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Caring for Your Axe

Abraham Lincoln once said “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening my axe.” I think he should have cared for his tools better.
- Nathan Gareau, Famed Cocktologist and Axe Enthusiast

 Canada is a nation born of lumberjacks and frontiersmen; every one of us has an inherent bond with the mighty axe. In fact, just by owning a sharp axe one has no choice but to feel stronger.

An axe that has been properly cared for should last for generations. The blacksmiths that make quality axes use a high-carbon steel which allows for a sharper edge that lasts longer.

High carbon steels have huge benefits, but can be fussy at times. It is very important to keep your axe head oiled and free of excess moisture as the steel can rust if forgotten about and left damp. We like to recommend Remedy Brand Tsubaki Oil, the same oil that one would use to keep a treasured razor from tarnishing between uses. A few drops rubbed into the steel with a clean cloth is all that is needed to protect against aggressive oxidation.

A sharp axe is a safe axe; take care of your axe and use it as intended. A carbon steel axe is for cutting, chopping and whittling wood, not stones and other hard materials; misuse will result in a chipped edge. That being said, chips aren’t the end of the world. Minor chips and touch ups are easily taken care of with a small sharpening stone such as the Wetterlings Slipsten Grinding Stone. Rub the stone against the edge using small circles to wear out chips and sharpen the blade. Keep in mind that any axe purchased from Kent of Inglewood can be brought into the shop for a free sharpening.

The axe-head and edge would be nothing more than a dangerous paperweight if not for the hickory handle. Taken from the center of an American Hickory, the haft of a Wetterlings ax provides the perfect blend of strength and flexibility. There is no need to fear the occasional over-swing, these handles are made by hand to last. It’s best to keep the wood oiled and waxed to prevent drying and shrinking, particularly where the handle runs through the head. We prefer Claphams Bee's Wax because it also has mineral oil in it to hydrate the wood and protect it. If the axe becomes loose while chopping, stop working and re-affix the head. This can be accomplished by firmly hitting the bottom of the handle with a mallet or by sinking a wedge into the ‘eye’.

Each axe has a unique and specialized use; some are for chopping, some for splitting, carving or even throwing. Regardless of the use, be aware of your surroundings and follow good axe safety.

Nathan Harley Gareau
Author: Nathan Harley Gareau

A famed cocktologist and axe man, Nathan stands at the helm of the Calgary store. Ask him about his world-famous Three Cherry Manhattan. Nathan also sits on the board of the Inglewood BIA and does his part to drive the neighbourhood forward. In his spare time Nathan can be found sharpening his axe, sabreing Champagne, or completing the fastest straight-razor shave around. He doesn't slur his words, he speaks in cursive.