While lecturing at the Teachers' College, Columbia University, I was asked to give a demonstration of the use of the axe. It then and there suddenly occurred to me that if these grown men needed and asked for instructions in the use of this typical American tool, a talk on the same subject would be welcomed by the American boys.
The axe is the one necessary tool of the woodsmen; the axe occupies the same position to the wilderness man that the chest of tools does to the carpenter; with the axe the woodsman cuts his firewood; with the axe he makes his traps; with the axe he splits the shakes, clapboards, slabs and shingles from the balsam tree, or other wood which splits readily, and with the shakes, clapboards, or slabs he shingles the roof of his hogan, his barabara, or makes the framework to his sod shack or his dugout, or with them builds the foundation of a bogken. With his axe he cuts the birch for his birch bark pontiac, for his lean-to or his log cabin. Without an axe it is most difficult for one to even build a raft or to fell a tree to get the birch bark for one's canoe, or to "fall" the tree to make a dugout canoe. A tree may be felled by fire, as the Indians of old used to "fall" them, but this takes a wearisome time.