Peter Buchanan-Smith of Best Made Co. in Tribeca created this special edition axe for Rabbit Island. It arrived in the mail in Laurium and when we opened the box our eyes lit up. It is the most beautiful axe we’ve ever seen. Over the last two weeks we put it to work on various wood cutting tasks around camp, not the least of which was clearing some windfallen pines from a trail we made heading north from camp along the shore. Next will be chopping a narrow path across the island from west to east from our camp to a large boulder covered in yellow lichen on the eastern shore we call mustard seat. This would allow us to shelter a boat on the lee side of the island during a strong westerly blow as well as give us a fine location to watch the sunrise. Once the basics of settling are done we will then be able to put the axe to work on finer items such as posts for construction, traditional hand-hewn beams and various furniture projects. Decisions as to which trees to take and which trees to keep (such as our young white pines we hope to foster into towering trees) will be bolstered by the fact that our felling tool is respectful of itself for it’s own sake.
The axe is beautiful and functional but what we like best about it is that it maintains an intrinsic connection to functional simplicity. It is an object that is very few degrees separated from nature as given and leaves little behind that is damaging should its usefulness ever fade. This is likely why it commands such a visceral response and this is why we love it. There are fine and honorable uses of technology and there are simple and lasting basic goods. There is also the conflicted middle ground. This is illustrated everywhere and in all markets (suburbia and subdivision is likely the prime example of such muddling on a social scale, big box products might be on a commercial scale). In the end simple things like axes and elegant engineering achievements like solar cells must coexist in the context of our modern world. In many ways this is the ethic of Rabbit Island and the root of what we will think about out there. Things need to be organized neatly. Things need to be curated rationally. Cheers to Peter and company for celebrating the basics by elevating a fine symbol of traditional constitution to an art.
Peter also sent us away with some shapemaker blocks which are pretty basic and beautiful. They too convey creativity and industry in a fundamentally simple form that will stand the test of time. There is very little externality to these babies which makes their value only increase with time.