Woodman’s Pal: Multifunctional Machete Axe For Survival
This unique machete with its memorable design has been produced in the USA (as well as in the form of replicas in several other countries) for over 75 years. During this time, the Woodman’s Pal has established itself as a survival tool of the highest quality.
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To begin with, let’s provide some facts from the military history of the Woodman’s Pal machete. During World War II (shortly after Frederick Ehrsam developed it in 1941), the top-tier machete Woodman’s Pal was supplied to numerous American troops under the designation LC-14-B. Its intended use was for clearing pathways in jungles and thickets, campsite work, and close combat.
Instructions on care, sharpening, and usage (orange color) and hand-to-hand combat with the use of LC-14-B (blue color) were included in two booklets that came with it. In addition to them, the kit also included a sharpening stone, which, like in modern replicas, was placed inside the machete’s sheath.theoutdoorsman.org
Woodman’s Pal was manufactured for the U.S. Army by the Victor Tool Co. However, during the Vietnam War, the same model was renamed to Type IV Survival Ax and was included in the survival kit for soldiers operating in jungle conditions. In addition to the machete, the kit consisted of a cover, nylon cord, a sharpening stone on a chain with instructions, and a lens for starting fires using sunlight.
For BBC pilots, the Woodman’s Pal machete was supplied as part of the Global Survival Kit. At the beginning of the campaign, sheaths, just like during World War II, were made of canvas, but nylon quickly became the primary material for them, as was the case with all other American ammunition of that period. Throughout the war, the main producer of the Woodman’s Pal machete and its supplier for army needs was the corporation Frank & Warren Inc.
Blade Woodman’s Pal
Developed in 1941, as we’ve discussed, the Woodman’s Pal machete was initially intended for light agricultural and forestry use. However, in the same year, it was evaluated by military experts, and it found its way into the U.S. Army (as will be described below) and was directed to various units. This was due to its extremely favorable geometry and reliability.
For example, its 10.5-inch blade is much thicker and more massive (a whole 2.2 mm) than that of traditional machetes, and thanks to the pronounced curvature towards the imaginary point (as practical experience shows, such a point is absent), it provides strong blows even with minimal effort. This allows for easily cutting down very thick trees, such as hardwoods.
However, using its main edge for clearing brush is not very convenient, or rather, not convenient at all (according to the majority of practical Budmen users), as its greater mass and, consequently, inertia, make this process labor-intensive and not entirely safe. For these purposes (cutting shrubs and grassy vines), the hooked edge, located on the back of the blade and sharpened on the concave side, is intended.
By the way, in the conditions of military operations, it was intended (according to a specially developed instruction for its combat application) for repelling or capturing the opponent’s cold weapons. Also, when used in densely wooded areas, this tool is applied with skill for clearing branches from fallen trees and logs, as well as for clearing a campsite, which makes the Woodman’s Pal machete very versatile.
Handle Woodman’s Pal
The handle of the Woodman’s Pal machete in its modern form can vary significantly in terms of shape (ranging from angular in profile to elongated and round), material (wood, stacked leather, micarta), and attachment method (through-tang or with overlays). For this reason, we won’t list all the differences in specific models, but we’ll briefly describe the classic Woodman’s Pal machete handle that was used in combat conditions.
Its handle was made of stacked leather and had an ergonomic shape with several finger grooves. Around it, there was a semi-circular guard that served not only to protect the hands during close combat but also to prevent the tool from accidentally slipping out of a sweaty palm during work. By the way, this guard is still present in some versions of Woodman’s Pal machetes produced in the USA.
Sheath Woodman’s Pal
During World War II, the sheaths for the machetes were made of canvas in the form of two halves with a zipper closure. This variant, in a modified form, is still being produced today (though made of leather), supplied with the original American model, Woodman’s Pal 481.
At the same time, the same model can also be supplied with nylon sheaths or even without them altogether (they are sold separately, priced at around $35, for example). Inside these sheaths, in addition to the machete itself, there is a small double-sided sharpening stone in a small pouch, allowing for blade maintenance in field conditions.
Overall Impressions Of Use
The first thing that I’d like to say is that I’ve never come across such a stunningly crafted outdoors tool. From the edge of the blade all the way to the finely balanced handle, the Woodman’s Pal is easily one of the finest tools I’ve ever come across.
I’ve always been a fan of machetes and I’ve had to cut my way through more than a few branches in my time, but my favorite thing about the Woodman’s Pal has to be the fact that it’s so much more than a simple machete; it’s an axe too, with a solid, full tang construction that goes well beyond other machetes.
I wanted to see how effective the Woodman’s Pal could be so I set up a 19kg/ 14″ block of wood and prepared for battle. After testing the Woodman’s Pal with a few swings, I felt comfortable enough to swing with full force and my first hack from roughly 10″ chopped a 0.85″ gouge in to the wood. After 11 consecutive chops, I’d almost reached the centre of the block. I was a bit concerned about the black coating breaking away, but upon careful inspection there wasn’t a single sign of damage. A quick wipe with a soft cloth resulted in a perfectly clean blade that was ready to finish the job.
It’s great coming across such a well made tool and the company are every inch the proud American brand. It’s also reassuring to hear that the military rely on the Woodman’s Pal which reinforces its reputation and I know that I’d feel a lot safer with one of these at my side.
This is easily one of our favorite outdoors tools. The Woodman’s Pal isn’t just an iconic machete/ axe hybrid, it’s also a proud American product with a history dating back to the first world war.
|Versatile Functionality: The Woodman’s Pal excels as a multi-purpose tool, serving as a machete, shovel, brush axe, and knife all in one. This versatility makes it an invaluable companion for various outdoor activities such as survival, camping, fishing, hunting, bushcraft, land management, and surveying.||Relatively Higher Cost: While the quality and craftsmanship justify the price, the Woodman’s Pal can be relatively more expensive compared to some other outdoor tools on the market.|
|Craftsmanship: Crafted with meticulous care, the Woodman’s Pal boasts an exquisite finish. The ash wood handle and the beautifully crafted leather sheath are both handmade by skilled Amish craftsmen. This attention to detail ensures not only functionality but also an aesthetic appeal that can turn it into a cherished heirloom.||Heavier Weight: Due to its sturdy construction, the Woodman’s Pal may be heavier than some alternative tools, which could affect portability for extended periods of use.|
|Ergonomic Design: The machete features an ergonomic handle design, prioritizing user comfort. This design minimizes fatigue during prolonged use, allowing for multiple grip options to enhance control and reduce the risk of slipping.||Occasional Sharpening: Like all cutting tools, the blade may require occasional sharpening to maintain optimal performance, although its high-quality steel holds an edge well.|
|Premium Quality Materials: Manufactured using high-quality high-carbon steel, the Woodman’s Pal undergoes a rigorous heat-treatment process, reaching temperatures of up to 1500°F. This process ensures exceptional hardness and strength, while also providing maximum corrosion protection that lasts a lifetime.||Size and Bulk: The Woodman’s Pal, while versatile, may not be as compact as some other outdoor tools, which could affect its ease of carry during certain activities.|
|Made in the USA: A point of pride for many buyers, all Woodman’s Pal machetes are meticulously crafted by master artisans in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. This not only supports local craftsmanship but also ensures a high level of quality control.||Learning Curve: To make the most of its versatile features, users may need some time to familiarize themselves with the optimal use of the Woodman’s Pal, particularly for more specialized tasks.|
|Lifetime Corrosion Protection: The machete’s premium materials and heat treatment result in superior resistance to corrosion, ensuring it remains functional and appealing for generations.||Availability: While widely available, the Woodman’s Pal may not be as accessible in some regions, potentially requiring buyers to seek out specialty retailers.|
Premium Leather Sheath
- Handmade and Hand Stitched by Amish Craftsmen in Lancaster County, PA
- Made with Bridle Quality Leather Treated with Neatsfoot Oil Preservative
- Includes Belt Loop for Convenient and Comfortable Carry
- Top Quality Brass Snaps keep the Pal Securely in Place
Handmade Leather Handle by Amish Craftsman
- 32 Tightly Stacked Leather Washers finished with a Semi-Rough Texture
- Semi-Rough Texture allows maximum comfort and grip
- Steel Knuckle Guard adds hand protection during use
Whether you’re planning on adding it to your collection of tools, or if you want to implement it within your survival plans; you won’t be disappointed.