I throw out a simple proposition for consideration, which is to say, what I am about to share is not to be confused with a claim or conviction, necessarily. We look at our broad-axes with a degree of wonder, I’m sure of it, no matter the style we prefer the big hewing axes have a particular attraction to anyone with an inclination for axes beyond the sheer pointlessness of cutting down trees with them, in the first place which stems, I will claim, from the sheer dimensions involved along with the potentials inherent in possessing and using one.
The tiled mosaic gives some ideas of the variations involved but I will dial in on an even narrower sub-set to the exclusion of the double bevel and in particular the reinforced double bevel of the Swedish or in some cases Finnish axes and consider only the thin bladed single-beveled ones in relation to use and maintenance. Which gets me to the point following on from the last posting-up which addressed blade deformation.
You wont notice this deformation in the examples from the tiled mosaic and that’s because I have done away with these for the most part by reestablishing a fair-arched cutting edge but deformation is a fact of contention at the intersection between man and his broadaxe. The specific deformation I refer to is the wave blade or the development of a flattened section through the center area – the belly – of the blade which can even progress to the point of a dip. And it is a sneaky and pernicious progression which can surprise you all at once when you had not noticed it before. How else to explain it being there?
Why? That’s the important thing to establish long before we can begin to consider what we can do about it. And I suspect that gets us back up to the beginning paragraph of the current posting-up. It’s related to the very thing that stimulates the interest in these axes to begin with; Expressly our fascination. But that’s not good enough. It’s not good enough to say, ” If you want to not get that dip in through there you should learn to eliminate desire in your life.” That just wont do for us sentient beings.
The axes form their attraction for many reasons. One might be as I write it above its impressive presence. This must or certainly is likely to come at a cost a cost which I locate generally in the blacksmith or the producer of the tool. No easy piecemeal thing to hammer out one of these and yet that wouldn’t even be the most demanding part. Once he got the composition to form, and hardened he has to make it functional through the annealing process. Easy enough, or not, up to a certain physical point, but then you get into what we have before us and it is a different matter, we can say even it’s the stuff that separate man from the boy, the joker from the clown or in less moralizing terms the skilled from the truly skilled even gifted.
But what an axe user is very likely to get his hands on and go at it with could just as well be one of those products off the hand of the less than fully gifted. I always think maybe this is the difference between the (broad)axe from J.B.Weiss out of Vienna or the Fuchs bros. out of Cannstatt, or many others named and un-named, that is, the skill imparted to the blade, through the mind and being of the smid, surely well trained and with the years of experience, and yet more, if you were to ask me, and that more is coming out of a tradition of such skill and knowledge necessary to make that blade one of consistent quality, meaning hardness and durability along its entire length. Lets be honest and put it bluntly, the truly good broadaxe is a difficult thing to make, not everyone who can hammer it out can also ensure that internally it’s up to a necessary standard, and what are the consequences to those of us who so much use and love these axes? You guessed it, that central area, improperly annealed is relatively soft in comparison to the extremities at the toe and heel sections meaning not only will it not hold its keenness – due to the many factors which any reader can imagine for him/herself – but when even the skilled and knowledgeable sharpener proceeds with constant and necessary maintenance of that blade consistent material removal will be a matter of a contrived self delusion when and if it gets done at all. And so the honest sharpener will inevitably come at some point to the realization that that dip is there, it will only continue to develop despite any and all efforts and the axe has a certain limited functionality.
What I am trying to get at is the following with which I end this posting-up. Not all broadaxes are created equal despite appearances.