Hardcore Hardware Australia’s LFT01 Tomahawk is now available in a striking, all desert brown color scheme. The G-10 handle scales are brown. The D2 tool steel is coated brown. The kydex sheath is brown. This is one good looking tomahawk!
Nothing about Gransfors Bruks is inexpensive and that includes the various aftermarket items that you might want to go with your axe. Most of the axe masks that you find are very well crafted and beautiful to look at but very expensive. They are also usually made of leather which certainly works but a hard axe mask/bit cover can be a nice safety item on sharp axe that is carried in a pack. That is why I was so happy to come across Grizzly Outdoors. They offer an axe mask for the Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe that is molded from kydex and costs only $15. In that world of Gransfors Bruks, that is a bargain of the highest degree.
Check out Grizzly Outdoors.
The state of hardware store axes is really dreadful. A typical hardware store axe has a poor quality metal head that is sand cast into a single, inefficient shape with a poor heat treat and a handle that promotes blisters rather than preventing them. There really isn’t much that these axes get right which leads many people to look overseas for their axes. Manufacturers like Wetterlings and Gransfors Bruks make wonderful tools but they are often expensive, they may not be well suited to American hard woods, and their available patterns are somewhat limited.
The lack of quality options leaves the savy axe user to seek out and rehabilitate old US made axes. However, not everyone has the time, know-how, desire, or work bench space to rehab their own axes. Thankfully there are people like Jon LeValley of LeValley Outdoors who are doing their best to restore these old, used axes to usefulness.
LeValley Outdoors offers a staggering variety of axes that have been cleaned, inspected, re-profiled, sharpened, and properly hung on a new handle that is hand finished with linseed oil and beeswax. They have hatchets with several lengths of handles, boy’s axes, full size single bit axes, cruiser size double bits, full size double bits, and other useful patterns like Pulaskis and broad axes. They have axes from many of the great American makers like Collins, Kelly, Plumb, True Temper, Norlund, and more along with some very nice European makers.
The axes range quite a bit in price based on their condition and desirability but all them come ready to work with a fresh edge and handle. The majority of them are priced for those who plan to use them rather than collectors. It is possible to purchase a top quality tool for half of what you might pay for a new European import.
For instance, if you are looking for a great general purpose camping/hiking axe, LeValley Outdoors sells unmarked boy’s axes for $60. Vintage unmarked axes are often the best deals on the market because they were usually made by a manufacturer that you would recognize but came with a paper label that has worn off or were made without a mark to be sold in a large department store. Much of an axe’s collector’s value is based on the maker’s marks and since these axes lack marks, they can be sold without regard to collector’s value. The prices are even more reasonable when you consider that any over $25 ships free.
If you are in the market for an axe that is actually worth a darn, check out LeValley Outdoors.
Some people are surprised to find that there are still people forging fine axes, one at a time, the old fashioned way, right here in the USA. One such place is Wilderness Ironworks.
Their new pack axe, the Wilderness Axe, is quite unique in its size and shape. It has a bit shape that is very reminiscent of a carpenters axe with its more straight cutting edge and undercut bit for fine work. It’s size (7″ head, 4.5″ bit, 18″ haft) is similar to one of my favorites, the Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe except the Wilderness Axe weighs about 3/4 of a pound less at 2 1/4 pounds. That is quite light for an axe of this size.
Everything about this axe is hand crafted. Wilderness Ironworks forges the heads and hand carves the hafts. The result is a very attractive axe.
Check out the Wilderness Axe at Wilderness Ironworks.
A handful of you contacted me regarding my previous post on J. Willard Heritage Tools. It seems that the “A Good Axe” Perk sold out shortly after the earlier post was published and those I heard from were disappointed to have missed out.
Well, I have good news. J. Willard Heritage Tools has opened up 6 additional slots for the “A Good Axe” Perk. The perk includes a restored axe, lifetime hanging and grinding/sharpening of any wood handled tools, and free shipping on any axe you purchase from J. Willard Heritage Tools. This perk is a tremendous value for a vintage axe that will be of better quality than anything you can buy at a big box hardware store right now. It costs less than a similar axe from Gransfors Bruks or Wetterlings, comes with the grinding/sharpening/hanging service, and it helps build up a business that is restoring a part of our heritage to usefulness
Don’t miss a chance to fund something very cool and get a nice perk in return. Check out J. Willard Heritage Tools indiegogo campaign.
I recently came across Baryonyx Knife Company and I am very glad that I did. They are offering a new and extremely useful level of customer service.
They offer two unique services, one free and one premium, that solve a lot of the problems associated with buying knife, machetes, and axes online. The first is the 7 point hand inspection that everything they sell goes through before they put into stock. Items that pass their inspection are sold in the store. Items that do not pass but are still near perfect and functional are sold as “B” grade at a reduced price. It is important to note that these are not seconds. They are perfectly functional just not up to Baryonyx Knife Co.’s high standards. If an item has flaws that could present a functional issue, they are returned and never even make it into stock.
The second service is an optional “Special Grade” service. The service is available on most items that they sell and each Special Grade is unique to the item, designed to improve it in some key area. Most of the Special Grade services seem to range from $2-$8.
So why is all that useful? Good question. Here are a few examples…
Let’s say you want to buy a Condor Knife & Tool axe or hatchet but you know that, as with any axe, it is best to see them in person to check to see it is hung straight and that the grain orientation is right. At Baryonyx Knife Co. all the axes go through the hand inspection. They have already checked that their axes are hung straight, have proper grain alignment, etc.
What if you wanted an Estwing Tomahawk but you knew from your research that the bit is sharpened at an angle that is more appropriate for an entry tool than a survival tool meant to work wood. That is no problem. If you select the $6 Special Grade option, Baryonyx Knife Co. will thin and refine the edge for wood working.
Now let’s say you want a Tramontina machete which are known for being a great value as a survival tool but also known for needing a fair amount of work before they are truly ready to use. The $4 Special Grade option will see that the scales are ground flush with the tang, the edge is convexed, the point is ground sharp, and the spine is squared for use as a striker. That $4 corrects every short coming with the Tramontina machetes and adds some additional functionality.
Those are just a few examples of how Baryonyx Knife Co.’s unique services can benefit you. I can’t tell you how glad I am to come across a retailer like this especially for axe buying. Now if I could just convince them to pick up some additional axe lines and start offering a Kydex sheath making service at the point of purchase, I might never shop any where else!
Check out Baryonyx Knife Company. They have more than just axes and machetes. They have a full line of knives, sharpening and maintenance products, the manliest hand made soaps you have ever seen (I’m not kidding), and more.
Walk into any hardware store and check out their axes. I can tell you exactly what you will find – axes made with poor quality steel that is too soft to hold a proper edge, too thick through the cheeks to ever cut well, lacking a finished edge, on a handle that is either soul-less fiberglass or bottom of the barrel hickory with terrible grain structure. We have all heard the saying, “They don’t make them like they used to.” I suspect that whoever coined that term, was talking about axes.
Thankfully, there are still plenty of high quality vintage axe heads left from a time when America knew how to make them and there are still people who appreciate them. Most importantly, there are still people who know how to sharpen and hang them (to hang an axe is to fit a new handle), restoring them to usefulness.
One such person is Jeremy Dillon of J. Willard Heritage Tools. He restores vintage axes and resells them on Ebay. His restored axes come ready to work and they often sell at prices similar to what you might pay for a hardware store axe. These axes have already served as tools to a previous generation and with a little care they can serve the next generation.
He would like to expand his operation so he has started a crowd funding campaign with a pretty modest goal of just $1700. There are some VERY nice benefits available to backers including lifetime sharpening and hanging of any wood handled tool (very valuable), a restored axe along with lifetime sharpening and hanging, a day of forestry training from Jeremy, and more.
Helm Enterprises is turning out some incredible custom tomahawks at prices that are very competitive. They offer tomahawks in a variety of lengths and configurations but one that caught my eye recently is called the War Chief.
Helm Enterprises offers two different spiked tomahawk configurations – one with a pry spike and one with a combat spike. The War Chief is the combat spike model. The War Chief, like all Helm Enterprises tomahawks are ground from 1/4″ thick 4140 steel and has micarta handle slabs. It is available in a variety of lengths but the 12″ version that they recently shared on their site looks extremely practical.
There are two features of Helm Enterprises tomahawks that I really appreciate and both have to the do with the handle slabs. First, they provide very tall slabs which makes it easy to vary the height of your grip. The sweet spot on a tomahawk is often about 2/3rds of the way up the handle and some makers don’t make their slabs tall enough to grip in that location. Second, they fit their handle slabs so they are flush with the tang. Exposed tangs can really beat up your hand over a few hours worth of use.
Check out Helm Enterprises, Grinding Division.