Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Blades of the 18th Century Woodsrunner 2.


elmo iscariot said...

Wouldn't carrying a tomahawk with the blade wrapped in linen make it difficult to use as a weapon? I imagine you'd need quite a bit of warning to start unwinding all that cloth.

Keith said...

If I am hunting wild boar, I take the wrap off before I start. The point is it can be dangerous to carry any blade with no cover. There is a period record of a hunter slipping on ice. He put his hand out to brake his fall, and landed with his weight on top of his tomahawk which cut his hand off. It is a matter of safety first & using common sense I guess. In a real situation where you feel you are in danger from attack, then you take the wrap/guard off the blade.

elmo iscariot said...

The point is it can be dangerous to carry any blade with no cover.

Of course, of course. I see some modern, ah, "creative" reenactors (like Renaissance fair performers, for example) carrying dull prop hatchets thrust through the belt with uncovered blades, and it looks extremely unsafe. I can't imagine a person living in the wilderness taking such a risk of serious injury.

For a while, I've been very curious about how people carried tomahawks--if they were used as weapons as well as woodworking and butchering tools--so as to keep them both safe and handy for a "fast draw", for want of a better term.

Was it standard practice to carry a tomahawk thrust through the belt with a separate cover over the blade? Am I inappropriately projecting modern obsession with fast access onto a group of people who just didn't think it was that big a deal?

Sorry to belabor the point, but you're the only person I know who's put so much work into knowing how real people solved these problems.

Keith said...

No apologies required Elmo, I welcome your questions. It is questions that keep these forums going.
I believe the method of carrying the tomahawk/[trade axe] through the back of the belt was the most common method for woodsrunners, both colonials and woodland Indians. There were apparently tomahawk pouches/covers which were suspended on a strap over the shoulder. There is at least one example of a leather cover being used in the late 18th century. Rogers Rangers also used a frog on the belt as was used for carrying the bayonet. I will see if I can find some images for you. Covering the blade was I think a personal thing, some did, some did not. Much I suspect like everything else depended on personal experience.
Regards, Keith.