Axes and hatches
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Axes and Hatches

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Axes and Hatches


Though both the axe & the hatchet are highly useful to the woodsman, weight usually eliminates one, & then the scout has the problem of selecting the best tool. Experts favor the sort axe which is carried in your pack – never on the belt. Select your type of axe just as you do a pair of shoes. It must ‘fit’ you in handle length, weight & appereance &, of course, must do the job at hand. The right axe soon become a reliable old friend.


  • Good axemen treat their axes like a wildcat does his teeth.

    • They keep the blade sharp enough to bite as well as chew.

  • A dull axe is dangerous, it slips & skips & does not cut.

  • Keep the handle tight with wedges.

  • Keep the axe off the ground.

  • It belongs its sheath or in a block, never where it is dangerous to yourself or others.


  • An axe is not a pick or a hoe.

  • But a poleaxe ( one with a flat surface opposite the blade) may be a hammer, maul, or wedge if it is struck only against or by wood.

  • 2 old loggers’s jingles to remember are –

    • “Clear the ground an axe length around,”

    • “On lookers stay two axe – lengths away,”

      -- to which we add that an axe length is the combined length of your arm & axe.


  • In passing the axe to another person, hold it by the handle, with head down, & be sure that the receiver has a firm grip on it before you let go.

  • Never leave an axe lying unprotected on the ground, the moisture of the soil will rust the blade.

  • Handle every axe as though it were “loaded.”

  • Use it with common sense as well as strength.


To Split Wood :

  • Put axe against wood & bring both down on chopping block together.


To Split a Log :

  • Rest it against chopping block together on side away from you

FOR MAXIMUM POWER ( & SAFETY) USE BOTH HANDS IN SWINGING THE AXE, KEEPING THE STRONGER ARM NEARER THE BODY


To Chop a Stick :

  • Rest it across chopping block, with end in ground or under log

FOR MAXIMUM POWER ( & SAFETY) USE BOTH HANDS IN SWINGING THE AXE, KEEPING THE STRONGER ARM NEARER THE BODY


  • When sharpening an axe, knife or a bolo always try to use an old fashioned whetstone.

    • It will take longer than if sharpened on a modern composition stone but the result will be much better.

    • If the axe, knife, bolo is badly nicked o very dull, start sharpening it with a fine file before using a stone.

  • There are whetstones that are embedded in woodblocks & this make for stability while sharpening.

  • Keep the whetstones firm otherwise it will take you a long time to sharpen your axe, or the result will not be satisfactory, or worse still, you might get hurt.


To Sharpen Axe, Knife or Bolo

  • Lay the blade flat on the whetstone.

    • Moisten the surface of the whetstone first with a few drops of oil or water.

  • With an edge towards you, raise the back very slightly & draw the blade over the stone toward you.

  • Later turn the blade over, edge away from you, and push it away from you for several strokes.

  • Continue working on the side, one rough & the other fine, use the rough side first & finish with the fine side.


A sharp knife or axe are signs of a “sharp” woodsman. Skill in keeping them sharp comes through practice.

  • With axe head embedded firmly in a log. File side of head gradually working to the cutting edge.

  • File contact with axe on the down stroke only.

  • Protect hand with a block of wood or a heavy guard of leather.


  • File the V-shaped part

  • File straight down on side of axe-head at first file same way on other side.

  • File at angle to axe only for the final sharpening.

  • Work in form the edge rounding slightly repeat on other side and then hone.

  • Use a rotary motion in holding your axe.


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