Vintage Axes In Australia

Howling Dingo

Richard Proenneke
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I thought it would be interesting to start a thread looking at and discussing the vintage axes we have in Australia. Hopeful members will share photos of axes they own and the tell story's behind them. Finding out background information and history on old axes can be hard. Much information has been lost over time or just not available on the internet.


Some axes where made locally but there was a lot of imports from UK, USA and Sweden. Three common big brand names from back in the day where Plumb,Kelly and Hytest .Australia saw the development of it own style of axe with the of the Tasmania pattern axe. These evolved to deal with the hard woods found in Australian.

Old newspaper advert for Hytest axes....


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Chigger

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Would like to contribute but don't think I have any early Australian axes. Think I have some of my Dad's wood splitting wedges from the 60's however they are stored somewhere else and will be a while before I can get to them.

Hope someone has something to put up.
 

Howling Dingo

Richard Proenneke
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Would like to contribute but don't think I have any early Australian axes. Think I have some of my Dad's wood splitting wedges from the 60's however they are stored somewhere else and will be a while before I can get to them.

Hope someone has something to put up.
I think we can include axes made overseas that made it to Australia. Certainly a lot of Plumb from the USA and older Hulk Bruk from Sweden out there..
 
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Howling Dingo

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Hulk Bruks seems to of exported a lot to Australia it the 70's and 80's.This was one of the axes "Agdor" range marketed locally as the" Jarrah Jack" .Agdor range axes are still currently available in Canada. Often paper labels like this where used to market the axe and make a association with things like hardware stores or the local landscape...


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After a bit of a tune up...

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Randall

Ray Mears
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That top axe is typical hard wood design (fat cheeks, more weight, smaller cutting edge) - they were made heavier for Australia, from Plumb anyway. Plumb started importing to Australia in the late 1890's. I'm not saying it is plumb, but a possibility. I was given an axe, I think it could have been the same as in howling dingo's picture - the blue one. It was for a birthday when I was still in primary school. I remember it was half blue like the above picture. It was lighter, smaller, and thinner, and the cutting edge was longer than the axe head body (as in the picture above) - unlike the plumb we had which was a heavy squat thing. Great collection Keith, and good to know they are in your hands and not rusting away neglected somewhere.
 
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Howling Dingo

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Bottom hatchet looks like a English Kent pattern. Wonder what story with that handle is. Knd of strange shape and colour a repair in the bush maybe?
 

Edward

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On the left a Kelly Tasmanian pattern from around the 1970's a fairy collatable axe. The other axe is a more modern Hulk Bruks From Sweden for comparison.
View attachment 26223


Thanks for the pictures (re: larger axes). Nice examples... The handles appear to be original, if not almost vintage too... That's not common, as you probably already know.

I spent some time watching a Vintage Axe fan on YouTube called 'SkillCut'. This guy not only knows how to swing an axe, he knows how to restore and maintain them! He is also very well read on forgotten vintage sources, from some of the best. He mentions that thinner handles on axes was ergonomically speaking important, and many axes these days had lost this art of axe making. You're Kelly Tasman appears to have this 'thinner' handle too. I highly recommend SkillCut;)

The only 'new' axe I found to have these thinner vintage inspired handles are 'Council Tools Velvicut' editions, such as the Boys Axe (AKA Forestry Axe) and probably their felling axe equivalent. The latter are not cheap, however.

I started with Gransfors Bruk and decided to stay there for that reason. Not to say I wouldn't like to clean up, put and edge on and re-handle some vintage 3/4 axe and felling axe heads, and or some other vintage tools, such as you're rabbit trap setter...

Love the WWII VII Gas Mask Bag too!(y)


While not technically 'vintage' my current most used axes and hatchets are;

Gransfors Bruk Hand Hatchet
Gransfors Bruk Mini Hatchet (AKA Small Hatchet)
Gransfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet
Gransfors Bruk Scandinavian Forrest Axe


Scandinavian Forrest Axe, by MB


Wildlife Hatchet, by PH


Mini Hatchet, by AS


Hand Hatchet, by MM
 
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Howling Dingo

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Thinner handles absorb shock better and how it was mostly done in the past. If the handle is to thick the wood will not flex and leading to a jarring of the hands. This is not only uncomfortable but with a lot of use my lead to a strain injury.

In the modern world axes get used a lot less and they is a preoccupation with heath and safety and public liability. To make it safe for the tradie the handle 20% thicker than it needs to be and safety instructions are printed on the axe handle.




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Edward

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