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Can a axe be used safely

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Like all the other posters, I would say that axes are no more dangerous than any other tool we use, as long as standard safety precautions are taken. I agree with the observation in the previous post about the self confidence of the adults. In our OLS training, we are fortunate that we can offer a great deal of hands on experience including the use of axes. We don't expect to make trainees expert in anything, but at least they get to try. Like any other skill, the safe use of an axes needs to be learned and practiced.


I also advise trainees to leave axes at home on backpacking treks. Given the mandates of LNT camping, an axe is generally just extra weight. There is little that you can't do with an ordinary knife that will meet your needs.

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Sturgen said "Perhaps we should carry leather chaps, safety glasses, hard hats, and those wooden boots logger competitors wear." and whether he knew it or not he was partially right.


The Boy Scout Handbook has for years told scouts to wear eye protection and sturdy boots (along with gloves) as personal protection equipment (PPE) when using the axe or bow saw. So yes, sturgen you should be carrying and using those items.


Chaps however are for use with chain saws, and hard hats are for use when overhead dangers exist or when someone is working above you, they would not be appropriate for axe or saw use and are not recommended PPEs by the BSA and so your recommendation to carry them would be ill-suited to the task.


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Is it ax or axe? I wish that some of my scouts would read your great replies-- If anyone knows where I could get some injury photos from either tool I would use them in the toten chip class. To answer the question "can a axe be used safely" I will say -- yes -- anything else just axe me. RM

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I hope your question has been adequately answered. As you can plainly see that none of us would agree on what a glass of what is or should be. That, of course, is the beauty of the forum. It is a virtual Mar's Hill experience.


FB(This message has been edited by Fuzzy Bear)(This message has been edited by Fuzzy Bear)

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I agree that with training an Axe is a useful tool. I happen to prefer a bow-saw for most wood cutting jobs at camp. Bob White does make a good point about splitting.

Back in England a Scout would learn how to use a Hand Axe in the Scout Standard and then how to use a felling Axe for the Advanced Scout Standard. For the Scout Standard he had to name all the parts of an Axe, cover all the safety rules and use it correctly. While we did cover the use of the Felling Axe, to be very honest we never really got that much chance to use it, unless we were doing some sort of a service project.

The PLC did decide that they didn't want axes in their camp patrol boxes instead they opted for a small pruning type saw. The QM did have axes in the troop store and they could get one or two when they wanted one. I think the reason for taking them out of the boxes was that one patrol at a patrol camp out got in hot water with a camp warden when he found that someone had wounded a live tree.

We did find that most of the Scouts were happier with 3/4 sized felling axe.


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Hello All,


It's been a while since I posted, but this is an interesting topic.


Yes, an axe can be used safely. Also true, modern camping may rely upon propane stoves that makes an axe somewhat of an historical tool. As a young Scout myself I was comfortable using an axe because I used one around the home. Not so modern city boys.


I set up an axe yard whenever possible and encourage the boys to use an axe to prepare for campfires, etc. The shock of my life was a Life Scout who could not figure out how to make a tent peg out of a piece of wood. But, unlike me as a young Scout, he had never been required to do so. He always had metal pegs available.


As for a bow saw, in my day you had to be Star to use a saw. It was cool to attain that rank and be able to saw a branch into firewood. Very cool. I feel the same way now, but that's me!





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I knew I was right (in part) in regards to BSA policy, however policy and practicality are often two different things. Training, experience and common sense are far more important. My father, grandfather, great-grandfather, etc. have chopped wood without all of the modern safety conveniences and we have yet to have a problem, if you want to carry a pair of safety glasses 50 miles into the woods, more power to you, but I consider it just as safe to go with the axe alone.

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" My father, grandfather, great-grandfather, etc. have chopped wood without all of the modern safety conveniences "


Safety is never a convenience. Safety is often downright inconvenient.


People drove for decades without seatbelts but you'd be downright silly and stupid to drive without one now.


A pair of safety goggles weights about two ounces, much less than the ax a that you are lugging. Even less than that mp3 player that you want to drag along.


If you were an adult you'd understand the need to enforce written safety rules. Would you want to be the Scouter who has to make the phone call about the Scout with a wood chip in the eye just because you were too lazy to follow procedure?


As for "ax" or "axe," the OED shows that they've been used interchangeably for many years.

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I am going to put my 2 cents in this topic.


Yes, an axe and bow saw can be used safley.


I have always been taught to use them safley, even when I was a scout 20 years ago.


Proper teaching and managment of the boys is key.


After I teach wood tools, the scouts will take a test, if they do not pass. To bad, they do not earn there totin'chip.


They will not have another opurtunity untill the next time it is taught.


All my ASM's. PL's, SPL's etc. are taught and trained if the wood tool is being used incorrectly, to take away the totin' chip, not just to cut a corner etc....


My scoutmaster taught us a great way to inforce the use of saftey glasses.


Place the glasses on the log being used as a chopping block.


Then they must be physically moved before you can chop or saw wood. Might as well put them on.






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I agree that an axe and saw can be used safely. As noted, they are tools and if cared for and used properly should not be an issue. I'm with those that find a saw a more useful tool on a camping trip than an axe.


We usually go through the totin' chip with the new scouts in the first month or so in the fall. There is also a session we hold just before summer camp so new scouts can get a totin' chip before camp. In the past three years we have had two minor injuries associated with knives. Small cuts, nothing so serious as requiring stitches even. They have been used as learning experiences.


The trading post at our council camp will not sell a knife to a scout or adult unless they present a totin' chip card.



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I'm with most of you, that we should do the instruction under strictly controlled conditions, for those Scouts who have the emotional/physical maturity, and manual dexterity to pull it off.


I've always been amused, and sometimes amazed, at the number of Scouts who have to be hounded to expend the energy to clean their rooms, but will enthusiastically burn the calories required to turn logs into chips and cordwood in an axe yard...something primeval here.



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quite right KS. Some of the theory suggests that teenagers go through an 'anti' stage (existential dread someone called it!) and destroying a peice of wood satisfies the drive for rebellious destruction. However in this regard the axe work is seen as positive and a bit tough so it is a safe destructive activity (safe emotionally and socially I mean.


At our jamboree they bought some old car bodies and the Scouts belted them with sledge hammers all day. Not sure that I liked that idea but it satisfies the same destructive urge.


Why can't they destroy the stains on their shirts or sludge in the bottom of the pot? Whoops way off track. SOrry,

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