Hand Forging Axes in 1960s America: A Short Film

by ziggy on November 19, 2013 -- 1 comment -- Follow

Forging an Axe By Hand

Forging axes by hand in America in the 60s

I recently enjoyed watching this insightful video about making and forging axes in Oakland, Maine in 1965 at the Emerson Stevens shop. This particular shop was the last surviving company to produce axes in an area once known for forging and blade-making. To watch these individuals work and to witness the process is a real treat, yet the film is permeated with a certain sadness as the filmmaker realizes that we are watching something that is soon to wither away into history.

The real punch comes when the narrator states: “For this demanding and dangerous work, Manson makes only a $1.25 an hour, and soon he’ll be heading down to Connecticut to work in a large mill, where he can make twice that… pushing a broom.”

Thankfully, we still have individuals dedicated to producing hand crafts, but not nearly in the same numbers as it had once been. This nicely shot short film beautifully illustrates the paradoxically delicate nature of working hard steel into works of functional art, at the tail end of the American manufacturing era. Check it out below.

On a side note, I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately how much making/craft work, building… so much is done by eye by those who are advanced and experienced. I really appreciate thinking about that small fact.

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