Saturday, May 08, 2010

Huh? What is a left-handed axe?

I am reading (and enjoying) the brand-new Christian novel The Sword.

In it, a character just gave the other a gift of a left-handed battle axe.

Try as I might, I just can't figure how an axe could be right or left-handed. It takes me back to my first joy job, cooking at Bob's Big Boy. As a joke, one coworker sometimes sent new waitresses off to look for the box of left-handed coffee mugs, because a southpaw company executive was supposedly in for a meal.

Evidently, older scouts have used this as a joke on newer scouts.

I found this mention in a book... but I don't visualize well from instructions alone, and can't make sense of it. (Reading about the tabernacle and the priestly garments is tough slogging for me.) Lots of guitars being called left-handed axes, but that's not what this book means.

26 comments:

Phil (the Doulos) said...

It's just another way society tries to make us left-handed people feel inferior. Like when I was little kid in grade school, having to use the special scissors labeled "LEFTY", and the teacher acting like I was handicapped and needed correcting. Thankfully it hasn't left any lasting scars on me. But it makes me so ANGRY!!! OK, I'm fine now...

I love jokes like those though. Like telling someone to go get the 3/4" putty to fill a crack. Once heard of a newbie on a construction site told to go ask for the stud stretcher to fix a board cut too short. When I worked at a gas station in high school, had a (blonde) girl come in all upset cuz someone said her tail lights were leaking oil. I got a million of 'em...

Phil (the Doulos) said...

Wait..The Axe Wielders Handbook? Now there's a title I have GOT to get for my library.

rebecca said...

I found this. Granted, that's a hewing axe, not a battle axe, but I'm guessing that the principle (the non-symmetrical head) is the same.

Pooka said...

In the Navy we have:
Relative bearing grease,
Cranking down the mast before bridges,
Shoreline
Gigline
Endless silliness but no lefty jokes.

DJP said...

Rebecca, that makes the best sense I've seen so far. But how to apply that to a battle axe? To take thinner slices off your opponent? Eesh.

JackW said...

I read the Sword already. The good news, it's a good read. The bad news, at least a year before book two comes out.

We didn't do stuff like that in the Navy, like sending people for bulkhead remover or forty feet of chowline or stand a lookout watch for the mail buoy. Nope, not us. That would be mean.

Susan said...

Left-handed axe? The first thing that came to mind was Ehud.

Phil, lol regarding the taillights leaking oil. You can't be serious!!

Bob said...

The devil is in the bevel...

Your link to the "The axe wielder's handbook" explains it in the second paragraph (page 23).

For a battle axe, your swing is more effective in horizontal plane, in contrast to chopping wood, so the cutting head will be angled accordingly.

RealityCheck said...

I don't know what a "left-handed axe" is but if anyone would own one, it would be Obama (and I don't mean because he is left-handed).

trogdor said...

Hehe... Ehud. My daughter's first story time was in Judges 3. I don't think she understood much, except maybe that Eglon was really fat and Shamgar was great.

As for the axe, I suppose it would affect it aerodynamically to have one flat side and one sharpened, might make it easier to swing level. The way you want to swing it would determine the way you affix the head.

greglong said...

Phil, reminds me when I was a waiter at a restaurant and they would have the newbies shake the containers of Italian salad dressing every 30 minutes or go mop the freezer.

SandMan said...

Was he talking about his wife who favors the use of her left hand?

Okay, ladies before you start throwing rotten produce... I am not serious. And since the problem seems to be solved, and I have everyone's attention:

Happy Mother's Day! What tremendous blessings, mothers.

Mesa Mike said...

when I was in the Boy Scouts, sending the tenderfeet out to get a left-handed smokeshifter, or a bacon stretcher or a sky hook was always good for a laugh. Also, we'd send 'em out on a snipe hunt, with the promise that roasted snipe was delicious.

GrammaMack said...

"It takes me back to my first joy, cooking at Bob's Big Boy."

It's great that you enjoyed your job, but was it really your very first joy? Kinda sad, that...

:-)

DJP said...

Psh.

Rough crowd.

Even the Canadians.

rob said...

Mesa Mike stole my thunder. When I was a freshman working in the university bakery, I was sent to the storage room to bring back a left-handed bacon stretcher on one occasion and for a sky hook on another. In turn, I did the same to freshman co-workers when I was a soph/jr/sr. Great fun. Most of us don't want to appear dumb by asking what such items are, but then we end up looking dumb for going of in search of....

Now for your left-handed axe - as we hear far too often on the news here, "I'll have to axe my friend...."

lee n. field said...

"But how to apply that to a battle axe? To take thinner slices off your opponent? Eesh."

It's quite conceivable that the author knows nothing about weapons, and just made it up.

It happens all the time when the ignorant write about firearms, so that it's refreshing to read something where the author gets it right.

This being a fantasy, "just making it up" is acceptable.

Susan said...

Trogdor, I just revisited the Ehud account a while back (either through reading or listening to my audio Bible, I forget which), and I just remember thinking how gruesome Eglon's death was. I wonder how children process these things....

Mesa Mike, lol on the sky hook. They probably didn't watch much basketball...unless there is another kind of sky hook out there that I'm unaware of.

Stefan said...

Left-handedness runs in my family.

My grandfather (now passed on) was old enough to have been "corrected" in elementary school, and was taught to write with his right hand.

Brad Williams said...

I'm just confused as to why we are talking about left-handed battle axes in a book called The Sword.

Yeah, so when I was in 9th grade my shop teacher sent me to the football coach to get his wood stretcher back. That was cruel, man, just cruel.

GZimmy said...

Oil leaking from the taillights? Is that the same as blinker fluid?

DJP said...

You know... that could explain why so many don't use their turn-signal.

They're out of blinker-fluid.

Brad Williams said...

Mesa Mike,

For the record, there are actual snipe, which I have hunted, killed, and ate. But the guy who wanted to take me, it took him quite some time to convince me to go after Boy Scouts, I can tell you that.

Mesa Mike said...

Yeh, I knew there really was such a thing as a Snipe, but I didn't know they were worth catching and eating!

I'd say more, but right now I'm out looking for a bucket of prop wash....

Stephen Rodgers said...

As a lot of folks have pointed out, it actually can matter if the axe is primarily used for cutting wood.

Having not read the book, it's *possible* that it could also matter if the axe has a non-standard haft that is sporting some kind of guard. I'm thinking particularly of the basket hilts used on light swords, which aren't always symmetrical.

In that case though, we'd be talking about some sort of...well...fencing hatchet. Which would be odd.

Another possible explanation is that the handle of the axe has some sort of carved grip. IF (and it's a big if), that grip contains not only finger scallops but also a thumb rest, then it would be designed for a particular handedness.

But in that case, again, we're most likely talking about something more akin to a tomahawk or a hatchet. Not a proper axe.

I knew all those years in the SCA would pay off someday! ;-P

Sir Brass said...

Dan, another favorite prank that older scouts love to play on new scouts is "snipe hunting." A complete classic.