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HQ 965019

July 5, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 965019 KBR


TARIFF NO.: 8201.40.60

Mr. Sandy Levin, Pres.
Import Traders, Inc.
333 Southwestern Blvd., Suite 202
Sugar Land, TX 77478-3659

RE: Reconsideration of NY F82571; Pocket Axe and Skin & Quarter Axe

Dear Mr. Levin:

This is in reference to your letter dated April 12, 2001, in which you requested reconsideration of New York Ruling Letter (NY) F82571, issued to you by the Customs National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, dated February 8, 2000, concerning the classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of a Pocket Axe and a Skin & Quarter Axe. Drawings of the products were submitted. We regret the delay in responding.


The articles involved in NY F82571 are described as “skinning axes” of two different sizes. The Pocket Axe is approximately 9 ¼ inches long and 4 3/16 inches wide. The stainless steel, hardened and tempered blade head is approximately 3 1/8 inches at its sharpened end and measures approximately 5 7/8 inches where it is encased in the handle. The Skin & Quarter Axe is approximately 12 ¼ inches long and 5 ½ inches wide. The stainless steel, hardened and tempered blade head is approximately 4 ¼ inches at its sharpened end and measures approximately 8 inches where it is encased in the handle. The blade for both articles has a curved, arced sharpened end. The handles, which are made from fiberglass reinforced high impact polystyrene, are insert-molded onto the blades. You describe the axes as intended for being used by hunters for skinning and quartering “big game”. You state that the articles will be sold exclusively by one company.


What is the classification for the Pocket Axe and the Skin & Quarter Axe?


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). The systematic detail of the HTSUS is such that virtually all goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRIs may then be applied.

In interpreting the headings and subheadings, Customs looks to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN). Although not legally binding, they provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS. It is Customs practice to follow, whenever possible, the terms of the ENs when interpreting the HTSUS. See T.D. 89-90, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

Handtools of the following kinds and base metal part thereof: spades, shovels, mattocks, picks, hoes, forks and rakes; axes, bill hooks and similar hewing tools; secateurs and pruners of any kind; scythes, sickles, hay knives, hedge shears, timber wedges and other tools of a kind used in agriculture, horticulture or forestry:

Axes, bill hooks and similar hewing tools, and parts thereof:

8201.40.60 Other

8214 Other articles of cutlery (for example, hair clippers, butcher’s or kitchen cleavers, chopping or mincing knives, paper knives); maincure or pedicure sets and instruments (including nail files); base metal parts thereof:

8214.90 Other

Cleavers and the like not elsewhere specified or included:

8214.90.30 Cleavers with their handles

EN 82.01 (4) includes in subheading 8201.40, HTSUS, “[a]xes, bill hooks and similar hewing tools, including felling axes, hand axes, hatchets, choppers, adzes, slashers and matchets.” EN 82.14 (4) describes butchers’ or kitchen choppers, cleavers, and mincing knives as articles that “do not have the normal shape of a knife, and may be designed for use with one or both hands.”

A tariff term that is not defined in the HTSUS or ENs is construed in accordance with its common or commercial meaning. Nippon Kogaku (USA) Inc. v. United States, 69 CCPA 89, 673 F.2d 380 (1982). Common and commercial meaning may be determined by consulting dictionaries, lexicons, scientific authorities and other reliable sources. C.J. Tower & Sons v. United States, 69 CCPA 128, 673 F.2d 1268 (1982). “Cleaver” is defined as “a butcher’s implement for cutting animal carcasses into joints or pieces”. Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam Co., 1979. WordNet 1.6 defines cleaver as “a butcher’s implement having a large square blade”. Cambridge Dictionaries Online, Cambridge Dictionary of American English, defines cleaver as “a knife with a large, square blade, used esp. for cutting meat”. You also provide a definition from World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary of “meat axe” as “a butcher’s cleaver used to chop roughly through meat and bone.” A large, square-bladed knife one could normally find in the everyday kitchen is consistent with the articles Customs was able to find in searching the market for “cleavers”. See, e.g., “tabletools.com”, “happychefuniforms.com”, great-news.com”, “redbagcollection.com”, “premiumknives.com”, “brsupply.com”, “zwilling.com”, “best-german-cutlery.com”. Therefore, we find that a “cleaver” described under subheading 8214.90.30, HTSUS, is what is commonly accepted as a cleaver in the marketplace and in the above definitions; a large square-bladed knife. The Pocket Axe and the Skin & Quarter Axe do not meet this description.

You also state that the subject axes are used primarily for the purpose of skinning and cutting meat. However, we note that the articles are known and sold as “axes”. Since there is an eo nomine provision for “axes” at subheading 8201.40, HTSUS, this will presumptively take precedence over a less specific provision in the HTSUS. See Nootka Packing Co. v. United States, 22 CCPA 464, T.D. 47464 (1935); United States v. Astra Trading Corp., 44 CCPA 8, C.A.D. 627 (1956); HQ 088500 (April 4, 1991); HQ 963168 (May 22, 2000); HQ 961840 (May 7, 1999). The language in heading 8214, HTSUS, describes “butchers’ or kitchen cleavers”. The instant axes are intended to be used by hunters in the field, not butchers and not in the kitchen.

Further, the website for your sole distributor of the axes, McGowan Manufacturing Company, in describing the Pocket Axe and the Skin & Quarter Axe, states that these axes “can be held in multiple positions for use in splitting and chopping” of wood. This is consistent with a similar product marketed as a “Hunter’s Axe” by “Gransfors Bruk” which can be used for both skinning an animal and chopping both meat and wood. See “contractorstools.com/granshunters.html” and “gyllen.com/html/hunter_axe.html”. Customs has consistently classified axes in subheading 8201.40.60, HTSUS. See NY 862781 (May 9, 1991), NY 810087 (May 1, 1995), NY 884581 (April 21, 1993). Customs used this classification even for a multi-purpose tool consisting of an axe head with other types of head attachments, such as a shovel head, rake head, hoe head, mattock head and pick head. HQ 964935 (May 21, 2001). Therefore, we find that these articles which look like and have the name of “axe”, and are marketed as being able to be used for splitting and chopping wood as a traditional axe as well as skinning and field dressing, are classifiable under subheading 8201.40.60, HTSUS, as axes, bill hooks and similar hewing tools, and parts thereof, other.


In accordance with the above discussion, the Pocket Axe and the Skin & Quarter Axe are classified in subheading 8201.40.60, HTSUS, which provides for axes, bill hooks and similar hewing tools, and parts thereof, other.

NY F82571 is affirmed.


Myles B. Harmon, Acting Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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