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By:    On: 2009-08-06

This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I guess because of my extensive training when I was in Americorps*NCCC and was the team quartermaster. Just for background my training includes BSA Totin Chit, National Forest Service Trail Crew tools, the California Conservation Corps Tools, among others... Anyway I am digressing...

A few years ago on a Scouting email list there was a topic going around about which is safer a full size ax or a hatchet. And to make matters worse what they were refering to as a hatchet was actually a hand ax. They had reasons going back and forth about why one was safer then the other. What the failed to grasp was that each tool has a purpose and slightly different techniques to use them. That each tool is equally safe as long as used properly and for the purpose it was designed for. Further more the size and strength of the individual also needed to be taken into account.

For those of you who do not know a hand ax is just a hand held size of a regular ax, the head looks the same. A hatchet on the other hand has a wider blade, tends to be thicker, and a fatter butt (the square chunk of metal many use as a hammer - don't do that). Compare these two pictures and make note of the differences. Especially the shape of the heads.



Hand Ax


Some other camp tools worth mentioning... Bow Saw, which looks kind of like a archers bow and arrow, with a saw blade instead of a string. A shovel, on a side note many shovels actually need to be sharpened. Of course we can't forget a trusty pocket knife.

For more details and to see how I like to teach Camp Tool safety take a look at my slightly dated article Wood Tool Safety Course. Please leave your thoughts and comments below.


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