This page was last updated on: November 7, 2017
I offer axemaking courses for individuals (or pairs) in my main workshop, or as part of a small group using my Ancient Forges. Courses can be as long or short as you like and can cover every element of knifemaking, basically if I can do it then I can teach YOU to do it! 

Private courses offer the widest scope of what you can do, since it allows us to use modern tools and techniques. Whereas the group courses are a great joint experience that allows you to create a unique knife using the most basic of equipment

One-to-One courses are £300 per day or £250 per head per day if two of you come together. Group courses mostly work out at £150 per day, but are dedicated 1, 2 or 3 day courses 

Take a look at the information below to see which type of course would suit you best! 

Individuals and pairs work in my Main Workshop
A look at what small groups make during a knifemaking course
 Axe making Courses
Basics of Axe making
shiny things
Whichever type of course you decide upon, the time frame and processes are broadly the same. For an idea of what to expect when making a simple forged finished axe (head and handle), read on.

Any extra complexities will take more time, but that can be factored in. These extras could include laminated (or even Pattern Welded) blades, ground and polished blades (including hamons), inlays, decorative filework, complex or multiple sheathes, etc.
Day 1 (or a one day course)

Starting with a suitable piece of virgin tool or spring steel (no recyclying of suspect materials here!). Using the traditional Blacksmiths' tool kit of forge, hammer and anvil, to shape the axehead. Once forged, a little tidying up with a file or grinder can be done prior to heat treating. If you prefer you could make an adze instead of an axe.

If you intend to make a simple axe, then you will be able to forge the head, heat treat and sharpen it in a single day. The heat treating with my modern set up takes several hours to accomplish due to the time that the furnace takes to come up to temperature for each step of the process. The heat treating methods used during a group course are more traditional and much faster (if not so precise), but the blade making process takes that little bit longer. Either way, this is a LONG day and often runs over the 5pm mark!

Day 2

I will provide you with a piece of seasoned, cleft ash from my woodland. From this you will hew and carve a handle (haft or helve, if you prefer) before fitting it using an oak wedge.

The handle will be carved using a combination of axes, drawknife, rasp and scraper, before oiling to preserve the wood. Once the handle is nearly ready, we can grind and sharpen the edge of your axe.

Group courses
at the
Ancient Forge School
Groups of between 3 and 6 people are taught using historical forges and the hand tools that have been used in knifemaking for over 2000 years! Simple tools and ancient techniques, doesn't mean that you have to make a a poor quality tool. We use EN43 spring steel for these axes and the only limits on your design are that are the block of steel I give you (this will be approx 1" square and 4" long).  Also, due to day light hours, these courses can only be run between March and September. Other than that, the world is your oyster!  You can make a great little hatchet, hawk or adze in just a couple of days ;-)

Scroll through the gallery below for a step-by-step guide of a typcial group axemaking weekend. 
Private Courses 
in my
Main Workshop
Individuals and pairs are normally taught in my main workshop, where I have more 'toys' and we can make better quality (as well as more ambitious) axes. These courses can be arranged for any dates that we are mutually available and at any time of year. 

Scroll through the gallery below for a step-by-step guide of a typcial private axemaking courses.   Much of the process is the same as if using primitive kit, so its worth scrolling through the group axemaking pics too.
Some examples of the knives produced during these courses
Some of the folk who have booked private courses in my workshop
Terms and Conditions

Unfortunately, due to the poor conduct of a small number of people, I have to lay out some rules. Most of these should fall into the realms of common courtesy.

1) As space on some courses is limited a deposit is required for all courses except the sharpening course (in which case I ask for the whole cost to paid upfront). Deposits are priced thus: £30 for a one day course, £50 for a two day course. Deposits are required at the time of booking, with the balance to be paid at or before the start of the class. Deposits are non-refundable within two weeks of a course commencing unless the cancellation has occured at my end. 

2) Should a course need to be cancelled for any reason, a full refund (or transfer to another course if preferred) will be given. I will also give as much notice of this as possible.

3) Should a course have to be cut short (eg. the Great British weather makes it unsafe), then a proportional refund or postponement of course will be granted at the discretion of the organiser. So far this has not happened, as I try to have back up plans ;-)

4) Although everything possible has been done to ensure that these courses are safe, there are inherent dangers with activities of this nature. You will be briefed as to any particular health and safety precautions. The organiser and instructors take no responsibility for injury or loss caused. 

5) Participants under 16 years must be accompanied by an adult. Adults wishing to leave their youngsters in the care of the organiser are welcome to do so but are asked to fill out a consent form. By booking an under 16 onto a course, the parent/guardian is promising that they are mature and sensible enough to follow the tuition without disruption of the class. 

6) Conduct. 
All participants are expected to conduct themselves in a reasonable and adult manner at all times. Please respect and follow instructions given by the tutors and organisers, these instructions are given for good reasons. 

I will NOT tolerate antisocial, offensive or dangerous behaviour. Should this behaviour be observed, you will be given a single warning only. If the behaviour continues then you will be asked to leave and forfeit your fee. No excuses and No exceptions.

It takes a little while to get the lump of metal hot, but as soon as it is work can begin
Start by punchin a slug of steel from the middle of the bar. This can be done solo, but a helper is sometimes easier
the cheeks of the axe are thinned before drifting the eye to shape
A drift (tapered bar) is driven through the slot to open up the corect shaped/sized eye. Easiest if there is a striker to help
Of course, REAL women swing the sledge hammer in one hand!
Next the blade of the axe or adze is worked down using a sledge hammer
Here is an adze blade being formed
the finer shaping and final drawing out of the blade is done by hand.
The rough shaped head is then normalised to relieve stress and refine the grain structure.  After this the cutting edge is tidied up with a file
Any irregularities in shape are filed off and the head severed from the bar.
bi tmore filing, but ONLY if there is plenty of time!
The axe heads are quenched in oil or tallow .
after hardening the blades are tempered to hold an edge
Day 2. The handles are carved from a piece of sesoned, cleft ash from my woods. Starting with axes...
Assuming the weather is with us, it is a chance to sit down and use the shave horses
the shape is further refined with drawknives, rasps and spokeshaves.
If the weather is a bit iff, we can use vices and clamps instead
Handle design is a very important combination of form and function. This chap remade his handle when it was pointed out what his handle looked like!
The rough ground (but still quite sharp) heads are fitted to their handles using oak wedges
Finally the axe is sharpened ready for use!
October 2007. My first axe making course.
2007, some fine axes and adze
Axe making group in March 2008
march 2008 axes. My axe is second up and is the one that goes with me to shows
April 2008 a private group booking. These guys did especially well considering the weather that we had!
April 2008 axes, mine seems to have been missed out
April 2009, Private group (Rob's stag weekend!)
Rob and Co only wanted forgework, so axe/adze heads on one day and knife blades on the second.
2010 axe making class (the final member ran off early, so is in a seperate shot)
the final member of 2010 :-)
2010 axes. Mine is at the centre
the missing axe
Punching the eye. If there are two of you then work as a team, otherwsie I can help out or you can do it on your own as I do
the cheeks are thinned and spread before a drift is inserted to open the eye up
The flypress helps to shift the metal
Hand forging the bit out
The froged profile can be cleaned up with angle and then belt grinders before heat treating
once the forging is all done, a little straightening may be required
Day two and the handles are started. Cleft ash from my own trees
Poor chap needed a sit down and a cup of tea. Just as well he had produced lots of shavings!
a bit more shaping with drawknives, spokeshaves and rasps
the edge is ground on just before fitting it to the handle
and finally, sharpening
These gents flew over from the Netherlands to make bearded axes with me
Two days laters, we have these beauties!
Father and son boonding. Ben and Andy came for a couple of days during half term
An adze and an axe, good paring
Steve came to make an axe as well as a blade. Long hard days, but well worth it
This couple came for a few days and produced very fine axes and a blade each. The handles did get cut down later!
Paul came for a couple of days to make a blade and an axe head. After the axe, the blade was easy. So he made two!
paul's fine pieces
and my attempts alongside him ;-)
David made some carving tools, amongst which was an adze
Here they are. After 2 days he has an adze head, socketed gouge and a knife blade
Dam and Hada came for 5 days to make various tools. This was part of their honeymoon, all the way from Israel!
spoon hooks, drawknives, and small side axes amongst the tools