HYTEST AXES, post yours

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May 2, 2016
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Yup....first time we went to UNB fall woodsmen's show and then to hammerfest you'd a' thought we had never seen a real beer before. Some powerful stuff...but then again, what could you get here in the states in 1979?.....lager....here's to hoisting one with you in spirit!

As I recall, green painted Hytest were Craftsman, red paint meant Forester, black Paint was the Racer. We had a devil of a time filing racers until we stopped trying and went to a home built radius jig on a Sears belt sander. That was around 78 or so....a few years later they came out with those Makita 1 inch wide hand belt sanders and that really changed the work..

Good memories..thks


So.......who can tell us here why Americans never saw the Dandenong Kelly 2kg or the Tasmanian Plumb axes? We seem to have to pay ebay and postage to get them now...you NEVER see any at local flea markets or shops, only the big jersey pattern axes with no cheeks right from the casting...too thin, indeed.
 
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Joined
Jan 24, 2016
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I don't think there's any mystery necessarily. You can heat treat to produce hard steel that's also therefore brittle and so prone to chipping.

With good technique (and a reason to file when that fails) a pro may choose to live with that trade-off for the sake of the longer lasting edge.
 
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That's the whole thing. With axes or knives. Material and heat treat need to make a durable tool. An axe obviously needs to be a little softer than a knife to prevent shipping.
 

Park Swan

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
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Cut it in fall or winter and seal the end grain prior to drying to minimise warping.

Yes, that's part of how all woods are dried to minimize warping. I was intending to say that eucalyptus warps considerably more than most other woods given the same treatment.
 
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xxxmwoh.jpg


<$20 Forester.

Bought this last week at the local auction house. Twenty Australian Dollarydoos, in a lot with another felling axe head, a weird, off-set mini hewing head (or maybe someone just ran over it with a tractor), and some hammer heads.

Not bad nick for less that the price of a decent six pack. The rust in that photo isn't from the axe - it's dissolved rust washed off from another rusting item (probably those hammers). It brushed off easily. I am in the process of restoring this to near-showroom condition. There're a few nicks in the edge I'd like to get out, and perhaps I'll deal with that mushrooming.

When finished, I'll polish up the bit, mask it off, and paint the rest of it with red Metalshield, as it was when it left the factory. You may mock the BHP Steel, but the ol' Broken Hill Proprietary knew what it was doin': a very high-quality-feeling head. Feels...well, well-forged, as if I'm any judge.

I need to find somewhere in Aus that does good, white hickory handles. I really wish there was a place to hand-select them here. The Foresters only came with hickory.

I love the shallow, delicate scoops on this head.

I've also got another Hytest head - a hatchet - I've pickled up, and will be posting soon.

Sadly, in the same auction, I missed out on another lot of heads which included a Craftsman. But the Forester's the prize: one completely rusted head with a worn toe went for $86 dollars just last night on ebay.
 
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Aug 3, 2016
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Yeah, I'm aware of Krugers...but was looking for alternatives JIC.

I'll check around the ag stores here that sell Kruger's, and see if they can get me some Hickory, instead of spotted gum.

I've got a Cyclone spotted gum here I'm not using, but might try a Red Dog next. I really want to find a place that does more jarrah handles.
 
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Aug 3, 2016
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Er. I may have picked up two more Hytests today...an axe and a hatchet.

So.......who can tell us here why Americans never saw the Dandenong Kelly 2kg or the Tasmanian Plumb axes? We seem to have to pay ebay and postage to get them now...you NEVER see any at local flea markets or shops, only the big jersey pattern axes with no cheeks right from the casting...too thin, indeed.

I think the simplest possible answer for this is that, well, lord knows you guys had more than enough axes around there, and a Tassie pattern just wasn't necessary. Head evolved to meet the local timbers, and I suppose they might be considered too similar to the Jersey to bother making.

I think Kelly had a factory down here, and so that's where they designed and made the Dandenong.

Important thing to remember: "Plumb Australia" had nothing to do with "Fayette R. Plumb" of America, and in early January 1946 several large-size ads were taken out in major Australian newspapers insisting that retailer never refer to Plumb Australia Tools as "Plumb", but rather as "Hytest". The adds don't say whether or not this is a court order (and therefore don't say who brought about the copyright claim, or what the ruling was). Timing's interesting, too, just after the war.
 
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My surfeit of Hytests...so far:

dqPlk6Y.jpg


The Forester's the shiny one, the other axe appears to be one of their household lines. The hatchets have various markings on them, which I'll need to clean up - the one I've pickled simply has "HYTEST" on one side and "FORGED TOOLS" on the other.
 

rjdankert

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Mar 10, 2011
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The images in this post (#38) did not show up for me, however the links worked for me. I appreciate this type of information for the historical perspective. I may not be able to do better to display them for everyone, but here is a try:

An ad from 1958 listing 3 models of HYTEST axes, with descriptions of each in the linked page:

nla.news-page000010639358-nla.news-article103990718-L2-d70ae970cb5ae77c05902efd6bb3478d-0002.jpg


http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/103990718. . .
28765576732_3cf9496935_z.jpg


. . .
A 1946 ad from a hardware store, with prices for their axes. Hytests were priced the highest, Kelly had the lowest prices (below Plumb).
(Prices were in Australian Pounds and Shillings, prior to 1966)

KELLY AXES 16/3
PLUMB AXES 17/4
KEESTEEL AXES 18/6
HYTEST AXES 19/6

article151461476-4-001.jpg

from http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/151461476?searchTerm=hytest%20axe%20design&searchLimits=l-availability=y
28839038966_3fdc7cc864_z.jpg


I don't have a Hytest axe and really nothing to add to this thread, but enjoy learning. Thanks to all the posters.

Bob
 
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Aug 3, 2016
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Ah, that Maryborough hardware ad shows the debut of Keech axes onto the civilian market after the war.
 
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Aug 28, 2010
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That ad also specifies "no permit required". Anybody know anything about that?

Evidently during WWII there were "National Security Regulations" in Australia that required permits for the purchase of many types of equipment, including axes, as described in this editorial from an Australian newpaper:

"...Let us take the hardware department,
a department which caters very largely for the rural
community - the food producers, not the gas producers [politicians] of
Canberra. Practically every item is frozen. A buyer has to fill in a
form if he wants to buy an axe, and state the reason he wants the
axe.
As if he wanted it to fry sausages or sweep out the nursery!
Then the retailer has to send that form to Sydney, where some
under-strapper will determine whether he should be granted a permit
to acquire it. If a buyer stated one good reason why he wanted It—
to cut the red tape enmeshing production—he would be charged
with insolence. But, that is not the end of the trouble. Quite
frequently, the applications when they reach Sydney are pigeon
holed, and eventually forgotten. Tools of all kinds, ammunition for
the destruction of vermin, galvanised iron, fencing wire and all
manner of essential articles have to be treated the same way, and
receive the same fate."


quoted from No Permit Needed for This Axe!, The Armidale Express, NSW, 9 July 1943, page 6
 
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Aug 3, 2016
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Sounds about right for bloody Armidale - whingers, the lot of 'em. Up the range there, lack of oxygen...:)

Still, though: five pounds of steel could build an SMLE.
 

rjdankert

Basic Member
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Mar 10, 2011
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. . .
Important thing to remember: "Plumb Australia" had nothing to do with "Fayette R. Plumb" of America, and in early January 1946 several large-size ads were taken out in major Australian newspapers insisting that retailer never refer to Plumb Australia Tools as "Plumb", but rather as "Hytest". . .
This is quoted from an Australian newspaper dated 4 January 1946:. . .
28275693033_e014441bcb_b.jpg

Post #5: http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php/1284326-information-on-Hytest-Plumb-Axe


I did a little digging and found that there was an Australian company named Plumb (W.H. Plumb, not Fayette) that was based in Sydney and made forged tools (such as wrenches, chisels, anvil stakes). . . .

plumb.jpg
Post #7: http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php/1284326-information-on-Hytest-Plumb-Axe

Interesting, some more from ebay:

Vintage Hand Tool COLD CHISEL W.H.Plumb SYDNEY Australia Old Antique Chisel #280
28894715755_ea50b6a47e_c.jpg

Vintage Hand Tools W.H.PLUMB Fern NAPPING HAMMER Old Antique Tool #144
28279695713_337dfc772f_c.jpg

W H Plumb Kendall St Woollahra Kilner 41 Broadway Glebe 1924
28790180072_30b819356e_c.jpg


Bob

And, just for decoration :) :
28890805745_32c75157d8_z.jpg
 
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Aug 3, 2016
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Ah, the Plumb Fern Line of tools. Gonna go dig around the old man's shed for some of those, but he's more of a Sidchrome man when it comes to spanners.

I'm waiting on a hickory handle for the Forester, should be delivered tomorrow. For any Aussies wondering, True Value Hardware/Mitre 10 and Home Timber & Hardware do stock Kruger's handles, and can order in the hickory handles. It's a lot cheaper than having to pay postage yourself.

The trick is finding one of those hardware stores that hasn't been eaten up by the Big Green Warehouse.
 
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