Thursday, August 18, 2011

Old vs. New Axe Comparison-Convexed Cheek Design

If you look at axes from half a century ago or even further back, and axes that are currently being produced, one of the differences that you will notice is that most axes these days have flat cheeks. What I mean specifically, is that if you look at the cheek of the axe from heel to toe (or the bottom corner to the top of the axe) the cheeks are flat. This is noticeably different from axes produced in the earlier part of the 20th century, where you would see a convex, or curve from heel to toe.

There has been some debate as to whether the convexed cheek design makes for a more effective axe. In particular, the theory goes that it will prevent sticking in the wood, and as such improve performance. I have never seen anything other than theoretical speculation on the issue, so I decided to do a test and see what results I got.

For the test I obtained two axe with identical head weights, but where one had convexed cheeks while the other had flat cheeks.

For the axe with convexed cheeks I used a True Temper Kelly Works Worlds Finest. To represent a modern axe design with flat cheeks, I chose a Council Tool Boy’s axe. Both axes have a head weight of 2.04 lb. I re-hung both axes on identical Council Tool Boy’s axe handles.

For the test I both counted the number of swings I took, and the amount of time it took me to complete that number of swings. The wood I was bucking was white oak (to the best of my guess). The results may be different for different types of wood.

Here are some pictures of the end result.

First test. The Council Tool axe is on the left. The True Temper axe is on the right. What you see is the result of about 50 swings with each axe. It took 1 min 30 sec to complete 50 swings with the True Temper axe and 1 min 20 sec with the Council Tool axe. I was more tired with the Council Tool axe, so I was probably pushing harder with it, explaining the faster time.


A close up of the True Temper:


A close up of the Council Tool :


Second test. This time the True Temper is on the left and the Council Tool axe on the right. What you see are 45 swings with each axe. It took about 1 min 20 sec with each axe to complete the swings.


A close up of the True Temper:


A close up of the Council Tool:


The results were a bit of a surprise to me. I did not notice any significant difference between the two axes. There also wasn’t any noticeable difference in the time it took to complete the same number of swings with each axe, or the debt of the cuts.

Of course, these are just my impressions. You can look at the video and judge for yourself.

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