Tool: Cold Steel Trail Boss Camp Axe
For thousand of years the Axe has been a quintessential tool for humankind. Once an integral part of every carpenter’s tool box, the axe is rich with symbolism, history and function. An Axe is a bad-ass tool in the hands of a carpenter and the Trail Boss was an instant favorite that I now carry in my truck day-to-day! Though I queued up nearly a dozen Fiskar and Gerber modern ceramic chopping tools before purchasing this traditional steel axe with it’s hickory handle, I am very happy with my purchase.
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The Cold Steel Trail Boss is a 23″ wooden-handled traditional european-shaped ‘camp’ axe weighing about 2.5 lbs. It’s economical price and beautiful 4 1/2″ cutting edge combined with a classic hickory handle sold me on this axe over dozens of others.
Primary Edge: 4 1/2″
Hawk: 6 1/2″
Weight: 41.5 oz.
Drop Forged 1055 Carbon Steel
I bought the Cold Steel Trail Boss at Amazon during the extraordinary winter of 2010-2011 for one purpose alone, chipping ice dams. A condition New England homes experience as continuing heavy snows accumulate, melt and refreeze causing lifted roofing, ice penetration and leaks. Ice dams can cause significant damage. To effectively chop them down, I needed an axe that I could use with one hand, while leaning from a ladder in the freezing cold. A hatchet is ineffective and a full-size axe too heavy. As with most construction jobs a back-breaking task is made a lot easier with the right tools.
Once I got my hands on this 23″ axe, I was set for weeks of work with just three tools; my snow-shovel, a framing hammer and my new Trail Boss axe. (and a lot of ladders)
I cut more ice with this axe than you could imagine, clearing ice as high as 24″ from gutter after gutter. (I cleared so many feet of roof that I actually started to get in better shape from the workout and wished that the pay, and the harsh winter, lasted a little longer.) When work ended on the roof, I used the Trail Boss to chop away driveway ice, some more than one foot thick. It was pretty cool work, hitting the ice with an axe, sometimes the ice would pop off in large chunks, others were tenacious.
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With winter past, I recently used my Trail Boss to rip a rotten cedar roof, plywood and all. One tool demo’d the three layers of material pretty quickly. I felt like a fireman, which got me thinking I might like one of their axes next.
I’ve never shied from admitting my inexperience. Throughout a lifetime of tool use with a true affinity for ‘the blade’, I am not sure I understand steel hardness or it’s various forms. What is 1055 steel and how does that fit in with Rockwell hardness? What are S30V® 440A, 44oC, AUS8, 1055, 5160 etc…? I know there’s some bit of strength and flexibility in the Rockwell #’s so 5160 steel is probably rockwell 51, 60 – but what is 1055 Steel? …That I never learned that one in science class. (or I skipped that day)
My only concern with this Axe came at sharpening time. It was so easy to mill-file the edge to shape. Common sense might say an axe shouldn’t be brittle because it will break – so there must be a fine line between hard and too hard when it comes to an axe blade. I don’t know where this axe falls. ..and how does this compare to newer ceramics?
I sharpened it beautifully!~ after filing, I used a coarse diamond plate to smooth my work, then a fix blade cutter to define the sharpest of edges. This Cold Steel Trail Boss is ready to shave with, though it’s a mighty thick razor. I love it!
THE AXE – What a great tool to have and hold. What a great tool in action!
Manufacturer’s website: Trail Boss
Check the excellent price on the Cold Steel Trail Boss with Hickory Handle at Amazon~!
I, like man for thousands of years before me, hold my axe in high regard. Held firmly it is an empowering tool. Sharpened, it makes quick work of it’s task. There is something about ‘my’ axe, as if it’s engrained in my DNA, that suits and pleases me deeply. There is little more satisfying that a refined blade, one with heft and the tactile experience of a select hickory handle, one with a smooth curve from toe to heel, from blade to butt, that make owning and using an axe a symbol of pride.
I know there are higher-quality axes available but due to an empty wallet I couldn’t afford to spend a penny more than I did so I am very pleased with the overall size and quality of the Cold Steel Trail Boss for the price.
In all the articles I’ve written for ToolboxBlog.com I am not sure if I’ve ever actually directly recommended going out and buying a particular tool. If I think about it right now, I could only recommend my top ten tools. I’m talking to every homeowner out there, not tool people. I don’t care if you buy a cordless drill/driver, I don’t care if you buy a handgun but if you don’t own an axe then I highly recommend you click Cold Steel Trail Boss and buy a nice small affordable axe right now. Maybe you will like it as much as I do, though somehow I doubt it. …because I can throw this one~!