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Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by Agent_H, Sep 10, 2016.
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Hello I am from Finland and the reason for the swedish is because Finland was a part of Sweden between 1200-1809.
After independence from Russia in 1917 the country adopted a constitution that made finnish and swedish official languages. Around 1920 11% of the population spoke swedish, today it's dropped to below 6%. Hence most finnish products will tend to have some or a lot of swedish on them. Doesn't mean they were meant for export, but if they were to be exported anywhere Sweden is one of our biggest trading partners, the biggest export country some years.
My two billnäs axes, a 12/3 and a 12/2:
In Finland it did not become the norm to sell axes with handles prefitted until after world war 2 IIRC, it was assumed most people made their own shafts hence pre-WW2 there were no real standards as to what a shaft might look like. This changed in world war 2 when the Finnish work efficiency association had soldiers manufacture handles and send them back home, they then all learned to follow a certain standard.
Well Dennis, we will have to take you words on the matter, and your words do seem to fit the mold so fine and with clarity to boot. And I see from your own handling you live by your words as well, then you got not only the needed legitimacy but credibility too.
My information was learned from other more knowledgeable people than I, people I know in real life and also articles such as this
Thank you for adding your experience Dennis. Growing up, "grab an axe" usually meant returning with a double bit and often a swamping/peeling pattern (the most popular of double bits )
For me, these axes are not something that occur "naturally" in my region. What might be common knowledge for many in their natural habitat is quite removed from resources we run into here - either through word of mouth or in written form. When a wrong or off-base guess is proposed, it is solely in hopes someone will come along and fill in the blanks for us.
Your pictured 12.2 has an interesting upsweep at the end of the handle - do you find that comfortable in use?
Also, how long is your 12.3 overall? The 12.3 Kemis are probably my favorite of the older Billnas/Kellokoski patterns to use.
Your grindstone find and rehab is quite nice as well.
I very much consider Marcus Lepola a solid resource.
I haven't use the 12.2 much, most of my axe work has been splitting and for that I have a Gränsfors maul. I sort of just winged the making of the shaft and thought "that looks fine", though when I did more research into shafts I found it's something of an oddity, but it still feels fine to use. So the reason it looks liek that was just ignorance on my part. I think it is also shorter than most of the 12.2s.
The 12.3 is really short, I am making it into a one handed woodworking axe. I just gave it a sharpening on the grindstone and followed with a diamond hone and it is hair shave sharp, but the angle is not the proper one for a woodworking axe, it might be 35-40 degrees now when it should be 25-30 degrees.
Hi all. Partly inspired by this thread where there are several questions about snake head wedge usage I replicated what was done in video "Tehoa ja terävyyttä" and tried to explain what I am doing and what are the materials used. I should have try to learn the correct vocabulary beforehand but hopefully you get the idea.
Thank you for going through the trouble to make this instructional. Appreciated!
Excellent Navertaja! Thank you for the instructional video.
I noted a couple of things - 1. You are hanging the axe on a fitted yet unfinished handle, and 2. There is considerable tongue sticking through the eye.
Often I've wondered if this method would cause splitting but those two factors probably would probably keep that from happening?
Do you hang your Kemi-style/Collared axes with one "Snake Wedge"?
1. Yes, so I fit the axe in unfinished handle because it gives the freedom to shape the handle and knob in line with the axe blade.
2. This long tongue helps the start of the wedging: especially collared axes have really small eye and if this tongue is short the "snake head" has to start from really tight point. In the beginning you have to support the lower end of handle against something to get wedge in and if the start is too hard wedge snaps easily. As you can see in the video: I first hit the wedge to the tongue and lower end on axe supported and then start to hang axe from wedge and continue hitting. After wedging I saw the tongue around 5-7mm long and shape with knife.
3. Actually I do not know how these really old axes were wedged in factory since those were typically sold without handle and/or those were anyhow replaced in same phase. I presume they were wedged with flat wedge. Newer, more round shaped four digit models (like 1132) were glued. I have one with original handle.
4. I have used both flat wedges and one snake wedge to collared axes. However I consider snake wedge better. The eye is heavily tapered and if you use flat wedge and saw track for that, you can not totally fill the track with wedge since you can only use very narrow wedge and the eye gets wider towards collar. But still with flat wedge I have managed to tighten it to last the lifetime of handle. Before I have heard of Snake wedge I used to dry handle and flat wedge extremely dry and since they get moisture outdoors the wedging typically holds. But because it not locked, there is a risk of wedge to exit and axe head to fly away. Snake wedge is quite new invention - if I recall correctly around 1950s - and apparently it did not gain popularity before chainsaws game. People are slow to adopt something which is not done traditional way. I would say that 99,5% of Finnish wood handle axes are wedged with flat wedge, nails etc.
Navertaja, Very interesting how you did that wedging. I have an older Bilnas my Father bought back in the mid 1950's when his ship sailed to the Baltic. I think he actually bought it in Sweden but it was called a Finnish Woodsman's Axe. The head was a little loose and like you mentioned Finns doing he used a nail to tighten up the head, but after he gave the axe to me ( I had asked him for it) I used a chop stick, hammered down into the hole to fill the hole up, then soaked it with linseed oil to hopefully make the wood swell. I am hoping to keep the original birch handle, so far it is holding up fine. One question, the handle was shellacked and I wonder if that was common, or where the handles sold untreated and left for the owner to treat? Almost forgot, a 2nd question, what type/make of knife were you using. Kiitos, John
In the early twentieth century axes were sold without handle. Axe head was the expensive part and handle considered free since it is something you could do yourself to the shape you like (or your father has teach you). Most common treatment for those was nothing. Why? Most likely because the material was free and people were skilled to make a new one in couple of hours or so. Also it was common with loggers that handles snapped quite frequently in de-branching and you had to do a new one.
I do not know very much about the treatments of factory made handles since those are usually broken and replaced. But if you John have handle from 50s with lacquer treatment apparently that has been used already then. My 1132 has lacquer and red paint in knob end but I presume it is from 1970s. In finna.fi there are hundreds of pictures of old axes, you can search there. Axe is "kirves" in Finnish: https://www.finna.fi/Search/Results?lookfor=kirves&type=AllFields&dfApplied=1&limit=20
Knives: I have not used any other carving knives for over a ten years than Marttiini Carbinox blades, owned several of those and all have been excellent. If Marttiini continues making these I most probably will use anything else ever. The one in the video has Carbinox 85mm T508 blade but handle is made by me (did not like the original). I usually use it more in hunting and prefer this smaller one with 65mm blade in carving: https://www.marttiini.fi/epages/Mar...jectPath=/Shops/MarttiiniShop/Products/121015
Navertaja,Thanks for the information. I asked about the handle as their is a video on You Tube about a traditional Finnish log cabin being built at some exhibit place and I noticed the axe handles did not seem to have any finish on them. My Father brought the axe back about then as I was still in High School, and I used it a lot in our local woods, and was very happy when he gave it to me. The men in the video knew what they were doing with their axes and I often watch this video. I did not recognize the puukko, but then not a good photo of it either. I collect puukkos, must have about 60-70 of them now, and my normal use one is by Pekka Tuominen, who is a friend of mine. Kiitos. John
Navetaja, Got thinking about what you said about axes being sold without handles, and made perfect sense. Pekka Tuominen had sent me a whole bunch of Cultural Videos on Finland in the 1920's and 1930's and in one an old man makes an axe handle using a axe to rough it out, a puukko for the fine work and a saw to cut the handle to length. Pretty sure the video has been posted on this forum, but nice to watch it, as he knocks that handle out in a very short time. John
In Billnäs catalog from 1928 they state that all axes can be delivered also with handle. In Kellokoski catalog from 1940 it seems that they are providing only models number 15.1 and 15.2 with handle. But I have understood that the most common way was without handle and sharpening.
I have been carving with knife since I was 5-6 years and if the wood is good able to make handle with saw, knife and axe pretty fast to a point where only grinding with sandpaper is needed. Most time consuming phase for collared axe it to fit the axe head. The time is about 3 times longer than to american style axe. But I still feel collared axe "the right ones" since collar protects the handle and enables thicker handle not so prone to snap, especially when twisting the wood pieces.
Collared axe, here you are:
Navertaja, nice job. I just checked and back on post #477 Agent_H posted a photo of my Billnäs with the shellacked handle if you care to see it. Also is that a older military belt that you are wearing? John
John: Checked, your axe is in really nice condition! I observed there was a discussion on the same page about Högfors axes: one unused is available here https://www.tori.fi/satakunta/Kirves_Hogfors_50319091.htm?ca=2&w=3
My belt is from Switzerland, military surplus.
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Navertaja, Kiitos! John