How to Swing an Ax & The Ax as a Thinking Tool

"Good blocks of beech it was I split,
As large around as the chopping block;
And every piece I squarely hit
Fell splinterless as a cloven rock.
The blows that a life of self-control
Spares to strike for the common good,
That day, giving a loose my soul,
I spent on the unimportant wood."  ~Robert Frost, Two Tramps in Mud Time

 

The Axe is much more than a practical woods and farm tool. It's one of humankind's earliest tools and one of America's most important symbols. It's a symbol of our pioneering spirit, independence, and connection to the land.

For me, the axe really is a thinking tool. In it's use as a tool it requires sensitivity, finesse, and more brains than brawn. As a symbol it tells us much about our history before and after the civil war, the industrial age, and who we are today.

(An old stone grinding wheel.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a unique class where we will discuss the history and development of the American Felling axe, it's presence in pastoral poetry and art and what that means for us today. Then we'll get to some serious chopping. This class will stimulate your mind just as much as your arm muscles.

 

(Chopping with a safe leg position and platform to protect the axe blade.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What we'll cover:

  • Axe Types and History
  • The Axe as a Thinking Tool
  • The Axe as a Symbol
  • Other Homestead Tools
  • Pastoral Art and the Modern Human
  • How to Really Swing an Axe
  • Swing an Axe with Minimal Strength
  • Switching Hands
  • Axe Safety
  • Field Sharpening and Equipment
  • How to Carry a Log in the Field

 

***Work boots or heavy leather hiking boots and eye protection are required. Gloves are optional.***

This is different from the splitting classes we've done. We'll get the hang of switching hands while chopping through a log. It takes some practice developing the dexterity and feel of swinging an axe while switching hands.

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  • A former member
    A former member

    Here, Ax-Wielders. This is an example of an affordable Council Tool. http://www.baileysonline.com/itemdetail.asp?item=35JC36C

    January 31, 2013

  • Samantha

    Alex gets the prize, not only for his ax knowledge but for being the first person *ever* to reference Solzhenitsyn at a Meet-up event.

    1 · January 27, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    What a great way to spend a Sunday morning! Thanks Alex for being the guide into the world of the ax kingdom. As I commented to my friend Russ who came too, I will now start seeing axes everywhere as my vision has expanded, and I look forward to reading those Frost poems more in depth!

    In woody solidarity,

    jennB

    January 27, 2013

  • Joe B

    Very enjoyable meetup, great people and a huge amount of information and techniques to practice! I had fun meeting all of you and sharing a couple of hours connecting with an ancient practice. Thanks Alex for the excellent workshop, I look forward to more. Cheers!!

    -joe

    January 27, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    More to come about buying axes but this is the Faces symbol that Joe told us about.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasces

    January 27, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Fasces, not Faces.

      January 27, 2013

    • Joe B

      Nice! Thanks for this link, Alex!

      January 27, 2013

  • Marcella T.

    Thank you, I was surprised how much was offered, so many thoughts on the art of the ax... how the poetry and symbolism added to the task at hand, and what an awesome task to strike a blade to wood... timeless
    also fun to have Iconography been a mention: prosoponschool.org is a beautiful website of my mother's teacher,
    there's a particularly touching documentary "Familia" posted on this website that is well done.
    Nostrovia!

    January 27, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Such a fun group. Big thanks to everyone. And thank you, Chuck Norris.

    1 · January 27, 2013

  • Marcella T.

    Ditto, train-jacked

    January 27, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Two of us are stuck behind a train on Columbia, be there soon!

    January 27, 2013

  • Alison W.

    Hey Alex, will you be having this class again? Like maybe in the Spring when I'm not on crutches.

    January 21, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Oh, ouchy. If there's enough interest I'll do the same one again. I usually wait several months between ax classes. Hope you're doing alright. :)

      January 21, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      If there is, let me know.

      January 25, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Just handing out my number for any issues that come up Sunday morning:[masked]-1568. Also maybe bring a bandana or a rag for wiping your hands and ax handles if the weather is wet.

    January 25, 2013

  • Samantha

    You will begin class with a recitation of the entire poem, correct? ;-)

    January 17, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      As a matter of fact, yes. I don't know tons of poems by heart but that's one of them.

      1 · January 17, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Haha and you thought you were going to get the drop on me. Alex - 1, Samantha - 0. ;)

      1 · January 17, 2013

8 went

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