An axe is one of the most useful tools a person can own. It’s a hammer, a rescue tool, an occasional weapon, and a construction tool. It’s the indispensable friend of the fire-builder and the firefighter, and every home (rural, urban or suburban) should have one.
You won’t need to ride out Hurricane Katrina to appreciate the ancient utility of the axe. When a windstorm knocked out our power and downed a 60′ cedar across our street, my long-handled Estwing topped and limbed it in a jiffy. We were able to open our own street to traffic, without waiting days for the roads department to rescue us.
When it comes to axes, there’s nothing obscure or exotic about Estwings. They’re just solidly built and cheap enough that just about anyone can afford one.
Wooden-handled axes have been around for thousands of years, and even the most exclusive modern designs differ little from Iron Age prototypes. Traditional axes have some issues, however. Wooden axe handles can dry out and splinter over time, and dry wood can shrink and loosen the axe head. A wooden axe handle can even break if you hit it wrong.
Estwing solved all those problems by forging the head and shaft from a single piece of 1055 carbon steel.
Their leather-handled Sportsman’s Axe is a backwoods classic, and the stacked leather washers (think Ka-Bar handle) absorb some of the shock.
This maintenance-free and nearly unbreakable design isn’t without its drawbacks, because steel handles still transmit more impact shock than wooden handles do. The convex grind of an Estwing edge has been criticized as a bit too thick for optimal chopping. These are valid criticisms, but this isn’t a professional’s axe.