Agreed. Fortunately, our hobby is known for it's conservatism, so it can
reliably assumed that something used 200 years ago would also have been used
500 years ago, 1000 years ago. At least on the basic things. And wood
properties for tool handles is something that doesn't change much.
After Columbus and the settling of North America a radical new wood variety
was found. Hickory. Very similar to ash but maybe a bit more flexible.
Hickory would have been used in Europe except that it is not a very cold
tolerant wood. At least in comparison to oak or ash. The ice age pushed
the hickories up to the alps where it could go no farther and died out in
Axe, adz and hammer handles: Ash and oak, chestnut, even elm. Generally
diffuse porous woods for the strength and flexibility
Chisels and slicks: boxwood, elm, hop hornbeam, fruitwoods.
planes: beech birch boxwood (if you can find a big piece of boxwood)
Anvil stump: definitely elm. You know why elm? What else are you gonna
use elm for? You aren't gonna split a big log into firewood or rive it for
boards. If you can split elm with a wedge and splitting maul I want to see
you demonstrate that at Pennsic. If you have no elm to demo I will settle
for sweet gum. ;-) Elm does have some application for water pipes and
waterwheels (because of rot resistance when kept wet). And turned wheel
hubs for wagon wheels, also because of the interlocking split resisting
Sorry I have no definite source/bibliography. But I know the reluctance to
split elm has from personal experience.
From: Gary Halstead [mailto:ghalstead@...
I'm not aware of any survivals, but ash has been a pretty common choice
since it's fairly tough and absorbs shock well. Other woods that could
be used for tool handles include: oak, service tree, whitebeam, yew, and
hazel. To a large extent it's going to depend on what's available.
> Anyone have an idea of which type of wood would have been prefered
> for an axe (maul, hammer, etc.) in 12th-15th C. western Europe?