BASIC FORGING -- HAND FORGING AN AXE OR HAWK HEAD

For the past few days my interest has turned away from knives; and hawks and axes are my current interest. At my age, the more physical hammering involved in forging a hawk keeps that interest away most the time. But sometimes the urge just has to be answered.

I've had a 1 inch square piece of 1080, that was 6 inches long, already slotted, and ready to be forged -- sitting on one of the benches for well over a year. I went and picked it up last night to use it for a straight edge; and this morning I found myself sticking it in the forge.

Anyway I took some pictures that I hope will help explain whats going on.


Hot Forging A Hawk Head -- Bumping UP

The first few heats I do will be to make the front of the steel wider. I do this by holding the butt end flat on the anvil and hammering the top of the steel. This is called "bumping up" or at least that's what I call it. (It is, I guess, called "upsetting" in the commercial world; but I prefer to call it bumping up.) This bumping up is a step that is usually skipped by fellows on the first few hawks they make. They get that banana looking thing on the one end. If you want ax or hawk to be quite wide on the front this bumping up needs to be done.




Hot Forging A Hawk Head -- Stretching

After the bumping up I start using my 6 pound straight peen to stretch and lengthen the steel. You can see how much longer the blade is already. I have put about 10 or 15 minutes into what you are seeing now.




Hot Forging A Hawk Head -- Widening

After the stretching, the next step is to start widening. I do that by using the cross peen hammer. 99 percent of the hammering done to this point was done with either a straight peen or a cross peen with the steel right on the flat of the anvil.

This is where I chose to give the old arm a rest.




One thing I have learned about hand forging is your goal is not reached on the first go round. Basically I follow a series of steps and I do these several steps several times before I end up with what I'm wanting -- and even then I may change my mind. Pretty much what I have showed so far can be called step one.

Step two is pretty much the same thing as step one, except there is a little more going on. I guess what I'm trying to say is to bring everything up equally and don't try to do it all at once. Go from small, to medium, and then to large. Three different steps if you want to look at it that way.




Hot Forging A Hawk Head -- Do A Little More, Step-by-Step

What I'm showing here is the cold shunt that forms almost anytime you are moving this much steel by hand. You can grind this off, but I chose not to. I'll just hammer it back into itself; and at the same time I'm shaping the profile as I go.




Hot Forging A Hawk Head -- Truing Up the Profile

This picture, and the next two, show me truing up the profile.

Hot Forging A Hawk Head -- Truing Up the Profile

Hot Forging A Hawk Head -- Truing Up the Profile




Hot Forging A Hawk Head -- Three-Quarters Forged

This photo shows where I'm at now. The bit is about three-quarters forged at this time.




Hot Forging A Hawk Head -- Drifting the Eye

It is now time to shove the drift into the eye and true it up before it gets too distorted. When I'm using a drift, that's about the only time you'll see me wearing gloves. After the drift is used it gets pretty hot. Its real tempting to pick up bare handed. Normally after you get done using the drift it ends up on the floor. Its not uncommon to smell something around this time. Most likely what you are smelling is the sole of your foot gear burning.




Hot Forging A Hawk Head -- Drifting the Eye




Hot Forging A Hawk Head -- Forming the Spike

I'm using my handy dandy Godzilla to get the spike end started. I'll do just enough with Godzilla to get a good taper started on the top, bottom and two sides.




Hot Forging A Hawk Head -- The Forged Head

This is where I stopped. I'll take a good look at it and determine what I need to do next.