Maine Axes

Maine-made axes

Maine-made axes

Here’s a photo of my two favorite axe heads.  The top one is one that I managed to find a few years ago; an original Emerson and Stevens, made in Oakland, Maine.  This is the axe head that Geoff Burke sent to Sweden when Gransfors Bruks needed a template of a good American felling axe.  They based their design on it.  I haven’t used it, and am thinking about giving it to my son when he’s old enough, and good enough with the axe, to appreciate it.

The bottom axe I got from Don Merchant at Pole And Paddle Canoe.  He used it for a few years before entrusting me with it.  It was made by the John King Axe Company, also from Oakland, Maine.  After a bit of research, I think it was made in the early 1940’s.  The steel’s ability to hold an edge is amazing.  I have it on a 30″ handle that Don carved.

I’ve got others, including some vintage Snow And Neally’s (Bangor, Maine – are you seeing the trend?), and some with no name on them. I’ve spoken with several people about axes recently.  My advice to them, and to anyone looking for a good axe is to give Don a call before you buy a new one.  He usually has a few old ones in stock, and if they don’t have a handle he can carve one and hang it for you.

Lastly, always keep in mind that whatever tool you have, it’s the user that makes it work.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Hi Tim
    I enjoy reading your posts. Although my skills at Bushcraft leave much to be desired, I enjoy canoe camping best when I use my wood canvas Chestnut Pal and my old Duluth packs, out on the trail alone. I have found a few nice ax heads at tag sales here in Connecticut, one real nice one and a few duds and a good friend gave me his Snow and Nealley cruiser ax at a spot along a Quebec Lake I’ll never forget just cause he saw I admired it so much and the time was right.
    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, I look forward to reading them.
    Robin Lauer
    Norfolk, CT

  • Tim

    Thanks for reading, Robin. And hang on to that Snow And Neally.

  • Patric Faulkner

    I won’t claim to be as knowledgable about axes as you are, Tim. What I claim to be is a pac-rat, I tend to hang onto everything that comes my way. I have accumulated several axes over my lifetime so far; a True Temper single bit with a 36 inch handle – never cared for it, the taper is too thick from the edge towards the back, it reminds me of a US military surplus hand ax. I have a hudson bay axe by Norlund and a few more by Collins.
    My favorite one is a Cruiser model from Colllings, I carry it everywhere I go when afield.
    What are your thoughts on double-bit axes?

  • Tim

    I’ve never used a double bit axe for more than a few minutes, but they have their benefits; two blades ground differently for different jobs. I have one in the barn, but have never put a handle on it. I’ve got a 3/4 size Norlund – got it before they became popular. I bet the True Temper, if you thinned the cheek, would be a good one, but only if it’s name is stamped into the steel. One of these days I’m going to shoot a short axe video covering how to find a good old axe head and how to treat the handle to make it last.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.
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