Carpentry Axe #1

foto 1-4Because lets face it, who’s going to be on the look out for “Hjärtumyxa”  with those two dots over the a like that, beyond our friends up there in Sweden,  this one truly worthy of the attention?  Hjärtumyxa, once called Daskebackar’n, unique among carpentry axes as I’ve gone over it elsewhere on the website. It is another example from the forge out at Hjärtum, a small village between Göteborg and Trollhättan just off the main road, the axe in question, namely the one in this picture, smaller than the other, its cutting edge of 100 mm.

I may be jumping ahead of myself but giving a write-up on this one now will give me a chance to show one of these axes in a somewhat unusual light, as this very one, sitting on my workbench, is directly from the hands of Skog twice removed. Ok it has that going for it, but because these axes have until most recently not changed hands so much, that is to say the original owners tend to keep hold of them often passing them on to family members, it’s not unique. It has never until now been far from the village and in addition never been fitted with a handle so it would even be fair  to write, it has never been handled, a pristine and virginal Hjärtumyxa  remaining as it is seen here, unused now for more than 50 years. Now I’m going to put it to work.

And as long as I am tiptoeing ever so cautiously near the topic, with the admission that I am in full knowledge adding validation to an unfounded and even repudiated myth, I will nevertheless  repeat the often told story  intended to give explanation for the uncanny abilities and characteristics of this piece of equipment, namely that the secret to the tempering, that is to say the process of heating, judging when precisely the iron and steel have attained the point of optimum serviceability for their intended functioning in use, assessing, and concluding when to quench, in short the pinnacle of the subjective nature of the skill of a blacksmith embodied in the ultimate cutting edge, is that the blade was always quenched in a fluid containing the premenstrual piss of  a  virgin. Ok, the story as it has always been passed on is less crass and therefore more enduring, but no less weird huh? Where the fuck did that come from? Well, it must be true. I say that, but in fact I think it doesn’t matter. The story being attached is enough.

foto 2-13 In the highlighted area of the poll in this shot, a little to the righthand side of it all, a keen eyed onlooker will make out the sign, where the stamp “Hjärtum” is visible. Further confirmation comes to me from the one I got it from who lived next door to J. Skog and took it from him personally. On the other axe the stamp being hidden under that layer of paint, so I’m going on  trust in Steffan Claesson there, made it so I wasn’t able to show it in that instance. I like it like that, just Hjärtum and maybe something else there, difficult to know or not. But that’s what we’re on about here, isn’t it, the embodiment of the good axe, in every way just how it should be, that is to say, first and foremost properly made by the smid in the local forge of multiple components in a tradition  of continuity, without pretense, being turned over to its owner who has selected it with high expectation and a settled occupation, to be given the proper handle made to suit, by that one.