Whether you’re searching for a conversation piece to hang above the mantle, or a sharp tool for your next camping trip – if you’d like a weekend project that reconnects you with the outdoors, you’ve come to the right place. An axe is a critical tool that if taken care of, can serve a lifetime. Very few companies still exist in the United States that source and build axes with 100% American resources and labor. Maine outdoorsmen may be familiar with Snow & Nealley, a Bangor, Maine company which began at the beginning of the lumbering era. After a very successful history, the company was recently sold. From my research, the last axe they completely crafted in Maine was 1995-96 so I set out on Craigslist to find one – and I did.
Hopefully you find an axe in fairly good shape, as I did. After taking a grinding stone to the edge, I put on a razor sharp finished edge with a leather strop – skills that can easily be learned on YouTube. I then set out to add a personalized touch to the axe. I drafted a paint pattern on paper and began taping off the design on the axe handle. After two days of painting and allowing the sections to dry, I covered the handle with a quality stain before applying several coats of polyurethane. New, quality USA axes can cost upwards of $120, or more. My weekend project materials, including the axe, totaled $66. Afterall, who doesn’t want to get out of the house, work with their hands and build a conversational piece for outdoor adventures – all at a fraction of the price!
If you have any questions, shoot me an email at rhonbell (at) gmail.com or find me on Twitter (@BackwoodsPlaid).