Monday, January 18, 2016

Review : Klecker KLAX Lumberjack axe

I finally received my KLAX Kickstarter axe-head in the mail, after languishing I development hell for a while, getting the engineering tweeked. The KLAX is a multi-tool built into the head of an ax.  It allows you to attach the ax head to a handle quickly in the field.  It uses the nested clamping system shown here.   The clamps rotate out from the handle for use. The multifunction options are what really drew to me to the KLAX, and I was very curious to see how the fold-away stow-away option worked.

The Lumberjack is the Klecker high-end stainless steel model with the most features. The first three models are all made from heat treated SUS420J2 stainless steel which is perfectly balanced for keeping an edge and maintaining strength. Klecker do offer a Gucci, titanium version of the Lumberjack model as well, but I wanted to stick to steel for a hatchet head.

The Lumberjack features, as well as a fairly broad axe head, an Ulu knife blade, a hammer head,
cutting/gut hook, a set of skeletonized hex wrench set (19mm, 15mm, 13mm, 12mm, 10mm, 8mm), as well as a 1/4” hex bit driver socket, an inch ruler along the hammer-head, a lanyard hole and an inset wire-gate carabiner (which can be used to clip the sheathed axe-head to the outside of a pack) and a bottle-opener (mate!), all coupled with their Patent Pending clamping system.

The hardness of the axe is around 48-52 HRc. The purpose of this hardness level is to give it the strength it needs to work as an axe but keep it from being too hard. Too hard, and you risk chipping and shattering. 

The clamps are centered on a 1/4"-28 threaded bolt shaft which requires over 450kg (1000lbs) of load to shear it, so you're talking a fair amount of chopping to risk that.
The "front" clamp is threaded and rides along the threaded section of the bolt shaft. It is activated from its stowed position by rotating the nut at the back. When the head is inserted into the handle, it is screwed down and clamped in place by turning the knob the other way.

The "rear" clamp rotates out of the handle and is spring loaded to drop into a notch specially shaped to hold it in place. Once the clamp is tightened, it cannot be turned, bent, or otherwise moved until you loosen the system with the nut.

The KLAX is cut from a 5/16" thick SUS420J2 piece of steel plate with a water jet and then machined to add the side bevels, the caribiner pocket and the cutting edges on axe blade.

The clamps themselves are also 5/16" thick and are extremely rugged as well. Like the head, the clamps are heat treated in order to increase their strength considerably.

The clamps are working correctly when they are seated in the handle notches and have been fully "seated".

To seat the clamps into the handle,   its just a matter of tightening the nut, hitting the axe a few times (blade or hammer, it doesn't matter,) the first few times you use it, and tighten the clamps as tight as you can by hand.

Repeating the process, until the head is secure and then it is ready to go. Given the transitory nature of the attachment, it makes good sense to  to check the head periodically and re-tighten as needed.

Kleker suggest that typically it will no longer loosen after about five minutes of use, but make sure to check it anyway.

I've had some fun chopping wood and things with it thus far, and it certainly seems like a great back-up axe to stow in the outside pockets of a hiking pack, and even without the custom fitted hardwood handle, taking the Lumberjack into the field allows you to use a locally sourced piece of wood,trimmed and split with the ulu blade, and then slid over the head. The clamps just need the roughest of notches for the clamps to seat into, and the self-compressing nature of the clamps will pinch down a split log to give an extra tight grip.

I haven't had a chance to try this out yet, and Klecker recommend only using filed-expedient handles when needed, as they can't be readily depended on, but it sounds like a fun activity.
So, all in all, the KLAX succeeds in providing a very useful tool to use in a pinch. It will do a good job at a lot of small tasks, but won't replace a full sized dedicated tool but packs a lot into a small package. Just my kind of multi-function tool.Check them out at this years NSSF SHOT show, on right now.


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