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Author Topic: Quality Axes  (Read 1206 times)

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Offline Big Z

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Quality Axes
« on: April 15, 2019, 01:21:00 PM »
I've been watching some recent YouTube videos comparing higher price axes to cheaper ones.  The trend seems to be "Why pay so much for an axe?".  I know that it's a personal thing, absolutely.  I really believe in the old saying of "You get what you paid for." My household uses firewood as a our primary heat source.  I'm still loving splitting and dropping trees manually.  Or course I still drop a lot of trees using a chainsaw but I still chop down a lot of trees as well.  Splitting is done by hand to the tune of 4 chord a winter, at least. My choice of name brand is Gransfors Bruks, as well as a Basque region axe and a Tuatahi axe.  The GB axe steel has a great combination of traits, namely holding a great edge, but can be sharpened easily.  Likewise the Basque and Tuatahi.  I have a cheap axe that I cut roots with.  The steel is hard to work and dulls very easily. My nice axes get worked....a lot.  The are a pleasure to use and require little maintenance.  Nothing has come loose....at all.  I paid anywhere from $150-$400 for my axes.  I'd would rather do that than pay for something that, in my opinion, doesn't come near in performance and I'll need to fix or replace on a regular basis.

Offline Southside

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Re: Quality Axes
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2019, 01:33:30 PM »
I am not an ax guy by any means, I do have a club or two lying around, but when it comes to tools that I need for work then I have no problem paying for quality.  You get what you pay for.  When I need it I expect it to perform, plain and simple.  My peaveys are Log-rite, sawmills are Wood-Mizer, Husky chain saws, etc.  The price tag may seem high, but when it works day in and day out, then it becomes very cheap when you look at the overall picture. 
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Offline Greyman

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Re: Quality Axes
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2019, 03:49:59 PM »
I always wanted a nice axe - it's like a nice hand plane or other tool that is a work of art as well as a functional tool that will become an heirloom.  Some day!

Offline barbender

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Re: Quality Axes
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2019, 04:04:39 PM »
I have both cheap axes and an expensive Granfors, and an moderately expensive Wetterlings belt hatchet. Grandsfors has some unique and well thought out designs, I bought one of the carving axes when I was doing some log work. They are undoubtedly well made but, to me, unless I need one of the specialty ones they're not worth the 5x or 6x price over an American Council Tools. I see them as more of a "boutique" type of item.
Too many irons in the fire

Online lxskllr

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Re: Quality Axes
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2019, 05:22:57 PM »
I got a Helko forestry axe last year as a "treat" for handling my fallen oak myself. Paid $150. I agree with barbender. It's nice, but I could have gotten something just as useful at the flea market for $20, and that's assuming I'd have to buy a new handle. It's a pretty axe, and I like the blade pattern, but I could cut just as well with a flea market special after getting it tuned up. I got it as a piece of functional art if that makes sense. Just a nice thing to have, and something I can admire while I use it  :^)

Offline luap

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Re: Quality Axes
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2019, 04:51:56 PM »
I would like to think that the common hardware axe of 40 years ago had better steel than what you find today. I have an axe collection of these types and not by purpose. The two I use take an extremely sharp edge and hold it well. I painted the handles pink so they are easy to spot wherever they get left. I did some extensive plowing years ago that turned up a couple that had to come from the early 1900's. I cleaned the rust off and hung them on the wall. After a while others found there way there. Two broadaxes   showed up also. I Have no idea where this stuff comes from and why they hang out here.Kind of like stray cats

Offline Big Z

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Re: Quality Axes
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2019, 09:36:51 AM »
I agree with the old steel.  I found an old axe head and cleaned it up.  It took a great edge.  Most of the old ones that I find are beaten up so badly.  They look like they've been sharpened with a grinder and not worth the trouble.

I'll try to send a pic of my axes......I'm not great with computer stuff.  Guess that's why I cut my grass with a scythe!  Nothing complicated.

Online lxskllr

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Re: Quality Axes
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2019, 07:33:35 PM »
Guess that's why I cut my grass with a scythe!  Nothing complicated.
That's hardcore. I thought my old reel mower was old school when I was using it  :^D


I have a riding mower now. I broke one reel mower when I got jammed in the stomach one too many times on a hot day when the reel stopped on a stick, and I threw the mower. Got another one that I used for a few years, but my mother got me a used rider one year as a gift. Been riding around ever since. Bought a new to me rider last year when my old Deere developed issues. I don't have the patience for a reel mower on my twiggy yard anymore. If I was in the country, I'd be interested in giving a scythe a try. Let the grass grow longish, and cut it with a blade. I do have a fondness for fine blades  :^)

Online Old Greenhorn

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Re: Quality Axes
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2019, 08:26:12 PM »
I just picked up a nice Scythe at a flea market last fall, as a matter of fact, I went back and forth between 2 sellers and had my choice. I love the thing, I can really make some time with it on the tall stuff and its easier to work around stumps and rocks in the rough areas. It's a LOT faster than a weed whacker, by far. Like I tell my son and many others, "Just because it's old, doesn't mean it's no good". As a plus, it sure doesn't use much fuel.  ;D ;D ;D
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Offline Big Z

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Re: Quality Axes
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2019, 10:49:00 AM »
I started using a scythe because we have so much poison ivy that if you use a gas trimmer, tiny pieces spray everywhere.  Once you get some practice, they're pretty amazing.  Got mine from Scythe Supply.  They custom fit you.

Offline alan gage

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Re: Quality Axes
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2019, 03:30:24 PM »
A dozen years or so ago I was getting out of my photography hobby and getting into more outdoorsy stuff. I was reading about axes and saw a lot of people who liked GB axes and a lot of people who thought they were way overpriced. I had to chuckle when I actually went to check prices. At that time you could get their full sized axes for $150 and $100 for the smaller ones. Coming from photography where $1000+ lenses were common I thought it was great to finally have a hobby where $150 could buy you top of the line equipment.

I've heated exclusively with wood for about 10 years now and up until last year, when I finally bought a hydraulic splitter, all that wood was split with a Gransfors small splitting axe (and some of the harder stuff with the large splitting axe). I've been very happy with them. I've heard good things about Fiskars splitting axes, and they have a smaller price tag, but for a little more money my Gransfors have more than made up with it in warm fuzzy feelings. Over 10 years of steady use those extra dollars don't amount to much.

I've thought a scythe could be entertaining as well and have been eyeballing some that I see around here and there. For anyone who is a reader the book Anna Karenina has a wonderful few pages about a group of peasants cutting down hay. They talk about the technique, the sound, the stance, the feel, and the camaraderie. Interesting in that this was written at a time when this was still the normal practice.

Alan
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Offline Jeff

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Re: Quality Axes
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2019, 05:25:50 PM »
We have a sponsor who makes some pretty fine axes don't forget. :)


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Offline barbender

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Re: Quality Axes
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2019, 07:50:00 PM »
I meant to follow up with a mention of a Hudson Bay pattern axe I got about 15 years ago. All I remember was it was an American made axe, I'm not sure if it was Council or another brand. At any rate, I got it for trimming to scribe lines in log home work, so I really thinned the blade down and had it razor sharp. Nowadays it sits out by the OWB, where it splits up kindling like it was designed for. A good tool, I probably paid $35-40 for it.
   I think too much is made of the steel from "the old days" or what might be in a GB. It's really not that expensive for decent tool steel, I think the reason a lot of cheap axes don't sharpen well is they have a soft temper so they don't fracture when people are trying to win Darwin awards with them. I have chipped the blade on a Wetterlings hatchet. I was doing something I shouldn't have (splitting the pelvis on a deer) with a blade I had also ground thinner for log work. My point is, if they are hard enough to hold a good edge, you will run the risk of chipping blades.
Too many irons in the fire

Online Old Greenhorn

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Re: Quality Axes
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2019, 08:23:38 PM »
I'll bet a nickel (hard American cash!) that if that ax is not an import, it is a Collins. They made a great 3/4 length Hudson's Bay ax. I have a couple and one is he nicest pack ax I have, light and fast. Not so good on the big stuff though. Great for light limbing. Elegant pieces they are. Very sexy axes.
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I ain't the woodcutter, but I can cut wood 'til the woodcutter gets here.

Offline Brad_bb

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Re: Quality Axes
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2019, 02:23:46 AM »
For splitting firewood, don't you use a splitting maul?  I asked one of the head Axe Junkies and he advised for splitting to go get a Farm and fleet splitting maul with a plastic handle.  That is what I split hardwood with. 

Are you splitting birch or jack pine or?

For a felling axe, I have what I believe is a restored collins head on a new Ash handle.  I picked a head out of a buddy's collection of heads and he made a handle and hung the head. Cost me maybe $250 or $275?

My hewing axe is a Gransfors Bruks 1900 which cost me $330 plus shipping. Between that one and my felling axe, they have good steel and they are ones I'll have til I pass.
Anything someone can design, I can sure figure out how to fix!
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Offline alan gage

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Re: Quality Axes
« Reply #15 on: April 19, 2019, 10:19:00 AM »
For splitting firewood, don't you use a splitting maul?  I asked one of the head Axe Junkies and he advised for splitting to go get a Farm and fleet splitting maul with a plastic handle.  That is what I split hardwood with.

Are you splitting birch or jack pine or?
I most definitely prefer the splitting axe. Shorter handle and lighter head. I think the GB small splitting axe has a 3.5# head. The blade is thinner on entry and quickly flares to split the wood. You're not going to split crotches or badly interlocked grain with it but for easy and relatively easy to split wood it does fine.

Finding firewood isn't a problem for me and up until I got the sawmill I just made it a point to only take the nice straight grained logs. Now those go to the sawmill so I'm left splitting the tougher stuff. That combined with back issues prompted me to finally break down and get a splitter.

I use bur oak and white ash almost exclusively.

Alan
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Offline Dave Shepard

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Re: Quality Axes
« Reply #16 on: April 19, 2019, 12:06:07 PM »
Toss the plastic handles if you value your joints. 
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Offline Brad_bb

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Re: Quality Axes
« Reply #17 on: April 19, 2019, 04:09:38 PM »
I haven't had any problem with plastic handle.  Then again as I said, I don't split a ton of wood with it.  I split the cutoff rounds from milling.  Ash, Walnut, Cherry.  Mulberry is the hardest - twisted grain and knots.  I'd be lucky if I split a chord a year, but more like 1/2.
Anything someone can design, I can sure figure out how to fix!
If I say it\\\\\\\'s going to take so long, multiply that by at least 3!

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Re: Quality Axes
« Reply #18 on: April 19, 2019, 05:12:56 PM »
Toss the plastic handles if you value your joints.
They're also blister machines. Wood is a bit more delicate, and takes more care, but the performance is worth the extra effort.

Offline Big Z

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Re: Quality Axes
« Reply #19 on: April 24, 2019, 08:13:33 PM »
  My wife thinks I have a problem......I think she ain't seen nothing yet!


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