Damascus Viking's Axe "Braveheart"
Hello. My name is Baltic Vikings’ axe. They used to call me a Braveheart. I was born when the good old gods still walked the earth. The brave men of Baltic tribes used me to build homes for their families, chop the mighty pines for firewood and to defend them from evil. I was happy, because most of the time I was used to flourish life and not to take it. People were happy and so was I - for I gave them shelter and warmth, not blood and tears - life was good. Then came the Danes and they wanted to enslave my friends, but soon enough they found their final resting place near the salty waters of Baltic sea. After Danes, came the Swedes and I ensured that they would meet the same fate. I was angry and my revenge was mighty and furious - Sigtuna was no more. Then came crusaders from all over the Europe, and the happy days were over. For 300 years I fought bravely to protect my people from intruders - I gave no quarter and they were no match for my blade. They were too many, and I became notched and worn. They won. My people were enslaved and I was forgotten to rust with the ashes of brave warriors under their stone graves. Only a few remained that could still tell the stories of who I was and what I did. For 800 years they tried to destroy even slightest memory of me, but they never succeeded, because my people were strong and never forgot that I provided them with shelter and warmth. They never forgot that I fought bravely to defend them from evil. They banished intruders and once again I could be reborn to tell my story to those who would hear me…
The Baltic 'Braveheart' Viking Axe is a historical replica of axes made around the 7th-9th centuries in the Baltic lands. The blade is a laminated, bearded design, and fitted to a sweeping, curved handle, with four lugs to ensure a secure hold on the handle. The grip of the handle is wrapped in tanned leather, embedded into the handle. The leather is wrapped near the blade as well, for better grip there. The beard allows the user to choke up on the handle for controlled strokes while crafting or as a shield disarming action used in reenacting. This is a one handed weapon that was likely used in place of the sword, being easier to craft and more versatile around the camp and woods or as a back up to the spear. The Baltic 'Braveheart' Viking Axe is considered ‘battle ready’ and should be handled with extreme caution due to its sharpened blade. Written on the handle is an approximately 1300 years old love poem in Runes. The original wood piece with this poem - a weaving knife with rune carving lays in the Swedish History museum.
The blade has been forged from 3 layer laminates of pattern welded Damascus steel. Each of them has 400 layers. The middle layer is high carbon Damascus steel and the side layers are made from milder Damascus. This technique makes the blade more durable and stronger. Annealing is needed to remove the inner stresses in the steel formed during the forging. To do that axe is heated to 850 degrees Celsius and cooled very slowly to room temperature. After that the axe goes to second heat treatment step which is normalizing. For this the axe is heated again, this time to a 800 degrees Celsius, our makers mark is stamped into the steel and the axe is cooled down in the air. Normalizing prepares the structure of the steel for the next step; hardening. Again the axe goes into a furnace and is heated to 800 degrees Celsius. Then the axe is quenched in mineral oil and water. Now the axe is hard enough, but is very brittle so it needs to be tempered. For the last time the axe is heated to 220 degrees Celsius, and is held at that temperature for one hour. After the axe is tempered to Rockwell 58-59 (HRC) and the steel is hot enough, a mixture of bees wax, linseed oil and turpentine is applied to the axe head. This is a very old and effective way to protect the tool from rusting. After final smooth grinding and polishing the axe blade, it reaches mirror finish, becomes razor sharp and is ready to get its own unique handle.
Each axe handle is made individually for each axe head to achieve a perfect fit. To start, a knot-free piece, of locally harvested and kiln dried (6-8% of moisture) Red Elm wood is chosen and then marked out using a template. We use only parallel grained wood to the axe eye, if the grain of the wood will be perpendicular to the axe eye - it will break fast and will not last long. The rough shape of the handle is sawn using a bandsaw. Next the handle is shaped using a drawknife. Axe eye dimensions are marked on the top of the handle and the handle is shaved to almost fit the eye. Final finishing is carried out using sandpaper to ensure a close fit. Then the axe handle is tightly punched into the axe head and locked with the wooden wedge which is glued in with an epoxy wood glue. A small steel wedge is hammered into the wooden wedge to lock the axe head vertically. Now the axe has been laid in the Tung oil bath for 24 hours, this fills the wood pores with the oil, and swells the handle so after a week the oil dries and polymerizes and wood is fully protected and it will never shrink.
Like our other leather goods, the axe sheath is made from cowhide that's manufactured in a local tannery using the same methods and techniques that were used 100 years ago. 4mm thick leather is dyed with Fiebings professional oil dye. Afterwards, the leather is treated with palm leaf wax and heated beeswax that gives it a vintage look and protection. As final finish Fiebings Acrylic resoline is being applied.