Talk:Billhook

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Older discussion[edit]

User:86.137.51.181 added a large block of (slightly unstructured) text and I've attempted to break this up into subsections. I also took the opportunity to structure the entire article since it seems to have reached a length where more organisation is necessary. (Unsigned comment by User:Trewornan 02:10, 13 January 2006)

Hi - I've updated and added a little more information - probably needs a complete re-write one day, and lots more photos, but hope the infomation so far is useful to all and sundry. ALOOB (Unsigned comment added by User:82.110.109.208 15:45, 8 March 2006)

Links pruning[edit]

I've removed a lot of links where the sites were purely commercial (catalogues, manufacturers which make many other tools) or where the link to the topic is tenuous at best (a single image where a billhook is featured as part of a group shot buried 3 links deep) or completely non-apparent (historical society pages which do not have any mention of billhooks anywhere). I know the links were put there in good faith but they should be direct examples that further the reader's understanding. -- 89.240.103.111 11:23, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

Hmmm! Problem with removing links is that it takes way the opportunity for readers to follow them - some of them may have been tenuous, and others may still be able to be found via those links that do remain - but at least there was an option to follow them or not (without having to go back into history to view earlier pages). Billhooks are not just a tool still used by hedgelayers and conservation groups, but are an historical artifact that links many different disciplines: Anthropology, Agriculture, Metallurgy, History, Geography, Design, Ergonomics, Manufacturing, Sociology etc. Different readers may thus be searching for different viewpoints - the whole point of Wikipedia is to spread knowledge - not restrict it... BillhooksUK 11:54, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

Clarify Me[edit]

I removed the "clarify me" tags introduced by Richard New Forest as unnecessary eg: there is no need to clarify what is meant by a "lady's" billhook, any English speaker should understand what that means.

I also removed the tag requesting a citation for the medieval weapon being inspired by the tool not the other way around. Clearly if the billhook has been around since the bronze age it could not have been inspired by a weapon created five millenia later.

I refrained from a complete revert as some of his style alterations may be useful, personally I don't think so but they're not significantly worse either. Trewornan (talk) 01:37, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

Hi. I'm really quite puzzled by these reverts, most of which are not explained. I raised the clarify requests because the text really isn't clear, and they should not be reverted without at least some attempt to provide explanations. I'm a native British English speaker with a country background and a great deal of experience of using billhooks, and if things are not clear to me, it's hard to see how they would be to someone with less knowledge – which is surely who an encyclopedia article is directed at. Dealing with each in turn:
  • Scales. What are scales? Sounds as if it's a fish. Where are they fitted? On the handle, the blade or what? What are they for? Decoration? Labelling? Reinforcement? Or is this some specialist use of the word "scale" (in which case explanation is needed even more)?
  • Other than where. "Other countries" implies that this article is written for inhabitants of a particular country, which it is not – this is an international encyclopedia (and which country is it, anyway?). "Some countries" or "some regions" might do, but this is still weasel words, and it should say which regions, or at least give examples.
  • "Gentleman's" and "lady's". No, it's not obvious. Are these terms really widely understood throughout the English-speaking world? I very much doubt it. Does it mean made to a particularly high standard, or made from particular "upper class" materials, or for effete upper class hands, or made for display only, or what? As it happens, I do have a good idea what it means, but I really don't believe it would be clear to everyone – and it wouldn't hurt to explain it or avoid it. This article should be clear to anyone who is fluent in English, not just native speakers with a certain background from a certain area. Also, is this a current distinction, or historical? I've never seen a "lady's" billhook in a modern catalogue. If historical, it should say so.
  • Dished blade. What does this mean? The obvious meaning would be that the blade is not flat, but concave on one side and convex on the other, like a shallow spoon. Can that really be right? If so, fine, but a more detailed description would be useful – and what about my actual query: which side is convex? If not convex/concave it certainly does need explanation.
  • Inspiration for military weapon. Yes, billhooks have been found from the Bronze Age and Iron Age – but how do we know whether those were weapons or tools? Perhaps they were dual-purpose, and the later use as a weapon was merely a specialisation? Alternatively, how do we know the halberd was not an independent invention?
  • Cannon emplacements. How do you "create" a cannon emplacement with a billhook? Do you dig with it, clear the vegetation with it, or what? It makes it look as if the billhook was the only tool you needed.
  • Pioneer corps. Likewise. What do they use it for? Is it a weapon (as suggested by the section heading) or a tool? If a tool, the heading should perhaps be "Military uses".
I did not put the tags in casually, but because I felt the article needed improvement. Deleting them wholesale does not improve anything.
I'm also a little puzzled by the suggestion that my other changes were mere "style alterations", and that the best that could be said was that they were not significantly worse than the previous version. Many of them were corrections of fact or major Wiki style – for example, the correction of repeated use of "blade" where "edge" was meant, the inclusion of the purpose of the tool in the lead paragraph, the correction of "imported" (again, into where?), the correction of ash as a "uniquely" resilient wood (what about hickory?), the correction of "obtuse angle" (which means more than 90 degrees – that is, blunt). Again, I did not make the changes casually – not even the ones which were minor style alterations.
I too have refrained from a complete revert for the moment. I'm sure we all want this article to be as good as possible, and it still needs a lot of work (much of it in areas in which I'm not competent to comment). I for one have no particular worry about my edits being "edited mercilessly", but edits do need to be justified, and the points I made need to be addressed or the tags returned until they are.
Must go out now and lay a hedge...
--Richard New Forest (talk) 12:51, 1 January 2008 (UTC)
If I offended you I apologize, sometimes written communication can be more direct than verbal conversation and perhaps I should have made more effort to be diplomatic.
If you want to re-introduce the clarify me tags please do so, I won't remove them again because I don't want to get into a point by point debate over each one - I'm sure we both have better things to do. BUT, I would ask you to really consider whether they are necessary. You agree yourself that in fact it is perfectly clear what is meant by "lady's" and "gentleman's". I don't think it's helpful to posit some theoretical reader who might have difficulty.
The exception (and I realize this is just my opinion) is the use of the term "scales" whilst this is the correct term it is perhaps "technical" and not common usage or widely known. I'm not sure that this article is the best place for an explanation, it might be better to put the explanation in the article on "handle" and link - I'll think it over.
As for the citation request I will remove this if it is replaced. Billhooks probably were used as makeshift weapons from the start but this part of the article is specifically discussing the medieval weapon. Was the medieval weapon also inspired by the halberd? Possibly, so what?
Regarding my comment about your other edits - I withdraw this comment and apologise. I reviewed just a few of the edits (which appeared to me to be mainly stylistic) and having decided on this sampling not to change them, gave the remainder only cursory inspection. On further review I agree that as a whole they are a positive contribution. Trewornan (talk) 16:22, 1 January 2008 (UTC)
No, don't worry, I wasn't offended, and didn't intend to sound hurt.
Actually I did not say that the "lady's" thing was perfectly clear, I said that I personally happen to have an idea what it means. I'm not thinking of "some theoretical reader" who doesn't, but the millions of people who do not share our background knowledge. We have to write for everyone.
I've had a further go at the points at issue – mostly avoiding them. I can't do this with two (the scales and the dishing), so I've returned the tags here. See what you think.
Gracious apology accepted. --Richard New Forest (talk) 19:56, 1 January 2008 (UTC)
The new edit for "dished" covers it nicely – presumably convex on the right side for a right-handed bill?
I looked at the link to straight razor, but I'm afraid I still don't understand. A billhook is not a folding tool, so the comparison is not obvious. Does it mean that the handle is made (like that of many knives), with a pair of wooden pieces either side of a full-width tang, riveted through? --Richard New Forest (talk) 12:19, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
I presume dished blades are convex on the right for the right-handed version but I've never used one myself so I can't really say.
re: scales. This is one of those things I find difficult to explain without pictures, because it's so simple - but your explanation is correct. I couldn't think of a good way of expressing it for the article on "handle" and the straight razor article was the only one I could find with any detail about what they are. I still don't think this article is the place for an explanation. Trewornan (talk) 18:47, 3 January 2008 (UTC)


"(much thicker than a machete for example)"[edit]

I've removed the above text - I've got a bill and a machete and they are the same thickness! :-) The difference between the two I've got is the shape,size and type of cutting edge. The bill is a Wilkinson Sword import of a Fiskars model, the machete is my dad's old one from the 50s - maybe from his days in the commandos but not sure. --mgaved (talk) 16:54, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

I've got both as well and my billhook is much thicker than the machete - I don't doubt that yours may not show this difference but "typically" a billhook will be thicker. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Trewornan (talkcontribs) 00:39, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

Sickle vs. billhook?[edit]

I see no mention of the sickle, but the two seem very similar to me. Some text about the differences would be nice. --Palnatoke (talk) 06:52, 18 July 2014 (UTC)