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2011-12-15 digital edition

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2011-12-15 / General Stories

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by Slim Randles

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, 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 an ax, to limb a fallen tree with an ax, to split firewood with an ax. Replacing the handle on an ax could be 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. Ol’ Jasper Blankenship, up at the diggin’s, has been known to soak an ax handle in kerosene before using it to give it longer life.

In fact, Jasper has made ax work into something of an art form. If you need your ax sharpened, he’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.

If they gave doctor’s degrees in ax use, Jasper would get the first one in the valley. He built his cabin with just an ax. The whole thing. It was while Jasper was showing his new cabin to some tourist ladies, in fact, 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 Slim’s awardwinning book ( and stocking stuffer) “A Cowboy’s Guide to Growing Up Right.” Learn more at http:// www.nmsantos.com/ Slim/Slim.html.

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