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Happy Friday, everyone. Sean sent me the video above, and I had to share. What you see is the making of a John Neeman axe. As others have pointed out, the sale of handmade products — especially bespoke products — put food on the table of artisans. So we love to see the process, and we also like the idea of spreading the word about their products. The forge has always struck us as pretty primal, and watching someone use one to make one of the oldest (and most useful) tools around seems like a great way to end the week.

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Enjoy, and we’ll see you next week.

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UPDATE: Apparently the original video owner decided to make the video private on Vimeo. Thanks, Aleksejs, for pointing out an alternate YouTube link in comments. I swapped it out above.

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I had the pleasure of stomping around the neighborhood yesterday in ten-degree weather, -4 with wind chill. To put it rather mildly it’s not fun. However, flannel-lined jeans I got for x-mas a few years ago lessened the shock quite a bit.

I donned no less than two pairs of socks, my trusty boots, a long-sleeved shirt, a sweatshirt jacket, shop coat, wooly hat, fur-lined gloves and of course, these flannel jeans. Surprisingly enough my legs were fine. Eventually the wife’s car was chipped out, the neighbor’s vehicle jumped out of its winter slumber, and “Ebay,” the dog from down the street, was found rooting about in the field across the way.

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So I just have to ask: How many of you Toolmongers grill out regularly — even when it’s snowing? I ask because while we see snow maybe once a year down here in the South, it’s not just a white Christmas up north. It’s a white winter. And sometimes a white spring. I just can’t imagine that everyone waits until all the white stuff melts to get your steak (or veggies) on.

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Around the Toolmonger shop area we get about 2-4 inches of snow a year, so it’s a somewhat rare occurrence. On that day (which turned out to be yesterday), the general populace down here seemed to lose their collective minds. Folks up north have been buried in it for weeks, yet a little ice on the windshield and white flakes on the grass and it’s suddenly cause for wacky behavior. Fellow Southerners: Buy an ice scraper and suck it up; quit making us look bad.

I’m likely preaching to the choir here because almost anyone reading this would have it together enough to buy a scraper before it’s required and stow it where it needs to be — which may or may not be inside the iced-over auto in the driveway.

Up north they’re digging their cars out every hour and getting up 30 minutes early to warm the truck up. 98 cents for a basic scraper found at the local gas station in the autumn will stand you in good stead on the one or two days a year when it will be needed around here. Just sayin’.


When I was a kid, the local museum sponsored day programs where we’d gather to build kites from sticks and paper, paint them garish colors, then fly them. Kids in Grand Rapids, MI, do something a little more practical: they learn to build snowshoes and birch bark canoes with simple hand tools thanks to two local men, Kevin Finney and Patrick Cronan.

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The selling shtick for this product touts its ability to keep you informed about the status of your vacation home. But even if you (like us) aren’t loaded enough to have two homes, it’s still damn useful. Plug this sucker into a phone line, stick a 9V in the back, and it’ll call a phone number of your choice when the temperature drops below 45 degrees.

This would make a great addition to any home in the North — or any place where it stays below freezing for a decent chunk of the year. A broken heater (even while you’re alway for work) can make for a bad day. And $50 isn’t much to spend for peace of mind. Plus it’s kinda gadgety, which makes it a fun gift.

Via Amazon [What’s This?]


I know that a lot of you northeastern Toolmongers are already freezing your asses off, but it’s finally starting to get a little cold here in North Texas. And I’m facing some pretty major automotive projects over the winter. Sans shop heater, my only means of staying warm is clothing. Last year I did the whole stuff-sweat-pants-under-your-jeans-and-wear-two-jackets route, but this winter I’m looking for something better.

In fact, we’re looking to schedule some of the best solutions in for testing. So which do you recommend?

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Whether you’re fulfilling your role-playing fantasies as a drunken dwarf or chopping down the first tree in a suburban stand to make way for the new mini-mall, you need a special axe. Ox-head, or as it’s known in Germany, Ochsenkopf, plates its double-bit felling axe in either silver or gold for all your extra-curricular activities.

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As it starts to turn cold here in Texas — and already IS cold in the great white North — our thoughts turn to how to keep shop nights from turning into cold misery. So when TM reader Dana tipped us off to this unusual Milwaukee product, it got our attention. Behold the M12 Cordless Heated Jacket.

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Growing up in Paul Bunyan country, I remember seeing antique two-man saws on display in many businesses around town. I used to picture lumberjacks a century ago, knee-deep in snow, hacking away at a 4-foot diameter tree trunk with one of these saws — no gas, no electricity, just pure muscle.

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