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Urban Woodsmen

best made hatchetsAt Best Made Company, men "temporarily discard their contemporary tools in favor of prehistoric ones," reports David Shapiro, Jr., in The Wall Street Journal (2/3/14). They are doing so by attending a workshop that begins "with a lesson on the history of axes, going back to a time when buying an ax meant buying only a steel blade and constructing the handle yourself." Then they set about sharpening their axes, which they bring to the workshop – "from modest hatchets to double-bladed leviathans … while drinking cups of whiskey and eating barbecue."

"The only thing New Yorkers like more than being in the city is getting out of the city, and we give them the tools to do that," says Peter Buchanan-Smith, founder of Best Made. "I’m amazed at the resources available within an hour of New York, how remote you can be while still being so close to the city." The workshop itself takes place in a room behind a curtain, to a "soft soundtrack of blues music" at the Best Made shop in TriBeCa, which is "known for its high-end axes." The store also sells axe-care kits, along with growlers of maple syrup and "heritage chic camping apparel," among axes and other items.

"Oh, you can definitely get an ax at Home Depot, but you’re not going to like it," comments Nick Zdon, "a former graphic designer now in charge of the customer experience at Best Made." "They’re made to withstand abuse, not to be comfortable, efficient tools." Peter, meanwhile, admits that axes "don’t have extraordinary utility within the city," but says a friend of his grabbed an ax when someone broke into his department. By the time he got there the cops had subdued the intruder, with pistols drawn. "They looked at him and said, ‘Sir! Drop your ax!’"