There is a long and proud history of axe making in Maine. From the late 1800s through the mid-1950s, Maine was filled with world-famous axe makers such as Emerson & Stevens, Spiller, and Dunn Edge Tool. But times have changed since then.
When Steve Ferguson couldn’t find a Maine-made axe for his godson headed to forestry school, he, his brother Mark, and their partner Barry Worthing decided to do something about it. Together they started Brant & Cochran to restore the craft of axe making to Maine. Of the dozens of axe patterns to choose from, they naturally chose the Maine wedge pattern—one with a thick heavy pole tapering down smoothly to the bit. Borrowing a 100-year-old Maine wedge axe from the Patten Lumbermen’s Museum, they created a model of what would become their Allagash Cruiser Maine Wedge Camp Axe.
EVERY AXE IS HANDMADE BY
HIGHLY SKILLED BLACKSMITHS
USING AMERICAN CARBON STEEL & HICKORY
Brant & Cochran’s goal was to create an heirloom-quality axe that could also be put to unrelenting work. That starts with the steel—U.S.-made 1050 carbon steel. The “1050” refers to a steel made up of only two components: iron and .5% carbon. When tempered to 56 Rockwell hardness, the Allagash Cruiser bites deep and keeps an edge. A world-class axe also needs a world-class handle. The Amish-turned hickory handles hafted on the Allagash Cruiser are blemish-free, with superior grain orientation guaranteeing strength and durability.
Allagash Cruisers are made one at a time in Brant & Cochran’s South Portland shop. The axe head starts as a 3.5-pound billet of 1050 steel. Heated to 1,700 degrees in a gas forge, the billet is squared, and the eye is punched using dies set into a hydraulic press. Fullering dies are then used to spread the hot steel away from the eye to form the bit. Next, the axe head is ground to dimension by hand, stamped with the C.C. Filson logo, heat-treated with saltwater from nearby Casco Bay, and tempered. The final step is to haft the axe head on a premium hickory handle and secure it with a black walnut wedge. When finished, the Allagash Cruiser sports a 2.5-pound axe head hafted on a 28-inch hickory handle—perfect for camp or home.
But making world-class axes is only part of Brant & Cochran’s mission. They also work to highlight the craftsmanship and creativity of the Maine axe makers of yesteryear in their products. For example, axe maker Emerson & Stevens in Oakland, Maine, finished every axe by stamping the year of manufacture and the initials of the craftsman who tempered the axe. You will find those same stamps on the Allagash Cruiser. Colorful and sometimes fanciful labels were applied to Maine axes such as the Pine Tree Axe, The Lumberman’s Pride, and the Cock of the Woods. Likewise, the Allagash Cruiser label was designed using elements from those historic labels.
The collaboration between Filson and Brant & Cochran is a natural fit: both create timeless products proudly made to last that resonate with people hungry to get out and do.