Crafting a Medieval Axe Head

Some Progress

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The Plan is to take this

A generic hatchet from Harbor Freight

And make this

An ornamented, 7th-century Merovingian battle axe head on display in the British Museum

Here's a link to the British museum that has the original head that inspired this project.

This is the information on the supplied link

Iron axe-head inlaid with silver

Merovingian, 7th century AD

From the area of Neuwied, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

A ceremonial or battle axe

The axe, particularly the lighter francisca, or throwing-axe, was a favourite weapon of the Franks, and the francisca took its name from them. The elaborate silver-inlay decoration of this example is a clear mark of the owner's status or military rank. It is very rare on this type of weapon. Though the decoration does not mean that the axe could not be used in hand-to-hand combat, it may suggest that it had a ceremonial function. The wooden shaft has not survived.

D.M. Wilson, 'A Frankish axe-head from Germany', The British Museum Quarterly-1, 28 (1964), pp. 30-32, plate 11

The concept is simple but the work will probably be harder then it appears. The plan is to grind the shape into the harbor freight hatchet using a bench grinder and angle grinders. I'm more worried about mimicking the shape not the inlay work (yet). If I can get the shape accurate I may try inlaying the head with silver or more then likely brass or copper but that's getting the cart in front of the horse.

The reason I'm choosing the hickory handled version over the cheaper fiberglass handled version is I'm thinking I may be able to rework the handle into a more medieval piece. That may be a futile attempt and I wont really be able to tell until I go to the store and look at it in person. If i'm going to need a new heft I may as well go with the cheaper one to start with. Plus cheaper is always better.

Most reviews I've found on the axe / hatchet talk about it being pretty good steel with a decent temper but really dull with a bad grind. Since I'll be reworking the whole head the grind doesn't matter to me.

Some Progress