An ax to grind at Boothbay Railway Village

SoPo’s Brant & Cochran demonstrate ax care
Sun, 08/05/2018 - 11:00am

    Boothbay Railway Village hosted ax restorers and makers Brant & Cochran of South Portland Aug. 3. Steve Ferguson and Barry Worthing, two of the business's three owners, demonstrated sharpening axes and putting handles and heads together, but their story was the most interesting part.

    "We always planned to make a small camp ax like this," said Ferguson, showing an ax with the company's logo pressed into the handle. "It's called the Allagash Cruiser."

    The ax is small, two to four pounds, designed for cutting small tree limbs and kindling.

    "If you're going to cut down a tree, you're going to use a chainsaw, but if you're going to limb it afterwards, it's pretty easy to just go, boom, boom."

    Foresters use them to mark trees when they're cruising, or for property owners to mark parameters, Ferguson said.

    The Allagash Cruiser is one of few axes made domestically and the only one still made almost entirely in Maine. The exception is the Cleveland, Ohio steel forged into the ax heads at Brant & Cochran. The white ash handles are felled and milled in Western Maine. A New Gloucester leather-maker makes the sheath.

    "They're all a tad different, but our process is a machine process more than a blacksmithing process," said Ferguson. "We're trying to make everything about the same."

    In April, the business started taking preorders for the Allagash Cruiser's limited run and is currently working on 50 preorders. An order takes about four to six weeks to fill, Ferguson said. The business is a fairly small operation with only one die and hydraulic hammer.

    "Maine is the history of forestry and axes and logging and shipbuilding ... It's just, imagine nobody making lobster traps in Maine? You wouldn't think of it."