In the days when the forests were falling the axe was a personal instrument, a man took pride in its temper and keenness. Men would say, “That fellow Anderson,–he’s got a wonderful axe.” And somebody else would agree, “Yeah, I reckon Anderson’s got one of th’ best axes on Conewango Creek today.”
— Old Time Tales of Warren County (Pennsylvania) by Arch Bristow (1932)
If you want to be like Anderson, the good news is there are many fine axes being made today that can become your personal instrument. I like my Granfors Bruks carving axe, and I discuss it a bit here. I like its weight, but others find it heavy. It’s personal.
Robin Wood has some new videos available on his blog that compare axes and demonstrate sharpening of axes and other tools with simple materials and techniques. If you’re searching for keenness, check them out. One place to take a quick look at some options available in quality carving axes is at this page at Country Workshops.
By the way, today the trees are doing well in the Warren County that Arch Bristow wrote about. Whenever I head up there, a couple hours northeast, I slip into the Allegheny National Forest. It is a special treat to hike along these mountain steams and, for a moment, wonder at the beauty of a native brook trout.