Letter Re: Lessons From Grandpa–Firewood Cutting for Seasonal Employment

Good morning, Mr. Rawles.
Thank you for your good work. I have reciprocated by being a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber from a while ago.

I wish to correct an item from today’s SurvivalBlog entry – while otherwise a very, very nice article – Lessons From Grandpa–Firewood Cutting for Seasonal Employment, by JSW

The author says “a Pickeroon [a.k.a. “Peavey” or “Cant Hook”] which is glaringly incorrect; they are three separate and unique tools. A pickeroon is a short-handled hookeroon – which is a single straight pick about six inches long set at a 90 degree angle from the end of the tool handle. A pickeroon has about a 14 to 16 inch straight axe-type handle and a hookeroon has about a 24 to 28 inch straight axe-type handle. Either tool is used in conjunction with a pulp hook in reaching for, moving and tossing cord-sized wood up to 4 feet long. Think of a pickeroon as a hatchet-sized hookeroon. All three were very popular in the pulp-wood industry.
A pulp hook, by the way, looks like a farmer’s hay hook only much more substantial.

A Peavey is a river-driver’s tool much like a cant-hook. Typical Peavey handles are 48 inches long and round-shafted; some Peavey handles may be up to six feet long. Like a cant hook, they have a free-swinging J-shaped hook suspended from a steel collar on the working end of the tool, but unlike a cant-hook [they] have a straight spike from 4 to 8 inches long jutting straight from the working end and secured by the same steel collar. While a Peavey is okay for rolling logs on the ground, its primary purpose is turning and pushing loose logs in water. Many a logjam has been corrected with good Peavey men working with others with pike poles.

A cant hook is built just like a Peavey but with a shorter handle seldom more than 4 feet long. It has the same or similar steel collar and suspended J-hook, but instead of a straight spike has a smaller steel hook or double hook bent 90 degrees from the collar in the downward direction of the suspended J-hook. The primary purpose of a cant hook is indeed turning logs on the ground, which with practice works slightly better than using a Peavey for the same purpose. Unlike use on the river, cant hooks were used most on landings, decks and in the mill yard.

The “Peavey” is named after a New England man from the 1850s whose last name was Peavey.

Sorry to nit-pick, but as these tools are becoming more common it would be wise for others to use correct terminology. A good reference is Bernard S. Mason’s The Book for Junior Woodsmen from A.S. Barnes Co., New York published in 1945 and long out-of-print. Others may find copies in the usual venues for old books. I highly recommend it for those exploring new ways to use old woodsmen tools. Two other excellent books are Spiked Boots and Tall Timber and Tough Men, both by Robert S. Pike. They were recently re-printed by The Countryman Press in Vermont .

I am a long-time soon to retire rural law enforcement officer with many years experience in a timber-industry and logging background. Our family has lived in the same county for approaching 400 years now and we know a bit about farming and logging. Regards, – Ancient Woodsman

JWR Replies: Thanks for setting me straight on the tool terminology. The error was mine, not the author’s, since I was the one that added the mention of the other tools in brackets.