The first thing that I would do is inspect the axe,” says Peter Buchanan-Smith, author of the new Buchanan-Smith’s Axe Handbook ($20) and founder of Best Made Co., a brand known for selling axes with painted handles that was recently acquired by Duluth Trading Company. Many of us don’t have experience wielding this ancient implement, but if we show up at a friend’s place for a weekend and there’s an axe and some wood, chances are chopping will occur. This makes the first step crucial, albeit boring. A quick once-over should do: “Make sure it’s not broken and about to fall apart.”
Next up would be to make sure the blade, called the bit, is sharp. But again, Buchanan-Smith doesn’t expect the occasional swinger to search for a sharpening stone and spend an hour or two honing an edge if it isn’t sharp. (Though the mantra bears remembering: A good axe is a sharp axe.)
As you approach the chop log — which, ideally, is 18 to 24 inches wide, and level — take it slow. Properly handling an axe demands and deserves patience, respect and common sense. Plant your feet firmly on the ground, which will almost always be uneven outdoor terrain. They should be wide apart, with knees slightly bent.
Don’t do what I did back in 2013 – fail to check for a clothesline behind me. But that is a story for another day
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