Camping photo

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Earlier this month, I attended an Axe Restoration Workshop at Best Made Company’s retail location in lower Manhattan. In six hours, I learned about the history of ax manufacturing in our country, filed an American hickory handle, and hung and sharpened an old Plumb hatchet head I’d bought off ebay for $19. Ax expert Nick Zdon and the team at Best Made were excellent hosts — they even served the class BBQ, whiskey, and cheesecake.

Best Made Company was founded in 2009 when Canadian outdoorsman and graphic designer Peter Buchanan-Smith recognized a need for a better ax than what was widely available. “At the time, I personally wanted a better ax, then I realized there was a market, an interest, and a passion for it,” says Buchanan-Smith, who started the business as an online retailer. “The ax is a powerful symbol–the tool that built this country. But the ax itself is an investment, and you need to maintain that investment.”

Providing workshops on how to maintain and restore axes and hatchets was the next logical step, especially once Best Made’s brick-and-mortar home was established. “We really try to give people permission to question what things are and how they work,” says chief operating officer Ben Lavely. “We hope we’re able to enrich people’s experiences in the outdoors.” The Axe Restoration Workshop sells out regularly, and the Best Made team is looking to develop a series of more advanced courses so that returning students can earn a Masters of Axe Restoration.

Get a head start on mastering this skill with a condensed version of Zdon’s course in the video above. And find out more about the workshop series and Best Made products at