Council Tools Boys Axe
Credit: Photograph by Michael Pirrocco

If you were to ask for a recommendation for an axe, you'd want to get the word of someone who uses them for a living. Odds are the answer would come from a fireman or miner or forestry worker, and likely would be "anything from Council Tools," the family-owned company that's been turning out pro-grade tools since 1886.

Council's Boys Axe may sound like an insult, but in fact is the ideal model for household use, thanks to a shorter, easier to handle 28-inch hickory handle and middle-weight 2.25-pound head. Council drop-forges all their axe heads, which results in extremely hard steel, and the edge is hand-sharpened and can be honed to maintain a razor's edge. [$55;]