Full Chisel Blog

January 17, 2010

Ripping with an ax

I could have ripped this short board with a rip saw with little or no difficulty.  But I decided to remove the excess entirely with a belt ax.  It is a Ft. Meigs pattern belt ax and has a convex blade sharpened knife edge with a bevel on both sides.

I first marked the width of the finished piece of pine that I needed with a slitting or cutting gauge that scored deep into the grain of the wood, I did this on both sides.  This particular scrap had punk wood on one edge the result of animals eating some wood as is their want.

I then did a test split to ascertain the grain of the wood.  I kept back of the line in case there were wild splits that could ruin the piece.  The selection proved good as the grain was straight, so I split off a bit more.

I then held the piece up and used the ax to score the waste wood down close to the scored line then split off those parts in-between.

The convex edge of the ax worked to smooth the edge down quite close to the marks made by the slitting gauge.

A few passes with the smoothing plane, I had the piece of wood I needed for the base of a test tube rack I am building.

And why did I do this, well I more often carry an ax than a saw and sometimes it is easier to shoot a hole in a piece of wood with a pistol when you don’t have a drill.  Just expanding my skill set and getting a different experience.



  1. Hi Stephen-
    Interesting, quick and practical solution. What is the checkerboard gauge beside the board? Inches?

    Comment by BarbS — January 17, 2010 @ 2:00 pm

  2. Barb,

    Welcome and thanks. The checkerboard gauge is a gnomon that I include in all my photographs to give scale, one inch squares of ebony set in holly.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — January 17, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

  3. The more I use my axes, the more I find uses for them in the shop. They are a joy to work with.

    Comment by the Village Carpenter — January 17, 2010 @ 4:41 pm

  4. Seems with your drill, you could just shoot up along the grain. Rip it that way.


    Comment by KenPollard — January 17, 2010 @ 10:08 pm

  5. Wow, very cool. I wish i was that good with an axe in my hands.

    Comment by John @ Wood Lathes Online — March 4, 2010 @ 10:37 pm

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