There’s nothing Julian Ward and his brother Tristan like more than to receive a call from a land-owner to say a large tree has come down in a storm. That’s when the adventure begins. They head out in the ute to retrieve fallen branches and spend the next few hours companionably chopping them into useable logs. “The people you meet are really nice; there’s such camaraderie. One couple in Helensville sent us home with some amazing scones. Tristan and I have lots of laughs, plus it’s great exercise and stress relief as we split it all by hand,” says Julian.

Whether it’s wood for the fireplace in winter or kindling for the BBQ, a good axe is an asset. When Mr and Mrs Ward heard about blacksmith Rob Pinkney at Kowhai Forge and his commitment to keeping the dying art of traditional hand-forged axe-making alive, they knew they had their man.

Based in Te Awamutu, Rob created a kindling axe with a short handle for the 10 favourite things project. “A kindling axe has to have reasonable heft so there’s enough momentum but be light enough to use with one hand,” says Rob.

The body of the axe is formed out of a flat bar of mild steel that is folded and welded in a coal fire. During this process, a high-carbon steel blade is inserted which is what gives the cutting edge – called ‘the bit’ – its sharpness.

The handle is made from locally milled robinia – a strong, durable wood – which Rob sources from a small family business in Otorohanga. He takes the raw material to a Men’s Shed in Tauranga where a bunch of woodworking enthusiasts craft it into shape. “Then I fit the handle to the eye nice and tight so it works well,” says Rob.

The Mr and Mrs Ward axe comes branded and sold with a bag of kindling. “Julian likes to chop wood for fun and fitness but we think this makes the perfect Christmas gift for the outdoorsy type,” says Janice.

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