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TKU Saw School: USFS Ax Basics, Maintenance, and Use – Mt Hood

December 16, 2023 at 8:30 am - 3:30 pm

USDA Forest Service National Sawyer Training: Developing Thinking Sawyers. Ax Basics, Maintenance, and Use.

Saw Instructors: Vito P. – Josh D.

Max Size of Crew: 10

Hike Distance: No hiking is required.

Elevation Gain: N/A

Hike Intensity: N/A

Work Intensity: Easy – Moderate

Work Type: USDA Forest Service Ax Training Module

Land Manager: Mt Hood National Forest

District: Zigzag RD

This TKO Saw School training event is for volunteers and agency staff who are looking to learn the basics of Ax Maintenance and Usage.

**Only current certified sawyers are eligible to enroll in this class.**

As a tool, the axe is potentially more hazardous to both the user and crewmembers in the vicinity of the user than either a crosscut saw or chainsaw.

First Aid/CPR is required to obtain a crosscut or chainsaw certification.

Log dynamics are the same when using an axe as they are for crosscut saws and chainsaws. Binds are addressed in the crosscut saw module but not the axe module. Unfamiliarity with springpoles, side binds, end binds, pivots points, etc could result in unexpected log movement leading to injury.

Safe use of axes on trails requires a working knowledge of OHLEC which is covered in crosscut saw trainings and certifications.

Some Topic Covered:

Prework Review – Ax History, modern axes, ax anatomy, ax types, ax features

PPE and Ax Saftey – Risk assessment, PPE, proper stance

Choosing an Ax – Size, handles, weight, intended use

How an Ax works – Ax profile, the 45-degree angle

Chopping Plan – Removing wood by volume, constructing a free face, chopping from both sides, connecting notches

Chopping Techniques – Chopping styles, overhead chop, over-the-shoulder-chop, finishing cuts

Limbing – Technique

Ax Maintenance – Cleaning, honing, daily maintenance, annual maintenance

Additional Material – An Ax to Grind(https://youtu.be/22tBYD-HMtA); One Moving Part (https://www.fs.usda.gov/inside-fs/delivering-mission/deliver/one-moving-part-forest-service-ax-manual); A Practical Ax Manual

What this course does not cover:

Felling procedures, advanced bucking procedures

Ax restoration, hanging hafts, profiling, sharpening (beyond daily honing)

Note: Please bring work gloves, safety glasses, hard hats, hearing protection, and chainsaw chaps. Some of these PPE items can be provided by TKO staff if needed. Please contact vito.perrone@trailkeepersoforegon.org if you have any questions.

Potential cancellation: We will not work in the field if the weather is not safe for our team.

Directions: Directions will be provided to participants as we get closer to the scheduled event dates.

What to bring:

  • Lunch for the day. (There are also places to grab food nearby)
  • Plenty of water for the day.
  • Snacks
  • Gloves, Safety Glasses, Hard Hat.
  • Hand Sanitizer

What to wear:

  • Boots (Please wear something sturdy that will protect your toes from sharp tools. Boots must cover your ankles. No tennis shoes allowed.)
  • Work gloves
  • A long-sleeved shirt is a requirement
  • Long pants are required
  • Face Mask (optional for indoor class, optional for outdoors)
  • Rain gear as appropriate for the weather


Please contact Vito Perrone at vito.perrone@trailkeepersoforegon.org.  Send me an email if you want to join our waitlist for this workshop.

Additional Information:

Check out the TK-U Saw School page for more info.

Free online crosscut course from the University of Montana.

Saws That Sing. A guide to using crosscut saw.

One moving part: The Forest Service Ax Manual

LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: TKO recognizes that the trails we work on travel through the traditional lands of many Indigenous tribes and communities. In every corner of what we now call Oregon, these people were forced to cede their land, their home, to the US government. We are privileged to be here today and we express gratitude to these tribes and their descendants for being the original and continuing stewards of these spaces.

ACCOMMODATION REQUESTS: TKO seeks to make our events inclusive of people of all backgrounds and abilities. If you would like to discuss potential accommodations to allow for your participation in this event, please click here to complete a short Google survey. TKO staff will then contact you to discuss options. Please note: available accommodations will vary by event and typically need to be requested a minimum of two weeks in advance. If you have any questions, please contact TKO Stewardship Manager Lindsay McIntosh-Tolle at lindsay.mcintosh@trailkeepersoforegon.org.

EQUITY & INCLUSION: TKO seeks to make Oregon’s trails a place where people can go to connect with nature & one another. Not everyone feels safe or welcome in the outdoors due to issues like racism, bias, and hate. We commit to being part of the solution to this problem and to enact change. Conduct, speech, or expressions that target any individual or group will not be tolerated by TKO, regardless of whether they are based on age, citizenship, disability, ethnicity, gender identity/expression, geographic origin, language, marital status, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status.

PERSONAL SAFETY: Your physical and emotional safety is our number one priority. If a person’s actions or comments make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, you may: interrupt directly, tell a crew leader, and/or inform TKO staff via the post-event survey.

While TKO no longer requires masking/vaccination for its events, we do support those who feel masking is necessary for their own safety. We ask participants to respect the health of folks who wear masks by distancing or wearing a mask while in close proximity.


December 16, 2023
8:30 am - 3:30 pm


Trailkeepers of Oregon


Zigzag Saw Training Center
70303 US-26
Rhododendron, OR 97049 United States
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