Lumberland Diaries, Fall 2011: Sharpening the Axe
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” - Abraham Lincoln
An axe requires care and delicacy, not power and speed, and that’s why the sharper the axe, the better and the safer the axe. A sharp axe not only insures for much greater efficiency but also more control. A dull axe requires more effort and energy, it has a greater tendency to glance off its intended target, and is therefore unpredictable and dangerous. A little practice is required in order to become proficient at sharpening your axe, and it should be done before every use. Do not be fooled: wood will dull and or damage steel—knots in wood can be hard as rock, and certain grain patterns in the “root swell” area of the trunk can wreak havoc on an axe bit.
Above: Ben puts the edge back on his Hudson Bay at the Lumberland out-camp. Photograph by Nate Bressler