Traditional Tool Training

February 1 – February 9, 2012

It’s no secret that trails folks love tools, cutting logs, and using tools to cut logs. Luckily for us and a few FTA volunteers, we got to spend the first weekend in February with resident trails guru Ian Barlow for a couple of days of learning about axes and crosscut saws and using them to cut up some trees!

We started our first day off with an exercise about mechanical advantage. Ian demonstrated how understanding the advantages provided by tools and technology can allow even a small person to move a 2-ton truck with nothing but a rope and a tree. We tried to keep this lesson in mind throughout the rest of the class as we learned about proper tool usage, upkeep and customization. We spent a lot of time in the first couple of days each with our own tools (axes and pulaskis) shaving down the handles to make better swinging tools, fitting heads to handles, shaping heads and sharpening. It was a ton of information and a lot of fun, some folks kept working on their tools right up to dinner time!

For the final two days, we got out into the field to actually use our tools. We practiced a lot of chopping and went to a big mess that we had intentionally made earlier to use axes and crosscuts to clean it up. In the end, we all had a great time and can’t wait for our next chance to swing an axe or pull a saw through a tree.

The rest of our hitch was spent working on a few projects around the area. We used our newly-refined crosscut skills to take out a giant fallen tree in the Aucilla Wildlife Management Area and then headed to St. Mark’s to repair a puncheon that we had visited months earlier. On our previous trip out there we removed a tree that had fallen on it and broken it right at a support, and this time we went back in with tools and a drill to put the boards back in place. Twas a rousing success!

- Michael Swanberg