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Tools Used by Lumberjacks

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If you have ever wondered where all the paper and related products came from and how they were produced, then look no further than the lumber industry. When this activity first came about, it was a low-paying and extremely dangerous job that only a select few men, or lumberjacks, were built to withstand. As the industry grew and paper products became more of a necessity in everyday life, new tools were introduced to assist the workers and the workload.

The Axe

The most common, and arguably the oldest, method of chopping down trees is with an axe. The felling axe is an axe specifically designed for the task and usually has a double-edged, sharp surface. This particular axe is available in a variety of shapes, weights, and handle sizes, but lumberjacks generally use the larger types. Splitting axes send a shock-wave through the grain of the wood being chopped, using a wedged metal head to generate this split. The broadaxe, as its name denotes, is a large-headed axe used for digging deep into lumber with minimal swinging. There are other types of axes that lumberjacks may use for different purposes, but the felling, splitting, and broadaxe types of tools are the most common axes used for industrial wood chopping.


The saw has been a useful tool in wood cutting and other laborious duties for centuries. Eventually, larger saws were developed to handle industrial cutting. The two-man was able to cut through large trees more efficiently than other saws, but required the full attention and strength of two individuals. The origins of the first chainsaw-like machine date back to the 1800s, but the modern chainsaw was first developed and distributed in 1927. The lumber industry saw great advantages with this gasoline-powered machinery, as the amount of trees that could be cut down in a given time far exceeded the numbers felled using a conventional axe.


After trees have been cut down and the lumber needs to be shaped, the drawknife becomes the tool of choice for lumber industry workers. With a handle on each end and an inward facing blade, pulling or drawing this particular knife peels back the lumber and gives it the intended shape. The shape of the drawknife and the position of the user highly reflect how the wood is shaved. The user should position himself on a slave horse, a lumber workbench, and place the drawknife perpendicular to the lumber. The user then pulls the drawknife in an upward, diagonal motion to shave the wood instead of cutting into it.


An excavator is not exactly a tool in the traditional sense of the word, but 21st century logging methods could not exist without the assistance of such large machinery. Lined with tank treads and powered by high-displacement diesel engines, logging excavators can travel over harsh terrain while transporting large amounts of the newly-cut logs. The excavator has become a vital piece of machinery in assisting logging manufacturers perform daily functions.


Matt Wooddy has been a freelance writer since 2006. His work has been featured in local and national audio magazines. Aside from graphic design and illustration work, he has also taught several classes on painting and drawing basics. Wooddy is also a DJ and technical engineer.

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