The Zulu War Axe debuts on Forged in Fire. I like the show Forged in Fire and I like axes. So I keep tabs on which episodes of Forged in Fire feature an axe. In well over one hundred of episodes of the show (including this one) there have only been 16 so far in which an axe makes an appearance. So naturally I was excited when I saw the History Channel aired a new Forged in Fire Episode featuring an axe yesterday.

Season 7, Episode 22: “Zulu War Axe” (S07 EP22)

The bladesmiths must forge a Japanese Nata in round one. Host Wil Willis describes this tool and weapon as a “bushcraft machete and hatchet”. I don’t see how a Nata fits in the categorization of a hatchet though I’ve seen it called the same before.

Machete seems a more apt descriptor. See: “A Nata is not a hatchet“.

Regardless, the Natas must be forged out of hatchet heads. It’s a shame so many good hatchets are destroyed. I admire the designs of Japanese tools so whether or no they are hatchets I enjoyed seeing the Natas in rounds one and two.

Finale Weapon: Zulu War Axe

The finale weapon is the Zulu War Axe. The example war axe in the show looks excellent.

I really like the Damascus steel of the first smith. Damascus is just eye candy and increases the possibility of a weld flaw. But who doesn’t like eye candy and done right Damascus just as strong. Putting a convex edge (which is stout and strong) seems like a great call. I also like the rugged look of the handle and the ironwood butt-cap that I think better captures the spirit of what a Zulu Axe should be.

I don’t like the welded tang of the other smith. In a time-limited competition it is a reasonable patch. But clearly a welded tang is going to be weaker than a solid piece of steel particularly at such a critical structural junction. I don’t like burned handles and I don’t care for the acid etched design this smith did. I do appreciate the carving work. This competitor does a convex edge as well.

While both smiths put together great Zulu War Axes the stronger axe won.

Chief Buthelezi of the Zulu with a War Axe

Axes in the episode: finale weapon Zulu War Axe (and Natas (if you consider a Nata a hatchet) made out of hatchets)

Additionally, I maintain a complete listing of Forged in Fire Episodes with Axes.