All about the Axe

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Thanks YC, that's a great doc. The forest industry, with it's people, tools, stories, and culture, has been a part of the fabric of USA/CAN history right up to the present. I studied forest ecology and forestry practises a long time ago, and so have an inkling of the testy relationship of commercial vs environmental arguments at play. There's a little tree hugger in me, but once upon a time I also worked in the bush. The job in the Eastern Townships of Quebec didn't last beyond one summer, but it was tough, invigorating, and wonderful. I helped to skid pulp wood and logs out of the bush. I drank from streams and clambered over hemlock, pine, and maple. This storied industry has it's good guys and it's bad. I worked for a real "character". No matter how much I begged, my boss wouldn't employ me to cut timber, only to haul. Once I applied to work a team of horses to haul logs out of a section. I guess I should have known how to harness and handle them first, oh well. It was a dream job for me, living in a tumble down farmhouse in a quiet Quebec valley. I do despair at the clear cuts of Northern Ontario, but I also remember another side of the story. Thanks for this video Yellowcanoe.
 
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Thanks Dave! What a great video, I kept wanting him to slow down and explain what he's doing step by step. Blacksmithing and Glassblowing are two crafts that that I could watch for hours.

Thanks for the treat!

Rob
 
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It was a treat, wasn't it! I wonder if all good axes are made that way? It was interesting when he inserted a different metal piece into the head for the blade. I assume it was a harder metal than the rest of the head AND that he only quenched that piece instead of the whole head at the end of the process.
Here is this guy's website. Made in Latvia and very pricey!
http://www.neemantools.com/en/about-us/who-where-and-why
Dave
 
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Thanks Dave, that’s a great video. I’ve watched a blacksmith in action before, but it looked like necromancy to me, something entirely mysterious and historical. It still looks amazing to watch. Until Mr. Moldie started sharing his blade and leather talents with us, I thought I was happy with my cheap old axe and woolen sock cover. Those days are gone! I’m still dithering over which nice axe, which nice knife I should buy. Those blades made by Neeman are truly beautiful. I’m starting to convince myself that owning some well -crafted tools, might be rather nice hand me downs for my generations to come? I wonder whom I’ll leave the cheap old axe and sock to?
Thanks again Dave, and Oldie.
BTW, what do you think about this guy?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfY8HY50dGU
 
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Well Brad, Some points to think about: You saw that thread I did when I put a long handles on the Husquvarna Carpenters axe and the Muller camping hatchet. I did look at the Wetterlings Carpenter axe as well. The Husquvarna cost $64, the Wetterlings is $130 and the Muller was $50.
The steel in the Husquvarna and the Muller is fine as is the steel in that little Wetterlings Foresters Axe. I expect if I had spent the extra money on the Wetterlings Carpenter axe it would be fine as well. But for darn sure NOT twice as fine.
Now not to take anything away from those Neeman axes, but for the life of me, I can't imagine anything different enough about them to command a price of $300-400. But that's just me, maybe someone with money would see it differently.
And after all the chips have settled, the Muller axe is my favorite of the bunch, and it cost the least!
If I were you, I'd get a good solid axe head and put a handle on it, and in the process learn some important skills, build a leather sheath and learn some more. Go some where you can really give it and yourself a work out. Learn. Frankly, I'd be scared to use an axe that cost three hundred bucks! But I sure did enjoy that film!

Now, about that guy on U-tube.
I think he's just a little bit of a dude. Three waterstones in the woods? I can't see it. Check out the DMT diamond machine technology on Amazon. They have a neat little fold up sharpener, fine and on the other side extra fine. I got one and it really works. There was some blab about not needing to sharpen an axe very often if it was sharpened his way. Mors Kochanski in his book Bush Craft encourages you to sharpen the axe frequently. Safer axe and less work.
Brad don't listen to the siren's call, put wax in your ears and tie yourself to the mast! Scout out some lost and forlorn knife and axe and repair them, sharpen them: they will love you and be faithful for ever!

Best Wishes,

Rob
 
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I’m dog paddling in my Scottish Grandma’s gene pool, so spending $300 or more for an axe I’m likely to kiss the ground with occasionally, is way too dear for me. No worries there.
I agree that Mr. Mears is “a bit of a lad”, but enjoyable nevertheless. You should see him putting a final edge on his knife by finishing it on someone’s car window! Seriously?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lm53mCOQTR8
Your advice is much appreciated. I’ll still window shop for stuff, but my Grandma’s voice is always in my ear “Och noo dearie!”
Thanks OM.
 
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Brad,
HA! I can empathize with that. My mother was Scottish; my wife is Jewish. I have trouble buying stuff, especially if she is present.
 
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I have a friend who does Blacksmithing in her spare time. After she was here in July she went home to Wash State with the intent to make me a Clinching Iron for my canoe building. She may also make me some draw knives once I come up with what I want. I will ask her about axe heads. She loves doing that work.
 
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Looking at that Neeman site: I was really intrigued by the offerings of different axes. Some were of course very similar to what we have here and others were very different, that Finnish Forest Axe in particular. What user requirements went into the shape of that handle? That funny "belly" and the down turn on the end of the handle; looks to me just asking for that part to split off if it got hit with something. And how would you hold such a funny shape? Check out the American traditional felling axe; that sharp bump on the handle just after the axe head on the top? Not needed and very unpleasant to grip. Now, most of you resolutely ignored the film "Happy People, a year in the taga" but if you'd seen it, there are axes used by real people in real life. None of those people could ever afford one of these axes even if it would answer their needs.
Out of eleven axes, four are some variation of a broad axe, actual axes in use now a days are rare, broad axes in use ranks right up there with dentists who specialize in hen's teeth.
Hmmm.....just between you and me I'm reminded of those tail fins on the cars, in the sixties was it?

Professional sceptic,

Rob
 
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He notes that the Finnish Forest axe is a 16th to 19th century replica. One reason to build replicas of anything is to try to determine why they made them that way in the first place. Sometimes the light bulb goes on and there is an "aha!" moment, and sometimes the answer is not evident.

Maybe: In 1580 some Finn had a wife who kept yelling at him because his axe head was rubbing against her cooking pot when hung on the wall. He got tired of being yelled at and crafted a beautiful new axe handle with a special crook that let it clear the pot. It didn't feel as good in his hand but it was worth the modification. His neighbor saw it and asked about it. Being embarrassed to admit the real reason, he claimed it made it better because (you pick a reason). It became one of the accepted models for Finnish Forest Axes.
By the way, did you see the Neeman $1150 kitchen knife? Now that perplexes me.
Dave
 
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Dave, You're right, especially in light of the long time span of use. It must have worked for the people at that time or someone would have changed it. Or maybe it would have gradually evolved.
I'm doing the very thing I get so upset at all the yuppies for doing. Judging past people or events by present day standards. If you really want to understand them you've got to put yourself back to that time.

Now, that axe handle is that way because...
A. In a closely grown up stand of trees, where there's no room for a proper swing, you've got an axe that will chop around corners.
B. You can use it as a back scratcher and get a haircut at the same time. Woops! was that your deaf ear I hope?
C. I'm going to loan that axe to the tax collector in hopes he'll cut his leg off!

Dave, Thanks for the info about the Gorilla tape, never would have known about it. I'm leaving the plastic wrap on the roll, it might keep the sticky stuff sticky longer.

Best Wishes,

Rob
 
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Thanks for the links. I've been watching the rest of the US Forrest Service's YouTube Series on hand tools and falling in love with crosscut saws.
 
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I just received a new Snow and Nealy Hudson bay axe from CSP. This Maine company supposedly has a good reputation. The axe was very, very dull unlike a Mueller axe I recently bought, as well as having BIG NICKS , and I don't mean St Nick, in the blade edge ( I use the word "edge" reluctantly) as if it were dropped or whacked on something hard. That I can fix although I shouldn't have to be filing nicks right out of the box. Then I checked the grain on the handle: 90 degrees off!!!!!
Frustrated,
Dave
 
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I believe Snow and Nealy "change hands" with in the past decade. The older axes are a different level of quality. The really old rusty junk shop Snow and Nealy axe heads are the real deal when cleaned up.
 
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Ok afficionados of chopping instruments...what the heck is this? I had it laying about with a broken handle so had not used it for years but today I began grinding some of the rust off it and found this little round stamp just in time. I also found a "3"on the bottom...three pounds no doubt. The stamp looks to read GBA.
Any guesses?

Christy
 

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I believe that was the axe used by Count Chopula on Sesame Street when he was teaching the number 3. If it's not that one, I haven't got a clue.
 
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[h=2]Gränsfors Bruk - my GBA has those same initials on the stamp with a crown above it. Usually next to the stamp are the initials of the actual forger but it looks like you may have ground those off. Anything on the other side?[/h]
 
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