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Thread: mortise axe

  1. #1
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    Default mortise axe

    I've picked up a couple of mortise axes, I was wondering what the edge should look like, such as what angle roughly should the bevel be and should it be square or slightly curved ?

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  3. #2
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    A quick search of Google images shows modern mortise axes as having a square bit. Some of the olde timey axes have a curved bit but that could be from wear more than design.
    It looks to be a fairly robust angle on the bevel. Possibly 30 - 40 included.
    Those were the droids I was looking for.
    https://autoblastgates.com.au

  4. #3
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    Thanks Laird, I've squared them off. Haven't honed them yet, probably got a 30 deg angle on them at the moment. I'll put them to work over the weekend and see how the go, after I make some new handles.

  5. #4
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    Don’t forget to take a few photos to show us

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    For our hardwoods 30-40 degrees is the grind angle, remember to take off the shoulder of the grind at about 2 degrees to assist penetration.
    A curved bite is preferable on hard material, but that's just a personal thing. Seems to be less jarring.

  7. #6
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    I tell a lie, I've squared one and curved one. As for pics , I used to post pics all the time when all I had was " my pictures" easy peasy . Not so straight forward now that someone has introduced other photobucket stuff.
    Still I'll have another go sometime when I'm in a zenningly calm place.

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by HUON View Post
    I've picked up a couple of mortise axes, I was wondering what the edge should look like, such as what angle roughly should the bevel be and should it be square or slightly curved ?
    Hello Huon,

    The ones I have used ranged from 25 to 35 with an added 5 micro bevel accordingly.

    Many are only beveled on one side just like a large timber framing Butt or Mortise Chisel.

    Most are not meant to be swung like a regular ax but hit by another striking tool (sledge, mallet, maul, etc.) Typically only the double bit type are employed for rough mortising with a swinging strike.

    Edge geometry varies based on wood species worked, but many (most?) do have a slight "rondel" (aka curve to the edge) just like large Parring Slicks.

    There is a long history of these from a number of woodworking cultures from Africa and all through Europe...

    Hope that was of some help...

    j

  9. #8
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    Thanks j, the bevel on one side did cross my mind. One of those questions that doesn't quite make it past the "hmmmm I wonder" stage. And you're right about them being hit, these two axes have definitely been belted.
    I'll try and find another mortise axe and put a bevel on one side to use closer to the finished sides of the mortise. I'll keep these two axes, one with the straight edge and the other with the rondel edge, and see how they perform as they are.
    Cheers

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by HUON View Post
    Thanks j, the bevel on one side did cross my mind. One of those questions that doesn't quite make it past the "hmmmm I wonder" stage. And you're right about them being hit, these two axes have definitely been belted.
    I'll try and find another mortise axe and put a bevel on one side to use closer to the finished sides of the mortise. I'll keep these two axes, one with the straight edge and the other with the rondel edge, and see how they perform as they are.
    Cheers
    Hello Huon,

    If your really "getting into all of this," please do experiment with what works well for you...

    Much of our traditional knowledge was lost over the last 150 years globally with not only the World Wars, but all the other conflicts that took tradespeople away...and there wisdom with them. I was lucky to have found the teachers I had. As my traditional teachers (from several cultures) have taught me, the tools and the materials will teach you the best methods better than any other person ever could...IF!!!...you just pay very close attention to what they have to say and share with you!!!

    Here are a few more insights I have learned over the decades...

    Rondel edges on flat tools are for parring strokes most often pushed by hand...not by blow from a striking tool...

    Flat edges with single bevels are for parring and chiseling...

    Flat edges with double bevels are for rough work of hogging out stock...usually but not always...as it depends on the tool and the edge geometry and the technique applied...

    I look forward to what you discover!

    Regards,

    j

  11. #10
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    Thanks for your insights, j. I'll keep you posted with progress on said mortise axes. Haven't got around to making any handles yet. Been busy planting out aubergine and watermelon seedlings and nutting out how to proceed with my solar fruit/tomato dryer.
    Cheers all.

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by HUON View Post
    Thanks for your insights, j. I'll keep you posted with progress on said mortise axes. Haven't got around to making any handles yet. Been busy planting out aubergine and watermelon seedlings and nutting out how to proceed with my solar fruit/tomato dryer.
    Cheers all.

    Hi Huon,

    Sounds like a real "permaculture adventure" you might be on? Sounds awesome!!!

    I just came in from feeding the piggies and will be hunting this afternoon. Good to know there is others "down under" still getting their fingers in the soil and working the old ways with tools...

    Don't hesitate to reach out with any questions I might be able to help with.

    Many Blessings,

    j

  13. #12
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    I haven't seen a useable morticing axe for many years but 40+ years ago when I worked with power poles we used to use an Adze for cutting "joggles" for the crossers to sit in. These Adzes were quite sharp, they had to be for hacking into hardwood power poles and were usually sharpened with a round stone. When some idiot (like me) put a dent in the edge they were repaired using a flat file which had the tang end of the file sitting in a small hole drilled into the handle just above the ferrule of the Adze. The file was worked in a sweeping motion from side to side with the tang pivoting in the little hole. This kept the angle of the blade right and left a good smooth finish that just needed a couple of rubs with the round stone to produce a shaving-sharp edge. From memory there were 2 types of morticing axes, one the the cross-cut, the top and bottom of the mortice, the other was more like a broadaxe that sleeper cutters used where one side was flat to make a smooth cut on the inside of the hole. Now we just use a chainsaw.

  14. #13
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    G'day Old Hilly, could you please tell me, was the small hole drilled into the handle, just a divot or did it go all the way through?
    Thanks for your reply. I too use a chainsaw, the chainsaw is very quick. My kneecap will attest to that.The surgeons at Wangaratta Hospital did a fantastic job.
    I now have some very good chaps to protect my caps.

  15. #14
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    The hole was more a little divot, just enough to hold the pointed tang of the file as it swung back and forth. The angle of the file was probably taken from the original angle of the blade when it was new, just lay the file on the blade and where the tang hits the handle, drill a hole to suit the file. The file was fairly fine, don't know what they were called, never could work out what the difference between a "bastard", "mill bastard", "second cut" and all the others were. It definitely wasn't a rasp anyway! The file was wrapped in an old oily rag along with the palm-sized "Norton" abrasive stone that was used on both the adze and the axe.
    My "leading hand", an old ex-log faller was particular about his tools. Always sharp, always well looked-after and never used by anyone else. He and his mate used to make their "drinking silver" betting the chainsaw fanatics that they could beat them in a race through a log with their cross-cut saw. Sometimes the chainsaw would win but I think that was a deliberate ploy to keep the chainsaw blokes coming back to loose more money. Those old bush-workers were sneaky old buggers!

  16. #15
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    Thanks Old Hilly, quite amazing what people come up with to make a repetitive but important step to keep their tools singing.

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