After you have cut the crotch and trimmed it down into the form of Fig. 339, you may find it convenient to flatten the thing on one side. This you do by hewing and scoring; that is, by cutting a series of notches all of the same depth, and then splitting off the wood between the notches, as one would in making a puncheon (Fig. 342). (A puncheon is a log flattened on one or both sides.) With this flattened crotch one may, by sinking another flattened log in the earth and placing the chopping block on top, have a chopping block like that shown in Fig. 343. Or one may take the crotch, spike a piece of board across as in Fig. 339 and use that, and the best chopping block or crotch block is the one shown in Fig. 339, with the puncheon or slab spiked onto the ends of the crotch. In this case the two ends of the crotch should be cut off with a saw, if you have one, so as to give the proper flat surface to which to nail the slab. Then the kindling wood may be split without danger to yourself or the edge of the hatchet.
If you are using an ordinary stick of wood for a chopping block, and the stick you are about to chop rests solidly on top of the block where the axe strikes it will cut all right, but if you strike where the stick does not touch the chopping block the blow will stun the hand holding the stick in a very disagreeable manner. If you hold your stick against the chopping block with your foot, there is always danger of cutting off your toe; if you hold the stick with your hand and strike it with the axe, there is danger of cutting off your fingers. When I say there is danger I mean it. One of our scouts cut his thumb off, another cut off one finger, and one of my friends in the North woods of Canada cut off his great toe. In hunting for Indian relics in an old camping cave in Pennsylvania, my companion, Mr. Elmer Gregor, made the gruesome find of a dried human finger near the embers of an ancient campfire, telling the story of a camping accident ages ago, but evidently after white man's edged tools were introduced.
If you have no chopping block and wish to cut your firewood into smaller pieces, you can hold the stick safely with the hand if you use the axe as shown in Fig. 345. This will give you as a result two sticks, and the upper one will have some great splinters.