"Axe me no Questions"

HOME

(up-dated 1/April/2016)

  

EXPERIMENT IN PROGRESS

EXPERIMENT SALVAGE

SOMETIMES, AN AXE IS JUST AN AXE

HOW TO MAKE A STONE AXE

....IF, AT FIRST

SPUDS

    Larry using one of his celts.

Larry using a celt at the Rabbit Stick Rendesvous U-tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zObOcOdUWo&feature=related


  These two celts were completed on December 1st, 2008. They are replicas to be used in a documentary. The darker one on the left is made from dark granite and has a dogwood handle. Stone: length 9 1/2 " (24cm) width 3 5/8" (9.1cm) thickness 1 3/4"(4.5cm)        Handle: length 20 7/8" (53cm) height 3 3/8" (8.5cm) thickness 3 3/4" (9.6cm)

The one on the right is a piece of granite but with more color than the other. It has a hackberry handle. Stone: length 9 7/16" (24cm) width 3 7/8" (10cm) thickness 2" (5cm)        Handle: length 23 3/8" (59.4cm) height 3 1/2" (9cm) thickness 3" (7.6cm)


(Photos by David Cox, Click photos to enlarge)

Larry's axe demo at Rabbit Stick '03


                         

 

This celt was finished November 7th, 2008. It's made of basalt and has a hackberry handle.
     
This is a close-up of the cutting edge. Also, note the crease.


         Note the crease.

 

This basalt celt was finished November 8th, 2008 and is mounted in a dogwood handle.


 Rabbit Stick "06

          (Photos by Candy Johnie)

 Larry uses "Big Mama" on a mountain poplar log at Rabbit Stick '06. The handle broke so it's back to the drawing board.


    (Photos by Tom and Merry O'Brien)

Rabbit Stick 2007. The handle breaks again. The shorter handle gives more control. So, it's off to make a stronger, shorter handle.


Here are some of the axes, celts, and other ground stone tools, or stone tools,  Larry has made and used over the last 20 years.

If you're looking for stone celts, stone axes, groundstone axes, or groundstone celts, made from granite, diorite, greenstone, or quartzite, you should find this site interesting.

Ground stone axes and celts are made by pecking and grinding. A fine-grained granite, greenstone, basalt, or diorite is battered with a flint hammer until it is worked into a rough shape. This is rough work and requires a lot of persistence and time. The work is especially hard on muscles and elbows. Larry's axes and celts take from 4 to 25 hours to make, depending on size and material. After the axe, ground stone tool, or celt is pecked into shape, it must be sharpened on a sandstone slab. This may take minutes to hours. When completed, it will serve as an effective wood-working tool for a very long time. Following, are some ground stone axes and celts. To see Larry's newest ground stone celt in the process of being made, go to EXPERIMENT IN PROGRESS.

(Photo LK)
LARRY'S FIRST CELT
This is the celt Larry made for the Calahan pit house project at Cahokia Mounds in 1982. It was later broken by a 9 year old boy who was chopping a 6" black locust log, during Rediscover Cahokia, a few years later. Even broken specimens can tell us much about these wood-working tools.

   

   (Photo Dick Norrish)

Setting the first of two large gates to protect the Calahan pit house (in the background) and the earlier Cahokia pit house reconstruction (on the right). From the left are : Larry, Tally Evans, and Gene Harrod, great Cahokia Mounds volunteers.

(Photo Dick Norrish) The completed stockade

The stockade at the old Cahokia Mounds Museum. It was built in 1983 to protect the Calahan Pit House from vandalism. The 400 lb. gates were done, with stone tools, by Larry and a few other volunteers.

(Photo Dick Norrish)The stockade interpretive sign at the old Cahokia Museum

(Photo Pete Bostrom)
GLEN'S CELT
This ancient celt is owned by Glen and is one of the largest celts in Illinois. It weighs about 25lbs. and is 18 1/4 inches long. Larry believes that such large celts are not for felling trees but are used when the tree is down. Dugout canoes would have been a perfect place to use such large celts.

(Photo LK)
DICKSON MOUNDS CELT
The celt pictured above, was broken while cutting an 8 inch, black locust log at Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown Il,July 11th 1993. When it broke, an employee ran out of the museum thinking someone had fired a shot from a rifle. Larry was swinging the celt so hard that his feet were leaving the ground. This was an experiment to see what size celt should fit to what size handle. As you can see, this celt needed a smaller handle. Only through experiments like this, can we determine the correct ratio of celt size to handle size. Even though it's a shame to break a tool that took many hours to make, it's important to note how and why it broke. If a tool can't do the job, it must be modified until it can do the job or be discarded

(Photos LK)


GRAHAM CAVE Grooved Stone AXE
Axes are made with a groove around the handle to accept the haft. This axe was made in 2002 for Graham Cave State Park in Missouri. It was pecked with a flint hammer and ground on a sandstone slab like other ground stone tools. It was hafted by steaming and wrapping the ash handle around the stone and then wrapping the handle with twisted, deer, rawhide. This is a full-grooved axe. This type was used for thousands of years until the 3/4-grooved axe became popular. The 3/4-grooved axe had an advantage over the full-grooved in that a wedge could be set between the stone and handle to tighten the stone in the handle when it became loose. Full-grooved axes had no such advantage. Celts were the better hafting system because they allowed the stone to seat every time it hit the log, thus wedging the stone tighter and tighter in the wooden handle.


  (Photo LK)  Larry using the celt.
3500 CELT
This celt has cut 3500 limbs and trees from 1/2 inch to 12 inches in diameter. It's never been resharpened!! This is one of the celts used in the construction of the Woodhenge at Cahokia Mounds. The Woodhenge is a solar observitory made of 24 black locust logs and 24 red cedar logs about 10 to 12 inches in diameter. They were all limbed and cut to length using celts. The work was done by several Cahokia Mounds volunteers. The bark was also removed using celts and clam shells. The center pole was set by the volunteers and the remainder were set by site maintenance personel. The center pole could have been raised with as few as 3 people. The secret is to dig the hole with an "extraction ramp" leading to the deepest part of the post hole. "Installation ramp" may be a better term. It was plumbed by using a rock tied with a string and letting it hang. The post was then shifted until it's center was divided by the string. The same was done at 90 degrees.
 

(Photo LK)
BROKEN CELTS
Broken celts have much to tell us. Admittedly, we'll have to break many of them to learn their secrets but these two can give us some hints. The top one was broken at Dickson Mounds Il. It was the result of an experiment to see if an oversized handle could exert too much pressure on the stone and break it. That is what happened and it told Larry that the handle should be smaller next time.

The lower celt was broken by a 9 year old boy while cutting a 6 inch log at Rediscover Cahokia. It broke as the result of "side slap". That is, the handle twisted in the hands and the stone was "knapped" as it slammed against the opposite side of the cut. As a result, Larry makes his handles oval (vertically) rather than round. The handle allows a better grip that helps prevent "side slap".
 

(Photo LK)
3/4 GROOVED AXE
This 3/4 grooved axe was made for Larry by Julie and Toby Morrow. Larry has used it to cut about 300 trees. The 3/4 grooved was a big improvement over the full-grooved because the 3/4 grooved has a flat spot to drive a wedge between the stone and the handle. The wedge is used to retighten the stone when it becomes loose after 15 or 20 minutes of chopping.
 
(Photos LK)
This celt was made for a friend on 3/Sept./'03. On the left, is the hafted celt and, on the right, is the stone celt by itself.   
 (Photo LK) Another celt, made for a friend. 
 (Photo LK) This celt was made for Southeast Missouri College.  

 

 (Photo LK)    This celt w/maple handle, was made for the Becks,
(Photos LK) on their 25th
 wedding anniversary, March 31st, 2007.
 
         This one, with a charred maple handle, was made for the 2007 Trivia night and silent auction at Cahokia Mounds. It was finished on April 11th, 2007.

 

This celt was given as a prize at the 2007 Archaeology Day, at Cahokia Mounds. It was won by Earl Fey, the chairman of the event. It was completed in June, 2007.


   

This celt was made for David Wescott and was pictured on the cover of The Bulletin of Primitive Technology (Fall 2007 issue #34). It was made in August of 2007.


 

      (Photos by Robert Myrick)
This celt was finished in mid-January 2008. It was an attempt to replicate a celt found in Mississippi.

           

    

 


   
 

 

 

HOME

  PAGE 2