So I did it I bought the Grandfords Carving axe, and yes I was ready to eat my words. I have been telling everyone that you don't need a 250 dollar axe to do you work, but I finally cracked under pressure.....Kinda.
So this Christmas my parents gave me the money to buy the axe, they said you need to have that fancy axe because you love to carve spoons and so that's part of why I bought it. I also think that there is something to be said about well made tools for certain tasks. So I went to the only place in the city that has them, and bought one from Lee Valley. Before I go any further this isn't a bashing Lee Valley or Grandfords, but I will tell you what I found.
At Lee Valley I asked the man at the counter to bring me out 3 axes, all different, to see what one I wanted, There was a Hults Bruks, and 2 grandfors axes. The HB had the best grain orientation but it was too small for what I wanted. So I decided to take the Grandfords carving axe, but the grain on it was bad, almost completely sideways to what you want. Then I took off the mask to inspect the edge, and there was a big nick in it from the mask rivet. So I asked the man at the counter to take it back and get me another one. He brought back the only other one they had.
So I was excited the grain was good, the face was good, the leather looked cheap but it would work, and I bought my first truely expensive axe. I was like a kid with a new toy I couldn't wait to get home! Soon as I got home I went to the shop and stropped it, it was already nice and sharp but you could tell that they hadn't stropped it. Then I started to carve, and man did it bite! BUT it really seemed to bite too much, then it seemed the head was loose and I thought No way that cant be! But it was, I couldn't believe it. I decided that I couldn't keep it, and put the mask back on and put it on my block, then this is where it got worse. I turned to answer the phone and knocked off the axe, no big deal it's got on a mask it's edge is protected...... or was it? Later I thought I can just tighten up the head with BLO and keep it and not drive 45 mins to return my Christmas gift, but when I took the mask off to my horror there was a big nick in the blade from the rivet in the mask, they had cheeped out and not even used brass rivets or a welt in their mask. That was it I was done. So I returned it.
So what did I learn? That first these awesome axes are just a tool, and they are beautiful but it would seem that the fit and finish of GB is gone down hill. The haft (handle) was not done very well, I was told that is what the master carver in Sweden likes but I can tell you it's not what I liked. The Loose head I could have dealt with it's Alberta, and it's dry here, so I've had that happen to me, I get it. But cheap mask, and the edge being bashed by steal rivets I couldn't deal with that.
So in the end I had the dream axe for 2 days, carved half a spoon with it, and returned it. I will have a carving axe at some point, I just don't know from who?