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View Full Version : Council Tool Jersey Axe – Part 3



bmatt
12-19-2010, 02:19 PM
Review part 1: http://bushcraftusa.com/forum/showthread.php?t=24764

Review part 2: http://bushcraftusa.com/forum/showthread.php?t=25031

This weekend, I finally got a chance to get out into the woods with my new axe to do some field testing. The result: It well exceeded my expectations and is a long-term keeper.

A few days before I tested the Jersey Classic axe, I decided to paint the phantom bevels because I could not get the patina dark enough to match the rest of the bevels. I think it came out pretty good. I also weighed the axe, which came in right at 5 lbs.

I started my testing with bucking. The tree I chose was a spruce that blew down in a tornado a few years back and was well seasoned. It was also completely frozen! As you can see in one of the pictures, the temperature was about -17*C/1.5*F. The part of the tree I bucked measured 8” in diameter. I had bucked part of this tree previously, but when I got there this time, 8 – 10” of snow had to be cleared away first, as you can see. Let me stop for a second to say that this was the first time since probably my teenage years that I have swung a full-sized axe, so it took a bit of getting used to (I’m more used to a 3/4 axe). It took about 50 chops to get through the spruce. I know that’s more than it needed to be, and I ended up bucking another section of the log half-way through in 20 chops, so I’d put my current skill level with this axe at 20 chops on each side for this particular situation. For good measure, I bucked another piece almost completely through. This axe is really accurate! The slight head misalignment proved to be a non-issue.

Next up was limbing. Most of the 1 – 2” limbs were sliced off in one swing. While cutting off the last limb, I heard a noise that made me cringe: “tink”. It was the blade kissing a rock. Tsk-tsk-tsk. I thought there was only snow underneath the tree, but unfortunately this was not the case. To my absolute delight, the metal deformed instead of chipping…and at -17*C/1.5*F! This was impressive. I’m sure many axes would have chipped. When I got home later, I spent a minute or two with a file, and it’s good to go now. But I couldn’t fix it out in the woods, and since this was real-life testing, I pressed on anyway.

I proceeded to split one of the bucked log sections next. This went really quickly, and I had six pieces of split wood from a total of 10 swings.

Finally, I decided to fell a small dead tree. The tree I picked was a 3.5” dead frozen pine. I didn’t go with a larger tree because I was running out of daylight, couldn’t find a larger dead tree and didn’t want to fell a larger live tree without the landowner’s permission. Suffice it to say, the axe made short work of the pine. 3 – 4 chops on each side and it was down.

This axe exceeded my expectations in several ways. The great tempering job shows me what went into making it. This means that I still now own an axe instead of an axe-like thing with a chunk taken out of the bit. It really impressed me how this axe is capable of splitting. It is light-years ahead of even a 3/4 axe. Also, I found that working with the axe wasn’t fatiguing, as I thought it might be. It cut cleanly and quickly and was easy to handle. It also held a good edge and could cut paper, albeit a bit roughly, when I got home. It’s great to know that you can still get a quality axe made in America today.

I decided to throw in some landscape pictures as well. :)

bmatt
12-19-2010, 02:20 PM
Pics 2.

bmatt
12-19-2010, 02:21 PM
Pics 3.

bmatt
12-19-2010, 02:22 PM
Pics 4.

coloradowildman
12-19-2010, 03:03 PM
Bmatt, great review, thanks. I've been using the heck out of my regular Council Tool Jersey axe (mine has the 32" handle) and it is a really great axe for what I paid ($34!). Glad someone else is having good results as well. I've alos noticed their steel is really tough. For a winter axe these are great because Wetterlings and Gransfors will chip out at these temps if you forget to warm them first.

bmatt
12-19-2010, 03:09 PM
For a winter axe these are great because Wetterlings and Gransfors will chip out at these temps if you forget to warm them first.

True. I have seen this as well. Personally, I always warm my axes when the temps are low, but it was difficult keeping this one warm because there's so much metal and it was pretty cold out. Honestly, the blade was not that warm when I struck the rock, so it's pretty impressive.

justin_baker
12-19-2010, 03:18 PM
Great review. That thing looks heeeeavy but a good all around axe.

blackdog3
12-19-2010, 03:40 PM
bmatt thanks for the the great field test. Congrats on the results. They are the ones I was hoping for. I guess I'll get myself a council for Christmas . Thank!!

Keyser Söze
12-19-2010, 04:43 PM
nice review and if you like it is even better , now that you have so many axes give that old bilnas to me:5:

upthecreek
12-19-2010, 06:44 PM
I like the paint. The axe looks great. Great review. Chilly though.

bmatt
12-19-2010, 11:32 PM
nice review and if you like it is even better , now that you have so many axes give that old bilnas to me:5:

Hehehe, riiiiiight. ;) Sorry, but that axe will go to my half-Finnish son. :D

I will keep an eye out for other old BN heads for you, though. :dblthumb:

bmatt
12-19-2010, 11:34 PM
I like the paint. The axe looks great. Great review. Chilly though.

Thanks, bud. The paint looks better than the bevels, but still looks a tad uneven. This is actually because of the bevels themselves underneath, for the most part.

bmatt
12-20-2010, 07:35 AM
Great review. That thing looks heeeeavy but a good all around axe.

It felt heavy when I first picked it up, because I'm used to lighter axes. But once I got accustomed to it, it wasn't an issue. While hiking, I either carried it over my shoulder or in my hand, and it never became a burden.

bmatt
12-20-2010, 10:43 AM
bmatt thanks for the the great field test. Congrats on the results. They are the ones I was hoping for. I guess I'll get myself a council for Christmas . Thank!!

Happy to do it. :D

You could do a lot worse than getting a CT axe. I've only used this one, but I'm already a fan. If you get one, be sure and let us know how you like it.

skw
12-20-2010, 04:25 PM
Great job on the review! I'm glad to hear that the steel is tough enough to resist in that cold weather. Looks like a good, reliable partner in the woods!
Do you have a sheath for it?

ATB
matt

upthecreek
12-20-2010, 05:58 PM
This is the one I want, After Santa goes away I'll probably be able to afford it. --> http://www.counciltool.com/product.asp?pg=product&item=35MJ26 ...I'm glad all the reviews have be positive so far.

bmatt
12-21-2010, 02:27 AM
Great job on the review! I'm glad to hear that the steel is tough enough to resist in that cold weather. Looks like a good, reliable partner in the woods!
Do you have a sheath for it?

ATB
matt

Thanks. :)

I don't have a sheath yet. Making one will be a good project for the long, dark and cold days of winter. :)

bmatt
12-21-2010, 11:47 AM
This is the one I want, After Santa goes away I'll probably be able to afford it. --> http://www.counciltool.com/product.asp?pg=product&item=35MJ26 ...I'm glad all the reviews have be positive so far.

Nice one! I bet that'd make a great bush axe.

Wolfcri
12-22-2010, 09:39 PM
Great review Brother.

bmatt
12-23-2010, 03:02 AM
Great review Brother.

Thanks bud. Looking forward to some more "in the field" pics from you. ;)

solocanoe
12-23-2010, 06:32 AM
all three parts have been wonderful to follow along on - thanks for doing them!

bmatt
12-23-2010, 09:21 AM
all three parts have been wonderful to follow along on - thanks for doing them!

My pleasure....really. :D

coloradowildman
12-23-2010, 10:45 AM
True. I have seen this as well. Personally, I always warm my axes when the temps are low, but it was difficult keeping this one warm because there's so much metal and it was pretty cold out. Honestly, the blade was not that warm when I struck the rock, so it's pretty impressive.

I'm starting to swing slightly the other way when it comes to hardness in axes that are to be used mainly in the winter. The slightly softer steel of the Councils are pretty much worry free when attacking hard frozen logs and the occasional small rock or pebble that will inevitably get hit once in a while. I've noticed no dramatic loss of edge holding on my Council axes, worse than a Gransfors I'm sure but not as bad as people think. They are after all made of high carbon tool steel.

I'm starting to think part of the debate about axes is getting in steel snob territory where edge holding is prized to the point where other factors are left out. Kinda like how two of my very popular Benchmades were great at holding edges and had great fit and finish but the damn things were too brittle and chip prone for survival knives. My skinny little Moras have proved to be far tougher while still holding a good edge. Could it be that some of the Gransfors fans are acting a little like certain owners of high end knives, decreeing that only their types of knives and steel are worthy and that all others are not worthy? Just some food for debate, but after using many different axes now I'm starting to think a little different.

PeterCartwright
12-23-2010, 01:20 PM
Yeah, sure, bmatt, but will it fit in my daypack?:4:

What a GREAT review series and great pics. Thanks for the detailed report. Seeing that rascal next to the other axe "family" emphasizes its size. I haven't yet gotten a felling axe sized tool. Guess I really don't need one, but since when has that determined such things? That CT critter is handsome.

PC

bmatt
12-23-2010, 01:39 PM
I'm starting to swing slightly the other way when it comes to hardness in axes that are to be used mainly in the winter. The slightly softer steel of the Councils are pretty much worry free when attacking hard frozen logs and the occasional small rock or pebble that will inevitably get hit once in a while. I've noticed no dramatic loss of edge holding on my Council axes, worse than a Gransfors I'm sure but not as bad as people think. They are after all made of high carbon tool steel.

I'm starting to think part of the debate about axes is getting in steel snob territory where edge holding is prized to the point where other factors are left out. Kinda like how two of my very popular Benchmades were great at holding edges and had great fit and finish but the damn things were too brittle and chip prone for survival knives. My skinny little Moras have proved to be far tougher while still holding a good edge. Could it be that some of the Gransfors fans are acting a little like certain owners of high end knives, decreeing that only their types of knives and steel are worthy and that all others are not worthy? Just some food for debate, but after using many different axes now I'm starting to think a little different.

Well, all I know is that when it comes to axes, I would take toughness over hardness any day. I sharpen my axes pretty much after every day or two of use, and this applies to harder steel axes and softer steel axes. So they're both the same to me in that regard. However, one unfortunate/foolish move with a hard steel could mean "fatal" damage to the axe, whereas a softer steel would just smush and need a bit of filing (as in my case). We're talking about axes here, not surgical scalpels. Even if an axe doesn't retain a hair-splitting edge as long as another one, it's still going to chop and split well in the field.

bmatt
12-23-2010, 01:52 PM
Yeah, sure, bmatt, but will it fit in my daypack?:4:

What a GREAT review series and great pics. Thanks for the detailed report. Seeing that rascal next to the other axe "family" emphasizes its size. I haven't yet gotten a felling axe sized tool. Guess I really don't need one, but since when has that determined such things? That CT critter is handsome.

PC

Yes, it will fit in the average daypack, if by daypack you mean 4x4. :D

Thanks for the comments, Peter. I appreciate them. :)

The axe is quite a beast, but after thinning down the helve and practicing with it, I found that it is actually pretty easy to handle, but I am over 6' and 200 lbs. so that may have something to do with it.

Go on, get one for yourself. You never know when you may need it. :D This is the first full-sized felling axe I have owned myself, and I have found it to be an extremely powerful and versatile tool. I sure won't be taking it on camping trips, but it's my number 1 tool for larger scale firewood production.

coloradowildman
12-23-2010, 03:28 PM
Well, all I know is that when it comes to axes, I would take toughness over hardness any day. I sharpen my axes pretty much after every day or two of use, and this applies to harder steel axes and softer steel axes. So they're both the same to me in that regard. However, one unfortunate/foolish move with a hard steel could mean "fatal" damage to the axe, whereas a softer steel would just smush and need a bit of filing (as in my case). We're talking about axes here, not surgical scalpels. Even if an axe doesn't retain a hair-splitting edge as long as another one, it's still going to chop and split well in the field.

Thanks Bmatt, nice to hear your thoughts on this. I'm on my second Wetterlings 19.5" bushcraft axe and part of the edge is rolling again on this one, just from chopping dry pine. I want to love this axe as it feels wonderful in the hand, but at least for me, these are more like Benchmades, built nice but having brittle edges. Maybe most folks are doing lighter stuff than me, which is why they love them. Either that or I just tapped into a bad QC run of them. I'm not so sure though, because I've read a few reviews of Gransfors that say their edges had minor chipping from normal chopping. The whole high hardness thing struck me as a little weird on an axe when I first got into these. I still want a Gransfors to find out though:)

I respect that Ray Mears uses a Gransfors so maybe I'm just not experience with them or haven't gotten a good Wetterlings or Gransfors yet to make my assumptions. Either way, I would still rather have a slightly softer and tougher axe in the wilderness and let my knife do the fine work.

bmatt
12-24-2010, 04:21 AM
Thanks Bmatt, nice to hear your thoughts on this. I'm on my second Wetterlings 19.5" bushcraft axe and part of the edge is rolling again on this one, just from chopping dry pine. I want to love this axe as it feels wonderful in the hand, but at least for me, these are more like Benchmades, built nice but having brittle edges. Maybe most folks are doing lighter stuff than me, which is why they love them. Either that or I just tapped into a bad QC run of them. I'm not so sure though, because I've read a few reviews of Gransfors that say their edges had minor chipping from normal chopping. The whole high hardness thing struck me as a little weird on an axe when I first got into these. I still want a Gransfors to find out though:)

I respect that Ray Mears uses a Gransfors so maybe I'm just not experience with them or haven't gotten a good Wetterlings or Gransfors yet to make my assumptions. Either way, I would still rather have a slightly softer and tougher axe in the wilderness and let my knife do the fine work.

I have a Wetterlings LHA (purchased in the US in 2008), and have used it pretty hard, including to buck and split 6" seasoned pine. It always served me very well and kept a great edge. Maybe you've just had especially bad luck with them. :(

Luckily, there are lots of alternatives to Wett. and GB out there. :)

Finnman
12-29-2010, 08:25 AM
Well, all I know is that when it comes to axes, I would take toughness over hardness any day. I sharpen my axes pretty much after every day or two of use, and this applies to harder steel axes and softer steel axes. So they're both the same to me in that regard. However, one unfortunate/foolish move with a hard steel could mean "fatal" damage to the axe, whereas a softer steel would just smush and need a bit of filing (as in my case). We're talking about axes here, not surgical scalpels. Even if an axe doesn't retain a hair-splitting edge as long as another one, it's still going to chop and split well in the field.

I agree that 100%!! My work axes are mostly on softer side and that never been problem for me.

Finnman
12-29-2010, 08:28 AM
Great review on that axe Bmatt! First there were small knives, then big knives, then small hatchet, then mid-sized Wetterlings bush axe, then full size GB-axe and now oversized Council tool axe. I´m curiously waiting what´s next :D

That how axe steel stands cold depends quite much. I have few Fiskars splitting axes that I keep on my cold woodshed and recently I have been splitting hours of hard knotty wood with brute force -10 to -25´c without damage.

bmatt
12-29-2010, 12:45 PM
Great review on that axe Bmatt! First there were small knives, then big knives, then small hatchet, then mid-sized Wetterlings bush axe, then full size GB-axe and now oversized Council tool axe. I´m curiously waiting what´s next :D

That how axe steel stands cold depends quite much. I have few Fiskars splitting axes that I keep on my cold woodshed and recently I have been splitting hours of hard knotty wood with brute force -10 to -25´c without damage.

Thanks, bud. :)

Well, I wouldn't really call the 26" GB a "full-sized axe". In America, that size axe is called a 3/4 (length) axe or a boy's axe, and the Jersey axe is considered a full-size axe. I know that in Finland, axes are generally smaller than in the US, but I don't know why. Anyway, after I made my modifications, I didn't find the Jersey axe to have an oversized feeling at all. It was actually pretty easy to handle, even though it looks really big in comparison to my other axes. There's no doubt that the axe has a place in my tool lineup, but it won't likely be brought on camping trips! The GB axe and Fiskars saw can handle any kind of wood processing I might need to do for camping/bushcrafting.

As for what's next, who knows, but it won't big a bigger axe! I cannot possibly imagine why I would want to have a bigger axe than a 36" long, 5 pound overall beast like this Jersey. I think that's my "maximum axe limit". ;) What I do want to buy next is a large bow saw, to make firewood processing a bit easier. I don't really have the need for a chainsaw right now.

The Fiskars axes have a mixed reputation. From what I have seen (there are a few at the cabin we go to), the steel seems like it may be a bit too soft, but that may vary from model to model. I don't actually have personal experience with them.