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Axe Tracks

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by Ernest DuBois, Sep 9, 2018.

  1. Ernest DuBois

    Ernest DuBois

    Mar 2, 2013
    The impulses of the forum algorithms (my title gets finished even ahead of my own typing) tells me we have been here before - so curious, but maybe not.
    Look yester day I had and took the chance to go into the old church clock tower and have a look at its wooden structure. Some from 1453 and some from 13oo and there was an interesting and obvious difference in the axe work. It made me wonder about the origins of the side-axe, but let me put it more conceptually, the chisel form cutting edge applied to axes. Did something happen in that particular time? Putting it another way, does anyone know of a uni-beveled axe in the middle ages or did they come to us only 'midst the stirrings prompting Luther's reform movement?
    A difficulty stemming from the common and pervasive blunder of omitting the important and informative top down pov in depicting axes and almost exclusively stopping after the banal and uninformative side on profile view, only complicating the search.
    I have to be skeptical that this rare coincidence of seeing similar work standing side-by-side as I have done in the bell tower with this one hundred year span in-between would just happen to coincide beware the false intimacy of internet with the innovation of the single bevel from double bevel. Still, not impossible and a very interesting piece of someone's puzzle.
    Ok, so in an earlier contribution it was going on about a mono bevel axe configuration. The axes were underdeveloped versions of side axes as we know today in that they were simply the standard version of contemporary axes but happened to be bevel-less on the one side or the other and the format was relatively diminutive. It seems these were dated to the 15th century, so roughly the period under the spot light.[​IMG]
    It seems to me the tracks I've witnessed from the 1300 work were clearly left by an axe specifically configured for the work at hand and maybe one typical for the time that we are familiar with and would surprise no one. An axe used on 1453 work is much harder to nail down because while it is obviously off a single beveled blade the specific axe form is illusive, the ones in the picture above are much smaller in format, more like the carpentry axes and only loaded on to connect a rough time frame to the concept of the single bevel and not to suggest a form.

    I will try and be guarded and not make sweeping statements about, "the broadaxe", or "the single-beveled axe", on my honor. I think I can narrow the scope of the inquiry with an observation, and that observation which in fact is obvious is this, that scoping out the origins of this cutting edge configuration will likely come down to a kind of indirect or deductive form of reasoning. An example of what I mean is that it's not too useful looking for examples at least abstractions of examples simply for the reason that I have pointed out higher up here, that the perspectives or point of views offer no clarity and in fact can even in their ambiguity tend to obfuscate. I have hit on one strong indicator up there in that tower in Stiens, which is the ability to read the commentary left behind by those carpenters from the days they labored on those big beams.
    That different axes got used for the work could surprise no one and that because this is so a different technique employed, even less. The Czech carpenter who has made his study of these things and published it makes the interesting distinction between Low and high work. I think here may be a place to begin because he says that there is a chronology involved.
    So it's clear to say that in the work of 1300 the surfacing which is very utilitarian is carried out with an axe we are familiar with, socketed, in length, poll to cutting edge long, bearded with the narrow extended neck section in-between the socket and the bearded section and crucially, double beveled. The 1453 work, carried out to more degrees of completion, which is to say less wane and more squared in cross-section, done with an axe whose blade was around 30 to 35 cm long, single beveled, so it could be similar to the 1300 axe in form or different.
    That same Czech carpenter has even developed a method to determine if the carpenter doing the carpentry was left handed or right handed. Well, I think what he has to say on the matter is interesting and may even give further insight, why not?
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2018
    Miller '72 and Square_peg like this.
  2. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    Great case study!

    Looking at those old examples one has to wonder how each of them was used - which side faced the wood during work. With modern broadaxes the bevel is generally away from the wood. But with that upper left axe the poll would obstruct its use in this fashion. Of course it might be deformed from its original shape but it looks like a typical 'D' eye.

    With the upper right axe the curvature of the bit takes the eye out of the picture during use. It's interesting to see that it must have been beveled on a very small diameter grinding wheel.

    The two lower axes have lost too much mass to rust to make any judgments about how they might have been beveled and used.
    Miller '72 likes this.

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