Building wooden toboggans requires a suite of tools. Some powered, and some very basic. Last post I discussed the latest “powered” addition to my spring project of stocking wood for next winter’s heat. This time I’d like to discuss the value of simple, but timeless tool… the picaroon!
If you don’t have a picaroon and you are handling firewood you should get one and learn how to use it! It will save you a lot of wear and tear on the body. There is a learning curve to get handy with one and if you are careless or inexperienced you can get hurt.
Back in the day more than a few loggers loading pulp wood went off the top of a train car, and got seriously hurt and even killed using one. They were pulling hard on the handle when the pick came loose from the log and lost their balance and went off the top of the train car load.
That’s the warning label I heard years ago when I started working in the woods and using a picaroon. I’ve never forgotten it. Now with years of experience I can attest that it is important to get used to your pic and the wood you are working with. It is easy to put too much faith in your hold in the log and pull so hard that you will lose your balance should the pic let loose.
It is much easier to sort and move logs around using a picaroon than bending over and picking up the end of a log, dragging it by hand. With a pic you slam the point of the picaroon into the log and now you can remain standing and have a good handle on the log to drag it out of the way or unto the toboggan for skidding. I always use mine when cutting logs into firewood blocks and when splitting those blocks into firewood.
The trick is to remake the point of the pick so that it easily sinks into a log, and also so that it comes back out rather easy by lifting it up and down a time or two. Yet you also should leave enough of a barb on the point so that if you are careful you can pull hard on the log without the pic coming loose.
Every picaroon that I’ve seen brand new from the store has a barb on the point is much too large. This makes it hard to sink into a log, especially if it is frozen. A large barb can also be a lot of trouble to remove from the log once you sink it in.
With experience and a well-shaped pic you can easily strike a block of firewood and swing it up onto the splitter and easily remove the pic from the wood. If I’m picking up numerous pieces I’ll sink the pic into a chunk of wood and swing it up to my left arm and remove the pic in a quick motion and strike another one or two if the logs are small. Blocks of green wood can be quite heavy and a chore to bend down and pick up with your hands. With the picaroon I’ll sink the pic into the middle of a large, heavy block of wood and let go of the handle, and stoop over and grasp the head of the picaroon, with the pick between my fingers of my right hand. This makes the head of the picaroon into a handle to lift the log onto the splitter and much easier than getting both hands under the log to lift it.
The picaroon is an ol’ time logger’s tool. If you cut and handle firewood and don’t have a picaroon I think with some practice and a good point you’ll learn to appreciate this tool very much…and they are inexpensive…and could last a lifetime!