Watch: Steel Axe vs. Stone Axe
Russ Chastain 11.19.18
This Townsends video opens with a discussion of some really old-time technology: stone axes. Stone axes must be more blunt than steel axes, but they don’t stick in the wood because they don’t cut as deeply. The synopsis in the comparison of the two axes in the video is that the stone version is only 30% to 50% as effective as the steel one.
The type of stone used to make stone axes will of course depend on what was locally available. Gotta work with what you have.
If you wonder (as I did) why the handle doesn’t split, it’s because the stone axe head isn’t touching on the sides… just the top and bottom. So with each strike of the axe, the head stretches the wood lengthwise rather than forcing the grain apart sideways. Cool!
In a side-by-side demonstration, we see that the stone axe does okay, but naturally the steel one cuts faster. But the stone axe guy does say that his stone axe works very well for peeling bark, and describes the process, which uses the wedged top end of the handle to separate the bark from a tree.
These days, you can probably find materials to make something better than a stone axe, what with all the old bits of steel littering our planet… but it’s interesting to learn how the REAL old-timers did it, and to know that if it came down to it, so could we.