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Best axe ever made

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by Aj35, Nov 2, 2015.

  1. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    Argh--will edit my above post in a second. It's missing some text and Bladeforums is timing out for me when I try to edit it.

    Edit: It's still not letting me do it, and for some strange reason it seems tied to the specific text. I'm able to post other stuff, just not that paragraph, and despite tweaking it it's still not working. Let's try rephrasing it from scratch.

    If you take a flying saucer shape--a disc with a bulge in the middle--and pinch it along its rim between your forefinger and thumb, it will drop so that its center of gravity (in the central bulge) is pointing straight down. The line between your pinched point and the center of gravity is describing your axis of rotational balance. If you rotate the object, it will want to do so around that axis. If you then grip another point along the rim, it once again will suspend itself in such a way that it describes an axis of rotational balance. This works with asymmetric objects as well, and if you shifted that central bulge off to one side, you'd still see the same behavior, except the portions of the object on either side of the described axis would no longer be symmetrical. You could then use this method to figure out approximately where the new center of gravity was, as it would no longer be right in the middle of the bulge like it was when it was in the center. With axes that balance like a "T" we don't think about this effect much because any point you grip along the handle (usually with the exception of up near the shoulder) shares the same axis of rotational balance. However, the more off-axis (relative to the primary grip point) the length of the handle is, the more observable this effect is.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2015
  2. Curt Hal

    Curt Hal Gold Member Gold Member

    547
    Jul 8, 2014
    Hi AJ. I wish I knew enough to give you a good answer. There are many here who know so much more. I am familiar with Hults Bruk. I restored one and sold it and have regretted it ever since. I am familiar with Wetterlings, although I have never owned or worked on one. I have a Granfors Bruk that I think the world of. Of all of them, I would have to say I thought the Hults Bruk was the best quality, but I couldn't give you a scientific reason. Sometimes when you are filing an old head, the quality of the steel is felt by the way the file responds to it, the sound it makes, the hardness of the steel, etc. I don't know if that makes sense.

    The hardest steel I have worked on, by far, was a Plumb Victory. I also restored a Canadian axe that had very hard steel. It was a Campbell XXX. If you can find either of those, I think you'll have a pretty good quality axe.
     
  3. painkilleraz

    painkilleraz

    500
    Jul 5, 2014
    That is a sexy blade
     
  4. Oxbow

    Oxbow

    94
    Feb 5, 2015
    I don't think this is a question with an answer that means anything. The "best" axe is just too subjective. If you look at all the different axe patterns that exist, just from North America, it is pretty mind boggling. Some of those differences are functional, and a lot of them are purely local fashion/tradition. In general, there may be some benefit from one pattern to the other based on the type of trees you plan on felling. I assume if you are felling trees in Arizona you are felling softwood like Ponderosa or Pinyon? So you could look at what the lumbermen who used to fell those trees liked to use, some of that choice was functional.

    As far as one brand from a manufacturer being "better" than another? Very difficult to prove. Is a Kelly Registered actually better from a metallurgical or design standpoint than a Woodslasher? The only way to prove that would be to get them both into a met lab and get some samples under the microscopes. I have always been dubious about the Sager Chemical Process. Not that they aren't fine axes, but the details on the process are extremely vague, and I've always wondered how much was just marketing. The stresses on an axe bit are not as extreme as all that.

    Ultimately it will come down to your own preference, no matter how many people give you specific answers to this question.

    As far as my specific answer, rectangle logo Plumb jersey.
     
  5. rjdankert

    rjdankert Gold Member Basic Member Gold Member

    Mar 10, 2011
    text deleted
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2015
  6. Steve Tall

    Steve Tall

    Aug 28, 2010
    I agree, it's mainly subjective, like "what's the best car?", and there is no ultimate 'best', since there are tradeoffs involved.

    The original question was about the "brand" and "line", which I understood (or misunderstood?) to be about "Warren" and "Sager", for example, or "Kelly" and "Registered", but NOT about which is the best pattern.

    Manufacturers often have different quality lines or grades (like Council's regular Boy's Axe, the FSS version, and the Velvicut version), and the differences could be substantial or just cosmetic. Actual upgrades to the materials (Velvicut) or the process (Sager) give the 'better quality' claims more credibility.

    About the Sagers, perhaps they are overhyped in the catalog, but Warren's manufacturing process (with "several hundred blows under the hammer") does seem appealing (along with Emerson & Stevens) when the competition was mainly using drop forging. Here is additional information about Warren that some might not have seen yet:

     
  7. M3mphis

    M3mphis

    Jan 13, 2011
    It really is impossible to answer definitively. We can talk about our favorites, though!

    For a felling axe, I think Dudley Cook in "The Axe Book" (as referenced previously) does a great job describing the characteristics of a great felling axe with the exception of his discussion on straight vs curved handles (which I think is complete bunk).

    Like Dudley, I like a wide bit, thin profile with a high centerline, relatively short from poll to bit. The highest performing axe I've ever used is my Keech Timberman. Second would be a Collins Legitimus Connecticut pattern that I traded away.
     
  8. Sidehill Gouger

    Sidehill Gouger

    Dec 29, 2007
    I've never really understood what the Sager Chemical Process was either but it is a historical fact that the old time Northwest logger considered these the best of the lot. There were plenty of other companies making Puget Sound fallers etc and I'm sure they were all given a try at one time or another. If you are spending 10 hours a day on the end of axe you are going to want something that works for sure. I don't think marketing hype would carry much weight in the long run.
     
  9. rjdankert

    rjdankert Gold Member Basic Member Gold Member

    Mar 10, 2011
    As I understand "center of gravity", it is a point. A point does not point like you would point a finger.
    [​IMG]
    http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/cm.html

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/airplane/cg.html

    The part I can't figure out is what "axis of rotational balance" is.
    [​IMG]

    Thanks,

    Bob
     
  10. Oxbow

    Oxbow

    94
    Feb 5, 2015
    I'm not saying that Sager (and Warren Tool) didn't make a very fine axe. But the fact that it was the most popular in the camps may or may not mean they were light years ahead in terms of quality. It doesn't take a magical forging or manufacturing process to make an axe that will hold up day in or day out. Steel in the form of a wedge is perfect for this application if you get the forging and tempering right. If Warren made a good axe of consistent quality, and then did a bang-up job at marketing and distributing that axe right in the logging camps, (which is my understanding of their business model) that is enough in my mind to explain the legendary reputation. Not downing their quality at all, just casting some doubt on the mystique associated with the "Chemical Process" part. That part is mostly marketing IMO.

    I do not understand "axis of rotational balance". Fortunately you can use an axe without understanding this concept I think.
     
  11. olybears57

    olybears57

    658
    Aug 25, 2013
    I have had great experience with Sagers, plumb victories, and honestly, many other axes. In my opinion, the "best axe" isn't a brand and a line... It is in fact any axe of the proper pattern for the wood to be cut, with the proper grind for said wood. It is truly night and day, cutting with an axe with a sharp, thick bit, versus an axe with a sharp, thin bit. They act very differently and are specific to purpose. I find often that restorations and talk of restorations often teach how to get a sharp edge, but rarely teach the importance of profile.
     
  12. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    Relative to the suspension point. So a line from the suspension point straight towards the center of the earth will also be passing through the center of gravity.

    The axis around which the object can rotate and be balanced. Like balancing a wheel. In theory you could chuck the object on a lathe through an axis of rotational balance and have it spin smoothly.
     
  13. olybears57

    olybears57

    658
    Aug 25, 2013
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  14. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    ^That's beautiful right there.
     
  15. Aj35

    Aj35

    25
    Nov 2, 2015
    Are Norlund axes any good?
     
  16. olybears57

    olybears57

    658
    Aug 25, 2013
    👍
    Norlunds are fine, nothing special in my opinion.
     
  17. Chignecto Woodsman

    Chignecto Woodsman

    746
    Aug 2, 2014
    I mean that the poll is small so the edge hangs down quite low; compared to an old Spiller and E&S which have much larger polls and are fairly close to a double-bit in terms of, what to call it, edge-to-poll balance.

    The axis of lateral pivot is also worse, considering the smaller eye and longer bit. I think it's a very good axe, probably better designed than 90% of the vintage axes for my needs, but falls short of "The Best Axe Ever."
     
  18. Chignecto Woodsman

    Chignecto Woodsman

    746
    Aug 2, 2014
    It is the axis of rotational, or lateral, pivot. Single-bit axes are by nature imbalanced due to the offset eye and poll. The balance is generally 1/4" to 1/2" from the beginning of the eye (closest to the edge), so the handle has to be offset. Arguably this is worse with a curved handle (there have been long discussions about this).

    I would disagree that pulling the knob forward and getting a closed hang is a counter to this as it just offsets one imbalance for another. You lose power as you are no longer cutting at the line of cut, and perhaps even standing in a dangerous position.
     
  19. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    Thanks for the info.

    The depth of the bit for "7"-balanced axes is (to a degree) inconsequential because of where the axis of rotational balance lies. It's from that point that the edge distance would be measured since it's rotating at a point forward of the eye, if that makes sense. There are some rather unusual (to American eyes) English felling axes out there that have absurdly long bits but because of the way they're balanced in "7" configuration it behaves as if the bit were much shorter...except because the eye is so far back from the edge it doesn't interfere with the bit geometry so it's able to cut very deep in a narrow notch without having to flare out the mouth of the cut to avoid deflection. Now, if it's balanced in such a way that the bit still sits well forward of the axis, it'll still be prone to "wobble amplification".
     
  20. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    It's more of the fact that the bit and the handle exist as describing radii of the same arc. The line of the bit should still lie square (or close to depending on preference) to the arc of the stroke. If one were to simply extend the bit along the x axis you'd end up with an overly open hang because the extension of the bit wouldn't be running true along the arc. :)
     

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