image of Jack Fenner at work

These are tools made in and around the Weald (mostly Sussex) by blacksmith edge tool makers. Some of the makers are still well known, despite having ceased work many decades ago. Very few people now have the skill and knowledge to make tools like these. All these billhooks have wrought iron bodies with steeled edges. Note that in the Weald of Sussex and Kent a billhook is very often called a handbill.

These tools are now quite hard to find. If you want to enquire about availability of billhooks like the ones below please contact me by email.

image of Fenner billhook

Jack Fenner of Boars Head, Crowborough, was famous for his billhookss and axes. A chap called Wilfred Pike worked with Fenner, producing handles for axes from local ash.

image of Beal billhook

Thomas Beal of Tenterden, Kent, was another well known edge tool maker. The forge produced other tools like side axes and mortice chisels that still occasionally turn up.

image of Gallup billhook

Billhook made by Gallup of Wadhurst.

image of Smith billhook

Edmund Smith of Lions Green, Waldron. A famous old forge, used by John Carey from 1821 to 1837. Carey apparently worked for Mad Jack Fuller.

image of Gatland billhook

Otto Gatland worked at Chailey from 1887 to 1913. This is a particularly fine billhook, beautifully forged, and is thin enough in the blade to flex easily by hand!

image of Hoadley billhook

Hoadley of Lewes 1878 to 1895. This is a nice light spar hook, with a willow handle.

image of Tuppeny billhook

Tuppeny of Blackboys was another very well know edge tool making blacksmith, and features in the Memoirs of Gaius Carley.

image of Killick billhook

Silas Killick of Barns Green. A tidy billhook with a weighty nose.

image of Moss billhook

Moss hooks usually have a shape and weight that suggests they were mainly used for splitting hazel, for spars or hurdles. Tools with A, B and W stamps are about, and the range includes drawknives and side axes. Conford, Hants.

image of Swift billhook

William Swift of Seal in Kent, well known, and eventually bought up and moved to the Midlands.

The dates given above are based on various sources, and are quite possibly inaccurate.
If you have information or memories about blacksmith edge tool makers I'd be delighted to hear from you!

Contact me by email:

See also: photos of billhooks made by manufacturers in the Midlands and photos of South West England edge tools.

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© Ian Swain 2019