Author Topic: Norlund Axes  (Read 6950 times)

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Offline Moe M.

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Norlund Axes
« on: April 27, 2016, 12:14:41 PM »
  I first bought my Norlund Axe (two actually) in the early '70's,  I'd never seen one before and the Hudson's Bay styling appealed to me,  I think I bought the first one at Gov. Sargent's Sports Store in Brewster MA. while on a family camping and trout fishing trip on the Cape.
  I had busted the handle on my camp axe and rather than try to hang a new haft in camp I decided to just buy a new axe,  the one I bought was the Norlund Tomahawk axe,  it has about a 1.75 pound head on a 24" handle,  a narrow bit for more bite on wood and not so much for splitting larger rounds of firewood,  Back at camp I really came to like that little axe,  back home about a week or so later I spotted another one, same head but with a 26" handle, so I bought that one as well for a back up.
 Years went by and the Norlund road in various pickups and camper vans and always gave good service when called upon,  then on one trip we were camped at a camp ground at the head of the Bay and I left my little axe firmly planted in my wood pile,  when my wife and I returned from the camp store my axe was gone,  someone must have needed it more than me.
 But, I still had the other waiting in reserve and it's still with me,  Norlund went out of business in the late '80's I think it was,  but today their axes are commanding some pretty high prices,  my two original Norlunds cost me about $18.00 each new,  the same axe in used but serviceable condition today is going upwards of $200.00 on the collectors market depending on condition.
 I've been looking for the Norlund Voyager hatchet for a while now,  it's what I'd call a bag axe,  it's got the same Hudsons bay styled head but weighs about just under 1-1/4 pounds and sports a 16" handle,  E-Bay has them pretty regularly,  but the prices are steep for one in good shape,  prices range from about $80.00 ~ $125.00 + dollars.
 I was at one of our local bushcraft meets this weekend and spotted one in great shape on the trade blanket with the original haft still attached and still tight,  the owner wanted $60.00 and was quite firm,  and I didn't blame him,  he also had a like new #6 Grizwold cast iron skillet,  so I grudgingly  ;D walked away with both the hatchet and the Grizwold skillet for $75.00 bucks.
 Norlund made about seven different models of axes including a prospectors pick hammer,  one model I'll be on the hunt for now is their little double bit Saddle Cruiser, it's in the style of Nessmuck's belt axe,  if I can find one at a reasonable cost.

 If any of Norlund's axes should pass your way for a good price they are well worth taking a good look at.     
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Offline Unknown

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Re: Norlund Axes
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2016, 01:34:38 PM »
Good story Moe.
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Offline Quenchcrack

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Re: Norlund Axes
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2016, 02:01:02 PM »
Moe,
I share your appreciation of the HB axe shape.  I bought a Council Tool version with the 19" haft but I really don't like the haft.  It needs a larger diameter to really get a grip on it.  The head is 2# which is a bit heavy for a short axe but when they put it on a 26" haft, it probably works well.  I think Snow and Nealley have a HB axe too but I don't know if they are still working through the Chinese forgings from their previous incarnation.  They said they are American Made now but who knows.  The Norlunds are classics and you always pay for classics.
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Offline Yeoman

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Re: Norlund Axes
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2016, 02:53:39 PM »
One of my childhood friends has a 2# HB on a 26" handle. It was her grandfather's. I pointed out to her and her BF (who is a forester) that it's a rare and high quality axe and not to give it away etc.
I fought the temptation to make an offer. Damn morals.


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Offline Moe M.

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Re: Norlund Axes
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2016, 03:02:03 PM »
Moe,
I share your appreciation of the HB axe shape.  I bought a Council Tool version with the 19" haft but I really don't like the haft.  It needs a larger diameter to really get a grip on it.  The head is 2# which is a bit heavy for a short axe but when they put it on a 26" haft, it probably works well.  I think Snow and Nealley have a HB axe too but I don't know if they are still working through the Chinese forgings from their previous incarnation.  They said they are American Made now but who knows.  The Norlunds are classics and you always pay for classics.

  You know,  I'm not sure if it's the Hudson's Bay style that makes those axes like they are or if it's a secret mix of weight vs. handle length vs. head geometry (thickness of the body and slim design of the cutting edge.
  I've owned a Granfors Bruks and I have a vintage Wetterlings (pre 1990) before the change to the present Scandi head design,  both are high quality hatchets but the newer GB is so much more comfortable in hand and it performs so much better than the older Wetterlings,  the GB and wetterlings have the same size handle,  the head weight of the GB is 1.25 pounds,  the wetterlings is closer to 1.75 pounds,  the cheeks and cutting edge of the GB has a pronounced taper and bites deep into wood, the Wetterlings is a wedge from the Paul to the cutting edge,  it's a good splitting hatchet but is a poor slicer and it's weight tires the arm rather quickly,  the newer Wetterlings follow the GB design and feel and perform a whole lot different.
  I also have a HultsBruks Boys axe that is a splitting fool but doesn't cut or limb worth a damned,  again it's a quality axe,  but it's wasted as a general purpose woods bumming axe because of it's thick wedge shape.

  BTW,  Snow & Nealley is an American owned company again,  their axe heads are made in the midwest somewhere and they a hafted and finished in the northeast here,  all American made and have been for close to one year now.
  A friend of mine has one of their new Hudson's Bay axes and likes it,  but he did have to do some work to it, mainly he had to dehorn it (round off the sharp edges) and the lawyers cutting edge had to be sharpened and honed,  he also stripped off the finish on the handle, then stained and applied a BLO finish, and the leather mask that came with the axe is a bit on the cheap side,  so he made a new heavier duty mask for it,  but hey, a quality American made axe for about $50.00 bucks,  what more could one expect ?   
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: Norlund Axes
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2016, 03:03:53 PM »
One of my childhood friends has a 2# HB on a 26" handle. It was her grandfather's. I pointed out to her and her BF (who is a forester) that it's a rare and high quality axe and not to give it away etc.
I fought the temptation to make an offer. Damn morals.


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Online wsdstan

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Re: Norlund Axes
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2016, 04:54:20 PM »
I read that an Amish family bought S&N and was going to make their heads in the US again.  That was about three years ago.  Their heads were being made in China and heat treated here in the States. 

Lehman's supply says they are now American made.  They seem to be priced pretty well for the camp axe.  I might get one of those.
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Offline upthecreek

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Re: Norlund Axes
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2016, 07:29:08 PM »
I certainly share your admiration for the brand Moe. I've purchased every one I've ever come across unless the price was stupid. I regret having let a few go. Such is life. Your post inspired me to touch and photo this one. Thanks my friend.



 I don't think I'd take 2 bills for it.

Creek  :chopwood:
Axes Rock!

Offline wolfy

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Re: Norlund Axes
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2016, 07:38:27 PM »
That looks like an old classic Silva Official B.S.A. Compass there, too, Creek! :thumbsup:
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Offline upthecreek

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Re: Norlund Axes
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2016, 07:54:32 PM »
Thanks wolfy. Got that from a real good fella. It works good too.

Creek
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: Norlund Axes
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2016, 06:57:35 AM »
I certainly share your admiration for the brand Moe. I've purchased every one I've ever come across unless the price was stupid. I regret having let a few go. Such is life. Your post inspired me to touch and photo this one. Thanks my friend.



 I don't think I'd take 2 bills for it.

Creek  :chopwood:

  Thanks for the photo Creek,  that's a fine example of a Norlund axe,  like you,  I wish I had had the forethought to buy clean and unabused Norlunds when they were commonly found in Junk shops and flee markets back 15 ~ 20 years ago,  they were abundant and fairly cheap.
  Now any vintage American and some European axes and cutlery are scarce and pricey,  speaking for myself, I was just as ignorant of the affect that time has on such things,  at one time I had a nice collection of Colt revolvers and pistols going and traded them here and there always thinking I could get another easy enough if I wanted to replace them,  try to find any now,  and then choke on the prices if you do find one.
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Offline Yeoman

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Re: Norlund Axes
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2016, 07:11:44 AM »
IIRC, Norlund made the house brand axes and hatchets for Sears Canada and/or Eatons back in the late '70s, maybe early '80s.
I remember someone posting in another forum that the only difference was the stamps.
Just a hint for any Canadians who come across one and want a Norlund without paying tragic collector prices.
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: Norlund Axes
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2016, 08:28:47 AM »
IIRC, Norlund made the house brand axes and hatchets for Sears Canada and/or Eatons back in the late '70s, maybe early '80s.
I remember someone posting in another forum that the only difference was the stamps.
Just a hint for any Canadians who come across one and want a Norlund without paying tragic collector prices.

      Thanks,  good to know.    :thumbsup:
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Online wsdstan

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Re: Norlund Axes
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2016, 01:13:01 PM »
I will tack this one this thread as it fits.

At a local flea market this morning I saw this and bought it.




The price was $3.00.  It is a Norlund hatchet.  Norlund is stamped on the other side near the top.  Appears the handle is original but it has two screw inserted to tighten it up. 
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Offline Quenchcrack

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Re: Norlund Axes
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2016, 01:50:40 PM »
Oh, my Stars and garters!  All I ever find is Chinese axes with fiberglass handles.  Great score!
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Offline upthecreek

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Re: Norlund Axes
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2016, 06:51:34 PM »
I'll give ya 6$  :chopwood:

Creek
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Offline Icepick15

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Re: Norlund Axes
« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2016, 08:10:05 PM »
wsdstan....
Nice score.
I have a Norlund hatchet that looks like that one.  Handle on mine is eleven inches long, and the head feels like it weighs maybe a pound.  I have the original Norlund-embossed leather mask, too.  I've had it for a long time.  Long enough that I can't remember where I got it.
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Online wsdstan

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Re: Norlund Axes
« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2016, 08:30:13 PM »
wsdstan....
Nice score.
I have a Norlund hatchet that looks like that one.  Handle on mine is eleven inches long, and the head feels like it weighs maybe a pound.  I have the original Norlund-embossed leather mask, too.  I've had it for a long time.  Long enough that I can't remember where I got it.

Must be about the same.  This weighs just over 1.2 lbs with the handle.

I'll give ya 6$  :chopwood:

Creek

Not often a guy can double his money but I will pass on your generous offer Creek.  Thank you though.   O:-)
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Offline wolfy

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Re: Norlund Axes
« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2016, 08:59:00 PM »
That's a cutie.......should be a great kindling prepper, too.  With nothing for scale, it looks like the head would weigh more than that. :shrug:
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Online wsdstan

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Re: Norlund Axes
« Reply #19 on: May 01, 2016, 08:38:35 AM »
That's a cutie.......should be a great kindling prepper, too.  With nothing for scale, it looks like the head would weigh more than that. :shrug:

I should have put a ruler in the photo.

The hatchet head is 5 1/4 " long, cutting edge is 3 3/8".  Poll is 1 1/8" wide and 7/8 thick.  The handle is just over 11" in total length.

On the old kitchen scale it weighs a tad over 1 1/4  pound. 
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Offline upthecreek

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Re: Norlund Axes
« Reply #20 on: May 01, 2016, 12:16:49 PM »
I've had a couple of those over the years stan. Great little tools.

Creek
Axes Rock!

Offline Moe M.

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Re: Norlund Axes
« Reply #21 on: May 02, 2016, 06:41:51 AM »
I will tack this one this thread as it fits.

At a local flea market this morning I saw this and bought it.




The price was $3.00.  It is a Norlund hatchet.  Norlund is stamped on the other side near the top.  Appears the handle is original but it has two screw inserted to tighten it up.

  Winner, winnwer,  Chicken Dinner,  who says good things don't happen to good people,  good on you Stan,  enjoy it,  it should make you a perfect little hunting companion and bag axe.      :thumbsup:
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Online wsdstan

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Re: Norlund Axes
« Reply #22 on: May 02, 2016, 10:27:42 AM »
Thanks Moe   :cheers:
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Offline Desert Rat

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Re: Norlund Axes
« Reply #23 on: May 29, 2016, 12:45:58 PM »
I cringe to think of all the Norlunds I have passed up when I first started to collect axes. It is rare for me to not buy them when I come across them now. I flip them faster than I can find them.  ;D