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Topic:Issue with the handle of the SFA – bad design or production failure?

  • By Rongomongo, on 17 January, 2016 at 19:36

    Yesterday I received a brand new Small Forest Axe, which I choosed and bought after careful considerations and research. While the axe makes a very good impression regarding head and its overall balance, the handle design has an issue, and it looks like it is by design.

    If you examine the handle starting from the end towards the axe head, the front side of the handle (on the side where the edge points) starts nice oval and rounded, but then quite quickly changes to become sharper and sharper, the closer you get to the axe head, where it aligns perfectly with the eye in the head.

    Now, it looks like this sharp front edge in the handle is not just a defect in the instance I received, but by design. I think it is by design, because it is very symmetric, not likely to be a production error. And this is exactly the problem. A non-oval handle with a sharp edge on the front side is not at all a good feature. In fact it sucks, because it compromizes the grip, which is much more firm and secure if the handle is oval instead of edgy.

    This is a big issue for me, because I have no idea how to work around it, so that I get a oval handle. It is simply lacking material (wood), and I would have to patch it with some layers of repair tape or some other flawed do-it-yourself method.

    Why is the handle designed that way? Was it really the intention of Hans Erik Persson when he designed the handle to have a distinctive edge on the handle? It is quite confusing, because the issue with the edge shows up as soon as you hold it in your hand. Why not an oval handle for the most part and only compromize the oval grip as late as possible at the point, where it actually must fit in the eye of the head?

    In my opinion the handle should get oval just a few centimeters below the axe head, giving the user a better and stronger grip, which is firm as well as secure. Only that way the axe would be free of issues, thus perfect. Now it is not.

    PS: I wrote you about this issue per email but received no answer. I am not a novice axe user, have been using various axes since my childhood. I have relative big hands.

    Regards,

    Rongomongo

  • By E.duBois, on 20 January, 2016 at 09:26

    I agree that the shape is fully intentional and I disagree that it’s a flawed concept within the limitations of a prefabricated and pre-hung axe handle and since you have made your query directed to some unknown but specified respondent I’ll leave my comment at nothing more than that otherwise it must surely be presumptive of me for butting in and a failure of forum etiquette.

  • By Rongomongo, on 20 January, 2016 at 18:53

    since you have made your query directed to some unknown but specified respondent I’ll leave my comment at nothing more than that otherwise it must surely be presumptive of me for butting in and a failure of forum etiquette

    Sorry, it was not meant to disregard the forum’s etiquette, I guess it was a bad copy/paste from my email to GB.

    I agree that the shape is fully intentional and I disagree that it’s a flawed concept within the limitations of a prefabricated and pre-hung axe handle

    Why do you think it is a good concept (from a usability point of view) to thin-out 80% of the handle at the front side to a point where it is no longer oval, but edgy? As I pointed out, this shape compromizes the grip in terms of comfort, strength and most importantly safety. It just does not feel as safe to hold an edged handle compared to an oval one..

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by  Rongomongo.
  • By E.duBois, on 20 January, 2016 at 22:09

    I know exactly what you mean about the edginess on the belly going up to the neck of the grip. I have experienced it myself on the big felling axe and have meant to ease it to something more rounded but it’s not my primary axe so I haven’t got round to it yet. It would only take removing a surprisingly small amount there to relieve any problem and I guess it’s left that way from that workshop due to certain compromises for the sake of economy more than anything but there could be nothing stopping us once we have the axe in our possession from improvements. That said there are two main advantages. But first I will spell out my ideas on the whole concept of an axe forge setting handles on their heads in the first place. This was not always the case and if I go ahead and write it was not always seen as best practice you will understand that I am mocking that business management mentality from the outset. But in times when axe use was in fact a serious matter it would have been more of an exception than rule to order one with the handle on already. Mostly you did that handeling part yourself and did it to suit your desires or idea of what constituted the right handle for you. This is the only thing that makes any sense as you yourself illustrate by mentioning that you have big hands. Well, I happen to have small hands so what chance does the company sending out a ready to use axe have of getting it right? None, that’s what.

    But getting back to the egg shape, or let me use another one of those silly terms and say the ergonomics of the handle. With it narrowing along the belly from the neck like that it actually makes a sort of lever for subtle control, really it’s no joke. The broader it is through there the more blunt of an instrument your axe becomes. And the other  thing, when I get irritated with that handle because of this very concern we’re going on about here and I’m out there working,  so not wanting to stop and fix it the way I know I should, I take the opportunity to lighten up on my grip especially at points in a stroke where I really should lighten up. I don’t know, maybe you have a more consistent grip than me but I do find myself unconsciously tightening up during a stretch of work and sometimes a reminder of that helps me readjust sooner rather than later. The only place where the grip is firm in the way of securing the axe is at the but end and there on a good handle is a swelling, the cross-section more of an oval which acts as a stop filling your grip. You won’t really find it on many fabricated handles because it entails a fair bit of wast – there’s those economic compromises again conspiring against us – and these handles are often coming out of milled up dimensioned stock, plenty of swell in breadth but minimal swell in thickness.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by  E.duBois.
  • By Willowbow, on 13 February, 2016 at 11:10

    oops, wrong thread

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by  Willowbow. Reason: wrong thread
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