I stopped to look at it between bursts of chopping and had a thought.
|Photo by Peter Follansbee|
During a spoon and bowl carving class taught by Jogge Sundvist at Country Workshops. I got to play around with a Viking Axe made by Stefan Ronnqvist. These axes are things of beauty and intuitive to use. In short, they are everything you want a tool to be. They feel light and nimble in use, but with enough mass to really go to work.
It was that nimble feeling in the hand that I was looking for and I knew exactly how to get it.
Notice in the photo above how much material there is in front of the eye of the Viking axe. This forward mass gives the axe that wonderful balance. As soon as you pick it up it feels ready to go to work.
So I cut the hammer head from the back of my shingle axe, and it was transformed. I picked it up and it had that light, nimble feel. The new forward balance of the tool gave it the feeling of being ready to do whatever I asked of it, and it backed up that feeling by delivering greater control when put to use.
I couldn't just leave the sawed off, ugly nub behind the handle so I set up my grinder and went to work.
|Grinding the chamfers.|
I had to use both wheels to grind the chamfers on the back so that the handle wouldn't interfere. This could also easily be done with files, maybe more easily.
|Shaping the rear profile.|
If I had had even a glimmer of an idea that I was going to do this I would have done this grinding before fitting the handle.
You can see that my axe has more mass behind and around the eye than the Viking axe. I could tell that it was going to start looking funny if I removed much more material.
The chamfer on the back edge flows right into the octagonal handle.
This process got me thinking a lot more about the balance of an axe and what handle shapes would translate to the most intuitive use. I'm sure I'll get another opportunity to play around with those ideas in the future.
And when you can buy one of these axe heads at a flea market for $8.00, why not play around a little?