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Thread: Vintage Ice axe , ice saw and ice tongs

  1. #1
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    Thumbs up Vintage Ice axe , ice saw and ice tongs


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    It took me awhile to put these together. They are all from the U.P. Michigan and part of my axe collection. A little ways from our place is a lake named "Ice Lake"...You guessed it...Ice was harvested from the lake in blocks in the winter months and stored in a warehouse insulted with saw dust. These were the days before electric refrigeration, homes had a ice box to store the ice blocks that were delivered to them.

    Ice axe



    Axe makers mark is: W.M.T. WOOD & CO. The head measures 13.75" bit to spike.





    Red & orange paint helped you find your tools on a snow covered lake.



    Ice saw






    Ice tongs



    Tongs look to be home made, using a large nut & bolt welded to shaped rebar for a pivot point.

    Thanks for looking, Tom
    Last edited by Double Ott; 09-09-2012 at 10:27 PM. Reason: clarify post
    Double Ott aka; Tom; TC

    Vintage PUMAs from the 1970's & 1980's.. Let me know what you have, Thanks

  2. #2
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    Tom, those look very interesting. The wood handles on the saw look to be in excellent condition, which is amazing, considering their age.

  3. #3
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    I love this kind of stuff. It's a part of our history that has almost disappeared. Thanks for sharing.

  4. #4
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    My dad, who spent his childhood summers on a farm, bought a saw like that as a hay knife (for cutting hay out of a haystack). A friend of his who grew up on a farm said it was a manure knife (or saw)- (apparently manure compacts when stored in a heap). I used to worry about which was right.
    So it's an ice saw too. Who knows what else.

  5. #5
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    I have only seen those marked as hay knives. Ice was sawed with 3-4 foot buck saws or circular saws driven off of small farm motors. Ice was a big business years ago in our area, my father in law remembered watching the work as a kid and described it to me several times.

  6. #6
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    Nice collection, that saw is in especially great shape. I've only seen that type listed for sale as hay saws, my idea of an ice saw was something along these lines:


  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by scrteened porch View Post
    My dad, who spent his childhood summers on a farm, bought a saw like that as a hay knife (for cutting hay out of a haystack). A friend of his who grew up on a farm said it was a manure knife (or saw)- (apparently manure compacts when stored in a heap). I used to worry about which was right.
    So it's an ice saw too. Who knows what else.
    I posted these on another forum and got comments that it was a hay saw. All I can tell you is I'm 60+ years and I thought the fellow that I got the saw from was an "older" gentleman, who has lived his life in the U.P. Michigan. I had no reason to doubt his word that it was an ice saw. A friend on that forum sent me a link to Ebay that had ten of these listed under "antique ice saw". Looks like this was used as a dual propose saw, some are listed as ice/hay saw, some are listed as just an ice saw. Take a look on Ebay, search for "antique ice saw" and see for yourself. Personally, I've have not used either a ice or a hay saw. So take your pick, this one was used as an ice saw. Thanks for the comments.
    Double Ott

    BTW, here's a hay saw that I also have, it has a much finer blade:

    Last edited by Double Ott; 09-10-2012 at 09:16 AM. Reason: clarify
    Double Ott aka; Tom; TC

    Vintage PUMAs from the 1970's & 1980's.. Let me know what you have, Thanks

  8. #8
    It's a "Lightning Hay Knife," originally invented in Maine by Hiram Holt. I have one as well, and there's a very good reason it's often associated with the ice industry. Sawdust wasn't the only insulator commonly used for ice--hay/straw was also used extensively in the construction/packing of ice houses. A hay knife is used for sawing portions of hay out of a stack, where it settles into an immobile mass. I use mine for sawing layers off of round bales for the horses.


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  9. #9
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    Those are really awesome. A google search of "ice harvesting" brings up some really interesting articles and pictures!



    http://www.hvmag.com/Hudson-Valley-M...-Ice-Industry/

    http://www.oshkoshmuseum.org/exhibit...harvesting.htm

    Looks like are still harvesting ice in China.
    http://www.treehugger.com/clean-tech...-in-china.html

    Has anyone gone to an ice harvesting festival???????? It looks like there are several towns that hold ice festivals throughout the Northeast.

  10. #10
    Ew--I wouldn't want Chinese ice. Have you seen the stats on their water quality?


    Baryonyx Knife Co. ~Condors, Moras, Deluxe Tramontinas, and More!

    "To live at all is miracle enough."
    — Mervyn Peake

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by M3mphis View Post
    Those are really awesome. A google search of "ice harvesting" brings up some really interesting articles and pictures!



    Has anyone gone to an ice harvesting festival???????? It looks like there are several towns that hold ice festivals throughout the Northeast.
    Hey Matt, thanks for sharing these.

    Interesting history, I never knew that pike polls were used to harvest ice blocks before, I guess it just makes sense. I did know they were used to move logs around when they were transported on the waterways.

    Here's a pike from my logging collection. It was cut down from 10' poll to 6' by the prior owner to make it easier to get it into his car. Below it, a poll pickaroon and a hookaroon.



    Double Ott
    Last edited by Double Ott; 09-10-2012 at 01:02 PM. Reason: clarify
    Double Ott aka; Tom; TC

    Vintage PUMAs from the 1970's & 1980's.. Let me know what you have, Thanks

  12. #12
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    No criticism intended- if your guy used it on ice, and he should know, it's an ice saw. I'm just interested to see yet another use/name for it. Other examples:

    Roy Underhill tells of meeting a geezer who said, "oh, a broad- axe- we used those to cut the bark off of logs". I forget whether Roy corrected him and instructed him in hewing axes vs bark spuds. Anyway, it turned out that in the area it was customary to build cabins with the bark on and just whack off strips on each side with a broad axe, which was enough to dry out the bark and prevent interested bugs from settling in.

    I myself bought a new drainage spade only a few years ago. It's for digging a narrow trench to lay drain tiles or brush drains. Turns out the manufacturer thinks it's a transplanting spade for digging a narrow trench around your shrub before going under it.

  13. #13
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    "Sawing" ice with a hand saw sounds like a (you know what) no matter how you stack it.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by M3mphis View Post
    "Sawing" ice with a hand saw sounds like a (you know what) no matter how you stack it.
    Yeah, I would imagine that small scale ice harvesters gathered as neighbors or family groups and went out to gather ice blocks for their own use, no doubt al lot of that was done with handtools. They probably brought out their one handled crosscut saws and went at it. Bigger operations (commercial) transferred logging techniques to the ice, thus small steam engines driving saw wheels, logger pike, massive amounts of sawdust for packing, all relating to timber trades. As the timber industry was highly mobile and moved on after areas were logged out the systems they used for cutting wood were adopted to large scale ice companies, probably many lumbermen went into the ice business and hired loggers for winter seasonal work. The scale of the one that was in the link was incredible as it had New York and the boroughs just down river for a market.

  15. #15
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    Pretty cool. I found a pair of ice tongs a couple of weeks ago.

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