What’s my axe?

My brother gave me an axe head he bought in a market.  It has proved to be rather a mystery:

What I know about it so far is: It was made by Wm. Greaves & Sons at Sheaf Works, Sheffield, UK.  This firm existed in the nineteenth century :

From “The Cutting Edge” a catalogue of items in the Hawley collection
displayed at the Ruskin Gallery in Sheffield in 1992. The back of this
book contains short histories of the firms which made the tools displayed.

“They (Wm. Greaves & Sons) soon established a large American clientele, and in 1825 built the famous Sheaf Works, the first integrated steel works in Sheffield.

The Sheaf Works was situated alongside the newly opened Sheffield Canal
where Swedish iron bar was offloaded directly into the works to be
converted into steel and goods which were manufactured on the premises.
The canal and the use of steam engine power provided a more efficient
system of production as previously many separate operations were required
for the manufacture and movement of goods.

By 1833 files and edge tools were added to the cutlery and in 1849 the
company started to produce railway springs.  The firm closed in 1850.”


English: Steel melting house where was made cr...

English: Steel melting house where was made crucible steel, Samuel Osborne & Co, Sheffield  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


So it’s pretty old.  Even made of “Electro Boracic steel”, Which is either crucible steel with boron salts added or just a promotional wheeze.

The size is 13 and a half inches (count ’em) from what would be the poll to the foremost part of the edge.  It has no poll, showing its age here.  The edge is very heavily curved, which I assume was done to stop it getting stuck in whatever it was cutting.  It is a long, even taper with no flattened cheeks.

I’ve mounted it on a pick shaft, as I believe all axes of the period were hafted on straight handles.

It is VERY HEAVY about 7 and a half pounds, excluding the shaft!

In use the weight and the length seem to suggest it was not swung as a felling axe, unless someone with very mightily strong wrist muscles was able to keep it horizontal.  I can’t for about two swings without pain in the wrist, but I’m a bit old too.  This suggests it was either swung between the legs or with a vertical chopping motion.  There are a couple of similar examples kicking about described as mining axes, but they seem later, having polls.

It is quite a beast:

Any ideas anyone?

Getting rather autumnal in the woods these days and a chill in the morning air with mists.  The sycamore leaves are just about all off – they’ve suffered black spot badly this wet Summer.  Beech leaves beginning to look quite pretty.

Fire burns hotter in the cold

Especially if you use petrol as a fire starter.  Lovely smooth hands now, and no bobbly bits on my fleece.

I took a spare length of stainless flue liner in today to improve the draught on the new bodgery stove.

The difference it makes it very noticeable.  The stove now roars.  The firebricks are steaming out the summer rain, hot enough to dry more wood and gloves round the outside.  And the added luxury of a wooden door (soak before using!).

OK, so now it stacks up like this:

1. A large stone half buried in the ground.

2. Rusty old wagon wheel.

3. Centre hole covered with the flue blank from the new RC wood burning stove.

4. Firebricks, dry walled, air ingress where they do not sit tight to the wheel.

5. Wooden door.

6. Flue liner.

7.  At the base of the flue liner an old chain to weigh down the flue.

8. Drying fire wood.

It is a really good hand warmer.  Standing with your back to it it also warms the parts other stoves are too civilised to reach. Possibly the best stove in the word.  Definitely carbon neutral.

And when accompanied by fine food it completes an abode of bliss:

Also featuring in the picture is my lunchtime work.  A new small ladle from the silver birch we took down at home.  Safely stowed in a plastic bag so it does not dry between times working on it.  I know I should have taken a photo of the fantastic crook I’ve taken it from, but then …

Being snowy it was surprisingly quite in the woods, I guess people are busy getting festive.  They certainly don’t seem to want to buy Christmas tree decs anyway.  It was rather cold:

I had rather a lot of snow shovelling to do as the NE wind had brought a lot of snow inside under the short tarp.  I spent some time doing a Winter solstice clean up.  The off cuts and failures accumulated over a year had become an unmanageable pile leaning against the  back of the sycamore tree.  In fact I had to walk round it to get into the workshop.  OK so now it’s all reduced to logs and sitting in the trailer waiting to come home for the ever hungry  RC stoves.  It’s surprising just how much there was.

The new Landy is becoming a more familiar tool.  Needs WD40 in the locks to stop them freezing up.  Back window heater is bust, needs to be fixed under the guarantee, along with a couple of other niggles.

It takes me great places though.  Look at this.  The view’s been featured before, but it’s worth it:

What a commute!