Where Have All the Axes Gone?

Thank you Tony Nester for sharing this (surprising) article from The Atlantic

Where Have All the Axes Gone?

The treasured woodchopper’s talisman is a guide to an almost-lost way of life, an Object Lesson.

Last year was, by some accounts, the year of the lumbersexual—big beard, big plaid, big boots. Although not measured by time spent in the woods, the look’s ultimate accessory would have to be an axe. A big one. Happily, a Tribeca graphic designer and axe enthusiast was willing to fulfill the need. Offering both a smaller Hudson Bay and a four-pound Dayton-pattern American felling axe, the Best Made Company adds value with more than a dozen handles with brightly painted color schemes. Although the axes are high quality (made by Council, one of the finest axe manufacturers in America today), the catalog’s many pages amount to differently decorated versions of the same two patterns.

By contrast, the Mann’s Edge Tools company (begun by William Mann in 1833) produced axes in more than 70 patterns—Michigan, Rockaway, Wisconsin, Hoosier, Yankee, Black Raven, Muley, Perfect, and also ice, broad, and carpenter’s axes along with adzes and mattocks. Though some are regional, most of the subtle differences are technical, each performing different tasks.

An 1859 Scientific American article on axe manufacture notes with some humor that, “It is true, if not touching, that many choppers think of and cherish their axes as though these were so many children or precious talismans…

Go to The Atlantic for the rest of the article.

About Christian Noble

Chris Noble is the founder of MasterWoodsman.com and Woodsmoke Camping Company. A Master Naturalist, he holds a Bachelor of Science in Forestry and has worked as a Registered Forester and Certified Burn Manager in several states. Chris is also a Wilderness First Responder and since the late 90’s has been “practicing primitive” skills and taking lessons from numerous Master Woodsmen throughout North America. An advocate for Conservation, teacher of Wilderness Living Skills, and happily married, he enjoys passing what he has learned thus far to others, especially his 2 children, Emerson and Duncan.

One Response to Where Have All the Axes Gone?

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