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Rhon Bell

Rhon Bell, an outdoor enthusiast, spends his time exploring the Maine Woods and documenting his journeys. Growing up in Aroostook County, he embraced the outdoor lifestyle at a young age. Living today near Portland, he spends weekends and week-long adventures hiking New England summits, canoeing the historic Maine waterways, and ice fishing for lake trout. Follow the journey as Window to the Woods discovers new destinations, and check out his other blog, Backwoods Plaid.

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Window to the Woods with Rhon Bell
Posted: May 21, 2013

Maine Made Axe: A Weekend Restoration Project

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) or find me on Twitter (@BackwoodsPlaid).


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