The Ideal Axe - Keesteel tells its story

The Following Was Kindly Submitted By Keech Castings and relates to the promotional booklet and film make in the 1940’s depicting the making of cast axes.

"An axe? Surely a very practical, workaday article", you think. With its beginnings in the stone age it has been the most familiar aid of man for so long that one is apt to accept it with on further thought. But the axe has its story…..

Today it flashes with unerring precision in the hands of a champion axeman; it is but a short while since, in a fiery cauldron, it glowed as a shining orange light of delicate, shimmering beauty.

Among the outstanding axes in use at wood-chopping contests today, along with those used in all competitions held at Shows throughout the country, Keesteel Racing Axes are unique of their kind. Here, in brief, is their story:

The company of Keech Castings Pty.Ltd opened its factory in 1933 for the manufacture of specialty castings, but with the coming of war all production was switched to essential munitions, principally hand grenades and Bren Gun sprockets. The success achieved in this very important manufacture led to the question: "Could the factory produce the badly needed tools for tradesmen – in particular, the axe, of which the market was completely bare?" The Company accepted the challenge, and produced the first axes ever made on a production basis in the Southern Hemisphere; but axes with a difference! This was a new organisation, setting out on a manufacture new to the country and untrammeled by the theories and beliefs that go hand in hand with the advantages of tradition. Heretofore, edged tools had always been forged, a process having its limitations and necessitating much cumbersome machinery – indeed, this method is still used by all other tool manufacturers here and abroad. A period of intensive research by Keesteel brought success in the production of a steel so improved in character that, for the first time in history, edged casting. The results were revolutionary – the Keesteel process, completely evolved and developed in Australia by Australians, made it possible to produce quality tools cheaper than ever before. Hammers, tinsnips, tailors’ shears (all tools of trade requiring high quality alloy steels) began to pour off the production lines. But research does not stop with the first flush of success, nor was the ideal axe evolved overnight.

Improvement suggestions from the best known champion axemen keep company with constant research in the workshops and laboratories. From the smelting and reclamation of the pure metals, to the packing and labeling of the cases, all the work is integrated under the one roof, making possible the closest co-operation. Chemists test each batch of metal to assure perfect balance of components. Craftsmen produce the patterns from which the sand casting moulds are made, and metal workers equipped with ingeniously contrived buckets on wheels direct the streams of fiery liquid into the moulds by means of 10-feet control rods which keep them at all times at a safe and comfortable distance from the heated metal. Axe handles, produced on the premises from the finest American hickory, are designed for perfect balance and strength. The whole process carried out in large, airy premises, is so quick and efficient that its economy is a natural corollary – and the result is a demand in Australia for 3000 Keesteel axes per week; a demand greater than has ever been enjoyed by any other maker of axes.

This is the story of the cast axe; a story which has its culmination in the Keesteel axe being used in this wood-chopping arena today; an axe which by reason of its use, requires stronger steel than does any other known type of tool; so strong that it will cut steel and is, to all intents and purposes, unbreakable; an axe in truth to satisfy the demands of the Australian timberman whose work lies amongst the world’s hardest timbers – the Keesteel Racing Axe!

The manufacturers of this axe, through the medium of this booklet, send their best of wishes to all competitors in the wood-chopping and wood-sawing contests a the Royal Easter Show, 1949.

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