History of the Woodman's Pal

History of the Woodman's Pal by Knifecenter

The History of the Woodman's Pal™

Frederick Ehrsam was not only an expert on edge tools used throughout the world. By the time he settled in Pennsylvania, in the 1930s, the Swiss National was also an experienced architect, artist, engineer, manufacturer, and woodsman.

Over the next ten years, all these skills would be used in the creation of a tool that would eventually influence modern forest and land management.

Professionals in the forest and field relied heavily on the machete for clearing brush and blazing trails. Other tools were also needed to thin, trim, chop, and prune. Frederick Ehrsam saw the need for a single implement that could not only perform the tasks of each as well or better, but could eliminate drawbacks like awkward weight or bulk, lack of balance or versatility, and designs unsafe for the inexperienced user.

In 1941, Frederick Ehrsam introduced the Woodman's PalTM. Professionals in forestry, agriculture, and horticulture as well as the US Army Signal Corps quickly recognized it as a historic achievement. Today, the Woodman's Pal is still praised by each new generation of forest and land managers, surveyors, chain sawyers, and outdoorsmen.

The Features

The Woodman's Pal is crafted from high-carbon steel for a long-lasting edge. Its concave blade is superior to the machete's-The Woodman's Pal can execute a drawing cut like that of the unsurpassable Gurka kukri, to cut wood up to an inch and a half in diameter with a single stroke. It is also better balanced than the machete, able to cut on the backstroke, more durable, and far safer. Yet at 23 oz. it is exceptionally lightweight for efficient clearing, cutting, or chopping.

The line of balance runs precisely from the hand fitted hardwood grip through the sickle edge, shifting the weight to the business end to create a natural momentum for efficient, accurate, and comfortable swinging both forehand and backhand, which allows the user to master the tool in days rather than years.

It excels as a bill hook, scythe, or sickle. The brush hook is recessed to reduce resistance. It will safely crop close and low-ideally suited for a chisel-like draw in confined or selective cutting.

It performs with unusual safety. Its blunt end extends from the sickle tip to a 1" toe on the long cutting edge, greatly reducing the chance of an accidental cut or injury by deflection.

The Crafting

Today's Woodman's Pal is virtually identical to the original. Its quality and integrity cannot be achieved easily, inexpensively, or en masse. Only the best materials are used. And all are treated with respect.

The blade is SAE1075 cold rolled spring steel, hardened to approx. Rockwell C47. A lower-carbon steel would be less expensive and easier to hone, but it would not hold the edge for long. Harder steel (like SAE1095 used in fine cutlery) can become brittle in cold weather and crack or chip with heavy use.

The handle is shaped from a single piece of American hardwood, cemented and riveted to the tang. From the blanking of the steel on the 150-ton press to the hand lacquering of each handle, there are 23 stages of production. All stages are done by hand. Edges are precisely rolled resulting in double-convex razor-sharp perfection.


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