ManHacks: Sharp Axe of Kindness

I was recently packing up for a camping trip and outfitting my camper with a toolbox, gathering all the basic tools I might need (perhaps another ManHack list for another time). I had just nicely sharpened up a small hatchet (also another ManHack for another time) and I thought it might fit nicely in the toolbox, since there was some room. However, I knew that all the jostling around in our travels could only have three outcomes: the hatchet would be blunt, it might be damaged, and it might damage the tools alongside it. The solution – I needed a sheath!

I didn’t have a lot of time or any supplies to make anything elegant. I needed to improvise. My first thought was to protect the edge with something like the protective tubing that comes with new circular saw blades. I had just opened a new blade and I had some around somewhere, but I couldn’t find it. Essentially, it is a tube that is split down the length of one side, so that when pressed into the blade, it encases the blade and preserves its edge. Well something similar might work for an axe…

I had some 5/8″ heater hose from a repair job on our vehicle. (Yes, in Canada, it is essential to maintain a vehicle’s heating system for our winters, especially on poorly designed vehicles like our Kia that fail due to winter road salts and Canadian roads). The tubing is made of heavy rubber encasing several layers of braided cord, so I knew it would be rugged enough. I chopped a piece about an inch longer than the width of the blade. Then I cut a slit into the hose that measured just a few hairs longer than the width of the blade. I made sure to leave the tubing intact at both ends. This way, when the axe or hatchet is pressed into the sheath, the rubber stretches and holds the sheath relatively securely.

It was really easy and the hatchet rested happily in the toolbox, and despite rattling around in there for a 7 hour trip, it emerged sharp and unblemished. I thought I’d try it out for my axe too, but this time I tried out some old fuel pump hose, which also worked just fine. Any type of hose would probably work, but I’d say heavy rubber and braided works best.

And what’s the manly purpose in all of this? Well, the two practical ones are alluded to in the title of this ManHack. Sharp because the sheath is meant to retain the sharpness of your tool, keeping it useful for the times you use it. Kindness refers to the manner in which the sheath treats your axe when you’re storing or transporting it. In my case, it also kept the sharp edge of the hatchet gentle against the other tools in my toolbox. (It is also kind in that it keeps the blade safely away from cutting anything that it shouldn’t, namely adults or children.)

Metaphorically, sharpness has long been associated with rational alertness, and so while you are making this sheath, consider how you have kept your God-given intellect sharp and in line with truth and charity, and what lengths you’ve gone to preserve its sharpness. Truth, they say, is a two-edged sword, one side the truths of Faith and the other truths of reason. Both go hand in hand, yet there are many, even Catholics, who are not convinced of Christ and his Church. Why? Because sin darkens the intellect and weakness the will, and we can all be infected. As Saint Paul advises:

So I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; darkened in understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance, because of their hardness of heart, they have become callous and have handed themselves over to licentiousness for the practice of every kind of impurity to excess. Ephesians 4:17-19

As Catholic Gentlemen, there is no doubt that we are called to hold firm in wisdom and truth. You may not consider yourself the sharpest tool in the shed, but more than ever before our families and communities are depending on us to be. In a world that is confused, mislead, ignorant, and out of touch with truth and love, our task is to be sharp and stay sharp…always with kindness and charity! (Get started at!)

Happy Axe Sheathing and Happy ManHacking!

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Disclaimer: Please take these tips with a grain of salt and  exercise your manly virtues of prudence and discretion. Perform or recommend at your own risk. Catholic Gentleman’s Guide assumes no liability for any damage or loss that may arise as a result of your use (or failed use) of these ManHacks. We stress strongly the use of your own intellect and common sense.


~ The Catholic Gentleman's Guide

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