casting bronze axes and adzes

Now I have been working with bronze axes and adzes every day for 2 months and have answered many questions about how to set up the edges and haft them efficiently. There are lots more questions I would love to explore but shall not have the time about the metallurgy of bronze. We did get into this a little when Time Team came filming our project again. Phil Harding inspecting our handiwork. Phil is a great guy, we used to do the craft fairs together me doing turning him flint knapping many years ago before his Time Team work took off. His day job is still as a working archaeologist though.

This is Neil Burridge with his little mobile furnace for casting bronze and our apprentice Rachel on the bellows.

 Casting was quite like us steaming boat timbers a couple of hours holding everything at a set temperature  with building excitement followed by a few seconds frantic work.

 The clay moulds are pre heated in a charcoal kiln then stood up on a bed of sand.

 all ready

 and here comes the bronze

 Some folk let the bronze cool naturally particularly if sand casting. Neil drops his into water and thinks this may give the tool more ductility. I would be very interested to know what the effects of heat treatment quenching vs slow cooling are on the grain structure of bronze to see if the science can contribute to the art. This is the moment of truth as Phil opens up the mould to reveal the tool. I am afraid I don’t seem to have photographed it up close, as soon as they had it out it was my turn on camera experimenting with it alongside one of Phil’s flint tools.

 The Time Team special on boatbuilding in the bronze age will probably go out in the Autumn.

Here is an index for all blog posts on the Dover boat project

bronze-age-woodworking-tools-early thoughts
woodworking-marathon-continued-just 18 hours to go.
dover-boat-launch-day-end-of-3-months work.
the boat-that-didnt-float.

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