This past week our first order of Council Tool Axe and Hatchets arrived. These have been in short supply and our order took roughly 4 months to arrive. AND, we only received roughly 1/2 of our initial order. So there’s more to come!
I’ve been stocking axes and hatchets from Germany, Italy, Sweden and other locations. The Snow & Neally line is one of the few higher end US made axes in the store and I was really happy to add the US made line from Council Tool. Council Tool has been making axes and tools for 135 years, which says a lot for their quality. I’m really happy to add them to the lineup. In addition, Council offers a selection of tools to cover just about any application for the camper, backpacker, logger or backyard hobbyist. The next order we get should also include their recently released throwing axe.
Council Tool has three levels of axes. The best way to define the difference in the lines is to quote from the Council Tool Website.
Trademarked many years ago, the word Velvicut® evokes a bygone era, a time when an axe was essential for daily chores. When sharpness, edge retention, and the heft of the axe made the day seem shorter – or longer. With Velvicut® axe production, toolmaking expertise gained over a period spanning three centuries is combined with contemporary technology and superlative materials to produce axes for those who simply want the ultimate in an axe.
How to produce the ultimate? Start with 5160 alloy as the steel grade of choice. Velvicut® heads are drop forged at around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, after which a punch pierces the still-red hot metal. Forging is a superior process because it produces refined grain flow in the steel. As a result of forging, the grain is continuous throughout the part thereby greatly enhancing strength.
Velvicut® heads are finished with a combination of experience, new technology, and old-fashioned hand-to-eye coordination. In addition to steel grade and head pattern, crucial characteristics of an axe head are proper heat treating and sharpness. Velvicut® heads are shot blasted and then touched by different abrasives. However it is never a goal to remove all forging makes. Therein lies the character. No two Velvicuts® will ever look exactly the same. Each is unique… a thing of beauty.
Wood Craft Line
The Council Tool Co. has been making premium axes and large hand tools for the industrial, construction, firefighting/1st Response, hardware, and specialty outdoor tool industries in the USA for 135 years. The WOOD-CRAFT Axe Line is the culmination of many craftsman hours, a keen inside understanding of the axe market, and the Council Tool Co.’s willingness to partner with well known WOOD-CRAFT and bush craft experts coming together to bring the public an opportunity to own a premium Made in the USA WOOD-CRAFT line of axes and to introduce the second Axe in this line, the Camp Carver, a traditional, however multi-use premium axe that is made specifically for carving and various camping chores.
There are a wide variety of axes and hatchets that fall under the Council Tool ‘standard’ line. All of these are built with high quality carbons steels and hickory handles. They take great pride in stating they only use US produced steel and US American Hickory for their handles. After 135 years, it obvious it’s been working for them!!!
While we were on vacation I got into a discussion about axes/hatchets with another camper. He asked how and why some axes were so much more expensive. What’s the difference between a $40 and a $150 axe. Fair question.
Like knives, a lot of the inexpensive axes/hatchets are imported from countries that have a significant labor cost advantage. Blade steels can vary greatly with the less expensive axe typically having a lower quality of steel which can be brittle or soft. You can expect higher quality wood to be used in the more expensive axe.
So we see the difference in materials which may or may not be obvious. The price differential can really be affected by the amount of ‘hand finishing’ put into the final product. The polished head looks nicer but it goes far beyond looks. The polished and honed head is significantly sharper then the machine ground blade. This means right out of the box it’s going to cut better. There is definitely a difference in the two axes. Council offers similar axes at two different price points. The big difference is in the amount of hand finishing. The following is from the description of one of the axes. This is another example of quality that isn’t visible.
“ANSI Standards call for bit hardness of Rc 45-60, at least ½ inch back from the cutting edge. Council Tool internal standards call for tempered bit hardness of Rc 48-55 and we target 1-1/4 inches from the cutting edge. The poll and eye walls are not hardened and remain in the as forged condition.”
To sum it up…
I haven’t had the opportunity to try one of the Council Axes out yet. I can say that I’m really impressed with the fit and finish on all of the axes I’ve handled. Even the standard line is finished off much nicer then a lot of the big box store axes. These should be a great addition to the line and another option for the consumer.