Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Council Tool Axe Review, by bmatt

Today in the News:  These are a few of the visitors we've had from other countries on this site this week.  Welcome international friends!

United Kingdom

Link of the Day:  http://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com/ . I think I've posted Le Loup's blog before, but I really like it.  Beyond that, he posts often with a lot of good historical information about the world and bushcraft.  Go check out his blog and tell him I said hi!

Another great writeup by bmatt - I apologize, bmatt for not putting the pictures in proper order - I'm having computer troubles!

Council Tool Axe Review - by bmatt, an American Bushcrafter in Finland

Back in November I ordered the Jersey Classic axe with the 36" handle from Council Tool. It took almost a month to get to me here in Finland because of international shipping, customs handling etc., but I'm sure it would only take a few days within the US.

My new axe has a 3.5 lb. head (5 1/8" cutting edge) and is one beast of a tool! It will be used for serious felling, bucking and possibly splitting. Because of its size and weight, I don't know if I'd use it on camping trips where I hike in, but for a homestead-type axe, I think it'll be great.

The axe came with the head wrapped in thick paper, and the entire axe was wrapped in bubble wrap. Despite some ham-handed delivery person or other managing to bend the box in several places along its journey to me, the axe arrived without a scratch thanks to the great packing job.

First, a few critiques. I'm going to have to narrow the handle down a bit before I use it, as it is quite wide (this is not necessarily a complaint, as it gives the purchaser the option of leaving it as it is or modifying it to suit their tastes). The head is a bit misaligned, but only field use out in the woods will show if that will be an issue. I think it will be OK as it is, though (it looks worse in the picture than it is). One of the four phantom bevels on the head is much less prominent than the others, so that side of the head looks a bit weird. I may just sand them all out. Though the axe would cut as is, a large burr/roll was left on the edge after sharpening.

Now to the good stuff. The axe is a big, honking tool! Just what I was looking for. It seems like a very solid axe (something that would last many years). The grain orientation of the handle is OK, and the quality of the hickory is great. The finish of the steel is also nice. The bit profile is really nice, and looks like it will cut deep. So many cheap hardware store axes hardly have an edge at all and are thick as splitting mauls. The Council Tool Jersey Classic is not a hardware store axe!

When I get a new tool, piece of outdoor gear, etc. I seldom leave it the way it is. To me, customizing equipment is something that makes it mine. Right now, I plan on narrowing down the handle and spending a few minutes with a file and stone on the edge (should not take long to fix). The only other thing I might do is remove the phantom bevels and refinish the head, but this is purely cosmetic.

The real test of this axe will come after I've made my modifications and taken it out into the woods for some felling, bucking and splitting, but I have a good feeling about it already. I'll be sure to let you guys know how she handles.

One of my favorite things about the axe is that it's made in the US, which unfortunately is a rarity these days. I was happy to pay the very reasonable sum of around $60 (plus shipping and customs duties) for this axe. I have a feeling I'll be using this axe for years, which will make this price seem like a steal.

Oh yeah, Margo at Council Tool was very helpful and accommodating.

Here are some pics of the Jersey axe, including a size comparison with my vintage Gränsfors (26"), Wetterlings LHA (19") and Wetterlings Mini Axe (12"?).

Take Care, bmatt

That's all for today, Folks!

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel....out.


  1. Thank you Mike, much appreciated.

  2. I just got one of their axes, not as beautiful as yours' but it's a real work of art. I tried it on some brush wood in the yard when I got home and it works really well. Worth every penny.