🔎 UNIDENTIFIED Old Rusty Hand Forged Blade. Non Symmetrical Axe Head.

USNFLYR

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I found a contorted blade in shallow water where a wharf use to be. The site was once used to get quarried rocks and salmon down river. At first it looked like this was an axe head that was severely mangled. But after cleaning it up, it now appears that it was forged and used as a "wedge"? One side (the upper) appears to sloop upwards. The backside looks to have been hammered upon. Complicating my theories is the fact that while cleaning, I found remnants of wood from where a handle was inserted. I have a hard time imagining a wooden handle being used in "tree chopping" or timber clearing. Either way, I will apply a layer of Gempler's and save it….. (I may be wrong on wedge vs blade ….. and maybe the "eye" and back side hammer surface was merely bent through usage)….. I guess I’m reaching out for a sanity check. Do axes fail? Can they become this mangled?



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not symmetric in design?
 
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boogeyman

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Can

you provide a picture of another example that’s in better shape? I’m confused with the bit being perpendicular to the strong axis of the handle.
Google froe. The way you have it layed the handle would be pointed down. The handle would need to be up in your picture. The handle would be used to hold & steer the blade while pounding the blade to split away the wood. Google froe and there's tons of pictures and vids of them in use. Sort of like a primitive bandsaw. Find pictures in Google that'll help you more than I could explain in words.
 
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Tesorodeoro

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Google froe. The way you have it layed the handle would be pointed down. The handle would need to be up in your picture. The handle would be used to hold & steer the blade while pounding the blade to split away the wood. Google froe and there's tons of pictures and vids of them in use. Sort of like a primitive bandsaw. Find pictures in Google that'll help you more than I could explain in words.
Well I did Google it before asking. The handle isn’t parallel to the cutting edge as are all of the ones I see online. I’m not arguing, just trying to understand.
 

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Tpmetal

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100 percent an axe head that was beat on as a wedge. the eye tells the story of how it bent, and if it was purpose made for this shape that eye would not be all mangled and misshapen. It would have been a nice even shape without all those dents and gouges where they tried to straighten it back out or something.
 
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boogeyman

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Can you provide a picture of another example that’s in better shape? I’m confused with the bit being perpendicular to the strong axis of the handle.
Take the blue arrow and point it to the bottom of the pic. Then you'd pound on the edge facing the camera. Handle up pound down. What la! Yr splitting shingles.
 
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pa plateau hiker

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As Tpmetal says, it's a badly mangled axe head. It's too thick at the base to be a froe. I have been digging rusty iron since the early '70's and have found my share of beat up axe heads, which this is one. Not a froe.
 
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Almy

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Not a froe. Froe has long blade parallel to handle direction. Blade is pounded on its top edge.
I think is is an carpenter's hatchet that has been used as a wedge by pounding on the poll with a sledgehammer. If it were an axhead, the handle holes would each buckle outward (away from each other) on both sides pretty evenly. That's natural because they have an outward curve. That made the hole wider in the middle and shorter in the pounding direction.
This one failed by having the sides bend in the same direction. So it seems to me that one of the thin sides of the hole was originally straight in the same plane as the straight side of the head that went against the workpiece. The other side is curved to make the hole for the handle. Pounding on it could cause the curved side to buckle as with a normal axhead and the straight side to buckle inward as per the example here. I've never seen any one damaged like this one but I do have 2 carpenter's hatchets so I can visualize the possibility.
 
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USNFLYR

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Not a froe. Froe has long blade parallel to handle direction. Blade is pounded on its top edge.
I think is is an carpenter's hatchet that has been used as a wedge by pounding on the poll with a sledgehammer. If it were an axhead, the handle holes would each buckle outward (away from each other) on both sides pretty evenly. That's natural because they have an outward curve. That made the hole wider in the middle and shorter in the pounding direction.
This one failed by having the sides bend in the same direction. So it seems to me that one of the thin sides of the hole was originally straight in the same plane as the straight side of the head that went against the workpiece. The other side is curved to make the hole for the handle. Pounding on it could cause the curved side to buckle as with a normal axhead and the straight side to buckle inward as per the example here. I've never seen any one damaged like this one but I do have 2 carpenter's hatchets so I can visualize the possibility.
Almy, good observations. What I can’t visualize is that the hammering surface of the maul is perpendicular to the blade. The eye forms a perfect rectangle. In the failing process, you’d expect one "eye" side (or both) to bulge outwards, then the maul to collapse inwards. If this was repurposed as a wedge, with the open space in the eye, the further pounding and weak iron would’ve caused the maul surface to bend inward? While cleaning I scraped layers of wood out of the eye. This means a wood "chunk" was still in the eye as the wedge was used (accounting for the perfect rectangle shape of the eye). This wood filling the space could be why the maul did not continue to collapse into the middle. Or this blade had a wooden handle that was used to chop something in an offset manner. Interesting.
 
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USNFLYR

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Thanks everyone that contributed to solving this mystery! My Gemplers rust converter just arrived from Amazon. The wedge/froe shaping blade will look great on my shelf, and it will have a neat story.
 
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Zep11in

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Just going to throw my opinion in....Log Hew.. they took on several shapes and forms, especially when not mass produced.


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Tesorodeoro

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Just going to throw my opinion in....Log Hew.. they took on several shapes and forms, especially when not mass produced.


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The long axis of handle in your photo is parallel to the bit. As it should be since that will be what gets the energy when it is swung. Important aspect to how a tool was used.

EDIT: The handle likely broke and the owner used it as a wedge with the handle wood still firmly intact in the eye. That preserved the inside shape and it may have lasted quite some time before it bent sideways.
 
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