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The drawback in the Hudson Bay pattern

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by Square_peg, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. 300Six

    300Six

    Aug 29, 2013
    Sound advice! They really are pretty looking and were produced by many or most of the prestigious makers during the declining years of demand (1960s?) for conventional axes. Weight of the head and length of the handle are what really determine what it is you want to accomplish. HBs were not sold as splitters!
     
  2. 300Six

    300Six

    Aug 29, 2013
    Whoops! Double tap.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2014
  3. thunderstick

    thunderstick

    376
    Jan 15, 2007
    Just thinking about this HB design some more ... There had to be good reason for its appeal by the men of the bush.
    I think the 18"-20" Hudson Bay axe was a good evolution from the traditional hawk. It has the attributes of an axe for better chopping and splitting while retaining the profile and benefits of a hawk. Even the handle will be easier to replace with a makeshift haft than a more traditional axe with a deeper eye. The flatter bit works better for for hewing and fashioning for similar usage to a carpenter's hatchet. So its a combination of a backup defensive weapon, a tradesmen's hatchet for building, and an outdoorsmen's tool to build shelters or improvise devices.
    I think you need to look at the Hudson Bay design as a woodsmen's axe and not a logger's axe in order to understand the unique value and appeal of it. If I was heading into the forest for a spell I might just pick up my customized Council Tool Hudson Bay axe and consider myself as having the best woodsmen's multi-tool on my belt.
     
  4. Steve Tall

    Steve Tall

    Aug 28, 2010
    In a previous discussion about Hudson Bay axes, someone mentioned that the head design was preferred by trappers to "hook" their underwater trap chains and pull them up.
     
  5. Alocksly

    Alocksly

    429
    Dec 30, 2013
    I've often used the beard as a hook as well. It picks up limbed saplings, grabs branches when I'm climbing, etc.
     
  6. SR69

    SR69

    238
    Apr 30, 2012
    SquarePeg (and to all that contributed), OUTSTANDING information here!
    Thank you guys very much. I'll put all this wisdom to good use.


    Alocksly, THAT is exactly the extent of my use with a camp axe, except that I'll have to add splitting to that list of chores. I won't split anything more than 8" though. That shouldn't affect a 3# (total weight, head & handle) Hudson Bay. I don't like it for chopping. That I'd leave to my Council Tool Forest Service Edition Boy's Axe for sure and even then, only when a folding saw like a Bahco Laplander wouldn't suffice.

    I'm going to do my best to make my Norlund Tomahawk Hudson Bay Axe "right", but I'm also looking at picking up a Council Tool Hudson Bay and their Velvicut Hudson Bay along with an American-made modern Snow & Nealley Hudson Bay. I really like the forward weight of my Norlund compared to the 2 Wetterling Forester's Fine Axes I had. For camp chores like making kindling and minor chopping (stakes, woodcrafting, etc..), it's the best I've used. I had no problem splitting with mine. The head didn't come loose until I began chopping into a 6" log.

    I like the Hudson Bay pattern for all the reasons you listed. As long as we use axes for what they were designed for, we'll have less issues. I'm seriously seeing a 3 axe combo: A hatchet (<18"), the Hudson Bay and the Boy's Axe for camping depending on what I'd need at the time. I'd leave the feller and the maul for homestead use.

    But personally, I'm staying away from the Swedes at all costs. They might make some premium carving axes, but I've had nothing but trouble with them. User error? No. I got them bad from the factory while my $60 Boy's Axe from Council Tool came hung right, hung tight and ready to work and hasn't ever disappointed me. But that's another thread.
     
  7. 300Six

    300Six

    Aug 29, 2013
    This definitely is an informative thread and has prompted me to steer away from lusting over that otherwise 'pretty-looking' pattern for the purpose of actual use.

    Pictured below is a Walters Axe (the handle is marked Ogdensburg NY) version of the H. B. pattern with original sheath. This was Walters general manager Ed Hammel's personal axe.

    [​IMG][/URL]
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2014
    Square_peg likes this.
  8. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    That's awesome, 300Six. Great curve in the haft of that axe.
    I love the shape of that sheath and the dual snaps. Walters did things right.
     
  9. StLawrenceFowler

    StLawrenceFowler

    13
    Nov 9, 2014
    Here's another Walters H.B. pattern. It's a little more "squarish" overall, if it can be described with such a term.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  10. upnorth

    upnorth

    Nov 25, 2006
    Interesting, I just picked up a Wetterlings Scandinavian and it was the first that I've seen with glue applied. I just wanted to say that I appreciate these types of discussions. I have seen it mentioned somewhere previously that this pattern was a bit dicey for heavier work. That was disappointing for me because I have a strong (romanticized) connection to this axe design and the old fur trade. So I guess that if I want a H.B. pattern axe I should go for a hatchet........... ? My needs\wants are recreational and I'm not filling a wood stove.
     
  11. 300Six

    300Six

    Aug 29, 2013
    The market is increasingly geared to fashion and perceptions of what buyers want and not what they need. The Hudson Bay is a wonderful example of this. From British origins as a least-amount-of-expensive-metal-required-and-still-qualify-as-an axe Native fur trade item it gradually caught on with the gentile hunting and fishing crowd who didn't have to chop trees for a living, construct buildings, make split-rail fences and full time stoke cook stoves. Tradesman hunters and trappers understood the limitations of these but they were probably inexpensive/readily available (via remote trading posts all through the north), light to carry and perfect for making beaver trap sets, pelt frames, dressing game carcasses and performing other light but essential outdoor duties. "Boy's" axe (as aficionados we really owe it to ourselves to rename this pattern to "Pulpwood" axe (the traditional Canadian name for them)) is a superior all around rendition but the romance/nostalgia allure of wielding something such as the natives and true woodsmen were often associated with has always been strong.
    Don't get me wrong, I too love the look of these too, but I don't own one!
     
  12. rjdankert

    rjdankert Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Mar 10, 2011
    The HB pattern is also very appealing to me. The only one I have is a Norlund 12 in. hatchet I got three or so years ago. I don't know if a hatchet will stay tight longer than a larger axe. The ratio of handle material to head is the same. The dissapointment for me is that I don't like to use it. It just doesn't feel right to me. Maybe it has to do with the fact that my first use of a hatchet was with my dad's Plumb at least 60 years ago. With the prices I see the Norlund's go for on ebay lately it wouldn't be a problem to sell it, but I can't bring myself to part with it. Romanticism???
     
  13. 300Six

    300Six

    Aug 29, 2013
    You can't exert the same amount of leverage force on a hatchet head due to the shorter handle.
    Back in 2004 I couldn't convince Ed Hammel's son into parting with the family heirloom Walters HB so I had to be content with only taking a photograph of it. Despite poking through every garage, basement and shop I ever worked at as a general contractor in Ottawa for 20 years I never came across "exotic" patterns until I set foot at the Hammel household to build them a gazebo over their outdoor hot tub. They used that axe solely to make fireplace kindling out of already split rounds.
     
  14. 300Six

    300Six

    Aug 29, 2013

    Looking at yours and then looking at a few of mine (those with 2 1/4 lb heads which defines a 'Pulpwood' axe) I presume that Morley Walters must have experimented with various shapes and profiles over the years to see what worked to attract buyers and yet be durable.


    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2015
  15. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    I have no problem with calling it a boys axe. No shame in a man using a 'boys' axe. They're handy. And that most rugged man in the woods, the timber cruiser, carried this axe - in fact some still do.
     
  16. StLawrenceFowler

    StLawrenceFowler

    13
    Nov 9, 2014
    I came across this pair yesterday, and they demonstrate the variability that can be found in the design.

    On the left is a head simply marked "Made in W. Germany" on one side and "2 1/2" on the other. The head on the right is marked "HB Made in Sweden" and then "1.1" over "2 1/2" on the opposite side.

    Laid side by side, they appear roughly similar.

    [​IMG]

    Placed on edge, however, and they reveal quite a contrast. The German head runs at pretty much a straight angle down from the poll, and is quite heavily constructed. There's no way it weights in as marked; I'd give it another pound, easily. I suspect that it could be used for some pretty heavy splitting work.

    [​IMG]

    The Swedish head, by comparison, is quite thin and flat.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. 300Six

    300Six

    Aug 29, 2013
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2015
  18. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012

    Those aren't Hudson Bay pattern axes. Those are Montreal pattern axes. Montreals have a deeper eye than Hudson Bays have. They're a better axe. Functionally similar to a boys axe. Hults Bruk sold scores of these. Good axes.
     
  19. Steve Tall

    Steve Tall

    Aug 28, 2010
    And the Montreal pattern axes are still being sold in Canada.

    [​IMG]
    Hultafors AGDOR Felling Axe, Montreal Pattern, Smaller Model
    Model: 28
    Weight of head: 1.1 kg / 2.5 lbs
    Handle: Hickory
    Length of handle: 700 mm / 28"
     

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