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Monday 11 November 2013

Medieval-style woodcarving blades by Dave Budd, finished with handles

Here's some images of the medieval-style blades that were made for me by Dave Budd in Devon, which I've fitted with handles made from spalted hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna). You can see more about Dave making them in the previous post.

Spalting is fungal action within the cut wood that causes the bands and patches of colour. The next stage would be rotting, but hawthorn timber is tough stuff and the spalting in this wood doesn't seem to have affected it's hardness much, if at all. I haven't seen any particular references to spalted wood being used in medieval tool handles, but if it looks good to me then I suppose it probably did to toolmakers then as well.

Following Dave's advice, the handle for the socketed gouge (the biggest one) was carved to fit into the cone of the socket. Some beeswax was put onto the carved bit before it was pushed in and knocked into place. The wax seems to hold the blade and handle together, whereas gluing might fail with the repeated shocks of mallet blows. The other tools have tangs, spikes that go into the handles.

The forged steel has the look that I wanted, since most if not all tools from those times would either be made by blacksmiths or the carvers themselves. As a guide to size, the largest gouge is about 13" (33 cm) from end of handle to edge of blade.

Two very useful sources for reference information on tools of the period were the St Thomas' Guild blog and

If you are interested in the history of woodcarving and carving tools in particular, here is a link to an interesting web page about Viking tools and materials: vikinganswerlady

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