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art of axes & picks

  • To: Multiple recipients of list <iris-l@rt66.com>
  • Subject: art of axes & picks
  • From: Linda Mann <lmann@icx.net>
  • Date: Thu, 16 Oct 1997 03:43:52 -0600 (MDT)

Celia Story wrote of being jarred by her 'hand backhoe':

Celia - there is an art to using axes and picks so that you don't get
jarred that way - not sure I can describe it over email and I learned it
so long ago I'm not even sure I can describe it at all.  The trick is to
almost let go of the handle just as it impacts.  What you want to do is
let the weight of the implement do the work - that way, you may have to
make more strokes, but the amount of effort you expend is much much
less, and the damage you incur is only to the lifting and prying
muscles, not to the joints.  So, what you do is, in one smooth easy
motion, let one hand slide up the handle to the base of the pick head
(right hand for instance if you are right handed), swing it up over your
shoulder, begin your down swing at the same time you let your hand slide
back down the handle, so that both hands are at the end of the handle
just as it hits the target - use your arms to build momentum as it
swings and for aim.  Just as it hits, loosen your grip.  Then pry, slide
your hand back up the handle as you raise it up again.  

I learned a modification of this for using a garden hoe, back when I was
growing tobacco.  Farmers growing small acreages for a cash crop would
work the entire patch with a hoe and you can kill yourself in a hurry
hacking at the ground in a half acre, but with a good 'soft' rhythm, all
you get is blisters.

Linda Mann east Tennessee USA

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