Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An Introduction to Axes Part 2: History of the American Felling Axe

This is the second part of my Introduction to Axes video. Here I briefly cover some of the history of the axe after it arrived to North American.

Part 2 of 3

16th or 17th century axe, most likely an early reproduction. It is very typical of those early axes and is representative of the European styles which first arrived to North America. The handle is just a shaped branch.


A tomahawk. This one is currently being made by Cold Steel under the name Frontier Hawk (modified). It is a fairly accurate reproduction of the trade axes introduced to the American. 


Late 1600s or early 1700s axe. It shows a rudimentary poll. Although axes were not produced with handles, the one on this axe is an authentic one, and was on the axe when it was forgotten in a barn a long time ago. It is made out of a shaped branch.


This is what has come to be known as the America axe. It came about around the 1750s in North America. Examples almost identical to this one can be seen through the mid and possibly late 1800s. The handle is made by me. It is an attempt to reproduce a handle featured on such an axe in Henry C. Mercer’s book Ancient Carpenters’ Tools. Curved handles like this one came into use around the 1850s as far as I’ve seen.


Plumb Rockaway pattern axe. Judging by the attachment method of the handle, it is pre 1950s. The handle is original. Note: the Rockaway pattern is distinguished from the Jersey pattern by the shape of the wings. They are very similar as the name reflects the location Rockaway, New Jersey.


It is important to remember that we have very little information about these early axes. Much of the early developments in axe technology are shrouded by the passage of time. There are some things for which we do have information, such as approximately when we start seeing certain types of axes, but when it comes to details, most of it is speculation.

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