By SLIM RANDLES
To The Desert Independent
April 6, 2017
These days we don’t think much about axes. They’re kinda old fashioned and they are too closely associated with manual labor for them to be very popular. It’s a shame, too, because there is lore to an ax. There are proper and improper ways to sharpen one, for instance.
There are proper and improper ways to fell a tree with one, to limb a fallen tree, to split firewood. Replacing the handle on an ax could make the subject of a very interesting small book, even.
Marvin always puts a coating of fiberglass around the handle just below the head to keep firewood from chewing up the handle, for instance. Dud has been known to soak an ax handle in a large tube of kerosene before using it to give it longer life.
In fact, Dud has made ax work into something of an art form. If you need your ax sharpened, Dud’s the guy to see. He has an old-fashioned grindstone with a water drip. He’ll tell you it’s important not to get the steel too hot and therefore take the temper out of it. And when he finishes sharpening your ax, you can shave with it. If you really want to.
But if they gave doctor’s degrees in ax use, ol’ Jasper Blankenship, up in the mountains, would get the first one around here. He built his cabin with just an ax, in fact. The whole thing. It was while Jasper was showing his new cabin to some tourist ladies that his ax became legendary around here.
“You see that ax?” he asked them. “That was George Washington’s ax. Yep, the same one he used to chop down the cherry tree. ‘Course it’s been through 42 handles and six heads since then.”
Brought to you by Packing the Backyard Horse, available on Amazon.com.
"Home Country" columnist Slim Randles won three regional book awards for the two books he wrote in 2014. "Max Evans and a Few Friends, the 90th Birthday Book" took honors for best non-fiction book, and "Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing" won for best how-to book and best cover design at the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards in Albuquerque. Randles lives in Albuquerque and has a dozen books currently in print.