The Premium Single Bit Michigan Axe is the top-of-the-line axe for Ames with a polished axehead and a high-tech, wavy fiberglass handle. Though it’s guaranteed for life, you’ll still need to take good care of it.
Although the polish might not seem important to an axehead, it actually does improve performance. Cheap axes are usually coated with paint over the high carbon steel axehead and may even be rough cast steel underneath that painted finish. Imagine rubbing a piece of sandpaper over wood, compared to rubbing it with a sheet of glass — the polished surface reduces friction and makes the axe cut deeper.
The 3-1/2-pound weight of the Ames axe is standard fare for light chopping axes, made for chopping branches and small trees as well as splitting kindling and even larger blocks of some easily split hardwoods. Many types of hardwood like oak, hickory, and ash require heavier splitting tools than the Michigan axe.
The strong fiberglass handle probably will last longer than the average kiln-dried wooden handle. Top quality handle wood is becoming increasingly hard to find, but good fiberglass is everywhere, so this may be a “green” approach to axe work. The fiberglass holds the axehead well and absorbs some of the shock of the blow, but fiberglass could also smash and splinter if you miss the target. The best fix for a broken fiberglass handle is still a replacement made of good straight-grained hickory.
See the Snow and Nealley Single Bit Axe for a Michigan pattern axe with a hickory handle.