A Child’s Ax Can Do a Man’s Job

By , February 15, 2012

Sometimes it takes a boy’s tool to do a man’s job . . . . I’ve found a child’s ax to be a useful tool around my woodpile.

When we moved to our homestead, I sorted through many tools the previous owners left behind. I found an ax head that is smaller than a limbing ax, but larger than a hatchet. I went to the hardware store and found a handle to fit it. I hafted it, and gave it to Aly to use for her chores. Technically, the tool is called a “boy’s ax,” but since I gave it to my daughter (who, I’d bet, could chop circles around your son) I choose to refer to it by a gender-neutral term. Being lighter and smaller, she had an easier time swinging it than my ax when she got serious about splitting firewood 4-5 years ago. I soon discovered that these same qualities made it a useful tool for me in certain situations as well.

ax comparison

The homestead's child ax (l) and my splitting ax (r) (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

I especially like to use the child’s ax to split kindling. For this job I don’t need the weight of a full sized ax. The lighter ax eases the workload, while giving me a bit more heft and reach than a hatchet would. With a child’s ax, I can breeze through a few smaller rounds and fill my kindling box without breaking a sweat.

I also find that the child’s ax can step up to bigger jobs when necessary. By applying a little more force, I can use it for most jobs for which I usually turn to a standard limbing ax. That means that I can pack the lighter one when I want to carry less weight, or get by using less storage room for gear on long car trips, canoe trips, or hikes. Our trail is steep enough in many places that I’m thankful to get the job done without hauling the heavier ax to and from the site. The child’s ax is useful enough that even after Aly’s grown up, I still keep one handy, just as one keeps hammers, wrenches, or screw drivers in a variety of sizes.

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