Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Axe Review And A Tale Of Price Fixing.

Fiskars Gardening Axe – also sold as - Wilkinsonsword Garden Axe and for about double the price as the Gerber Camp Axe.
“A Finnish forged steel blade wrapped by a ‘virtually’ indestructible Polymid Fiberglass hollow handle.”
As given to me, (almost new and never having felt a stone) it was sharp enough to trim fingernails, if not shave hairs off my arm.

I was given this axe while dump camping in South Dakota last summer and as the camps only hand axe (we had a maul for the bigger splits) it performed well. Everyone in the camp used it, from the highly proficient, via the almost proficient (me) to the down right incompetent (see photo). Even after the abuse it suffered it was only ever a few coarse wet stone strokes away from handsomely sharp.
It has a flat grind with a secondary bevel making it easier to sharpen in the field than the grind found on the more traditional designs. The edge is good but nicks easily so this is a very good feature.

Starting at the business end; the head is treated to a non-slip coating – looks nice, possibly adds (very slightly) to cleaving efficiency (I can’t say I’d ever felt the need for a non-slip head before), although if a covering isn’t your thing - it certainly wears off quickly!

The plastic (Nyglass®) shaft joins the head to the shaft by the wrap around method, all well and good unless you need to use it for splitting into anything deeper than fist with timber. Some people did feel the need, with predictable consequences (see photo). The plastic shaft does have the benefit of absorbing shocks. I used it to trim Fir trees, cut firewood, and make bowls for hours on end and not being ring fit, found it easy to use and kind to sore/weedy elbows,

As you can see in the photo the “virtually indestructible” shaft is also susceptible to chipping if the head is sunk deep enough into a piece of wood. When (rather than if) it fails I’m planning to drill out the head and give it a wooden shaft. I’ll post an update on how easy this proves to be.
The unique feature, which I found most useful in a ‘camp’ axe, was the last third of the shaft being painted blaze orange, it meant I could rescue it from the woodpile!

Handle length 14 inches.
Blade length 3 inches
Weight 11/2 lbs aprox.

UK As Fiskers gardening axe £20
UK As Gerber pack axe (without orange paint) £33.00 reduced from £44.99
In the USA I’ve seen it for sale at around $30 (£15)

Would I buy one with my hard earned cash?
Yes but only at the Fiskars / Wilkinsonsword price. See future posts for my feelings about Gerber.....Hmmmmm