Using Your Axe

Found in the Woodsman's Tools section of the 1949 edition of the Handbook For Boys, these axe skills still hold true.  


Like the baseball batter who stands up to the plate and keeps his eye on the ball, a skilled axeman stands squarely in front of his log and looks right at the spot where he wants his blow to fall. That is a big part of the secret of accurate chopping. Keep your eye on the ball-the spot where you are aiming each stroke of the axe.

When cutting in the woods, "clear the ground an axe-length around." An "axe-length" means the length of the handle plus the length of your arm.  "Around" means overhead and underneath, in front and back and on both sides. It does not mean to chop down trees in order to have a free swing at the one you want to cut.  It does mean cutting bush and small branches so they will not catch your axe. Even a twig can turn axe or pull it out of your hands, so that you or someone else may be injured. Be sure there is no one standing in the line where the axe would fly if it slipped from your hand.

When cutting a sapling, bend it over at a sharp angle and cut close to the ground with a slanting stroke. Cut at an angle to the grain instead of straight across it. In trimming branches from the trunk, cut from the bottom towards the top.  Do not cut into the crotch. Stand on the opposite side of the trunk.

1949 Edition, Handbook for Boys, Boy Scouts of America, pg 283