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Billhooks!

Posted by Madnumforce 
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Billhooks!
October 14, 2012 09:33AM
Well, you all know how I crave billhooks now. I've gathered a small collection I wanted to share, just to show how many different patterns you can get:







n°1 : a pseudo-billhook I made myself from 1075 steel... the stock was too narrow to make a real hook, but now I regret it. I tried chopping wood with it, but there isn't enough retention to the socket handle, and after just a few strikes it come loose. On the other hand, it's a bit heavy for brush clearing. Not a success.

n°2 : the monster billhook I already introduced, and that makes my CGFBM looks like a toy. It's very heavy, and beside splitting wood I wasn't sure it could be of any use. I was wrong. In the garden of a friend's house, there is a kind of low very thick hard tangled bush/berry he wants to remove. It was almost impossible with conventional hand tools, but this thing is so heavy it breaks the tangled branches into pieces. Not an easy job though.

n°3 : a billhook of the Amiens pattern. Very wide and thin blade, wonderfull chopper. Saddly a large piece of the handle split off, and it makes it unconvenient to use.

n°4 : my italian billhook, so far my favorite. It's of the Bergamo pattern. Good reach, good balance, very versatile, and the hook on the hanlde is very convenient. The only trouble appearing now is the leather washers handle becomes smoother every time I use it. Having alterning diameters washers, like on a Kabar, would probably improve that issue.

n°5 : the famous billhook I litteraly walked on by chance in the riverbed of the Durolle, the river Thiers was built on. The pattern and construction is quite unusual. I never dared to test it.

n°6 : a billhook I found in a "garage sale" (with n°10), nothing special about it. It seems to be relatively low quality, as there is a section of the edge that it much softer. The pattern (I haven't found exactly which) seems ok to delimb, and clear brush, but the wide open curve make it an awfull chopper.

n°7 : a very rustic billhook a friend gave me. It's a typical local blacksmith manufacture, with a very crude ferrule (it's just an iron ring). The blade is thick and convex, and the abrupt hook makes me think it was designed to stick small logs to bring them to the fire place and then split them. The heavily dented spine might have been a clue.

n°8 : a very nice billhook I bought recently, of a relatively rare pattern and construction. There's a hook forge welded to the tang on the side of the blade to hang it on the belt, and it works fine. But it seems, and I say it seems, that the blade and the spine are not forged from the same piece, but rather welded together with "modern" welding technology. The blade is about 3mm thick, and the spine about 10mm. The sad thing is that the extra 7mm protrudes only on one side of the blade, and so it makes the whole billhook wierdly balanced. I hoped for very high performances, but because of that weird unbalance, a large part of the force was wasted in blade rotation on impact.

n°9 : your most basic Paris pattern billhook, the most common in France. This one is rather thick, and was made for our national railroad society. The edge doesn't seems to be in the right place, I mean it's very close to the axis passing through the handle. It also makes it unbalanced (too much weight on the spine), but it might be, in fact, that this billhook has been massively used and sharpened. Not very likely though, as then the hook would have also been worn off.

n°10 : this one is somewhat funny, it was made in France for Sandvik! Though it's very heavily pitted and rusted, it seems to be of a very modern construction: the blade has been stamped out of a constant thickness sheet of steel, and beside the ferrule it has two uncommon quarter spherical plates on the side of the blade, probably to reinforce the tang. The "primary grind" is a modern machine grind. Mediocre performance.

n°11 : a small billhook a friend offered me. Not much use, but sutrdy and "cute".

I hope you found it entertaining!
Re: Billhooks!
October 14, 2012 02:36PM
How are these carried on the person locally, is there some sort of scabbard employed?
Re: Billhooks!
October 14, 2012 04:33PM
Oh man, that is a sweet collection Mad. I'm jealous!

What was #3 designed for? Decapitations?
Re: Billhooks!
October 14, 2012 05:40PM
So which one do oyu use the most?
Re: Billhooks!
October 14, 2012 06:58PM
Quote
CliffStamp
How are these carried on the person locally, is there some sort of scabbard employed?

Frankly, I have no certitainty. I saw a very crude "scabbard" made from a piece of wood with a sawcut lengthwise and two holes to knot a rope to hang on the shoulder, but nothing else. I guess when not used they were just carried in a bag, and during use, if you needed to free your hands, you just stuck it in a tree or left it on the ground. Many, as splitting tools, probably belonged to the fire place, or with the wood steres to split.


Quote
Chum
Oh man, that is a sweet collection Mad. I'm jealous!

What was #3 designed for? Decapitations?

No, lol! It's a traditionnal pattern of the northern regions of France. This one bear scars of hard "batonning" (not sure it's the word when it's been done with a hammer/mallet), but the wide and thin blade excels at chopping too. The lack of a hook avoids to use it to drag logs around though.


Quote
styx
So which one do oyu use the most?

Definately the italian billhook, n°4. I find it to be the most versatile of all, and the hook/pommel is quite convenient also.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/14/2012 06:59PM by Madnumforce.
Re: Billhooks!
October 15, 2012 03:27AM
Yes when I am working I normally just stick it in a stump or similar, however walking to the worksite is a bit of an issue and hiking in general as the woods area I harvest in is quite large and hiking with a large blade open in your hand for an hour is a bit less than ideal. Plus meeting other people on the trail and coming around the turn with the blade out and open is a conversation point at least.
Re: Billhooks!
October 16, 2012 12:16AM
Quote
CliffStamp
Yes when I am working I normally just stick it in a stump or similar, however walking to the worksite is a bit of an issue and hiking in general as the woods area I harvest in is quite large and hiking with a large blade open in your hand for an hour is a bit less than ideal. Plus meeting other people on the trail and coming around the turn with the blade out and open is a conversation point at least.





Well, Billhooks I will have the same issue because billhooks are working tools not picnic tools. Anyone who don't use them to do some kind of permanent work with it it's okay, outside of the working contest the user it's just looking weird.

__________________________________________________________________________________

A man is never too weak or too wounded to fight if the cause is greater than his own life.

---Doctore Oenomaus, in Spartacus---



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/16/2012 12:27AM by kuro1.
Re: Billhooks!
October 16, 2012 01:17AM
The good thing with billhooks, compared to machetes, is they will fit in a relatively standard size cross-shoulder bag... which is fine for me, as it's what I'm carrying everyday. The french army used a very sturdy canvas musette bag, and now you find them in virtually every surplus store at a relatively cheap price (20$). I have three of them. Billhooks fit in there, though there's often the handle protruding in front, but no big deal. I guess people used to have such kind of bags, or primitive haversacks.