Woodsman's Pal: Throughout six decades of modern marvels, one thing has remained consistent, steady, reliable and enduring: the Woodman's Pal
By Cameron Hopkins - American Hunter Magazine
Neil Armstrong, microwave ovens, President Eisenhower, color TV and the Internet: Throughout six decades of modern marvels, one thing has remained consistent, steady, reliable and enduring: the Woodman's Pal. It's a uniquely shaped axe-and-machete combined in one utility tool, and it's still handmade in Pennsylvania with the same quality and traditional craftsmanship as when it was known in 1941 as the LC14-B Jungle Fighting Knife, issued to Marines and other GIs in the Pacific Theater.
Pro Tool Industries still crafts the Woodman's Pal with the same 23-step operation. Second-generation workers carry on traditions handed to them by their fathers. Each blade is hand-sharpened and, at the end of the line, an American flag emblem is affixed to the shipping box.
The Woodsman's Pal (sometimes misspelled Woodsman Pal) is an amazing tool, and not just because it's unchanged since hacking its way through palm fronds on Guadalcanal. Just as the Marines found on Iwo Jima and Tarawa, the Woodman's Pal has a natural-feeling heft with the blade-heavy balance that makes chopping, brush-clearing and general camp maintenance an easy job.
While my experience around a campsite with the Woodman's Pal is considerably more prosaic than that of one PFC Henry Luke who wrote a letter to the factory in 1944 from the Pacific stating, "Besides my rifle and my compass, it is my most valued possession and I cannot see how I could get along without it," I found the tool to be a handy replacement for a camp shovel, firewood axe and machete for clearing brush.
Perhaps not realizing how "retro" would one day become cool, the factory refers to the original LC14-B Jungle Fighting Knife as the Woodman's Pal Premium with its knuckle guard and leather-wrapped handle. The standard Woodsman's Pal comes without the hand guard and a hand-polished ash handle. Both come with high-carbon manganese tool steel blades hardened to Rockwell C47, which gives both strength and flexibility.