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Good place to buy a 2nd hand broad/hewing axe  RSS feed

 
David Wood
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Location: Sth Gippsland and Melbourne
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Hi,

I'm not sure if this is the best forum to ask this question but I thought I'd start here.

I'd like to buy a 2nd hand broad axe or hewing axe for squaring off roundwood. I've bought a new Gransfors-Bruks broad axe which is a nice bit of kit but of a particular design.

Older hewing axes had various shapes, sizes and bevels and some featured offset handles to avoid "barking knuckles" which is I understand where this expression originated.

2nd hewing axes are for sale in Australia but they're more of a collector item here and priced accordingly.

I'm guessing there's reasonably priced sellers in the US who would post to Oz.

Be grateful if anyone could point me at local US sellers they've found reliable and reasonably priced

Thanks

David

 
Michael Bushman
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Location: Sacramento, CA
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I am sure someone will come along who learned from some local guru how to buy and use overepriced hand forged tools or that ones made of unobtainium are so much better but if you are looking for a solid usable tool for a decent price, ebay is a pretty decent source. Finding a hewing axe with a bent handle in good condition is going to be hard.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi David,

First, I will try to help wherever I can...but there is a great deal to this subject and the many styles of "hewing" that are out there. Some will "bark your knuckles" really good while others don't as much... I like many of them but have come to like the Japanese/Asian styles the best overall, and from this modified some "modern approaches" that can speed the process up for "production work" as a "working" Timberwright. This involves a chainsaw, cross cut, or "willow leaf" saw that kerf the log bolt, then a mallet/sledge to "knock the waste" and a scrub plane, smoother, to finish into a Cant...then a "cleaning" broad axe or adz (aka Chona) if that finish is desired by a client...

You may have to do some "joining" and form filling out to post, but the TFG (Timber Framers Guild) has a great forum for finding these types of tools and there is even an ongoing (several years) conversation about hewing.

Historic Hewing Questionnaire

Here is a link of a friend and a great resource also...

Jim Rogers Is a friend and a great resource...tell him Jay said hello...He has these on a regular basis, and knows many other sources. You can laminate a "crock handle" pretty easy...

雨宮大工 (Amemiya-daiku)

Here are some "store fronts" from EBay that I have had good dealings with...

japan-sakura-fubuki

Tosa Japan Blade

Example of a Japanese " Bearded Broad Ax."


 
David Wood
Posts: 53
Location: Sth Gippsland and Melbourne
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Thanks for the responses. Will chase up these links and suggestions.

The blade configuration of those pictured Japanese axes, Jay, is quite similar to the goosewing axes from Europe. Would they be used with a short handle to take off small pieces as against an axe with a longer handle used to take off larger pieces?

Great looking tools!

And for a brief divergence, isn't that one of the fun bits about digging into an area like axes. I've been using bush axes and splitters since I was a lad many decades ago. Until I started looking at more specialist axes a few years ago I had no idea about bevels, sharpening angles for different uses and timbers, shapes, different steels, offset handles and so on. It's fascinating to see how different cultures and trades have developed this extensive insight into how best to make tools to meet different requirements.
 
Michael Bushman
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You probably have already read this book but if you haven't, its a great read and a nice resource. Now I am sure there is a handmade edition made by a local craftsman that is super expensive but for us mortals a Copy for under $10 HERE

 
David Wood
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Michael Bushman wrote:You probably have already read this book but if you haven't, its a great read and a nice resource. Now I am sure there is a handmade edition made by a local craftsman that is super expensive but for us mortals a Copy for under $10 HERE



Will buy a copy. Thanks for that.
 
Jenny Smith
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hello i recently found a beauty of a broad axe second hand at a barn sale for 25$ USA if you look closely at an American pattern ( pattern may be originally Swedish or Finnish i just know we made tons of them hear in the USA and you can find them all over.) broad axe you will notice not only the bent handle but unlike the Japanese pattern which has the beard but lacks a flat face this makes the Japanese axe a more Generalized tool that will carve fell and split as well as square. a traditional American pattern is dead flat on the one side to the edge and beveled on the other and sharped from only one side like a chisel. See image linked below

http://www.traditionalwoodworker.com/images/367-7505-lg.jpg

This allows you to control the cut so you can hew a beam almost dead flat as if you planed it without the axe biting into the grain as the plane of the cut can be parallel to your intended final surface and still cut the waste away this handedness of the tool of course makes it more specialized and less useful for felling or splitting but you still could in a pinch.

We also have the collector problem here in the USA people even put pretty paintings on them and hang them up on the wall a poor use for a good old tool. to avoid paying a collectors premium i kept looking at flea markets junk shops and barn/estate sales until i found one for cheap mind you it did not come with the bent stick it was axe head only and rusty and dull you can carve a handle and most farmers back in the day did if you want a really strong handle you will never find in a store look for a branch of a tree that already has the bend you want for the handle in it and carve it to final shape that way the grain will follow the bend naturally and keep it strong or you can make it straight and steam bend it when it is done.

rust can be removed, dull can be sharpened, if you have made one handle you can always make another.

also many people who hew beams also have a right and a left handed axe and learn to work ambidextrously so they can always follow the grain without splitting it out.

If i find another i can ship you one but from the frozen north of Michigan to Australia might cost as much as buying a collectors piece.

good luck and happy hunting.

Black Smith

 
Jay C. White Cloud
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...broad axe you will notice not only the bent handle but unlike the Japanese pattern which has the beard but lacks a flat face this makes the Japanese axe a more Generalized tool that will carve fell and split as well as square. a traditional American pattern is dead flat on the one side to the edge and beveled on the other and sharped from only one side like a chisel...


Hi Blacksmith...

Actually, this "bevel" topic...left, right, or double is a "technique" modality and not a matter of generalities, in my experience. As referenced above, I have seen Japanese Daiku with the correct skill sets render perfectly smooth wood with single bevel and double bevel "hewing axes" by just modifying their individual technique in stance and approach...Many doing it in "bare feet!!" I often find working in bare feet to be easier as I can feel the work under me...

I do like "single bevel" for much of the work, and there are similar Japanese, Korean and related Asian versions to the European. I just find the metal in many of the Japanese ones to be better on average, unless getting one of the old Austrian, or Eastern European forms. However, for a "starter" hewing ax, we take what we can get and make it work...

Thanks for joining the conversation and Welcome...

Regards,

j
 
Jenny Smith
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Excellent point it is not all ways the tool but the user who makes it work well you can do great work with shoddy equipment and damn poor work with great equipment i was attacking the topic more from the reasons behind the design than which is better. Asian and old Finnish/ Swedish tools are a joy to use for the same reasons they both took great care in selection of their material and their attention to how the tool would be used.

as a general rule i have found the Japanese to have a better overall approach to tool design in ergonomics and making tools over all that work with the bodies natural flow of movement and as a tool maker myself i highly revere their work both European and Japanese smiths made tools with laminated blades for the same reasons steel is strong can be hardened and will hold an edge a long time and also during the pre industrial era expensive. iron is tough durable and relatively cheap by comparison during forging most axes from that era would have a iron body and a high carbon steel edge that was seamlessly forge welded into the body of the axe so that when the final shape of the tool was rendered only the last 1/2 inch or 12mm or so of the cutting edge would actually be steel the rest of the tool is made from lower grade iron.

part of the way Japanese tools are made and what fascinates me is that they learned without the advent of modern technology to find and exploit these differences in the metallurgy of iron purely by color, tone touch, and feel of the smith producing some of the most metallurgicaly superior tools of the era.

European smiths using a basically inferior smelting technique had wrought iron and low grade steel to work with ( higher grades of steel where available but worth their weight in gold they to came upon the same solution to put the best materiel forward where it would do the most good but had even less availability of good steel to work with making a good axe out of nothing but steel would guarantee only a lord or king could afford it

obviously the drawback to a tool with a steel edge and iron body is that every time you sharpen it you remove some of the steel at the edge of the tool eventually the tool may be sharpened to the point where there is no longer any steel at the edge giving you a very early iron age axe the must be sharpened after every tree or so. i have seen many an axe that has been used until it is nothing but an iron collar around the handle usually out of the love of the user these are perfect for hanging on the wall as they where great tools when they where made but have been essentially used up.

One other piece of advice in buying old second hand tools is that it should have the exact shape, size and profile you would expect of the tool when new: rounded corners, foreshortened blades, and chips, are all bad signs bid low

if you have a bare axe blade in your hand and you hold it gently by the back and tap it with another metal object it should ring like a bell this would indicate that what ever it is made of it is sound and free from stress fractures probably a good buy even if it looks rusty and dull ( this test wont work on an ax that has a handle)

Sorry about the long winded reply i get exited by tools

also sorry about the name change the moderators did not like my name as Black Smith even though i am one

i am also sorry about the tardy reply Please forgive me as i have spent the day moving form my 1/10th of an acre farm in the city to 5 acres in the country 30 miles away that i just can't wait to permie up

first farm jitters what can i say 5 acres of old growth timber rolling hills and swamp sigh ......everything a girl could want except a Cobb building to house her shop !!!

well gotta finish movi'n so i can get permining.

Enjoy

Jenny
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hey Jenny (aka Blacksmith),

Hope the moving is going well...

Your expanded points about "technique" and "tool design" is so true.

I had one teacher who was just acient himself...and his tools...??...Well, he was the complete opposite of my Amish teachers...they all were a mess, covered in rust and oil. Matter of fact, most of Floyd's world was wood, rust and flax oil. So it was this deep orange brown, that was spotted with lighter orange where it need more oil. Ah...but you get to the edge of every tool and you didn't want to look to long as...just looking would cut you.

He always said the tool doesn't mind the rust as long as it is loved (his were) and the "working part" is doing its job...Boy did they!! He was also one of those "old smiths" that could do things that just didn't make sense...like hewing with a regular ax or double bevel broad ax. He often used tools out of context, or in strange fashion...like his 2" slicks being stuck into big blocks of wood to be used as planes...I miss Floyd...

When I went to do hewing with him I also learn a great deal about do as I tell you, not as you see me do. It finely made sense that it was going to take decades for my body to be strong enough and have the "muscle memory" to do things like hew with a double bevel...

...I was attacking the topic more from the reasons behind the design than which is better. Asian and old Finnish/ Swedish tools are a joy to use for the same reasons they both took great care in selection of their material and their attention to how the tool would be used...


I couldn't agree more...Thanks for stressing that!

Anyone starting out in the game of "wood hewing" should use the best tool they can get there hands on...Learn how to sharpen it really well and how to take care of it...and I further agree 100% a "flat" (left or right accordingly) is going to be much easier to learn on (and safer) that trying to "make something work." I should have stressed that earlier myself...

.as a general rule i have found the Japanese to have a better overall approach to tool design in ergonomics... as a tool maker myself i highly revere their work both European and Japanese smiths...


Jenny, when you get time, I would love it if you would start a post and go through some of the basics of "temporary" a working edge on tools as you understand and know it. It is one of my weaknesses. I can pull it off, but not consistently, and rely more on my "bought tools" from smith in Japan, and here that I have come to love and respect. I would also love a "post" about sharpening that covers "micro bevels" and their application and logic.

Most of my better tools through this life's career have been Japanese. Your explanation about iron is so true... The better Smiths there still prefer 200 year old or older ship anchor iron as their "base working metal" and then laminate a blue or white steel into this. Often for the full or almost full length of the tool. Like in some "chona" (adz) or hewing ax the entire flat portion will be a solid 3mm to 5mm plate of steel laminated to the iron. This makes for a very easy to sharpen tool that hold an insanely keen edge but will shatter like glass if mistreated. One of the reason I recommend different tools to starting students...


tough durable and relatively cheap by comparison during forging most axes from that era would have a iron body and a high carbon steel edge that was seamlessly forge welded into the body of the axe so that when the final shape of the tool was rendered only the last 1/2 inch or 12mm or so of the cutting edge would actually be steel the rest of the tool is made from lower grade iron.

part of the way Japanese tools are made and what fascinates me is that they learned without the advent of modern technology to find and exploit these differences in the metallurgy of iron purely by color, tone touch, and feel of the smith producing some of the most metallurgicaly superior tools of the era.

European smiths using a basically inferior smelting technique had wrought iron and low grade steel to work with ( higher grades of steel where available but worth their weight in gold they to came upon the same solution to put the best materiel forward where it would do the most good but had even less availability of good steel to work with making a good axe out of nothing but steel would guarantee only a lord or king could afford it

One other piece of advice in buying old second hand tools is that it should have the exact shape, size and profile you would expect of the tool when new: rounded corners, foreshortened blades, and chips, are all bad signs bid low...if you have a bare axe blade in your hand and you hold it gently by the back and tap it with another metal object it should ring like a bell this would indicate that what ever it is made of it is sound and free from stress fractures probably a good buy even if it looks rusty and dull ( this test wont work on an ax that has a handle)


Absolutely...excellent point and advice.

Thanks again for adding your voice to this...It's nice to have a Smith on board...
 
Jenny Smith
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Thanks for the apple if you need any advice on rehabilitating old tools or techniques for making them yourself out of metal let me know steel is green the whole way through one small in investmet should last you a lifetime or it was made poorly out of substandard materiel.

my path to self sufficiency has led me down the road of learning wherever i can how to make the tools of mankind and it is my duty to share with my fellows the knologe of the ancients.

feel free to ask anything if i don't know i will tell you i don't know.

Jenny

 
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