Uncle Rays New Signature Axe

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Neumo

Full Member
Jul 16, 2009
1,675
0
West Sussex
Interesting. I use my GB hatchet pretty much on every trip but want to find a larger axe. The GB SFA I found was like a large hatchet & was not a lot easier to fell trees with than my hatchet; both were hard work compared to a full length axe. Of course it will be more expensive thatn a stanard GB as it has Ray's name on it but good luck to him... I may have to get my mits on one of these to evaluate...
 
its handle is only 4 cm shorter than the scandinavian axe and it weighs the same... so the head is pretty much the same, and the handle is the same but for 4 cm, but its £35 more...
You could always try boil-washing a ScFA... :D or cut the helve a bit shorter, for £35 :rolleyes:

I like my ScFA - unfortunately, so does the Management, who is now trying to claim it as hers... Lives in the back of the truck at this time of year, in case of impromptu roadside deadfall collection. Usable one- or two-handed, big enough to fell a (small) tree, small enough to carve with at a pinch.

Edit: Having read the article, he says that he has tried to design the ideal length and head weight, but then goes on to say that the required size of axe depends on the person using it, both in experience and strength.
So, this axe is designed to be the ideal axe for... Ray Mears.



Or possibly, his bank balance
 
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Peter_t

Native
Oct 13, 2007
1,353
1
East Sussex
£95! hes having a laugh! im not a big fan of GB axes, don't get me wrong they are very well made and use quality materials but they are nothing amazing.
i can't see the need to fill the gap between the scandinavian and the small forest axe. looks to me that you are just paying for a name more than anything else.

not for me thanks


pete
 

robin wood

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Oct 29, 2007
3,054
1
derbyshire
www.robin-wood.co.uk
Well I don't know how many years everyone has been saying the SFA was perfect for bushcraft and I have always been saying it is a poor compromise being neither good in one hand or two. Personally I would not want to carry a two handed axe far. a nice one handed axe with a good head weight is ideal for in a backpack. The bahco does the job well for £15
My thoughts on axes for bushcraft here

What next? a rethink on knives? the woody is a similar compromise to the SFA.
 

_scorpio_

Need to contact Admin...
Dec 22, 2009
947
0
east sussex UK
but if you buy any GB axe from his site it has his name on the handle... so if you want one with his name on it you dont need to pay £35 more than the other axes.

shewie, you must be one of the first to buy one! they only went on the site today lol!
 

John Fenna

Lifetime Member & Maker
Oct 7, 2006
21,845
1,328
63
Pembrokeshire
For me the SFA works fine ...a shorterse with weakish wrists and prefering a narrow grip I find the weight and helve length very versatile and comfortable to use. I have tried numerous other makes and sizes of axe but for my needs the SFA is just about perfect and I am happy to cut smaller trees down with it and carve with it.
For splitting wood and chopping firewood I find that as long as you are aware of the "dangers" of the axe biting you thanks to the short helve then you can adapt (kneel?) to make things safer... for my uses I will stick with my SFA (for the while at least!) but will always be open to trying something different :)
 

Hoodoo

Full Member
Nov 17, 2003
5,302
13
Michigan, USA
Well I don't know how many years everyone has been saying the SFA was perfect for bushcraft and I have always been saying it is a poor compromise being neither good in one hand or two. Personally I would not want to carry a two handed axe far. a nice one handed axe with a good head weight is ideal for in a backpack. The bahco does the job well for £15
My thoughts on axes for bushcraft here

What next? a rethink on knives? the woody is a similar compromise to the SFA.
I think it goes to show how personal these choices can be. "Which axe" has always been an interesting question. For the outdoors, the choice revolves around many questions, not one. Therefore, the choice will always be some type of compromise, including choosing no axe at all. And the same is true for knives. Most people come to develop personal favorites but all knives are compromises of one sort or another. My feeling is, the more choices the better. There was a period of time when there was a HUGE choice of quality axes available, and only fairly recently has this started to happen again. But I am very happy that I can go to ebay and still find high quality axes that have survived the decades and are as good or better than most of what is available today and usually for a much smaller investment. Mostly the investment comes in the form of elbow grease and some good hickory. :)

 

Everything Mac

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Nov 30, 2009
3,106
78
33
Scotland
I like it a lot. - won't be paying £95 but that's only because I'm skint :D

I remember having a play with both the SFA and Scandi axe at the Scottish meet in March - and I distinctly remember thinking that I would prefer the SFA with the heavier head of the scandi.

- he has put the handle a tad too long IMO - I'd have made it about 21" or so, but I reckon it will be very popular.

As for designing the axe for himself, well isn't that what he did with the woodlore? :p

Andy

edit: - I'd like to expand on my comments: back in March I played with both axes; I thought the scandi was too long for me, i.e. in everyday tasks this axe is just too big for what I do. the SFA is as Robin puts it - a jack of all trades. It is a nice little axe but I found it much too light, not even matching the weight of my Kent pattern hatchet.
Robin's link is very good - I agree with his recommendation of the Swedish carving axe. - it is amazing.
This new axe would be about right for me and would deal with most jobs I do.

but I still yearn for one of these http://www.woodsmithstore.co.uk/sho...+Axe,+1900,+straight+double+sided+sharpened/#
 
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milius2

Maker
Jun 8, 2009
985
6
Lithuania
Well said Hoodoo, I think more people should build their own axes from good old axe heads and find their own perfect handle lenght/head weight combination. Good on Mr Ray, well done on axe and I bet it's perfect, but it can't be perfect for all.
 

John Fenna

Lifetime Member & Maker
Oct 7, 2006
21,845
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Pembrokeshire
I like it a lot. - won't be paying £95 but that's only because I'm skint :D

I remember having a play with both the SFA and Scandi axe at the Scottish meet in March - and I distinctly remember thinking that I would prefer the SFA with the heavier head of the scandi.

- he has put the handle a tad too long IMO - I'd have made it about 21" or so, but I reckon it will be very popular.

As for designing the axe for himself, well isn't that what he did with the woodlore? :p

Andy
Remember - it is his name on the blueprints for the Wilky Survival Knife as well....:)
 

Tubbyfraser

Need to contact Admin...
Feb 4, 2008
72
0
Nowhere
There are legions of good old English axe heads out there that have been used for most things in their lifetime. They can be had for very little and even if you're not confident of crafting a new helve yourself then at least good hickory or ash ones can be purchased. Gransfors axes are truly excellent but I find I get on just as well with my Kent pattern Elwell as I did with my GB wildlife hatchet. Look at the re-helving and refurbishing work that someone like Hedgehog does - breathing new life into old tools that really do work and carry a history with them. British industrial history when we made things proper.

Nowt against RM or this axe but not for me as I reckon its poor value.

Graeme
 

Ian S

On a new journey
Nov 21, 2010
274
0
Edinburgh
Y'know the idea of getting a tool - the almost immediate understanding of how and where you could use it? Well I just don't get this axe or indeed any similarly sized axe.

I don't class myself as a bushcrafter, but I do class myself as a green woodworker, so I look at axes that I can use for green woodworking. I have a Gransfors carver, I have two old, lightweight, English Kent Pattern hatchets, and I can see where one of the £15 Bahco hatchets would fit.

What I can't understand is where an axe like this would fit in to a UK-based bushcraft situation. OK, if you have a landowner's permission to fell trees and to split/cut firewood, maybe an axe of this size makes sense, but do the majority of us need an axe like this, and would we be able to use it if we bought it?

I'm not trying to provoke anyone here, and I apologise if I have managed to do so, but I would be very interested in understanding where one of these axes could fit.

Oh, and Everything Mac - I also fancy a broad axe!
 

Xunil

Settler
Jan 21, 2006
671
3
52
North East UK
www.bladesmith.co.uk
I'd like to state the case for a Vintage Elwell No 3 head from eBay, a Faithful Hickory axe handle from Amazon in any length you find suitable, a wedge from a packet of axe wedges, and the inclination to think about what you want from your axe and then roll your sleeves up and get your hands a little dirty and tinker with it.

Result: around (or even under) £30 all-in and the pleasure of working with a superb old tool, giving it a new lease of life, and customising it to fit your own preferences. The end product should easily outlast its owner.

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all; what suits me won't suit you and vice versa.

I am 6' 4" and about 230 pounds (ish) and my frame and large hands allow me to use axes that others would not find comfortable in use.

Personally I have a lot of time for Wetterlings, if you don't mind spending some time on the bevels. I don't find the various GB axes have any particular advantage over the Wetterlings counterparts I have other than a slightly better off-the-shelf grind. In fact, the Wetterlings I have owned have performed better once the edge is properly established than the GB counterparts, and they seem to have been better heat treated. The vintage Elwell (and similar) heads are great winter projects that you can truly customise to your own needs.

A mate of mine thinned down an Elwell no 6 at the edge on my belt grinder and also took a bit of weight off the back with cutting disks on an angle grinder in his own workshop and ended up turning a great felling axe into a stunning limbing/light felling axe which more suited his needs. Cost was nominal (other than the time spent) and the result is entirely individual. Consider it the end product of his own very personal requirements analysis.

I picked up half a dozen various size Elwell heads at a car boot sale recently for £20. Most of them are the larger felling axes but if you are patient you can still find the smaller heads now and then, and the little Elwell 11/4lb carpenters axe is a great little hatchet for those looking for a small pack axe for kindling and shelter poles etc and the 2 and 3/4lb Elwell is an almost perfect pack-axe.

I have two of the felling axes restored and helved, ready for one of my friends who is a forester on a large estate. The others will follow during the coming weeks as time allows - happy days :)

From the bottom in the following picture, to compare sizes: Elwell no 6, Elwell no 5, Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe, Wetterling Carpenters Axe, my own hand forged Damascus hatchet with Cocobolo handle, Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet. For the sake of discussion the two hatchets are lying over three laminated longbow blanks (Hickory over Lemonwood, bamboo over Ipe, and bamboo over Lemonwood), and I use my Damascus hatchet and the Wetterling Carpenters Axe to do the majority of the roughing out when making my bows.



I'd be keen to see pictures from the top of the head of Rays new axe to get a better idea of edge geometry but, on the surface, I don't see anything radically different from the Small Forest Axe other than the potential for a little more power to the cut. Frankly, I think most people could match that extra bite by adjusting their technique with a Small Forest Axe instead of replacing it with a more expensive model, but maybe that's just me.

And for the record, for anyone who needs anything bigger than a hatchet (if you do, what the heck are you doing, and where ?) I still think that the Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe kicks the tar out of the Small Forest Axe in every way.

I'll get my coat...
 
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... I still think that the Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe kicks the tar out of the Small Forest Axe in every way...
I've had both, and I fully agree - ScFA work fine as a 1- or 2-handed axe (that said, I'm 6'1" and 250lb), but the extra length in the helve and the extra weight in the head makes it a much better fast cutter and splitter, although you still need to use the twisty technique to split stuff, as the profile is too acute to be a great splitter.

Edit: Hoodoo - I like the look of that double-bit - what is it?
 

JonathanD

Ophiological Genius
Sep 3, 2004
11,884
99
49
Stourton,UK
devalbushcrafter.webeden.co.uk
What I can't understand is where an axe like this would fit in to a UK-based bushcraft situation. OK, if you have a landowner's permission to fell trees and to split/cut firewood, maybe an axe of this size makes sense, but do the majority of us need an axe like this, and would we be able to use it if we bought it?
Why does it just have to confined to the UK bushcrafter? Many of RMs clients and buyers are international and even us UK bushcrafters get to play abroad quite a lot. I wouldn't use this in the UK as I don't need anything more than a knife and a saw. But if I had access to large amounts of private land here then that would be different.