Practical Skills: Greenstone Axe

One of the more basic tools is the axe. Using an axe a person can more easily obtain wood, and shape it for use. Greenstone is a rather hard metamorphic rock that works very well as an axe head.

The first step in making a greenstone axe is getting the greenstone. Greenstone is fairly common and is found throughout Europe and most of North America as well as other places around the world. A good piece of greenstone will be of an appropriate size and nearly in the shape of an axe head. It should be free of flaws, as the stone would break along a flaw the first time it was used

Once you have your greenstone it is time to form the axe head. There are two stages in this process. First you must flatten the axe head. Remove any location that is higher than the surrounding rock. The usual method for doing this involves using a rock harder than the greenstone (quartzite or harder) in a overhand fashion with as much force as you can comfortably muster. Which does in fact mean smack it with a rock until it is flat.

The second step is the lengthy one. Cover a flat and smooth stone with wet sand and bits of rock that you smashed off the greenstone. The consistency of the sand and water should be paste-like. Then you simply grind the greenstone on the sand until it is worn into a sharpened axe head. It is important that the wedge be gradual along most of the axe head, otherwise the force of impact will damage it. The process of grinding the axe head into shape leaves the final product smooth and polished.

The last thing to do is to put a handle on the axe. Typically a hard wood is preferable for this. We will only go over the simplest method of hafting the axe. There are more complicated methods that are superior in some ways, although take much more skill to perform and are more difficult to explain in this format. First, using the rock that you used to flatten the axe head, create a groove around the whole of the axe on the side opposite of the sharpened edge. Then take a long piece of green wood and partially split it down the center. The wood that is still whole is the handle. The wood that is halved should be wrapped around the axe head twice and tied firmly the shaft. Let the wood dry and try it out!

-Benjamin Shender

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6 Comments

  1. Bill Maxwell said,

    June 29, 2006 at 8:08 pm

    Do you have any pictures of these steps? (just basically what it looks like at each major junction)

  2. January 5, 2012 at 3:35 am

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  3. September 18, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    It’s actually a nice and helpful piece of info.
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  4. October 23, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Thanks for finally talking about >Practical Skills: Greenstone Axe Aftermath <Liked it!

  5. Assenuekesy said,

    January 17, 2013 at 11:36 am

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  6. tom said,

    November 27, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    Anyone know where i can buy raw greenstone?


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