I have been looking for a good cruiser size axe to review for some time now, and I finally found one that was worth the money. It is the Kelly Woodslasher, currently being produced by Barco Industries, who have owned the Kelly brands since 1987.
Manufacturer: Barco Industries Inc.
Axe Head Weight: 2.5 lb
Axe Length: 27 inches
Axe Head Material: Unknown carbon steel
Handle Material: Hickory
In terms of cost this is a very well priced mid range axe. A $56.00 axe of good quality would be a bargain. Of course, if it falls short, the price is not insignificant.
Since there aren’t any particularly well known double bit axes on the market to which I can compare this one, I figured I would just take some pictures of it next to the Granfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe, just for the size comparison. Clearly the Barco axe is a bit larger, resembling a boy’s axe is size.
The handle is about 27 inches in length (even though on their website, they have is listed as a 36 inch handle by mistake). The grain on this one, just like the other Barco axes that I have seen is perfect. The handle is a good size and well shaped. It did have a light coat of varnish, which I ended up removing. The head was attached to the handle with just a wooden wedge.
The head itself is a Michigan pattern double bit. The weight is listed as 2.5 lb, but it might be a just a bit lighter judging by the feel of it. For those of you who appreciate and collect old (pre 1950s) axes, this one will certainly be a very pleasant surprise. It is a very old school head design. Just like those older axes, the cheeks are convexed from heel to toe, a feature no longer seen on most axes. The head also comes completely unfinished. There is a center line put on each bit, but they have not been ground in any way.
That being said, the bits are not too thick, and can be brought to the desired thickness with a file. Overall, the head shape is excellent. Working on this axe is the same as if though you had found a new old stock Kelly Flint Edge. Of course, if you are looking for an axe that you can just take out of the box and use, this one will not be for you. Just like with those old axes, it is unfinished, and requires some degree of knowledge to bring it into working shape.
Overall, this is one of the best buys I have made in a long time. It was well worth the $56.00. When I pulled it out of the box, it was as if though I had managed to win a bidding war on ebay for a vintage axe in perfect condition. That being said, be aware that just like those vintage axes, it comes unfinished form the factory. If you are not comfortable with grinding your own axe, I would pass up on this one. You can buy the axe directly form Barco here.