Wetterlings Forester's Fine Axe (pic heavy)
So I recently bought a Wetterlings Forester's Fine Axe.
(this will be my first review on this forum so be gentle folks)
A little history on this axe I had seen it on an Equip 2 Endure interview with Wetterlings CEO Julia Kalthoff at Shot Show 2012
Shot Show 2012, SA Wetterlings CEO Julia Kalthoff Interview, Equip 2 Endure
I had been regularly visiting the Wetterlings site trying to find out what this axe was called so I could buy one. I really loved the design and wanted to get one. But it never showed up. I figured she misspoke in the interview and the axe was not out last year but was coming out this year. So waited and checked regularly.
While doing a thread about the Wetterlings Les Stroud team up to make an axe, see the Bushman axe thread, I discovered the axe from the Equip 2 Endure video was out though not listed on the Wetterlings site, and was being called the Universal Woodsmans Axe at garrettwade.com and Forester's Fine Axe at harryepstein.com
I took a couple weeks to think it over and finally bought the Forester's Fine Axe from Harry Epstein's. It was $102 with shipping vs the $134.60 pre shipping at Garret Wade's.
A week wait and it arrived. YAY! I have spent yesterday and today testing it out, and have to say I really like it. (please excuse low quality photos I only have a camera phone)
Here it is, the Forester's Fine axe
Yesterday I took it to task on this fallen branch delimbing it. It cut threw the small limbs like butter. While the axe came sharp it was not shaving sharp but still performed well right out of the box.
A closer look at the head. I really love this carpenter's axe style head, great for choking up and doing finer tasks.
The axe is light. The 1-1/4 lb head has a 3 1/8th" blade and 6" long head.
The hammer poll is rounded but of a good size to still drive wedges or tent stakes at 1 1/4" tall and 7/8ths" wide. The rounding on the hammer poll is mellow but could use a little finishing up, and smoothing out to make it good for game processing, and skinning. A fairly easy task. Out of the box though it is not too bad.
The grain on the handle is nice and straight. (not sure how well you will see in this poor picture, sorry for the bad camera)
The handle came unfinished and I gave it a quick covering in linseed oil. The alignment of the edge with the handle is near perfect. The handle is 23 1/4" Harry Epstein's site said 23 1/2, close enough, and Garret Wade's site says 24". A little variation is expected. Also the head does not sit down all the way to the handle's shoulder. As you can see in the pictures of the close look at the head and the hammer poll. At some point I might rehaft the axe just due to this reason. I will be on the look out of a good handle in the 24" range to fit this head, but for now I am not in a hurry to replace a handle that is good enough for now.
There is a metal wedge in the top, which I would have preferred not having but it was sort of expected in a production axe. (also you can see the gap issue, I will mention more about later, from the top here.
So now for some of the issues I have noted with this axe.
First though minor is the sheath, it sucks. It is a poorly done magnetic retention sheath. It has two magnets embedded in it to hold onto the blade. The stitching is already coming apart only on day two of having it. Now I was expecting this poor sheath from the stock photos, so it did not surprise me, and I had planned on making a replacement soon.
The bigger issue is a gap in the head, where the forging process obviously folded the steel around an eye mandrel and joined the pieces to make the blade. This joint has left a small gap in the blade where it connects to the eye.
The biggest worry about this for me is it is a potential place for rust to collect. As you can see the head came with some surface rust already, though I am not worried about that as it is common enough in mail order axe heads, and will wear off with use and a bit of wire brushing. The gap though does have potential to build up over the years and create a weak point. Honestly this one issue has me considering returning the axe for a new one without this issue. Though I would make sure to send pictures ahead of time to make sure their other axes don't have the same issue. I am debating this possible return due to this, what do you folks think? ( I will keep this review updated over this issue if I decide to return it, or if it develops problems due to it)
*edit to add, I have had two comments now mentioning this gap issue is a nonissue. That it is fairly commonly seen in Wetterlings axes, and one comment mentions his Wetterlings has it and has had no issue due to this gap in 4 yrs of use. So I am now pretty confident that the gap is nothing to worry about. Thanks for the confirmation on this guys.
*edit to add, Julia Kalthoff joined BushcraftUSA it seems to post a comment here on this review. I have added this comment here so people wont have to go all the way through the comments to find it. Thank you Julia for taking the time to set the record straight on the gap found on this axe. I really appreciate your input and love my axe even more knowing you took the time to tell us more about the forging process.
I am very happy with the Forester's Fine axe, with the exception of the gap issue.
Originally Posted by Julia Kalthoff
In my couple days of testing it, it cuts, chops, splits, does fine work, all very well. It is light and small enough to make a perfect pack axe while not giving up the ability to do the work expected of it. The 23 1/4" handle is enough to do two handed swings but short enough to still choke up and use it for finer work.
Over all I think I am in love with this new axe and would recommend the Forester's Fine axe, or Universal Woodsmans axe to anyone who wants a bushcraft axe.
Last edited by ineffableone; 08-15-2012 at 02:31 PM.
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That gap in my opinion isn't anything to worry about most wetterlings have it. If you are worried about rust just put a little boiled linseed oil down their once in a while you should be good to go and the axe head will outlive you and me.
Nice review, thanks!
It's a good looking axe, but that poll throws me off a little bit. I don't understand why they cut it off
It doesn't seem that It is helpful for anything. Minimal weight savings at best.
Yep already put some linseed oil down there, and I am not overly worried just realised when I saw it that this is a potential failure place and rust collection area, but wanted to hear from others about the issue as I had never heard of this issue, and my other Wetterlings axe didn't have that gap. If I had been seriously worried I would have not even tested out the axe, and just immediately shipped it back. However I felt doing this review it was important to note such issues along with wanting to hear from folks about what they think of such a gap.
Originally Posted by DCP
Definitely nice to hear from someone that this is not uncommon, and I don't have much to worry about it.
Not sure myself, but it is still large enough to drive wedges and tent stakes. Maybe it is more about aesthetic balance mirroring the blade's cut out? Or preventing shock travel to the blade's cut out area? The hammer poll is lined up with the main mass of the blade.
Originally Posted by bearhunter2
I would guess they had their reasons, it would be interesting to hear what they have to say, but Wetterlings doesn't even list the axe on their site.
As I mentioned while a little smaller, it still functions plenty well for typical tasks of a hammer poll.
Thanks for the review. There's not much yet out there on this model. It was nice to see a closer look at one. Thanks again.
I know right! This axe has sort of been hidden away, as I mentioned in the beginning I had been lusting,... um admiring it, since I saw it in that Equip 2 Endure video. They had said it came out in 2011, but I had no idea what it was called or where to find it. Not even knowing what name to search for made it rather difficult. Plus that there are two different names for it. I only finally found them by accident while researching the Bushman axe from Les Stroud and came across a thread discussing it on another forum that mentioned the Forester's Fine axe. After finally knowing the two names to look for I quickly found out where to get them.
Originally Posted by OutdoorEnvy
With the public not really knowing where to find them these axes probably aren't selling well, and a lot of people probably don't know they exist since they aren't on the Wetterlings website.
Hopefully this review will help others find this axe who might be interested in it.
This is an interesting design. Same head weight as my GB Sfa, but with a handle length which actually lends itself to two handed use.
The carpenters type head I'm neutral on.
My wetterlings Small Hunters Axe (IIRC) has the gap. I have had it for 4 years, and it has been rained on, collected dew, and used to chop up wet wood. Whenever I see rust forming on the outside, I take care of it. If rust is forming in that crack, I do not care. It has not failed me in 4 years, and I am sure it will outlive me.
The Small Hunters Axe is 16 inches (40.5 cm) long, so it does not generate quite the force a 23 inch (58.5 cm) handle will. Given how thick the metal is, I believe it will be a long time before it rusts enough to be an issue.
If I ever actually see rust in there, I will soak it in white vinegar and clean it out with pipe cleaners.
I also have a gap at the back end of the eye, nearest the poll. Same thing, I am not worried. A few thousandths of an inch of metal lost due to rust does not make me worry the head will fail. Of course, I have been wrong in the past. I will post it if my axe head fails in one of these two areas.
Lots of people have these gaps in their Wetterlings axes. If it was a serious issue, I expect word would get out.
Last edited by woodsghost; 07-31-2012 at 12:04 PM.
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Thanks for more confirmation that this is a nonworrying issue. It does seem odd that of all the reviews I have seen of Wetterlings axes mine seems to be the first (that I have seen) to mention the gap issue. So at least my posting it up hear might help others in the future know it is fairly normal. I also have a Wetterlings Swedish Forest Axe, which did not have the gap which was why seeing it in this new one made me wonder as I had not heard it reported before, and my other Wetterlings didn't have it.
Originally Posted by woodsghost
As I mentioned to the previous response to the gap issue "If I had been seriously worried I would have not even tested out the axe, and just immediately shipped it back. However I felt doing this review it was important to note such issues along with wanting to hear from folks about what they think of such a gap."
It is good to hear though that yours has it too and has had no issues in 4 yrs of use and abuse. I would agree if yours is holding up well still then this is a nonissue, and if it is so common that if it were an issue it would be much wider known and reported. So thanks again for the conformation on this.
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