Not only do we like to throw tomahawks here at TomahawkGuys.com but we appreciate the artistry and beauty that many fine pipe hawks exhibit. The same craftsmen that build our favorite throwing hawks often times build pipe hawks and other edge weapons too. I happen to have a very fine pipe hawk that was crafted by Beaver Bill. I had been keeping it in a gun case but I wanted a way to display it. I was inspired one day when noticed a chunk of a sassafras tree glowing in the sunlight. I had previously cut down this tree as it was dead and now noticed that the grain exhibited some nice “figuring” when the sun shone on it. It was “curly” sassafras! I thought I would slice off a piece of the log and sand it a bit to see if I could bring out the grain. It wasn’t the most “figured” piece of wood I have ever seen but still nice looking. I also had some deer antlers that we found in the woods and one was shaped like a hand with three fingers. The antlers could hold the pipe hawk nicely without fear of it slipping out if positioned at the right angle. I drilled a couple holes through the wood and into the antlers and screwed them together. Here are some pics of the finished Deer-Antler stand with my 1760 French Pipe Hawk. You can pick up a ‘hawk like this over on Beaver Bill’s website. For the stand, well, you’re on your own.
This video features the rehabbed axe from my previous post and demonstrates a one, two, and three rotation throw. After a long afternoon of throwing ‘hawks and this axe, my lower back was getting rather weary. Notice that I could throw the one and two rotation from a standing position but the three required a couple step lead up to get axe all the way to the target.
If you like to throw tomahawks as much as the TomahawkGuys like to throw them, you will sooner or later try throwing other things, especially axes! After seeing several very cool videos on the web featuring throwing axes I knew eventually I would try it out. There is an old tool shed on our “recreational” farm where my late Father stored many of his tools. I knew we had a few axes in there and now was the time to find out if any of them were good candidates for throwing. I found three old axes in there, two were standard size but one of them was a little smaller. I found out later that this one is what is called a “Boys Axe”. This one seemed perfect for throwing. It is about 2.5 pounds and the handle around 30 inches long. The other two were larger at 3.5 pounds and longer handles and just too heavy for throwing. You will notice that all the axe throwing videos on the web feature double-bit axes! Double-bit axes are cool and I would like to find one sometime but you can only stick one side at a time so if all you have is a single-bit axe, use it. It did throw just fine and I was able to stick a few although the handle broke after just a few throws from being weakened with age but I knew I was on to something. The head was all pitted with rust but otherwise in good shape. I had a hard time finding a “Boys Axe” handle locally so I ordered one online from House Handle Co. Meanwhile I went to work on the head. I first used a wire wheel to clean the rust and dirt off then I used a Dremel Tool with a small grinder and cleaned off the rust from the blade end. I really liked the texture from the pits inthe metal so I just cleaned the surface and left the pits in there. I kinda’ “faded” the cleaned blade end into the still rusty poll end. I then used a buffing wheel attachment on the Dremel to give a little more shine to the bare metal parts. Overall it turned out just how I wanted it to. The new handle arrived and after installing the old rehabbed head, I have been putting it through it’s paces and am learning to throw the axe.
The best way I know of to instantly achieve zen-like accuracy is to leave a tomahawk stuck in the target block and then throw another ‘hawk at the target. You must also have the proper mindset though. The thought that needs to be going through your mind is something like: “What are the chances that I could possibly hit that other ‘hawk if I go ahead and throw this one…” With that you are about to accomplish one of the most difficult throws, that of hitting the exact center of the handle and splitting it AND still sticking the hawk just thrown. I have seen it done on several occasions so go ahead have fun and give it a try.
Here is a fun video we did with a little work in iMovie. Night-Hawk’s daughter said we were goofy after she watched it. What can we say, goofy or not, we like to throw tomahawks and are trying to get the word out!
Here is a slight variation on the usual game we play with the TomahawkGuys paper targets. We normally set up just 2 targets on a block face, one for each thrower. Each would take 5 throws at the same target for a game. This method uses 5 targets and each competitor throws once at each target for a game. We found it more difficult to get in a “zone” so to speak as we had to throw at different areas of the block to hit the targets.
Night-Hawk had a great idea the other day. We were about to burn a small brush pile that had been setting around for a few years, only thing it was in a field rather far from our usual throwing range. He suggested that we take a portable stand and a target and set it up next to the fire, after all if we had to sit around and watch a fire for awhile, we might as well do some hawkin’! Like I said, great idea!!
We were able to get our hands on a couple of the new Beaver Bill Mouse Hawks. The Mouse is basically a smaller, lighter version of the Beaver Bill Thin Line model. Unlike a lot of other mouse hawks, the Beaver Bill model uses the same size handle as his full size throwing hawks just cut 4″ shorter. In the picture below is shown a Beaver Bill Mouse Hawk next to an H&B Forge Pierced Lady’s Hawk. Quite visible is the difference in the handle “diameter” and the mass of the head. There is also a big difference in the way these feel in the hand. The heavier head and skinnier handle on the H&B model makes it quite obvious when holding the handle that there is some weight out there on the end. With the Mouse Hawk, due to the larger handle and thinner head, it is not as obvious leading to a more balanced feel. I personally prefer to feel that weight out on the end especially for throwing. The bottom line though is how it performs when throwing and is it easy to stick.
One of the concerns we had with the Mouse Hawk’s throwing performance was how well it would stay “true” and fly end over end, particularly on the longer throws. The lighter head seemed like it could be susceptible to “flailing” around during the flight. A few throws with this hawk proved that not to be the case. The Mouse Hawk is a very capable thrower, and we found it a lot of fun giving it a thorough work-out and sticking it at every distance up to a 6 rotation at about 70′. The lighter weight makes it a very good alternative to the much heavier “standard” sized throwing hawks. I also enjoy throwing the H&B model but the Mouse Hawk seemed to out perform it in ability to “stick it easy”. I believe that is due to the thinner profile of the blade allowing the Mouse to penetrate deeper into the target. The target block wood also seems to grip and hold the blade tighter. This is obvious when removing the hawk from the target block. The H&B will frequently just pop out of the wood with a light touch where the Mouse Hawk will need to be wiggled back and forth to loosen it. At first look to the inexperienced eye, the Mouse Hawk, seems less substantial, Flimsier(?), maybe even cheaper looking than the H&B and most other hawk maker’s throwing hawks. It would seem better to have a thicker, heavier tomahawk head and maybe for some purposes this would be true. In my experience, for throwing purposes, the Mouse Hawk, and in fact all the Beaver Bill Throwing Hawks, which share that thinner profile characteristic, just seem to stick better, and that is the best asset of all.
If you have thrown tomahawks enough, you know that it doesn’t take long for the head to loosen up on the handle, sometimes sliding all the way off. The heavier the tomahawk head, the more of an issue this is. A few of my ‘hawks seem to have a tight grip on the handle and don’t slip much, but even these will come loose if subjected to an under rotation that causes the grip end of the handle to strike the target first. I have been testing a method that will lock the head on the handle much tighter than it was but any head will break loose, even with this method, if under rotated and the handle strikes first. What I do is simply take the head off and apply a thin squiggly line of hot-glue on the area of the handle where the head seats. I then slide the head back on and, with a hammer, drive the head on so it seats all the way back up the handle where it originally was. The hot glue forms an extremely tight gasket between the head and the handle greatly minimizing the amount of slipping the head will do. The best way to do this is to heat the head up in a toaster oven while the hot glue gun is warming. You want the tomahawk head hot enough to keep the glue soft while seating the head back on the handle. This way the glue fills in all the spaces between the head and handle creating a very tight fit. When the glue cools and hardens I trim off the excess with a razor knife.
In the picture above, the vise is not clamping the handle, just providing a solid surface for the head to rest on since you need too bang the handle pretty hard to re-seat it. Be careful because you will chip off the corner of your handle if you hit it on the edge. Try to hammer right in the middle or use another block of wood to protect the handle.
This is the bag I use to carry my ‘hawks in. One of those tool bag things I picked up at the hardware store. Sometimes I will have up to 10 ‘hawks in there at a time. Since this bag has canvas sides I knew that I needed something to put on the ‘hawk blades to protect the bag. I had previously picked up a leather sheath at a recent NMLRA shoot from a vendor but I wasn’t satisfied that this was my answer. It didn’t fit my ‘hawk very well and I needed at least 10 of them. Yes, I admit that a nice leather sheath fits in perfectly with the whole atmosphere of ‘hawk throwing and all that. In fact if you are going to be carrying one around on your belt or are a re-enactor then yes, get a nice leather sheath. However, my main gig is throwing and I needed something compact so it wouldn’t take any extra space in my bag, and it had to be cheap. The answer, “Sharp-Shields”. Very simple to make and inexpensive too. I picked up a 25’ roll of 1/4″ I.D. stiff plastic water tubing. It comes in a roll it and has a natural curve to it that matches the curve of the blade. I believe this roll cost me about $5 and is enough to cover more ‘hawk blades than I will ever have. I simply cut a section slightly longer than the blade with a razor knife then carefully slice through one wall length wise on the concave side with the same razor knife. Then I force each tip of a 10″ bungee cord through the ends. The bungees comes in a pack of ten or so for about $4. There you have it. Very low profile and cheap blade covers. Not as sexy as leather but does the exact job I need.
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