The Ax Book: The Lore and Science of the Woodcutter

Start Here! This is a must-have for anyone interested in the rest of the items on this page.

This book is the missing owners manual for your axe. If you don’t know how to use an axe, or even if you think you do, get this book before using one -- or better yet, before purchasing one, so you can make an informed purchase.

The use of an axe seems pretty obvious -- hit it on what you want to cut -- but there is much skill and information needed to use one well, let alone safely, that is not obvious. This books cover selecting an axe, techniques, safe use, sharpening, and a whole bunch of other useful information like selection of firewood, how to dry and stack it, and so much more.

Off the Map Outfitters/Snow & Nealley Penobscot Bay Kindling Axe


8/24/09 - This is a “first impressions” report, as I have yet to have the opportunity to use the axe much.

Snow & Nealley of Bangor, Maine is one of the few old-time names in axes still producing decent quality tools in the United States. Their Penobscot Bay Kindling Axe (available at Amazon, among other places) features a Hudson Bay style 1 3/4 pound (.8 kg) head on a 18 inch (45cm) hickory handle.

Off the Map Outfitters of Michigan also offers this handy little axe, both in standard condition and in a custom tuned-up form, seen above. The blade is profiled and polished for superior splitting performance, and the handle sanded smooth and finished with linseed oil and beeswax. The result is quite nice indeed. In my limited experience with it to date, I’m very happy with it. I wish I could say more about it in actual use, but it feels wonderful in the hand and is very pretty indeed. With its tomahawk-like looks, I can’t help but hear the music from Last of the Mohicans while looking at the pictures above (I found the music and included a player for it on sidebar at right, if you want to hear it too).

One low point is the included sheath (supplied by Snow & Nealley). This sheath, shown in the first picture, is rather disappointing especially in terms of fit. In fact, while I was carrying the axe out to the photo session above I managed to knock the cover off, still snapped, with little difficulty. Off the Map now offers their own custom sheath which looks to be of much better design, though I have not handled one yet. I’m debating wether to buy one of their sheaths, or make my own at some point of yet a different design I have in mind.