Council Tool: Over 135 Years of Axe-Making Mastery
by Adam ZaryckiLast updated: May 06, 2021
Let’s be honest here- everyone is looking for an excuse to get outside and have a little fun these days. Be it a day-hike, a road trip with some camping along the way, or a week-long backpacking trip deep in the bush, the desire to get out and about is felt by many. And what better tool to help you accomplish these woodsy endeavours than a damn good axe! Let’s take a look at some of our favourite axes at Kent of Inglewood: Council Tool!
Some of our favourite Council Tool axes at Kent of Inglewood.
A company born out of the need for good tools that get the job done, Council Tool continues to produce and improve their wares with the belief that even a simple hatchet should be a generational hand-me-down. Let’s take a deeper dive with Craig Roost, tool designer for Council Tool, and find out what makes these tools the talk of the industry!
1886 saw the inception of Council Tool by John Pickett Council. The first tool created? A pry bar used to dig resin from pine trees to make tar and turpentine. The craftsmanship and functionality of this simple yet necessary tool would spawn a legacy encompassing 5 generations and counting! With over 135 years of experience, what makes these incredible axes some of our all-time favourites here at Kent of Inglewood?
“We take a lot of inspiration from the past.” -Craig Roost
Having started with Council in 2015, Craig Roost spent over 30 years as a carpenter before his time with the company. Craig appreciates a well-made hand tool as someone who has spent 4 months hand restoring a log cabin built in the 1840s. After countless hours of hewing & shaping, Craig, to this very day, will use an axe for many carpentry jobs. He also firmly believes that the production standards from the past should greatly inform and inspire the tools created today. 100-150 years ago, the humble axe was a daily essential tool; farmsteads, logging camps, hunters, everyone had an axe. Everyone used an axe. Everyone needed an axe.
These facts play into the modern approach used to craft Council Tool axes. Take one of my personal, absolute all-time favourite axe patterns, the Wood-Craft 24” Pack Axe. At a glance, one might find some similarities to an old-school Hudson Bay pattern. But upon closer inspection, the similarities are barely even skin deep. Phantom bevels, a hardened striking poll, a deeper recess behind the beard so the user can choke up further when fine work is needed; every little detail is considered. These features take all the “romance” of the infamous axe that “won the west” and improved them, modernized them. I myself have used this axe everywhere, from my backyard while chopping wood to building wooden steps at the family cabin to “survival shelter” construction in the northern Rockies. Craig Roost himself swears by this design as his go-to carpentry axe. While I’m off pretending to be Les Stroud, Craig is busy timber framing with his pack axe!
Our friends at Challenge Outdoors teach survival classes in Alberta, and swear by the Pack Axe.
“Never Stop Innovating”
While the inspirations from the past continue to fuel innovations into the future, Council Tool adheres to a fundamental belief that has kept them competitive and more than relevant in the modern tool market. “The End User is the boss” says Craig. This refers to not only a strong corporate policy but also a rock-solid commitment to continued innovation to meet market demands.
The Flying Fox is one of the most recent examples of this reverent creativity. International Axe Throwing Federation specification compliant, this 16”, 1lb 11oz hatchet has a hardened striking poll, meaning YES, you can use it as a hammer. A quick google search would endear any axe neophyte to the historical influence for the look of this camp hatchet-inspired by mid-20th century hatchet patterns. The Flying Fox bares a resemblance to the classic Plumb National pattern hatchet but has been clearly designed for everyone from backyard enthusiasts to hardcore adventurers. Modestly priced for its performance, the Flying Fox could easily be considered a “gateway axe”- as in it’s not the last you’ll ever buy, but one of many to come!
This Flying Fox belongs to internationally-ranked axe thrower & Kent of Inglewood Ottawa staffer Sean Coutts. The handle was chopped down for competitive league play.
“Your tool should work. It should also inspire you.”
We’ve spoken a lot about the romance and passion that goes into designing these axes, but what about performance? Sure, the back story is engaging, but how do they hold up? Why do they excel as much as they do? The answer is oddly simple: “Made in America should be a source of pride”. All Council Tool axes are made in their factory in Lake Waccamaw in NC, using materials exclusively sourced within the United States. The steel types vary from one series to the next, but all have the same thing in common: Steel hardened to a functional, super sharp yet durable edge. A sharp axe is a safe axe, and Council Tools ensures all of their premium axes are hand sharpened and honed to an exceptionally keen edge. Want proof? Pop by one of our shops and check out the double-bit saddle hatchet - easily one of the sharpest out-of-box edges in the market!
This Jersey Axe belongs to an Alberta customer, and gets a near-daily workout on his property.
Now that you’re enthralled, if not outright infatuated with Council Tool, let's take a look at some of my personal favourites here in the shops!
A truly unique hatchet unlike anything you’ve ever seen, this is the axe Paul Bunyan would have had strapped to his belt! Each cutting edge is bevelled with different uses in mind: one for fine kindling and tinder work and one for moderate splitting tasks. Have you truly ever used an axe if you haven’t used a double bit?