interesting and hard, but the video is not up to the task. As allways we the Basques are good at all types of traditional and new competitions but very bad promoting ourselves. Here you have another scythemen competition,


  5. #65
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    Thank you Agent_H, I'm glad you like them. 🖒🖒 There is a lot of information to share, I'll continue doing it as much as I can.

  6. #66
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    2017/01/01 Asteasu the golden axemen final. Aitzol Atutxa, Jon Rekondo and Iñaki Azurmendi will have the fastest to cut 15 beech logs 40 centimeters in diameter to dress the winner txapela. Axemanship at it best, enjoy it!

    http://www.eitb.tv/eu/bideoa/herri-k...kopa--finalak/

    With this post we reach what I wanted, the actual timeline. Now I will start mixing some history with actual events. I was reserving this video to celebrate this moment,

    Last edited by Ugaldie; 01-04-2017 at 04:24 PM.

  7. #67
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    December 30th 2016 was a lucky day for me. For some reasons I couldn't met with a friend to cut some logs, but when I arrived to Arantza a family member told me an axemen event was going to be that same day. It was the 50th aniversary of the bar Burlada.



    Between other events they programmend an axemen exibition consisting in making a cut for each year that bar has existed. They placed 25 logs in front of the bar, ten axemen would have to work in couples, each couple had to make ten cuts.



    The wood was beech, cut from the Pyrenaic forests.



    The log were more or less "kanaerdikoak", it means half "kana". Basques measure the logs by their perimeter, the logic behind it is that the logs are not completelly round. If you measure it by its diameter you need to work the wood to make it completelly round in order to give each axeman an equal volume of wood. Measuring the perimeter gives you much more work and any doubt is easily clarifiable. Kanaerdi means the log perimeter is 1,25 meters, the average diameter would be 40 centimeters.



    There was very little people for the type of event, but there was a lot of all generation axemen and other public people. It was a pleasure to be there. Here you have some of them talking about the logs.



    As usual I saw good friendship between axemen.



    The arsenal they carried was impressive, there is a lot of magic in those boxes,



    Australian axes are very highly regarded here, not by their bit geometry (they are grounded by local experts, Basques I mean) but by their steel quality. The majority of the axes you will see in these events will be Keech axes.



    The handles are special, these are Basque racing handles, the best type of handles I have ever tried for any type of work. As allways I recommend you to get some of them to try them and share your opinion.



    There also are two Basque axemakers who produce racing axes, one is Jauregi a old school axemaker. The other is Arkaia axes a new axemaker who only produces racing axes, he is growing popularity between competition axemen. Here you have one of his axes,



    The friendship was good, but those men are competitive. Event this was an exibition they worked hard and when the started warming up you could see in their jokes they were taking this event seriously.



    It's a pity but I couldn't see all the event, but I recorded some videos. Very few good axemen videos I see in internet use to show all the cut, I tried to fix it and show the top notch skills these men display. Here you have some videos.

    Iker and Daniel Vicente, father and son, cutting their third log in a row,



    Iker and Daniel Vicente, father and son, cutting their fifth log in a row,



    Donato and Ohian Larretxea, the father and the son, cutting their fifth log in a row,

    Last edited by Ugaldie; 02-08-2017 at 03:54 PM.

  8. #68
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    Iker and Daniel Vicente, father and son, cutting their eight beech log in a row,



    Iker and Daniel Vicente, father and son, cutting their ninth beech log in a row,



    Donato and Ohian Larretxea, the father and the son, cutting their ninth log in a row,


  9. #69
    Amazing, even though I don't reply to each and every post you make, I really enjoy these. Seems like you guys find every possibe reason to place a bet and chop some logs .

    Oh and I am quite fond of beech, good wood for a variety of tool handles. As for the axe handles you keep showing, I instantly liked them for that big, comfy swell. Hope I'll get some custom made soon.

  10. #70
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    Thank you Moonw. I'm glad you liked it, I thank you very much when you comment them or ask me questions, but do it only if it makes you feel comfortable. If not just look and enjoy.

    Axemanship has been our industrial base before Gengis Kan born till 50-60 years ago, it's very deeply rooted in our culture. There are very interesting events waiting to comment here, like the hardest axemen challenge I have ever read about. Commenting them will take me long, so take patience, stay tuned and enjoy!



    About the handles, they are a great example of "simplicity is the ultimate sophistication". They are oval, straight and use to have flat sides, this helps very much in edge alignment, every time I try roundish handles I feel them cumbersome. As you have noticed the swell is anatomical and the wood used in them has its reason. There have been used different local and foreigner woods, some of them like ash or hickory are great due to their durability. The beech is not as strong but it has a big advantage compared to them, the in hand performance.

    Basque axemen events are longer and harder compared to foreigner events, there axemen sweat a lot but you don't see them painting their handles with chalk as you see in the Timbersports, they neither wear sweat protective elements in their wrists. The arms sweat goes to the hands and from there to the handle, why don't they look like they suffer from this? The secret is in the wood. Beech is a wood which performs differently to the other woods we have talked about. Compared to them beech doesn't lose as much grip when it's wet and the other woods tend to become smooth much faster than the beech due to the use. Add to it at the same roughness beech is more forgiving for your hands than the ash or hickory and you have close to perfect combination.

    Some people seems to complain when they try Basque beech handles, don't worry about it, that roughness is made by purpose. Don't smooth them, it can be too rough due to a factory failure but first try it for a while before smoothing and ruining a purposely made feature. Smoother handle will make you more blisters, smoothen your handle only if you feel it unconfortable after using it for a while.

    For those who produce your own handles (or use it in any other purpose which demands durability) the next best time to cut the wood in the northem hemisphere will be from 00:00 hours 18th January to 19:00 20th January Spanish time. Sharpen your axes!
    Last edited by Ugaldie; 01-07-2017 at 02:27 AM.

  11. #71
    I never thought about this property of the beech. Had once a passing thought that beech (and left rougher, that is) even when wet never seemed to be as slippery as other wood. This may be the reason why in parts Eastern Europe, beech is still favored for axe handles by some even when ash or hop hornbeam or black locust is available locally. Good stuff!

  12. #72
    I wonder how could I get some dimensions for these axe handles, as I may have someone to reproduce them locally. Do you by any chance have some measurements? To fit them on US heads, I'd need to have them probably made in ash, at least for those that have smaller eyes.

  13. #73
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    I enjoy these posts of yours. The Basques must always been too busy working and competing against each other (without getting hurt) to go off and wage wars against other cultures! You have good reason to be proud.
    Any chance of you getting end grain pictures of some of those racing axes? I'm thinking some of these may feature horizontal grain (they wisely do use straight handles, after all) to cushion the shock of strikes. For sure that would excite quinton! European Beech must have altogether different properties from American Beech because no one uses beech here for anything but firewood. It cracks badly and radially checks (many small cracks in every direction) when subjected to kiln drying.

  14. #74
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    Ugaldi, A bit off topic but, the first time I had ever seen anyone lift an Atlas stone was at a Basque festival. I didn't even know what they were called. It was a long time ago and it now seems to be a popular strength event everywhere. Is that a popular competition there? Did it originate with the Basque?

  15. #75
    So. Much. Keechy. Goodness.

    'Straya.

  16. #76
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    Thank you 300Six, you are right the handles I own and have the oportunity to look closely at have horizontal grain. I don't know if all the handlemakers proceed this way, but all I have talked about produce horizonntal grained handles not only racing ones but tradidional ones too. And you are right again, they do it to make the wood absorb part of the shock. I don't know how much shock does it affect in this way, one of my future projects is to produce myself or preferably two beech handles from the same tree, same tree part and with same drying and shaping procedure, hang them in the same axe head type, weight, and geometry and try them to see the difference.

    garry3, I didn't knew what an Atlas stone is I have had to look for it in internet, we call that type of stone simply as the round stone. Stone lifting is named Harijasotzea in Euskara, it was a very popular sport some time ago, not so much now. I don't know were did this sport born but there is some documentation from the 1500's were you can see it was already a popular sport in that period. Here you have a little video about the actual champion,


  17. #77
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    Yes tandanus, Australians are loved here.

    300Six I know little about the difference between the European and American Beeches, but as I know American beech is harder to work but more shock absorber. You could try to work it with actual machines, it could be good due to its shock absorbing capability but I don't know how does it feel in hand. I have to add the wood for the handles is cut in certain periods of the year and it's seasoned with care, you can proceed in the same way and see how does American beech perform. Take in account wood between different trees of the exactly same species can be very different, the wood of the bottom is different of the wood of the top, cutting the exactly same wood in different periods will give you different properties, you should split the wood not to cut it and seasoning with care is very important.

    I have some photos of the man who produces handles for Jauregi, he is the man who has seen in a video some messages ago, Enrique Bildarraz. This man is a wood master, talking to him he said the people who understands about wood is capable to say the exact period of time you need to cut a given wood to have this or another properties. Once he said some people makes cuts in the wood and tastes the sap to confirm the wood is in the proper point. These photos are courtesy of Jauregi.

    Here you have the axeman and handlemaker, 79 years old Enrique Bildarraz



    I don't know if Enrique cuts the logs himself or he receives them from other people, I'll ask for it the next time. As you see he splits the logs before seasoning.



    He seasones them at least for half a year in front of his house before starting to work with them. This only is part of his reserve.



    These are the only tools he uses for his job,



    Here you can see some of his production, in this case traditional handles,



    Do you remember this video?



    I have closeups of the cut, look how clean he cut that log,



    I'll say it again, take in account he is 79 years old.



    He is my particular superhero.



    The last photo, both the handlemaker and the axemaker.



    The 17th Basque axemen competition by couples has started, here you have how it will go the competition,



    Let's start with the first competition. 2017-01-08 Deba Aitzol Atutxa & Ugaitz Mugerza (winners of the last 3 editions) vs Iñaki Azurmendi & Patxi Mindegia.

    http://www.eitb.tv/eu/bideoa/herri-k...utxa-mugertza/

  18. #78
    I am enjoying these posts as well.

  19. #79
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    Hand split staves. That's good stuff.
    I would be interested in any additional information you have about the cutting and seasoning of the wood staves.
    Great thread, appreciate your contributions.

  20. #80
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    Wow! That's impressive and so are your photographs. Hand split billets too, and you've proven that Mr Bildarraz 'practices what he preaches' (meaning: he actually uses and has evaluated his own products for a very long time). If he doesn't cut his own timber anymore you can be sure he has developed a very close relationship with those that do. They won't be bringing him tree trunks that landed on a rock or twisted badly when they fell. I suppose someone over on this side of the pond is now going to have to experiment with Beech!

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