Recent Find Slave Repaired Hoe

Tom Hughes

First Sergeant
Joined
May 27, 2019
Location
Mississippi
slavehoe1.JPG

Here's a hoe I found at a plantation a few weeks back. It looks like a normal hoe. Large, sturdy, and more than likely used by slave labor to tend the fields.
slavehoe2.JPG

Take a look at the back of the hoe in question. I was just now getting around to cleaning it up. It was obviously repaired by soldering another piece of hoe onto the broken piece. I had read and heard that this was a common practice among the slave labor. They had to make repairs and make do with what they had. This is the second hoe I have found with visible repairs like this.
slavehoe3.JPG

A closer view of the repair job.

Thanks for looking!
 

unicornforge

First Sergeant
Joined
Feb 14, 2007
Location
Near Gettysburg, PA
When forge welding of wrought iron during the manufacture of a new tool by a blacksmith, slag will form at the edges of the weld. During the oxidation/rusting process the slag will fall out of the welded area over time, showing an indentation where the slag used to be. Forge welding was and is commonly done to reduce the amount of labor during manufacture, especially when there is a dramatic change in the thickness of the finished tool, such as shown here. It is very common to find such lines in tools manufactured during that time period. ... Note the shininess of the tool. This is due to the slag in wrought iron during the process of making wrought iron. The iron rusts away till it comes to a layer of slag/glass and the rusting stops there because of what is now a coating of glass.
 
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Tom Hughes

First Sergeant
Joined
May 27, 2019
Location
Mississippi
Great find, I'm assuming in Mississippi? Modern versions of large hoes like the one shown were sometimes referred to as "aggies" by some inmates in the prison system that I once worked at. Is aggie a southern slang or lingo for hoe?
Yes, Mississippi.
I've never heard the term "aggie" when referring to a hoe.
 

CowCavalry

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 17, 2017
Just a guess here but it looks like it was used until it was worn down to a nub, not broken, and then a new blade was forge welded to the nub. If that is the case, that hoe chopped an awful lot of cotton.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
A blacksmith's note, the wrought iron produced before modern steel is very easy to forge weld. In a forge weld, there is no seam as in an electric weld. An acquaintance who restores antique fences & decretive iron tells me that at welding temperature wrought iron sticks like hot sugar. For that reason, a repair or manufacturing technique that appears to have been used on the hoe is likely correct. Another characteristic of antique wrought iron is that it resisted rust. That is why elaborate decorative pieces hundreds of years old are intact while modern steel objects can all but disappear in a few years.
A forge weld is the strongest method of joining two pieces of ferrous material. That is because unlike an electric weld where only a very small area is brought to welding temp., the entire forge welded pieces are both brought to temp. The entire welded object cools down at the same rate, which relieves the stress that exists in electrically welded joints. There is no source of the type of iron produced in the 19th Century & before. Recycling is the only source of stock to make new pieces or restorations.
 
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