Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Axe Talk - Use of Axe

This post is the last post of this Axe talk series. At first, i was planing on to write about how nice to use Finnish axe. But I soon realized that writing about that would be totally senseless, because then will be filled with one's preference, situations and conditions.

So, I have changed the topic to "Use of Axe" and would like to talk about an axe as a living tool.

When think of it, the main job of an axe is to split or to chop / fell a tree. And as for Bushcrafters, carving job is also a popular job for an axe.

Well... let me ask you a question;
"How well can you make use out of your axe(s)?"

I thought I have seen quite enough of what can do with axe, but when I saw how Finns have utilized axes in old days, it changed my prospective of axe's versatility. The one place you can see it is from the clips of ISIEN TYÖ. (Just pick any clip in there and most likely you will find some axe in action.)

In there axe is not just for chopping and splitting wood. On the hands of those guys, axe is a true multi tool, or I should lather say "A life tool". Used for making everything you need for farming, forest work and day to day living.

Nessmuk has carried the sets of essential cutting tools, which we call "Nessmuk's trio". It is a set consists of double bit axe, fixed blade knife and folding pocket knife. The idea is that with this set, you should be able to handle / craft all your needs around camp and wood land traveling.
Applying this idea to Finnish old time, then I think it would be like this;
Finnish style axe

As what I have seen, with these tools, Finns really have made all what they need to thrive them life. A house, tools, fixing tasks, processing live stocks, making toys and so on. And the axe was taking the main role on all.
Of cause the puukko was the one which was carried all the time on man's belt and was considered as a most important tool. And as for northern people, Saami, that was leuku. but once men are out in the field, doing the work, an axe was probably never left home, if not, was with the men most of the occasion.

Keeping in mind how the Finnish axes has been used in Finnish land by Finns and look back to what I have written in previous posts of axe talk, Finnish axes have evolved to became the tool for to make living in Finland possible. The Swedish or the American type would have done the job as well, but if needs of doing all that has to be done, with one choice of an axe, then probably there were no more reliable axe than the Finnish axe.

Now all of us bushcrafters, the students of learning the way of nature and skill set of basic way of thriving life in natural environment, knows that skills and tools used in different environments are very similar. But has difference to accommodate the different needs.
This makes me think of that "is the world famous Swedish axe still that good when taken out from Swedish nature?" or "the Nessmuk's trio really enough?".
What if I take Finnish axe in to hard wood forest? Or to the giant size tree forest? Or other way around, taking full size double bit to Finnish nature try to accommodate the needs under the harsh cold weather?

Let me ask you that question again;
"How well can you make use out of your axe(s)?"


  1. I once read that Scandinavians consider saws and planes to be tools for people who don't know how to properly use axes.

  2. Anonymous30/5/12 11:12

    Honestly, I mainly use my axes for firewood processing, though I do use them for a few other things from time to time (wood shavings, shelter poles, hammering). I would say I have a solid basic foundation of axe use.

    I have seen Isien Työ and admire the people in it very much. A lot of the uses they have for the axe are very ingenious. I would agree that the Finnish axe is a lot like a multitool. The thick wedge-shaped profile allows it to chop AND split well, in addition to other things.