Author Topic: Making a Bushaxe with the Bushmen of Namibia  (Read 226 times)

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Offline arson51

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Making a Bushaxe with the Bushmen of Namibia
« on: October 23, 2017, 07:02:45 PM »
Hello B&B its been a while since I finished up another post about my bushcraft explorations in Namibia. This current post is about how to build a bush axe.

The post does not lend well to the text box here. I'd like to ask you to read it here to see it in all its multimedia and embeded youtube glory!

http://www.wedoitoutside.com/2017/10/23/kalahari-survival-guide-the-bushmen-axe/

Here is the transcript for those who refuse to visit outside links:

I as a tool guy couldn?t help but be messmerized at the bushaxe. It harkens to the legendary tomahawk carried by Native Americans and frontiersmen of the US.

Unlike other axes and hawks, this tool does not have a conventional eye, instead it has a shank and fitted and pressed into a root burl of a hard wood. This allowed the tool to be converted in seconds and used as a axe, hoe, scraper, adze and as a small ulu type knife. There were some smaller examples in the village that primarily were used in the adze configuration. Each tool is crafted differently based on the many variations of axe heads, handle straightness or curve, and of course the whims of each craftsman.

All of the axe handles at Nhoma were made from the trunk and root burl of the Terminalia sericea. It was pronounced to me by my translator, Bertus, as ?Silver Terminaria? but the link describes it as terminalia. Maybe due to regional dialects.
plantbook.co.za_ter minalia-sericea4

The tree has blueish green leaves with silvery hairy bottoms of the leaves. After the first unsuccessful hike to go dig out and fell a silver terminaria for my own tool, I quikly was able to identify the tree from a distance and than appraise if each individual tree was suitable for a straight handled, sturdy, bushaxe. Typical of the bushmen?s lessons to me, it was coyote style, and we failed often, likely on purpose to teach me a lesson more than could be learned if we went out and they pointed out a great tree for me the first attempt.

The forging of the blade of the axe is a bit of a mystery to me. I was told the village blacksmith had passed, and he knew best to answer my questions. I do summise that each axe blade has been heat treated as the bushmen were careful to tell me not to overheat the axe head too much when fitting it to the completed handle.

Offline lgm

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Re: Making a Bushaxe with the Bushmen of Namibia
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2017, 07:52:40 PM »
Thank you for the video,  I found it interesting.
What a great day to be outside.

Offline Orbean

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Re: Making a Bushaxe with the Bushmen of Namibia
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2017, 09:38:36 PM »
Great post, really enjoyed it. Thank you
Nice matters

Offline Mannlicher

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Re: Making a Bushaxe with the Bushmen of Namibia
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2017, 06:33:24 AM »
I wonder how they did that before someone introduced metal to the tribe?

Offline lgm

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Re: Making a Bushaxe with the Bushmen of Namibia
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2017, 12:19:23 PM »
I wonder how they did that before someone introduced metal to the tribe?
My bet would be the shoulder blade from a large animal and replaced more often.
What a great day to be outside.

Offline arson51

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Re: Making a Bushaxe with the Bushmen of Namibia
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2017, 07:53:14 PM »
I read that prior to Bantu traders brining steel from the north and the coast making it to the Kalahari, they used flint and stone tools imported from parts southern Africa that had access to stone. The area I was in was just like the movie "The Gods Must Be Crazy", and there was not a naturally occurring stone for hundreds of miles.