How to Forge an Early Period Broad Axe

How to Forge an Early Period Broad Axe

If you ask a group of woodworkers which tool they’d have if they were limited to just one, you will often get the answer, “an axe”. A skilled axeman can do an amazing variety of tasks from felling to hewing to fine shaping with the right axe. The broad axe, frequently misrepresented today as a weapon of war in fiction, is a subcategory of axe styles used particularly in woodworking for hewing and shaping timbers. Representations of early period Nordic, Germanic, and Anglo-Saxon forms of the broad axe often “T” shaped in structure, giving the axe a broad face but a relatively light heft. An example of this form can be seen in the shipbuilding sequence on the Bayeaux Tapestry.

In the following video, Darrell Markewitz of Wareham Forge ( gives us some insights as to forging techniques needed to make the Nordic version of this beautiful tool including splitting and drifting the eye and drawing out to prepare to receive a separate cutting blade composed of a welded composite of a piece of tool steel sandwiched between two pieces of mild steel.

Click once to view the video.

{ 1 comment }

Darrell Markewitz February 14, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Thanks for a well written introduction to this video clip!
Viewers may be interested to know that this tool was made for the Norse Encampment living history program at L’Anse aux Meadows NHSC (Parks Canada – see )
This was part of an order of Norse ship building tools I researched and made for them. The fellows then used the tools to produce a replica faering (small fishing boat) from green timber. They did a great job too. Happy to report the tools functioned well and proved durable (as I hoped!).
Those really keen should refer back to my Blog (Hammered out Bits) at
You will find commentaries on the production of this and other Viking Age replicas and reproductions.

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