Axe Skills – Make A Wooden Mallet From A Log

I’m wanting to build axe skills and the only way to do that is to chop wood.  So for my first project I’m going to make a wooden mallet from a maple branch.

Why A Wooden Mallet

Many of the tools for woodworking, like the best spindle sander, particularly when working with green wood, need to be struck with something.  But that something needs to not damage the tool.  That is why traditionally carvers and joiners had a wooden mallet.  Of course the wood mallet gets torn up over time, but a wood worker should be able to make a new one fairly easily.  It is considered on of the consumable things in woodworking.  In this day and age many have went to a hard rubber or dense plastic to strike their steel tools.  Plus it is a very simple starter project.

The Axe

Really a hatchet, I have a Husqvarna hatchet and I have yet to do anything with it.  This is work using the tool one handed so the short handle of a hatchet is much easier to swing.

Selecting A Log

Denser hardwoods are the better choice and green wood is easier work.  Of course that means they can develop cracks when drying, but since your are pulling something out of the firewood pile it is no great loss.  I have some silver maple that someone gave me and I’m going give that a try first.  I grabbed a piece off the wood pile that is about 16″ long and 6″ in diameter.

Chopping Block

You will need something for your work piece to rest on.  Also you want something that when your tool hits it, the tool will not be damaged.  I my case I have a piece of tree trunk that is a nice height so I when I’m working I’m not bent over.  Ideally the surface is level, my needs a bit of work.  The next time I cut down a tree I will save a piece for chopping work.

Axe Skills You Learn

The only way to get good with a chopping tool is to use it.  There is no shortcut, you have to spend the time using the tool.  Over time you will be able to reliably hit where you want to.  This is a axe skill that serve you well over time.  In sports there are exercises done to improve your strength and that help your performance, spending time chopping will build your strength and endurance.

You will also learn about wood grain.  You will be surprised at how different wood acts depending of if you are going across or with the grain.  You will learn how much easier splitting with the grain is than cutting across the grain.  Since you are working with a chunk of firewood, if you mess it up you  just made kindling.

Time To Learn Some Axe Skills

I have to admit to having an affinity for axes for as long as I can remember.  I’m not as hardcore as the folks over at the Axe Junkies Facebook Group, but I do have around 10 of them.  This year I’m determined to spend more quality time with them.  You will only develop axe skills by using it and I will be finding some tasks, projects or chores that I can do with an axe.

So You Want To be a lumberjack

I have always enjoyed splitting straight grained wood with an axe or maul and when I cut down smaller trees I’ve found a good sharp axe removes small limbs better than a chainsaw.  But for felling trees, I’m more of a chainsaw kind of guy.  I do have a couple of the large double bit axes.  An interesting side note is that each side of the head was often sharpened differently for different uses.  I will give felling a tree with an axe a go this spring, you never know I might like it and it will at the very least be good exercise.

Carpenters Axe

The view many people have of an axe user is a lumberjack with a huge double bit axe.  However what many people do not realize is that an axe is not just the tool of a woodsman or lumberjack, is used to be part of the standard toolkit of the carpenter.  Pictured above is the Hults Bruk Carpenter Axe that I acquired this year and I will be starting with it this year.  I need to clear out space in my basement first so I have a place to work.  The edge on this axe is amazing, almost a mirror finish and very sharp.  I’ll be looking for some project that can be made with just an axe to build my skills.

Interesting Videos

A good primer on different types of Axes by Dave Canterbury

Wrangler Star reviews a decent cheep axe