Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Axe Talk - Axe Head

Lets move on to see how the axe head is made.

The Eye:
 I think it is quite obvious that the eye shape of Finnish axe is different from any other axes we know and it even makes me say “This is illogical!”

As all we axe lovers and bushcrafters know that eye hole of axe is tapered down to about middle, then opens up towards top opening and the size of both ends are not very much different. But look as the Finnish axe... that is not the case. pay attention to the size difference of both openings.

The eye of the Kellokoski No:12.3.
From top (picture left)  & bottom (picture right)
Here is the eye of the Kellokoski No:12.3. can you see how much it tapers down toward the top?
The narrowest point is located about 1/4 of the depth from the top, then widens, but still about half size of the bottom opening. Billnäs also have same construction in here.

This looks of eye kind of made me worry at the beginning, that how would this hold the head? But once you drive the wedge in, it sets the axe head really well. It could be so that the hole is very long so it creates more friction inside. So far, I am feeling that this is much stronger against the change on helve caused by moist and heat. ( Again, this is my opinion, no base to confirm…)

Other difference on eye is the shape. most of axes have oval or egg shape, but Finnish axe has square-ish hexagon. with my experience, making  round is much more difficult than making angled. Take Japanese axes as an example, those are fitted with rectangle. when making replacement helve, just need to measure the size and cut it straight, then you have the perfectly fitting helve. on the other hand, oval eye need to check the fitting often to make sure, I do not remove too much material. so these Finnish axes falls in somewhere between and so far, I find it easier to make fit than oval eye.

The Sleeve:
I am actually not sure how to call this part but I am calling it “sleeve”. It is the part the helve hole is extended down to cover the part of helve.

Gransfors Bruks Axes and other Swedish axes have this construction but just covering the side of the helve, often triangle shaped and much shorter. The Finnish axes have it to cover all around as it is basically a pipe covering the neck.
Some people say this is good because it protects the neck of helve. It might be so, but I think there is more to it than just protection.
As I have mentioned on previous section that I think this gives more friction to set the helve secured.  Also because of the shape on this section, it gives user a possibility to hold it in chocked position comfortably.
Other advantage I can think of is that even the base of blade is so narrow; it is not compromising the strength and diffuses the stress to helve widely.

Oh, one more thing. You can see the small hole on the sleeve in the picture. That hole is for extra secure the axe on helve by screwing the screw in. I have only seen this hole on Kellokoski axes.

The Poll:
The Poll is also very distinctive feature of the Finnish axes. Not all of them are this way, but almost. It looks like as the extra steel plate was welded on to poll, but according t my knowledge, this part was draw out from axe body. You can see how much mass of material left on this place from the picture attached on "Geometry" section.

I often hear that the poll should not be used as a hammer... well the finish axes are made to take beat as you can see.  It is definitely meant to be used for hammering wooden pegs and so on. I haven't seen Finnish axes with this type of poll has mushroomed big, as you often seen on old axes. 

It would be simply easier to see than by words so here is the picture.

From left;
Kellokoski -12.3
Kellokoski –American
S.A.W small axe
 Unknown swedish type axe
Billnäs - 300
Billnäs - 1123

I think it is quite obvious that the Swedish axes are much thinner… or Finnish axes are much thicker…which ever way you want to say it.

Other thing I would like to point out is the cutting edge. So far, I have only seen them with “V” edge, not convex.
According to the Finnish army educational document of axe (you can see a page of it in here; <>) the primary edge is 30degree angle and the secondary edge with 50 degrees. So to be accurate, the edge is 2 step V edge or 2 step convex.

As for the sharpenign method, The educational document suggests the sharpening with large hand cranked grinding wheel and this was in fact common method.

To be continued to next post ... "Axe Talk - Hanging Finnish Axe" or "Axe Talk - Using Axe" which ever I finish writing first.


  1. Anonymous9/5/12 09:15

    Fantastic information, once again, OZme!

    It seems that the Finnish axe design has a lot of differences from the Swedish/American design, but in turn it has ways of balancing these differences out (the eye shape and helve sleeve, for example). Very interesting.


  2. It is very interesting, I wish my Finnish skill is better so I can dig into mor informations.

  3. Thanks OZ, this was again very good post of our axes :)