Light enough to carry into the forest, yet capable of felling and limbing small trees up to around 9" diameter, splitting kindling or short straight grained rounds, the forest axe is a versatile general purpose tool for "if you can only take one axe with you" situations.
Because this axe can be used for light splitting, the cheeks are important working surfaces too, so a solid steel head is used in preference to a laminated one. The steel is heat treated to be just on the tough side of optimum hardness, giving a good balance of strength, edge performance and durability. In essence the design and function are very similar to a European forest or hunting axe, but crafted with Japanese materials and techniques by a Japanese master axesmith.
As well as being stronger and easier to replace in the field if necessary, the straight handle is comfortable to use for a wide range of tasks. Japanese axe and hammer handles have a tapered square section that can be planed to re-seat the head lower down if necessary.
With many Japanese tools, the final step of preparation for use is left for the new owner to complete and these axes are no exception. The responsibility for ensuring that the axe head is secure always belongs to the person using it. These axes are intentionally supplied with the heads loosely installed and the wedges not driven home, the head must be secured by the user before use. In Japanese culture, if you are not ready to take that responsibility then you are not ready to own an axe.
A couple of sharp blows with a hammer on the base of the handle (with the axe held in the air) to fully seat the head, soak the head in water for 20 minutes, tap the wedge home with the handle supported, and trim off the excess. You may notice some blackening of the wood after soaking, this is just the tannin in the oak reacting with the iron and is completely normal.
Wood swells and contracts with seasonal changes in humidity, so it is good practice to check the head of any axe before use. If any movement is found, follow the above steps to properly secure it.
Never hit an axe with a metal hammer.
Never use an axe as a hammer.
Always wear appropriate protection (safety specs).
Always keep people and animals clear of your working area.
- Handle length: 400mm (15¾")
- Head weight: 700g (1lb 9oz)
- Overall weight: 1050g (2lb 5oz) approx
- Cutting edge: 72mm (2⅞")