About L.C. Hansen – Pipe Tomahawks
As Harold L. Peterson best explains, names can often confuse as well as clarify, and this is especially true of the word Tomahawk. Derived from the Algonquian Indians of Virginia, tamahak or tamahakan simply designated a cutting instrument.
First introduced into the English vocabulary by Captain John Smith of Jamestown sometime during 1607-1609, this name according to Captain Smith simply meant “axes”. Later, he would amend this definition to include both an iron hatchet as well as a native war club. As Mr. Peterson explains, “The colonists were by no means linguists, and their faulty understanding of the Indian’s usage of the term made their definitions inaccurate. This has so clouded the issue that it is now impossible to be absolutely sure just which instrument or class of instruments an Algonquian speaker meant when he used the word.” Subsequent writers followed suit and the name tomahawk was applied to just about anything that resembled a axe, hatchet or club. Eventually the name began to be applied exclusively to smaller hatchets carried by Indians. This general description is still commonly held by most today when asked what a tomahawk is.
My interest in tomahawks began when I was a child through various movies and books. I crafted my first crude tomahawk when I was eleven years old from a stone and a small stick. Though my materials and methods have radically changed from my first attempt, my desire to produce working history has not. It is my intent to craft tomahawks that represent tradition yet reflect my own unique twist. I have and do forge a variety of steel for tomahawk heads though my two primary steels are L-6 or 52100. With proper heat treating and tempering both will bring it’s user exceptional cutting ability with outstanding edge retention.
In 2011 I made my first all forged 6al-4v titanium pipe tomahawk. This included the head, end cap , plug, collar, butt cap, mouthpiece, and interior tube. I had in mind that this would be a hang on the wall, one-of-a- kind heirloom piece eventually making its way down the family line. But this was not to be. Curiosity got the better and I had to do some chopping, a lot of chopping and then some more.
I was rather shocked to discover that this titanium tomahawk was not just a wall hanger but was in fact an incredibly fast, lightweight, tough, low maintenance, wood eating chopper. Though it can’t quite keep up with L-6 or 52100 in edge or edge retention it was really stunning to see what it was capable of. Needless to say it would longer be a one-off but rather the first of many.
Though I made my first all titanium pipe tomahawk in 2011 it wasn’t until 2017 that I migrated from pewter furniture on my steel headed tomahawks to all titanium furniture. This was a rather painful migration in terms of time and cost but I feel it is the best of both worlds. Forged and hardened steel head with tough no maintenance titanium furniture. What more could a woodsman ask for.
Lonnie C. Hansen