In the hands of lumberjacks, homesteaders, farmers, and foresters, the axe forged a path to a new way of life in North America. This simple tool — “a wedge with an edge” — cleared forest for farmland, delivered raw materials for housing and heat, and fueled the fires of industry. Explore the axe’s fascinating evolution from colonial innovation to today’s collectors’ obsession, from a hand-forged workhorse to a sleek modern specimen, from a weapon in wartime to a recreational pastime.
Brett McLeod is the author of American Axe and The Woodland Homestead and an avid axe collector and restorer. Before becoming a forestry professor and coach of the woodsmen’s team at Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondack Park, he was a professional competitive lumberjack in the Stihl Ironjack Series and competed in the Stihl Timbersports Collegiate Series. He lives in northern New York with his wife and his collection of 200 vintage axes.