Sunday, 25 January 2015

Nic Westermann carving axe review

I've had this axe for about a year and a half now, and Julian has been saying for ages that it's past time that I posted a review, so here goes.

This is my Nic Westermann axe.

I bought it for about £120 pounds. It weights 2.2lbs with the handle on so I'm guessing it was about 2lb unhandled. It came unhandled, though for an addition fee (I think it was £40) Nic has a man who puts very nice handles on for him.

The mask I made from traditional football leather, hence the colour and stippling on the surface. I thought it was quite an elegant design - Julian thinks it's insubstantial - I think he likes a bit of metalwork on his leather. I think the handle was a bit of locally sourced ash. This is it next to a GFB Swedish carving axe so you can see comparative size.

As you can see, the blade is a traditional carving axe shape, made from carbon steel, with an upswept top point and beard.

I am no axe expert. What I know is that I have used this axe many times over the past year, predominantly for spoon making, and it performs like a dream. The blade is just the right thickness for carving and roughing out spoons. The weight is sufficient for hewing if need be, with a flat pommel on the reverse for cleaving, but light enough for delicate and detailed work. I can carve a delicate cranked tea-spoon sized eating spoon with this axe with no difficulty. When it arrived in the post it was razor sharp and has held its edge really well, with only the occasional need for stropping. It has a symmetrical grind, which makes it good for waste removal and is not only bearded but undercut, meaning I can get my hand right up for choking.

Nice rounded socket, not folded.

Would I recommend it? Hell yes. I was minded to buy a GFB axe at first, I'd seen a tonn of them at Spoonfest and wanted to join that club, but then thought, 'hold on, I can get one of those any time - this is a custom, hand made, hand forged British axe - they don't come around every day'. Does it compare to a GFB? Yes and then some.

I love this axe, it is my number one. Even my wife, who has little if no interest in axes, when she saw me weighing it for this post exclaimed in horror, 'you're not selling it?' as if I was weighing one of our children for selling on ebay - and for me, that says it all!


  1. Thanks for this review. I am deciding between contact Nic or purchasing Hans Karlsson's axe. You don't see to many people who talk about his axes. My main interest is of course design and edge retention. Can you share anything more about comparisons with other axes and edge retention when you working woods like oak or things that have a dried out a bit more? Thanks again.

    1. Hi Ben, sorry this reply is so late - I only just noticed your question. Oh well, better late than never. I have never used a Hans Karlsson axe, so can't really make a comparison, but I have held one and if I remember rightly it is lighter than either the Nic axe or a GFB Swedish caving axe - more the weight of a Robin Wood axe. I have used this axe with lots of oak and ash without any need to hone, just regular stropping.