When splitting wood for the fire or kindling, make the first blow as in Fig. 346, and the second blow in the same place, but a trifle slanting as in Fig. 347; the slanting blow wedges the wood apart and splits it. If the wood is small and splits readily,the slanting blow may be made first. These things can only be indicated to the readers because there are so many circumstances which govern the case. If there is a knot in the wood, strike the axe right over the knot as in Figs. 348 and 349.
If you are chopping across the grain do not strike perpendicularly as in Fig. 350, because if the wood is hard the axe will simply bounce back, but strike a slanting blow as in Fig. 351, and the axe blade will bite deeply into the wood; again let us caution you that if you put too much of a slant on your axe in striking the wood, it will cut out a shallow chip without materially impeding the force of the blow, and your axe will swing around to the peril of yourself or anyone else within reach; again this is a thing which you must learn to practice.
In using the chopping block be very careful not to put a log in front of the crotch as in Fig. 340, and then strike a heavy blow with the axe, for the reason that if you split the wood with the first blow your axe handle will come down heavily and suddenly upon the front log, and no matter how good a handle it may be, it will break into fragments, as the writer has discovered by sad experience. A lost axe handle in the woods is a severe loss, and one to be avoided, for although a makeshift handle may be fashioned at camp, it never answers the purpose as well as the skillfully and artistically made handle which comes with the axe.