Experimenting with Axe Socket Forging

One of my longest standing goals as a professional blacksmith has been to forge socketed wood working axes in the traditions of northern European examples.  In my opinion these axes are quite possibly the most beautiful tools in the world.  The forge welding in these axes is complex and requires a strategy, tool-set and control of form which showcases the extraordinary skills possessed by many traditional blacksmiths.  After tackling asymmetrically welded eyes on traditional Viking axe forms over the last 4 years (by no means a finished topic for me) I have recently turned my attention to the techniques needed to produce socketed axes.  I have researched various techniques and followed the work of wonderful blacksmiths in Scandinavia, Europe and the US to see how I might approach this.  The pictures below show the progress I’ve made by my 3rd trial socket.  It is produced by free-hand forging on a power hammer and was made without a mandrel.  I learned a lot on this piece and in the work leading up to it.  I hope to travel this year to meet some of the smiths I admire so that I can learn much more about this process from them and about specific axes produced for timber framing and carving over the last several centuries.

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