A Window Opens Up, Before It Closes Again

The French smid at the spring hammer.
The French smid at the spring hammer forging a new bit on there.

This whole website has been out of the mainstream for a while and rightly so, the internet has its many perils and pitfalls. It’s not the first break in the action. I find it’s good from time to time to shake the dust out and unplugging for a while tends to do the trick. It would be a mistake to resume again in similar form, ending up at the same juncture again and again and loosing ground in between. Which reminds me of the last time I drove through Paris on my way to do an axe demonstration, lost in the midst of the town and all the time coming back up the Champs Elysee on that big round-about there at the Arch de Triumph, no matter which way I turned, ending back at that same place. Lucky that I’m here now.


I’m thinking that by the winter-time it will be good to pick things up once more but as I have posted, differently then. Ahh, the winter, it has its own pace with the weather like that and extended darkness, yes a good time to sit and put words to print I think.


And yes, get rid of those fucking adds!



9 thoughts on “A Window Opens Up, Before It Closes Again

  1. welcome back Ernest.
    There is definitely a problem with popularity, that blog of mine, I notice there is a surge in spam whenever there is a spike in visits. So far the wordpress filter, Akismet, has been bang on.
    That firewood axe of mine, I left it in a car for a couple of weeks with predictable results, I’m thinking about epoxy to save the handle. Old-timers would say put it in a bucket of water but that really only works in a humid environment. Past experience says that in the long run a good soaking will make it an even looser fit

    1. Hi Greame,
      The old soak in the bucket remedy, right up there with tying a red wool sock around your neck to cure the cold. In all honesty I’ve never had success resetting a loosened handle to something equaling its original hold. It seems once it lets go it is all down-hill after that like alzhiemers. Epoxy will last about 5 years before it gets brittle and breaks apart. I was just thinking today how much it pays to take the time to fit a handle good the first time, about a days work is no exageration. Well, I feel your pain. Maybe re-wedging?

      Hope it doesn’t seem to snooty but for me the problem here at the website is a sort of quantity/quality thing though I have a storng sense that there have always been interested readers tuning in here, at the same time I feel I have been unwittingly aparty to some pretty crass turn of events within what can be a pretty varied and often freakish interest group. So there will most likely be some gate-keeping as a part of this website once it kicks back into action and in the coming time I will experiment with the technical possibilities within my limited abilities. But you should be on my list of invited readers, is that right? I cannot seem to find it right now.

      1. Yes, thanks Ernest, you sent me a key to the back door. Yeah, I had fiddling with wedges on the list, Thought I might try some skinny packing in the heel first. Reminds me of Hone Heke’s axe, rumour is that it had 3 new handles and 2 new heads! photo hone-heke-fells-flagpole_zpse0pqtpr8.jpg
        As for the other, HRRMMMPH!, I did find some guy who wasted several weeks of his life and probably putting off most of his patrons in the process by ranting about axework. I think (it was hard to tell) he was offended that you hadn’t lapped up his wisdom and altered your views, I read enough to work out the problem was definitely his. Sorry to hear that their may be more than one such person, I got a few books out of the library when I started the blog and they all say to expect such unwelcome attention.

        1. I just had to get the visual on the page Graeme. Hope you don’t mind.
          That there are views divergent from the ones I express here doesn’t bother me at all – unless they happen to be right and mine wrong, of course. With what seems to be a growing popularity of getting axes, ( but then not using them), comes the inevitable speculative aspect worsend by the ease and prevelance of global shipping, removing axes far afield from their context on a fast pace. I began to feel I was having some influence however small and pointed on this, in particular regarding the exposure of the famous Swedish axe and the Finish axes. Robin Fewcett’s facebook site, while in the beginning sort of interesting, took a bad turn early on, not unforseen by some who warned him, and sort of changed the intended spirit of enthusiastic users having interesting exchanges about the broad nature of axe use, into something, not only boring but like I wrote earlier, pretty damn crass and worse, encouraging people with little sense to go to mutilating good old axes without regard.I have little taste for being part of that however peripherally and that’s not even to bring up the latent xenophobia, racism and … But maybe I’ve gone too far now.
          Give me your opposing points of view, this is welcome, bring up the rest of that and it will get called out for what it is here on this channel, over on facebook it will get a smirk or lightly passed over you can be sure of it.

          1. Well that’s two or three different cans of worms. I have to say it irks me when collectors/museums gather up as many examples of the same thing as they can at least when it comes to tools that could continue to have a good life. Then there’s sculptors who buy up the big old cross-cut saws (‘M’ tooth), old chisels and gouges to work stone. Then as you’ve suggested there’s people doing nasty things to these old tools often in the name of art. However, should I want to take up any of the arts you have demonstrated I would needs must import the appropriate tools from Europe (can’t afford new, so maybe 2nd hand) even broad-axes are as good as unavailable, except Kentish pattern. Or else makest thine own but then you need something to copy. Settlement didn’t kick off until well into the 19th C. so by then it was steam powered mills, nailed stick frame buildings, dowels,screws and lag bolts with glue for furniture.
            One day when I’m rich I might see if I can talk Tuatahi Axes into maklng something different. tuatahiaxes
            Good thing I don’t do Facebook, Twitts etc., but then I’m not going to be contrary just for the hell of it.
            Looking forward to seeing what offerings you have for us as you wind down into winter.

            1. It is a dog eat dog world at times, I feel it too. For me it’s a double feeling when walking out of certain museums, nice to have seen what they have on hand and how things are preserved but I sure wish I could get my grubby hands on that stuff. In the end, yes museums are symbols of death as opposed to celebrations of life. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t cheer a Pol Pot or ISiS or anyone blowing a Buddha statue to smithereens – I mean, not out loud anyway. In the old East Block countries and even China pre 1992, the approach here was better, (modesty and localized), in the museums as social institutions. Under the neo-liberal regiem, museums play a disproportional role reinforcing social constructs. But then neo-liberals have fucked about every institution and made society meaningless as a whole. In other words they have been incredibly effective and successful in gaining their objective, Thatcher said it, “There is no society”. Talk about self-fulfilling prophecy.
              In specific terms of tools anyway, it all begins, as our friend Marc likes to point out with the fetishization of the object, and yes I feel the tight-rope I walk in this regards, all the while being totally convinced he is right, and thinking to myself, “yeah I got to many axes hanging around” before I go looking for more or taking one of prominence down and giving it a polish, again.

              So further, it’s not to say no axe should be taken from its home country. Axes have even been mediums of trade like Euros or Dollars. Wasn’t Manhattan Island bought from the native of the new lands for a dozen or so axe-heads or something like that, by some sleazy Dutchmen – believe me, I know how they operate? And Viking axes are found in France and Roman ones out near Dordrecht even. This sort of thing is simply the normal course of events, so I wish you luck in getting your grubby hands on the breitbeil, or bandhacke, or sparrbile, or timmeryxa or kirves or laftøks of your dreams. It just seems, the Americans in particular, have the means and the inclination to do business on a sort or religiously fanatical scale. To be fair, that’s a big block, Americans, there are just a lot of them out there, so what they do, no different from the rest of us, has a more obvious effect. There I said that by way of facile apologetics.

              Do you know those people grinding down billets of alloyed metal into axe form at Tuatahi? I guess you don’t really have much use, and so costly. I would rather pay 19 € plus shipping for a nice hand forged, old Swedish yxa.


              1. Tuatahi, no I don’t know them, but doubt that walking in off the street to hash over some ideas would be a problem. Don’t forget to better than halve the NZ$ price into Euro’s (or did that change yesterday?), although I do think there prices are over-inflated with an eye to the export market. No wonder people are buying on the internet. And yes it would probably be better to find something authentic, one day when I have the spare $$, at least there are semi-traditional smiths in the wider Europe.
                Always good to have spares on hand, at least your tools are used.

    1. Oh yeah, did drive-bys at all the big spots, the AdT, TE,(that’s ET to you), ND, of course the L and even let the dog take a piss in the JdL. No IB but I did sell a book to Rosanna Arquette, had to check her id cause she was paying by check, on an extended stay there once.
       photo p8160531_zpsmkrsik0p.jpg

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