Throwing Axe Rehabilitation

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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.

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Achieving Zen-Like Accuracy

Perfect Throw

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.

Throwing Game Variation

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5 Targets

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.

Tomahawk Target Field Test

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In the field

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!!

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The moment before impact

Mouse Hawk Comparison

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Beaver Bill Mouse Hawks

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.

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Beaver Bill Mouse and H&B Pierced Lady’s Tomahawk

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.

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Mouse Hawk Stick from 6 rotations

Head-Lock

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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.

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Re-seat head all the way on the handle

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.