Friday, June 10, 2011

Council Tool Boy’s Axe Review

I am always on the search for a good commercially available axe at a decent price. I think the Council Tool Boy’s Axe certainly falls into that category.


Manufacturer: Council Tool Co. Inc.
Axe Head Weight: 2 lb
Axe Length: 27 inches
Axe Head Material: Carbon steel, HRC 48-55 on the Rockwell scale
Handle Material: Hickory
Cost: $40.00 (can be found for less online)

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This is a very affordable axe. It is not what I would call dirt cheap, but if you do some shopping around, you can find them for about $30, which I would consider a low cost for an axe of this size. Compare it to something like the Husqvarna Traditional Axe, which now costs over $60.

Here you can see the Council Tool Boy’s Axe next to the Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe.


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The handle of the Council Tool Boy’s Axe is two inches longer than that of the Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe. I can’t say enough about the design of the Council Tool handles. In my opinion in that respect they are the best on the market. The feel of a handle is a very personal thing to each user, but for what it’s worth, I have not been able to find any handle that feels better in my hands. The grain orientation is not always spectacular. It can be a little hit or miss. I know they are working on improving that, and the handle on this particular axe has perfect grain orientation. I can not promise that it would be so with all examples. The handle was covered with a light coating of wax.


The head of the Council Tool Boy’s Axe is a little heavier than that of the Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe. The Council Tool head is 2 lb (incorrectly listed as being 2.25 lb), while the Gransfors Bruks one is 1.75 lb (incorrectly listed as being 2 lb). The profile of the head is excellent. The bit is very thin, and does not require significant filing to get into shape. The transition of the cheeks to the eye is very smooth and continuous. The head is attached to the handle using an aluminum wedge. It looks like it would be easy to remove, but it is not as I found out. I ended up having to replace the whole handle after my attempt. Of course, that gave me the opportunity to weigh the head.


The axe however does not come sharp. Since Council Tool does not actually target its products directly to individual consumers, they rarely come sharp. A few minutes with the file or a course sharpening stone will however put a good edge on it. Because the axe is not sharp, the first quarter of an inch from the edge/bit is a little thicker than what you have on the Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe. If you just sharper the edge, the Council Tool Boy’s Axe will give about the same chopping performance as the Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe, even though it is a quarter of a pound heavier. Of course, the thicker edge would be more durable. If you however take half an hour with a file and thin out the first quarter of an inch from the edge to a thickness similar to that on the Scandinavian Forest Axe, you will have an incredibly well performing axe.


The balance of the axe is not ideal. The head is very well balanced with the handle, but the poll needs to be heavier. As you can see from the picture, the bit is hanging lower than the poll. Ideally it would be horizontal.

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Here you can see my finished axe with a leather sheath I put together for it last night.

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Overall, this is one of the best axes I have been able to find in this price range. In terms of size and weight, it is my ideal axe. Sometimes it is hard to explain why one axe feels right when you hold and swing it, but this one certainly feels right. It is by no means perfect. If you are looking for an axe without any imperfections, you will have to spend the $120 for a Gransfors Bruks axe. However, if you are willing to do a small amount of work, you can get a very well performing axe for a very low price. In fact, for the near future, this will be my main user.

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