One of the most recognizable items of the Norse world is, of course, the bearded axe of the Vikings. We already know that the horned helmet of the Vikings is just a figment of imagination. Still, just as well, we are aware that that the axe of the Vikings was authentic. It is a favorite weapon of the Norse warriors and the most recognizable item of them all.
Now, it is safe to say that anyone who is regularly following Viking pages online, either here, on Facebook or YouTube, likes and respects the culture of the Vikings. It is also possible that some of you wanted to try to design your own axe. Well, for you, it is your lucky day. We will explain in detail how to create a true Norse hatchet from any old axe that you can probably find sitting somewhere in your house.
Axes During the Viking Age
When we speak about the Norse viking axes, it is important to say that archaeologists, in many cases, aren't really sure when they dig up an axe if that axe was used as a weapon or tool. Most of them are quite similar in their design, especially among the poorer Vikings. One could say that the Vikings used the same axes for both tools and warfare. Also, it is notable that Vikings were among the first to use the bearded axe.
However, in some cases, there is really no doubt what was the original purpose of the said axe. Such is the Danish axe which is a large axe that was wielded with both hands. In contrast to its size, the axe was very light and probably pretty easy to wield.
Also, in Norse society, it was known that the sword was reserved for the nobility, while the axe was available to pretty much everyone. You may think that this would make it a universal weapon, but that is not entirely true. The axes of the noblemen were usually very recognizable. Many of them had distinctly shaped blades like the cross axe from Ludvigshare, while the others had different carvings on their blades like it is the case with axe from the magnate's grave in Mammen.
How to Make a Viking Axe From an Old Hatchet
So, we have come to our little DIY project. The first step is to inspect your old axe. Start with the handle. If your axe is very old, the handle is probably unusable. It could be old and fragile, and you don't want that. Also, inspect the blade of the axe. There is probably a lot of rust that will need to be taken off. The cutting edge of the blade is also probably very dull and needs to be sharpened.
The second step, obviously, is to remove the handle. Use a saw to remove the largest part of the handle that you can safely reach, and after that, use some chisel or another metal object to remove the rest of the handle from the axe. It might be a little bit more difficult than it sounds, so it will probably take a lot of time and patience but keep ongoing; it will be worth it.
The third step is rust removal. There are many ways to remove rust, but since you don't want to damage your blade, you can use 1/2 gallons of vinegar and 1/2 cup of salt to make a vinegar bath. Submerge the blade in it and leave it until tomorrow. When your return, use some type of brush to remove the rest of the rust (a toothbrush will do the trick).
For the next step, you will need a grinder. We understand that not everyone has it and that not everyone knows how to use a grinder, so please, handle this bit with care. If you don't know how to use it, please find someone who knows and can help you with the project. You should first mark the edges of your blade in the way that you want it to be shaped. After that, use the grinder to cut it along the edges.
Once everything is cut to size, it is time to smooth the edges. And the blade to make it shiny. You can start with scotch brite and connect it to a standard drill. When you finish with it, you can use an air sander to smooth it out even more. After that, you should sand it by hand, and your Nordic axe is good to go.
Axe Decoration Ideas
Once your axe is finished, you might want to decorate it with some of the essential Viking motifs. It is important to choose the symbol for your remodeled axe wisely, for it will give your axe both spiritual and aesthetic value. Today we will present you several Viking symbols we think would garnish your axe beautifully.
As you already know, Viking literature was mostly passed on in the spoken form. However, when Vikings wished to perpetuate certain thoughts, poems or stories, they used the runic alphabet, also known as futhark. It is important to remember that for the Vikings, runes were much more than letters - depending on the context, they represented various potent symbols that brought deeper meaning to their lives. Vikings liked to believe that runes could bring them contentment, prosperity, strength, health, victory, and even death. By carving runes into your everyday objects, you could summon the Gods, and in some way - determine your faith.
In Norse mythology, the supreme god Odin is also the protector of those Vikings who were slain in battle - knowing that it makes complete sense why so many Viking symbols connected to war were also the symbols of Odin. Valknut, also known as Odin's knot, is one of the most prominent Viking symbols, which consists of three interlaced triangles.
The nine corners of these triangles symbolize the 9 worlds of Norse mythology: Ásgarðr, Vanaheimr, Álfheimr, Miðgarðr, Jötunheimr, Múspellsheimr, Svartálfaheimr, Niflheimr, and Niðavellir. So by carving Valknut into your axe, you could pay your respect to all the Norse gods, and since it is so easy to draw, you could save yourself a little time.
The Horn Triskelion
Another prominent Viking symbol associated with the god Odin is Triskelion, the triple horn that contained the Mead of Poetry. According to Norse mythology, there was a man created from the spit of Aesir and Vanir, a man who knew the answer to any question asked. Upon hearing about such man, two dwarves called Fjalar and Galar killed that man, mixed his blood with mead, and poured it into three horns. Although the triple horn of wisdom was the subject of many gods' interests, god Odin was the only one who managed to take a sip from Triskelion - which made him omniscient. Today, Triskelion is used as a symbol of wisdom, and we believe it could charmingly embellish your Viking axe.
It is commonly known that Vikings used axes for various purposes. For Vikings, an axe was a weapon of choice for the warriors and the handiest tool for the farmers. Despite the fact that modern-day Vikings may don't need it anymore for these purposes, an axe can be a great asset to their private collections. Nordic axes can be used for chopping, splitting, and shaping wood, harvesting crops, cutting meat, mountain climbing, and can also be convenient tools for breaking out during emergencies.
We have seen the path that the axe travels from being an ordinary piece of wood and metal to being a piece of Viking equipment. We have also seen various runes and inscriptions that could be put on the runes. But, one thing remains true at all times. An axe is nothing without a brave warrior to wield it.
As you can see, our fellow Vikings having an almost authentic Norse axe is no longer a matter of prestige. You don't need to spend a huge amount of money in order to behave a perfectly designed Nordic axe - all you need to prepare is an old hatchet, some tools, and a lot of creativity.
Until our next meeting,
So very informative.
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