Thursday, 17 April 2014


Many tools have gained peculiar names over years of use, evolution and passing between cultures.

The Twybyl, is a corruption of “two bill” meaning two blades (one axe like and the other adze like.)  Anvils have a Bick (not horns…) from Beak- but I cannot say what the root of the “Spud” is.

What the tool is, however, is a bark- scraper for de-barking a felled tree prior to hewing, riving or other process.  It consists of a single bevelled blade with a sturdy socket at an angle or “cant”. A long handle, helve or haft is driven in to the socket by ways of carving a closely matched taper and the tool is pushed along the log with the single bevel naturally biting in-between the harder timber and the bark, prying it away in great lengths.

Tools like this have also been used where the bark itself is the product.

When I was first asked to make a “Spud” by a friend and correspondent in the Netherlands, I did at first think of a potato.

 Misleading and slightly silly the name may be, but I think it is important to keeps the old names alive. It’s the facets of an object that intrigue and excite me- by using the correct terms for traditional tools, we are not pedants but instead allow a thing to sit in our culture, heritage and language with its own distinct character.  It also makes me smile.

So a spud it shall remain!

The customer wanted the blade to be a laminate, with a closed socket. The blade also had to have a spur forge welded on- this aids turning the log.

The first part to be made was the socket; this was cut from 4mm mild steel sheet and formed into a tapering tube with the aid of my big fly press before being forge weld over a tapering hexagonal mandrill I had forged.

This picture is taken out of chronological order, but it shows the material cross-section once the welding was completed.


One of the reasons there has been no blogging from me for a few weeks is that I have been very busy! This is also the reason why I haven’t been as thorough as I used to with photography, so there are unfortunately no pictures of the welding on this project. But I must ask- how many images of hot metal does the internet really need…?

Apologies all the same.

Back in the order of process, two pieces of steel were forged to the same sizes, one of 0.6 carbon steel and the other of mild. These were forge welded together and a protrusion was forged at the back, to be inserted into the socket.





Once the two parts were suitably fitted, I heated the blade and inserted it into the cold socket, with the whole arrangement in the vice the “tang” was spread inside the socket, essentially “riveting” the structure together.  This fix was preliminary to the forge welding phase that firmly bonded the pieces together.

The spur was split away from the body but also re-enforced with additional carbon steel, forge welded all together and drawn out to a sharp point.

After the piece was finished it was wire brushed and thoroughly waxed to protect it.

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