How Axe-heads Were Made

Axe-heads were made by welding two pieces together. The poll is the back or handle end and is made from iron. The bit is the blade end and is made from about 3 inches of harder steel (Starr, 2009, p. 51). The welding process was different than what we think of today. The bit was inserted into the poll. The combination was heated and then pounded with the trip hammer. This heating then hammering cycle was repeated until the two parts were fused together. The head was then tempered to make it the proper hardness (which they identified by color of the metal) by alternately heating then submersing in cold water (Starr, 2010, p. 51).

A trip hammer is a powered hammer and anvil combination in which the power source, steam in the axe factory, raises the hammer. A spring-loaded mechanism locks the hammer in place while the worker positions the pre-heated metal. The worker then trips the hammer by pressing on the foot pedal to release the spring lock, causing the hammer to drop. If the foot pedal is held down, the hammer will repeatedly rise and fall (Shaker Museum (2022).