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Forging a Semi-Historic Halberd

Discussion in 'Knives, Axes, Hatchets and Machetes' started by CaddmannQ, Oct 22, 2017.

  1. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    Messages:
    7,473
    (Friends, I have moved a lot of material from other threads where it was rather off topic, into this dedicated thread.)


    WHY the hell do I want a
    halberd? Well I will be going into that later . . .

    First of all, I am going to move my halberd posts to this thread, from the machetes and hatchets thread and elsewhere. For some reason I decided to get serious about this and now I'm on a roll.

    Those of you who don't know what the halberd is, just keep reading.

    This is going to be semi-historic, because I am not going to try and recreate any particular known halberd; but I am going to create a faux weapon that never really existed, but but might have given the practices of the time.

    I am not, however, going to use those historic processes to manufacture my piece. I have the modern advantages of acetylene, and I have electric motors that can run a drop hammer. Don't expect me to wind up with arms that look like Popeye guys.

    But I do this s*** partly because I do need exercise & I can't imagine myself spinning some wheel down at a gym.

    Okay it's time to take stock of what I've already posted in drag it in here.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2017
  2. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    Messages:
    7,473
    The halberd is a medieval multifunction pole weapon, designed (like most polearms) be wielded by a man of arms on foot. Here's a pretty fancy one, designed more for ceremonial duties than to arm a fighting man.

    Screenshot_20171022-121246.jpg

    It is descended from agricultural tree loppers and pruners and light axes, equipped with a spear tip. It is highly effective against both heavily armored footmen and mounted Swordsmen with lances. And is equipped with a beak or hook which may be used to pierce armor or snag armor to rip a man from his mount.

    It is also inexpensive and does not require the amount or quality of resources going into a goodly sword or crossbow.

    This chart shows the evolution from simple spear and hook, into complex, ceremonial, and decorative forms of several weapons.

    As a crossbow (and later firearms) made armor increasingly illogical, so became any forms of the pole arms, and they were relegated to the ceremonial weapon of the Sergeant at Arms or door guard. At the top of the chart you can see the exaggerated in frilly forms that eventually were created.
    main-qimg-6621f0d961bcdfba5af32bece140d753-c.jpg

    From my research the epitome of these ceremonial and exaggerated curlicue forms came in 1939, when 3 brave fellows attacked a castle full of flying monkeys.
    Screenshot_20170928-172425.jpg
  3. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    Messages:
    7,473
    I think just with the tools I have now I could Forge a small one without too much trouble, but I would really like a better anvil and I would not start from a steel bar.

    I would start from a commercial steel handled Hatchet or axe, like the Vaughn that I bought.
    It's really almost the perfect shape to work from. I would Forge the handle into a leafy spike. I would Forge the axe itself out thinner, more like an Executioner's axe, than a woodsman's axe. I would Forge the "hammer" side of the head out into a hook or beak.

    I would need a piece of steel pipe, and weld It to the Head, and split it four times and shape it and drill it for the rivets. Four tangs are required to support from the wooden handle and two are long and two are shorter The handle is not a round pole, but correctly would be rectangular in shape, or have a directional egg-shaped section such that the wielder could easily tell whether he was using the axe, the bill, or the side of the head, by the feel of his hands without taking his eyes off the enemy.

    The handle would also normally be long enough such that you could easily Dismount a horseman.

    Halberds I looked at were 8 feet long and more, the head alone being 32" or more.

    Mine would be shorter, as necessary in a residence which doesn't actually have enough ceiling space to allow horses indoors.

    I could afford to spend $34 on a new axe to forge it from but it would be cool to find an old rusty Estwing at a yard sale. My wife is a yard sale nut, and I have her on the lookout for old tools and Axe Heads.
  4. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    Messages:
    7,473
    I've been doing a lot of shopping online trying to find a real halberd that I can afford, but all the ones I can afford are either poor modern reproductions, fairly good, simple, modern ones which really are not reproductions, or are strictly ornamental.

    But in the process I started browsing the armor and weapon collection of the Metropolitan Museum of history, and it is awesome.
  5. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    Messages:
    7,473
    Well I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to make this work out but I have a big forged steel pin about 1" dia and a foot long.

    It is forged to a dull point, and it will have to get much much sharper. ;)

    20171023_080823_resized.jpg




    I have no idea what this is from and no idea what alloy is it is but it seems to make some proper sparks for manganese steel when you grind it. On the other hand it is magnetic as well, so I'm suspecting that it's carbon steel with some manganese in it. Anyhow it should work.

    If I heat the hatchet head and ram this thing through the eye hole and Forge it all together (then do a whole lot of drawing, grinding, and shaping) it could make a sturdy, respectable, and even attractive halberd, if not a particularly large one.

    Then again, considering the size of my castle gate, and my arms, a modest-sized halberd would probably be more reasonable.

    There should be 4 "langetts", each of which attach to one side of a rectangular Pole, using several handset rivets. I will have to make them out of bar stock and forge them to the Head. The short ones I can draw from this pin, as it will get considerably longer as I Work It.

    There is also every possibility that I might do something so unique as to make this unrelated in its completeness to any particular form of halberd that has existed in past history.

    As long as it is still fully functional that would please me to no end. I'm not trying to create a replica here but more of a modern Relic.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2017
    John A. likes this.
  6. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    Messages:
    7,473
    There is a video on YouTube where a guy makes a halberd, somewhat crudely but still deadly, from a rake and a hoe.

    I think I like my idea better, but I will have to forge that hatchet out much thinner. The halberd is not for chopping wood, but it's for chopping through arms and necks and thin steel plates.

    Of course as I forge it out thinner it will also get larger. In fact it will have quite a bit of room to get larger, and well there were some rather large halberds made during the middle period of its popularity, but earlier and later ones were all rather smaller.

    This tells me that the real necessity was swift thrusting and chopping, but when plate-mail became heavy and complete, the Halberd got larger & heavier as well, to deal with the extra armor.

    I do not see the need for one oversized or over complicated or overweight. Even lightweight armor is not that popular anymore. ;)
  7. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    Messages:
    7,473
    (My post did not come out in the correct order but I'm forging ahead anyway.)

    I went to a yard sale today and for $20 I bought this homemade anvil which is topped with a 5/8" 4 x17 inch cold rolled plate.

    Somebody cut & welded it and drilled it, and then never used the thing.
    15087726784011448413490.jpg
    For a couple bucks more I got the ancient Roofing Hatchet head which looks like a good place to start forging a replica halberd.
  8. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    Messages:
    7,473
    After reading through all of this stuff and looking at my bits again I have decided that I am on the wrong track.

    The Metallurgy of this hatchet head is going to work against me. It will also require a better Forge then I can Cobble together without much effort.

    Finally I may not be able to do any heavy trip-hammer forging here. I don't think the neighbors would take it well. Better to start with already forged tool steel blades, and then I will just have to forge my own welding, which will be minimal if I plan this right.

    A halberd is not a battle axe and a battle axe is not a woodsman's axe.

    I think I should start with a thinner core of tool steel and build up the langetts and socket out of more ductile steel.

    The guy with the hole in the rake was on to something but I'd certainly didn't care for his work, and it was clearly a quick and dirty job.
  9. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    Messages:
    7,473
    I scored this Chinese made heavy duty floor scraper for about $25 today. Approx 6' long.
    20171031_174326.jpg

    This thing was hand-forged and you can still see the hammer marks on it, but it was forged from a Stamped Out blank and you can see the die marks.

    This is much thinner than a woodsman's hatchet, but still suitable for some serious chopping.

    The head will have to rotate 90 degrees of course, and it will need a hook cut.

    After I weld & forge it, it may need re-tempering.
    Djcala likes this.
  10. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    Messages:
    7,473
    This is there a rough layout of the blade and Spike.
    20171031_203052.jpg

    The ferrule will change, and the handle will be reshaped as a rectangle section.
    Kadelic likes this.
  11. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    Messages:
    7,473
    I had lost track of this thread, but my project took a 2 year hiatus for remodeling etc.

    Anyhow, I see that scraper every day, by the door. My interest is not diminished.
    Bobster and meanstreak like this.
  12. Bobster

    Bobster .30-06 Supporter

    Messages:
    1,910
    Thanks for the update! I have 2 of those scrapers, I think they were called the "Mutt" and painted orange. One is still attached to the handle and was used for ice-chipping back in my northern days but doesn't see much use now except for occasional root chopping. The other is off the handle and was heated to a 90^ bend about in the middle and used as a barnacle-scraping tool back in my diving and yacht-servicing days...
    meanstreak likes this.
  13. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    Messages:
    7,473
    I sort of decided that the floor scraper blades were too thick to use for the blade of a halberd. That means too much forging to thin them out.

    I am working on an idea to set up a small Forge but I still haven't got around to it and frankly if I build a drop Hammer my neighbors will probably go nuts.
    meanstreak, carbinemike and John A. like this.

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