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European Broad Axe Head, probably 17th C

In the days before modern woodworking machinery, the broad axe was one of the most important tools in the construction industry. It was used to hew logs into the timbers that would make up the main frame of buildings. Generally the log was elevated slightly off the ground and the bark removed. Then a straight line would be marked along the length of the log indicating where it was to be cut. Then another type of axe was used to cut at right angles to this line approximately every 6" or so. The person using the broad axe would then stand atop the log and chop with short strokes with the grain along the line. The perpendicular cuts would allow the waste pieces to fall off and the axe to continue along the line. This process would be repeated four times, once for each side, resulting in a rectangular timber. The broad axe is easily distinguished from other types of axes because it is pretty much flat on one side, with the ferrule and any edge bevel being on the side left to the waste side of the line. This allowed the blade to follow the line instead of being deflected. Broad axes are often incorrectly labeled as executioner’s axes because of their large size. While they would probably be effective in this role, there are thousands of broad axes for every genuine executioner axe. The famous executioner axe in the Tower of London was probably originally a broad axe, as it is beveled on one side and has the other side entirely flat. The example being offered in this listing is of simple crude manufacture, with the blade being formed of one piece of iron and the ferrule another; formed around a mandrel and forge-welded to the blade. The forward side of the ferrule is left open to keep the construction simple. Blade is about 9" long, with a slightly convex 6" cutting edge. Large ovoid ferrule to accommodate a roughly 2" by 2 ½" thick shaft. Weight is nearly 7 pounds, making this impractical for battle or execution, but an appropriate weight for use as a hewing axe. Pitted overall with a small hole rusted through on one side of the ferrule.

M1151 $249

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