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Thread: Looking for racings axes

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stubai View Post
    I once rolled the edge on a Timberman while hitting some cedar branches about three inches across. It was a bad moment for me, but a lesson. The profiled edge (16 degrees) was too thin for such travail.

    I do find it hard to believe that Tuatahi is selling a Chinese made product. This is a commentary on the way the world is going.
    My timberman has an s-curve in it from clean (though frozen) aspen. I have a buddy who has a timberman that has seen no end of abuse. In addition to using it for all of his practice, he routinely uses it to split (on the ground) his chopping bones for firewood, blazes boundaries, etc. Moreover, he subscribes to the same theory I do, that is, it's more fun to chop than to set up chopping blocks. Solution: we often do our chopping practice on maple, oak, twisted up elm, frozen if possible. Trust me, that kind of use will quickly demonstrate any weakness in design.

    The best solution we have found is to make the axe dull. Instead off changing the overall geometry of the axe, I just use a flat file or a diamond stone and take the edge off. It doesn't require re-grinding the bevels or anything so drastic, and you can put a sharp edge back on pretty quickly if you are going to do some practice for which you want a really sharp edge - like chopping springboard pockets. Obviously, you lose a lot of penetration when you take off the edge, but that is part of the point for me. I WANT to take longer going through the block.

    I can't offer any scientific explanation of this, but you do seem to be able to use an axe with a thinner profile and a square edge in the same situation as a thicker profile and a sharpened edge with the same (lack of damage) results. My pet theory is that the sharp edge finds some path of least resistance in the wood and follows it. I have definitely seen this happen on a racing axe, where a (very unlucky) competitor opened a small double pin knot. It was clear that the edge went to the right of the bottom knot, to the left of the top knot and straight on through the middle. Huge wave in the edge. In the same situation, the squared-off axe would likely have simply stopped at the knot, requiring an extra stroke to get through, or plowed on through. With no sharp edge to follow grain, the axe follows its initial tradjectory until friction stops it. I also see the same effect on a larger scale, when the whole of a sharp axe will scoop during a hit, curving into the grain of the block.

    In terms of the chinese-made Tui, I am actually kinda interested. It looks like the machining is actually pretty good, I don't think these are going to be pot metal hardware store monstrosities. While the steel might not be up to Tuatahi's racing standards, I doubt Tui would distribute garbage, and softer steels do much better in the frozen and knotty wood that many competitors and most college teams practice with. Especially for college teams, which ruin equipment at a rate that would break your heart, these could be a god-send. They have a geometry and mass that pretty accurately simulates a racing axe, and cost half of what even a timberman does.

    I'm looking forward to getting my hands on one and seeing what it's like.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by thechuck View Post
    I can't offer any scientific explanation of this, but you do seem to be able to use an axe with a thinner profile and a square edge in the same situation as a thicker profile and a sharpened edge with the same (lack of damage) results. My pet theory is that the sharp edge finds some path of least resistance in the wood and follows it.
    This reminds me of the old carpenter's trick of flattening the nail point to prevent splitting the wood. The idea as I understand it is the flat point tends to crush it's way through rather than pierce and spread the fibers. It does work, and I wonder if some of that applies here.
    Last edited by Blue Sky; 02-07-2008 at 07:15 AM. Reason: grammer, wording
    "...I know where we’ve come from — I carry a key with me and I don’t forget. I know where we’re going, too — I’ve dropped blood to this Earth, not much different than mine, and seen it rise from the grass again."

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  3. #23
    I am wondering if the axes that Bailey's are pushing are the same ones that Tuatahi is selling. At this point, I am curious. A buddy of mine has used the Chinese axe and says it is softer metal but chops well. I am curious if anyone else here has used one. Bailey's will stand behind their product as they are a well respected company in the logging business. The price point allows the novice to have two or more while getting the race axe feel in the mits.

    thechuck: do you have any photos of your race axes that you can post here? I'd love to see them.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stubai View Post
    I am wondering if the axes that Bailey's are pushing are the same ones that Tuatahi is selling.
    If they are, then they have been finished quite differently. The axes that Baileys are selling are the "Bolstad" axe I mentioned above. The late owner of Baileys developed this line, in conjunction with Bolstad, as one of his last projects before he passed. I suppose it is possible that both are coming out of the same factory in China, but they are somewhat different shapes. Based on what I see here, though, if you took the Tuatahi axe, and did some finishing, you could end up with the Baileys axe. As the Baileys axe is $114 with a handle and the Tuatahi is about $60 without one or $78 with, that would make some sense. As I said, I haven't handled the Tui China axe, so I wouldn't want to say for sure.

    Incidentally, the Baileys throwing axe is $100 with handle and looks like a polished Tui China throwing axe. The Tui head is about $32.

    It might be worth noting that Baileys stopped marketing the Tui branded product line as they were bringing in their proprietary line.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stubai View Post
    thechuck: do you have any photos of your race axes that you can post here? I'd love to see them.
    No problem. Here are my four racing axes and two practice/riggers.

    Practice/riggers:




    1. Main practice axe - the green Keech Timberman. This thing takes all manner of abuse, as I use it for pounding dogs, chopping footholds, peeling bark, etc. The last pic shows the wave in the blade I mentioned above, but it might be hard to see.




    2. BIG practice axe. This is an Emerson and Stevens Handmade axe. It is over 8" long and weighs 6.5 lbs (head only). It is as heavy or heavier than ALL of my comp axes. I like to train with this one in the weeks before a comp, because it gets my wrists used to steering a big, heavy axe.



    Comp axes:



    Starting at the lower left, going clockwise:

    1. Keech Racing axe (2003 vintage). 7 3/4 x 7 5/8 Chisel Grind. Done by Mike Eash. This axe was originally done up for a college team, so it is a little more rugged than some others. The shape is unlike any other axe I have ever handled, with that huge, swept-back heel. This shape makes it really nice for the underhand chop, as it helps keep it from getting hooked up on a bottom hit (one of my bad habits). This axe has started to lose its edge a bit, and is the one I always use in square wood, which is really tough on axes.



    2. Brand new Tuatahi. 7 1/2 x 7 1/2 Supergrind set up for white pine. Done by the Tuatahi factory. More pics in the "new comp axe" thread. I have never swung this axe.



    3. Tuatahi. 7 7/8 x 7 7/8 Mitre grind with a 5/8 chisel edge. Set up for popal. Done by Mike Eash. I ordered this axe as a copy of the axe below, which was owned by a friend of mine. This axe is an unbelievable cutting tool - the best axe in my box, but big and heavy. Hard to control.



    4. Tuatahi. 7 7/8 x 7 7/8 Mitre grind. Done by Mike Eash. This axe cuts better than it has any right to, and is quite free in the wood. A glorious axe. A friend of mine owned this axe before me. It was such a nice one, I ordered a copy (as did a number of other competitors). Later, he suffered an injury and sold off most of his equipment. I was happy to be able to buy this axe from him. (It is worth mentioning that a used comp axe, if it has not been seriously shortened by regrinds, retains about 70% of its new cost, depending on several factors. Not such a bad investment). If a show has a round wood chop, this is the axe that is most likely to come out of the box. It is a bit lighter than the copy I ordered, and has a few minor imperfections which, though I don't think they do much to decrease its cutting ability, cause me to be less worried about getting a small ding. I save the above axe for clean underhand blocks.

    Last edited by thechuck; 02-12-2008 at 10:30 AM.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Sky View Post
    Just how thin are we talking here, for the racing axes? Any chance of a top-down pic?
    Here is a top-down pic of the Keech axe. I note as I look at it now, that it looks a bit thicker in the photo than it is. The apparent end of the bit on the photo is where the toe is. If you look at a profile pic, you'll note that the middle of the bit extends a ways beyond the toe and heel, so the average angle to that part of bit is more accute.


  7. #27
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    Thanks

    Thanks for posting those pic.s! Not mich call for a racing ax (or any other big ax) down here in SW Florida, but I'd surely love to have one. That chinese Tuatahi might just be the way to go. I saw a guy at the Kentucky State Fair a couple of years ago do a throwing demo with a Tuatahi, and he recommended that brand for chopping, as well.

    Todd

  8. #28
    You have a splendid collection there! Thanks for taking the time to post the photographs. The one with the S curve in the blade almost hurts to look at, but the tool is still in good condition. What kind of money have you sunk into your axes? And, have you ever taken a blank and worked the edge up to contest grade quality by yourself?

    I am hearing reports that Bailey's has sold quite a few of the Chinese race axes and that the performance of these tools are above average. I may have to snag one and give the old wood pile a work-over. One of my retired friends in Michigan has used this axe and says it does any job quite well but it seems a bit on the soft side compared to the older Plumbs out there.

    Again, I favor the Tuatahi work axe for the all-rounder. A couple of years ago, I called Bailey's and they said that a group of special forces had bought some of these...the servicemen claimed they were darn near perfect for just about any application! I have scant reason to doubt the voracity of that statement.

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stubai View Post
    You have a splendid collection there! Thanks for taking the time to post the photographs. The one with the S curve in the blade almost hurts to look at, but the tool is still in good condition. What kind of money have you sunk into your axes?
    Thanks. I hate to say they are my pride and joy....but, kinda. The green Keech, yes, hard to look at, but I really have to admit, that one hurt a lot less than the couple of times I have rocked my antique axes. They make more Timbermans every day. And it still does what I need it to. Plus, I now have no fear (and thus no excuse) about using it to practice in the winter.

    I got a few of my axes second-hand or in trades, but to replace my comp box (box + four racing axes + one rigger) would cost just under $2000, and probably be a three month wait. Axes are CHEAP compared to race saws.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stubai View Post
    And, have you ever taken a blank and worked the edge up to contest grade quality by yourself?
    Not a new one, but I have re-ground some older comp axes that were damaged. That gave me a real appreciation for what they really good grinders do. I have no problem bringing an axe to shaving sharp condition, but the acute angles of large, new comp axes...a whole other thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stubai View Post
    I am hearing reports that Bailey's has sold quite a few of the Chinese race axes and that the performance of these tools are above average. I may have to snag one and give the old wood pile a work-over. One of my retired friends in Michigan has used this axe and says it does any job quite well but it seems a bit on the soft side compared to the older Plumbs out there.
    I am sure it would be softer than the older Plumbs. Tuatahi racing axes are much softer than the current crop of Keesteel/Keech/Aussie Speed axes. (The only Keeches I have heard of that are softer and more desirable as racers are mid 70s vintage.) The Chinese Tui is definitely softer than their racer. Some of my old antique axes are so hard that I absolutely can not file them - a file skates right across, and I only work on them with the diamond stones. At least one of my old Plumbs definitely falls into this category, as does the big E&S handmade I showed above. The hardest axe I have is one that I am still researching, but apears to have been made by one of the smaller companies that was swallowed up by the American Axe Co.

    I am also interested in getting ahold of one of the Chinese work heads. I am putting together an order from Tui that will go in later this month, and if I manage to sell off enough of my current collection to make room for it, I will be adding one to the order. If that happens, I'll be sure to post a review.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stubai View Post
    Again, I favor the Tuatahi work axe for the all-rounder. A couple of years ago, I called Bailey's and they said that a group of special forces had bought some of these...the servicemen claimed they were darn near perfect for just about any application! I have scant reason to doubt the voracity of that statement.
    That is certainly a strong endorsement. I have used a Tui work axe, purchased a few years ago from Bailey's, and it's great. I hope that the "new" generation of Tui work axes will be more like those. Fingers crossed.

    For work axes, I have a total soft-spot (in the heart, not head) for double-bits. I find them more aesthetically pleasing, and I like being able to chop twice as long without touching up an edge. Work axes....there's another thread I'd like to see.

  10. #30
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    that is oustanding.

    thanks for sharing those goodies, brother 'chuck!

    vec

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    Quote Originally Posted by colormen1 View Post
    Thx
    Thanks for starting this thread, it's how I found this place.

  12. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by thechuck View Post
    Thanks. Some of my old antique axes are so hard that I absolutely can not file them - a file skates right across, and I only work on them with the diamond stones. At least one of my old Plumbs definitely falls into this category, as does the big E&S handmade I showed above. The hardest axe I have is one that I am still researching, but apears to have been made by one of the smaller companies that was swallowed up by the American Axe Co



    I've got a few really hard ones, I thought it was just me. Some are unmarked but some are UK made, I'll give you the name later, they're in the shed.

  13. #33
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    is it from being frozen every year for a long time...?

    work hardening...?

    bad forging...?

    vec

  14. #34
    Thanks for posting those pic.s NICE

  15. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by vector001 View Post
    is it from being frozen every year for a long time...?

    work hardening...?

    bad forging...?

    vec
    Not sure if this was directed at me, but I will answer...

    Unfortunately, my answer will be a crappy one, because I am not really sure. I haven't owned most of these axes for very long (compared to their age) so I don't know that much about their history. I am not much a metallurgist, so I can't speak to the effect of repeated freezings or work hardening. I DO know that some axe grinders/competitors, with stone for a long time with a very fine stone to harden the edge, especially on axes that will be used on hard woods (generally rolled edges). I don't think bad forging is the culprit though, as many of these axes were made by masters of the craft, during its heyday.

    I'll pose this question to a master axesmith, and see what his take on it is. Then, I'll report back.

  16. #36
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    I don't know much about it either but they don't get frozen here. One I use for work lives on the back of my truck in all kinds of weather, it can get pretty hot here. I've had it for about 25 years and it seems a lot harder than when I bought it. Nice pics, it doesn't look like them.

  17. #37

    Red face

    Quote Originally Posted by thechuck View Post
    Not sure if this was directed at me, but I will answer...

    Unfortunately, my answer will be a crappy one, because I am not really sure. I haven't owned most of these axes for very long (compared to their age) so I don't know that much about their history. I am not much a metallurgist, so I can't speak to the effect of repeated freezings or work hardening. I DO know that some axe grinders/competitors, with stone for a long time with a very fine stone to harden the edge, especially on axes that will be used on hard woods (generally rolled edges). I don't think bad forging is the culprit though, as many of these axes were made by masters of the craft, during its heyday.

    I'll pose this question to a master axesmith, and see what his take on it is. Then, I'll report back.
    ok guys i am a competitive woodchopper from Queensland in Australia and i can lay all your questions to rest the reason for different hardness in the steels and axes is of 2 major contributing factors.
    1) the composition of the steel it is made with the carbon content ECT
    2)
    A)the process used to make the axe Eg. the keech and keesteel axes are cast axes where the molten steel is poured into casts much like some other older brands and the keech steel used is K2 steel making is extremely hard infact hard enough to cut other steel

    B)the tuatahi are forged axes meaning they start from a block of steel which is then heated and compacted to a base shape making is some what harder than when it started in the tuatahi factory still done carfully by hand as well as some other high end makes but rare by hand in our days but usually done in one or two hits now by a machine press as to make it quick then the edge is tempered this is what most cheap store bought axes are now as it can be done very and cheaply it tempering is not exact the results can be absolute rubbish like so many store bought axes

    C)the third way is milling which is also done by some top end axe makes IE Mr Mick Osborne who makes Osborne racing axes it is first started with just a single block of tool steel and the the block is milled away by diamond bits and cnc machines to create the axe head

    D) the final way is a combination of 2 or more such as the tuatahi 2 piece axe where the eye and pole of the axe is good quality steel but not hardened but the head there is no blade is made seperaltly then screwed on or cold weld ECT

  18. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by thechuck View Post
    1. Main practice axe - the green Keech Timberman. This thing takes all manner of abuse, as I use it for pounding dogs
    For real? :P

    Sweet axes.
    MH370 &MH17, you will be remembered.

  19. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by gyoul2 View Post
    ok guys i am a competitive woodchopper from Queensland in Australia and i can lay all your questions to rest...
    Thanks for the info gyoul2, and welcome to BF!
    "...I know where we’ve come from — I carry a key with me and I don’t forget. I know where we’re going, too — I’ve dropped blood to this Earth, not much different than mine, and seen it rise from the grass again."

    -Dean Torges
    "Hunting the Osage Bow"

  20. #40
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    http://www.jasonwynyard.com/Default.aspx?tabid=1390

    Anyone who is interested in competitive wood chopping I suggest you visit this site. Jason Wynyard is a true gentleman. One of the greatest axeman of all time, but one of the most modest and humble Kiwis you will ever meet.

    I remember one time he came second in competition. The axeman who won had finished before the handicap allowed Jason to start.

    regards...Frank
    You can accomplish more with a kind word and a pick handle that you can with just a kind word!

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