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A $550 ax for Christmas? I pity the tool

November 30, 2009 |  5:34 pm

When you catch up on a month's worth of magazines all at once, certain things tend to leap out at you. Or, in my most recent experience, swing at your forehead with the deadly precision of an ax.

I'm talking about the fancy, schmancy axes from the Manhattan-based Best Made Co. that inexplicably turned up in the obligatory holiday season gift guides of two of my favorite magazines: GQ and Wired (OK, what's the demographic for that?).

Rage_ax3 These bad boys apparently have hand-painted and hand-polished hickory wood handles and "fine grain steel bits" (whatever that means) and retail for $250 to $550 each.

Although I'm not an ax connoisseur ("axophile"? "axficianado"?), I did grow up in Vermont and have swung an ax or two in my day. And for a tool with the sole (legitimate) purpose of making big pieces of wood into smaller pieces of wood, it strikes me as a tad on the expensive side.

For the price of even the entry-level ax from Best Made, you could pick up seven similar implements from the local Aubuchon Hardware (that's a common hardware store chain back where I'm from) and still have money left over for a six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon and some Band-Aids.

Maybe it's part of the appreciation of all things retro, or the desire for more simple times. And maybe there are men out there who yearn for nothing more this holiday season than to feel the cool heft of a hickory handle in their hands and dream of going all Paul Bunyan on that wood pile behind the New Hampshire time-share condominium (or all Jack Nicholson in "The Shining"), but I don't know any of them.

But, economic slump be damned, I'm apparently alone; a note on Best Made's website notes that orders are currently four to six weeks behind and any ax ordered now won't be delivered until after the new year.

Am I missing something? Would you shell out $550 for a handmade ax? 

-- Adam Tschorn

Photo: A scanned image of a handmade Best Made Co. ax from GQ's "Best Stuff 2009" December issue. The axes, which retail from $250 to $550 at the Manhattan-based company's website, are back-ordered into the new year.

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