If you haven’t already done so, check out Part 1 for my overview of this axe and the modifications I made to it.
Before I tested the Jersey Classic axe from Council Tool, I decided to paint the phantom bevels because I could not get the patina dark enough to match the rest of the bevels. Hence the different appearance in the pictures below as compared to the previous pictures. Ultimately, I decided to remove the paint and smooth out the bevels to remove the drop-forging marks entirely.
I started the testing with bucking. The tree I chose was a spruce which blew down in a tornado a few years back and was well seasoned. It was also completely frozen (the temperature was about -17*C/1.5*F). The part of the tree I bucked measured 20 cm/8″ in diameter. It took about 50 chops to get through the spruce (I was not very experienced with an axe this large when I did this initial testing, which was about 2 years ago). I ended up bucking another section of the log half-way through in 20 chops. For good measure, I bucked another piece almost completely through. The axe showed itself to be quite accurate. The slight head misalignment proved to be a non-issue.
Next up was limbing. Most of the 2.5 – 5 cm/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 delight, the metal deformed instead of chipping…and at -17*C/1.5*F! I’m sure some axes would have chipped. When I got home later, I spent a minute or two with a file to fix up the edge. I couldn’t fix it out in the woods, though, but I pressed on anyway.
I proceeded to split one of the bucked bolts 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 9 cm/3.5”-diameter dead frozen pine. I didn’t fell 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.
Throughout this testing, the axe performed well, was easy to handle and was less fatiguing to use than I had expected (having mainly used smaller/lighter axes up to that point). I was very pleased by how deep the blade bit into the wood thanks to its thin (in comparison to hardware-store axes) profile. Overall, I was very pleased with this axe.
In the months following this initial testing, I used the axe to process several similar trees into firewood. On one particular winter outing, I noticed that the head was creeping up the handle. After working some more, I managed to move the head halfway off the handle! I contacted Council Tool about this, and while my contact person was talking to the management, I got impatient and decided to fix the problem myself. Even if they had offered to fix it for me, I didn’t want to go through the process of boxing it up, sending it overseas, having them fix it and then wait to receive it (again). I had to cut a few inches/centimeters off the top of the handle after drilling and prying to get the aluminum wedge out, but this length difference didn’t seem to affect the axe too much. Since fixing the tool, I haven’t had any more problems with the head moving (I used wooden and steel wedges for the job).
It’s hard for me to say whether or not I recommend this axe, not because of the material quality (which is high) or the overall workmanship (which is good), but for the obvious reason of the head-attachment problem I experienced. If you can fix something like this yourself, then it’s no problem. If you can’t or don’t want to, it’s a different story (though if you use an axe a lot, you should be able/willing to). Hopefully, mine was just a dud! If this problem is not common on Council’s axes, then your money is definitely well spent when you buy one!