I was going to do a post on turning saws, but that will wait. I just got my Christmas present to myself from Lee Valley. In the catalog it is labeled the Iltis axe, but I don't know where they got that label from.
It is my new Carving Axe. It is made by the McGowan manufacturing Co. in Tucson, Az. Lee Valley (who has yet to let me down) said I could use it to rough out carvings, or as a camp axe. So I got it. I am very happy I did. It still has to be named; that comes later. I couldn't resist. I picked up a piece of birch I had indoors, dry as a bone; this is not greenwood stuff! In under five minutes I had the spoon blank at right of axe. Unbelievable. The thing is ready to use as it comes from the box. This, to say the least, is unusual. So I spent an hour roughing out a spoon and I was done. Usually it takes me a two-three hours to do it. The axe made the difference.
Note the design of the head. It has a hole or cutout at the bottom. This is called a "bearded" design. So you can put your hand in there, and it's a knife! I used it to good purpose. The edge is very, very good. Amazing. I usually have to spend a couple hours getting a decent edge on store-bought tools. The handle, again amazingly, is laminated birch. The whole thing weighs under a Kilo. The literature says it was designed by one Arlan Lothe, who was caught out deer-hunting in the Montana wilderness with only a hunting knife for tools. So he thought there had to be a better way to do it and there it is. It works as a knife, an axe, and, I suppose, a hammer. It comes with a real leather sheath. Superb. Like all good leather, the fit is now very tight, but it will loosen up.
Very seldom do I see this kind of quality in USA-made tools. It seems that manufacturers have been invaded by MBAs, and axes made by MBAs are really, really, deficient. I applaud McGowan for their standards, and thank Lee Valley once again for their offers.