My web forums are archived here
until I can secure the donations to get my website back up. IF you would like to donate, you may do so by clicking on the donate button on this page.
Thank you to all of my viewers and followers.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
The 2012 Apocalypse Will Blow Your Mind
So it’s 2012. Wow. This year seemed so far away for so much of my life, now it’s here. It’s the year that the Mayan Calendar ends. And it’s also the year that a whole lot of smart asses expect to laugh one last time at the concerned folks they’ve branded Doomsday Preppers. They’re all ready to call it “the year that nothing happened” and the odds say they’re right.
I have to admit that a zombie apocalypse at the end of this year would be all too satisfying even if it meant a series of painful losses and a grizzly death for myself. As such I expect it won’t happen as well. Logic tells me that, and a long history of being right when I expect disappointment also tells me that. But something in my gut tells me we’re going to get hit out of left field with something we aren’t expecting. That, after all, is the meaning of apocalypse. Apocalypse means revealing. And that, to me, means high odds of a surprise. Nothing happening would not be a surprise to most, so my money is on the long shot.
A solar flare + CME big enough to take down the grid seems the most likely candidate for something astrological and cyclical that the Mayans might have been able to point to, but even that is sketchy, why pin it to an exact date? One answer is that the 21st of December is the date of highest probability but the actual event could come weeks or months in advance or post the event. That’s sloppy to me. The Mayan calendar has been legendary for its accurate prediction of eclipses for hundreds and hundreds of years. In my opinion a calendar of that precision wouldn’t F around with probabilities.
Beyond the solar flare / CME hypothesis I just don’t see anything that we mere Earth humans already know about, at least that we know about and accept in scientific circles that the Mayans could have been pointing to. However it doesn’t rule out something that modern science doesn’t know about or something that modern science has rejected for lack of explanations or measurability.
There are those among new world tribes (namely the Hopi) that claim that “the world” has been destroyed several times before, this even has precedent in the Western myths, an example being Atlantis / Thule and Noah’s flood in the Old Testament. How is the destruction of the world a cyclical and predictable phenomenon? For this I can conceive of two prominent possibilities. One is that physics itself changes the rules on us. We here on Earth are really just a baby step away from being stick swinging apes in the grand scheme of development as a sentient race. We only just learned to fly about a hundred years ago. Really we haven’t the foggiest idea of how the universe works. The “rules of physics” may be a hell of a lot less static than we’ve wagered. Perhaps there is a periodic changing of the rules that upsets everything we’ve built dependence upon. Imagine the possibilities, what if petroleum no longer was combustible? What if the viscosity of air changed? What if gravity became unstable and fluctuated? The point is that a LOT of things could happen that we have no way to predict or prepare for, and given all that we DON’T know about the universe, they’re just as possible as anything else. Likewise, it doesn’t seem unreasonable that perhaps the Mayans found a way to measure a cyclical changing of the rules that our modern science hasn’t yet identified. But don’t worry; I won’t go getting all metaphysical on you. We’ll leave it there for your own ponderings.
However, there is still the second conceivable possibility for a cyclical, predictable destruction of “the world”, whatever that means. This is the possibility that someone told the Mayans that they or someone or some thing else was coming back to Earth to shake the pillars again. As much as I hate risking any sort of association with that guy on the Ancient Aliens show with the crazy hair, to me, logic dictates that this is the most likely impetus for the destruction of the world on December 21 2012. The most likely way the Mayans could have known is that they weretold.
Scientists, by the nature of probability and the shear immenseness of the universe, accept that there are many other civilizations out there and that many are likely far, far more advanced than we are. It’s even not all that unlikely that Earth has been visited before, and that possibility is seeming more and more probable every day as the hadron collider shatters the limits Einstein’s theories placed on our concept of what is possible in the universe, particularly concerning the limits of speed of travel.
Anyway, one could rant for hours about this, but there it is, the logic has spoken. If the Mayan long count has anything to do with a cyclical destruction of the world, logic dictates that the most likely way they knew was that they were told. This could mean an Alien race or it could mean humans that rose to prominence tens of thousands of years in the past, humans with biodegradable cities under the ocean that haven’t left a trace that our primitive scientists can yet detect, humans that left earth to our ancestors who couldn’t afford the boarding pass to the stars. Or something else. The possibilities are endless.
At this point all I can tell you is that it isn’t going to be a comet falling from the sky, it’s not going to be an earthquake and it’s not going to be a super volcano, though it might be something bigger than we can conceive that causes some or all of these to happen. What I know and what I feel most certainly is that IF something happens, you’re probably not going to be prepared for it even if you try because logic says it’s going to be WILD.
So put away some food and start an exercise regimen but give your existential muscles a pre-apocalypse work-out too, because if something does happen I argue that it will not only be harrowing but mind blowing as well.
No matter what form the Apocalypse ends up taking, be it Mad Max zombie-rampage or slow tedious economic decline, one thing is for certain; trash will be everywhere.
Naturally, true survivors are going to put that trash to use. That is what survivors do, we put anything and everything in our environment to the smartest use possible. Now when I talk about survival recycling, I’m not talking about saving soda cans and taking them to a recycling center, although that can be a good survival tactic to raise a little money in the event of a personal apocalypse that comes with losing your job in this declining economy. Instead, what I mean is taking things that are lying around or otherwise unwanted and repairing them or finding new uses for them that were not originally intended or changing them into a more useful material or item. Creativity is key. And personally,the fact that people will again be forced to become very creative is one of the things that excites me most about the apocalypse!
To get a few ideas lets look at a group of people who live in something very much like a post-apocalyptic nightmare, the often persecuted but endlessly creative Coptic Christians called the Zabbaleen of the mega-city Cairo, Egypt. The Zabbaleen, are perhaps the worlds most adept recyclers. They go door to door with small pickups and donkey pulled carts down tight alleys where garbage trucks cannot go and collect trash for a nominal fee. Then they take it home and have pigs sort through it to remove all the organic material. Once the pigs are done the Zabbaleen sort through the trash and collect useful items and raw materials. Some of it is smelted down or shredded in small scale machines and some of it is put to new uses. Crafts and useful items are then made with the harvested materials. Most of their income comes from what they get out of the garbage, not the small fee they charge for pick-up.
Through this distributed micro-capitalist system the Zabbaleen acheive an amazing 80% recycling efficiency as compared to the 20-25% achieved by big western corporate recyclers. Certainly there are some negative aspects to their lifestyle, but you have to admire their creativity and tenacity to survive in a world where they suffer constant assaults by a sometimes hostile muslim majority that doesn’t care much for their pig system and a neoliberal crony business environment that keeps pressing on the Egyptian Government to steal the Zabbaleen marketshare by force. We can certainly learn a lot from these folks, and we shouldbecause our lifestyle may one day end up resembling their’s far more than we would like to imagine!
So let’s try an exercise. Go outside look around, and every object you see, be it a rock, a piece of broken glass, a junked car, an old sofa or a dead animal, try to think of at least three different ways you could recycle that item. For example, a broken toaster could be fixed. It could be made into a mirror. The heating element could be removed and positioned between a high-temperature resistant insulator(maybe a flat stone or a piece of ceramic) and a conductor (maybe the metal wall of the toaster) to make a hot-plate. The possibilities are endless, especially if you are willing to make a small investment in equipment to form your own micro-recycling business.
The point is to start thinking this way before you have to. If you do this, you’ll have a huge advantage when your normal 9 to 5 paycheck is gone and the business of survival becomes very real. Recycling could very well be your niche in a post-apocalyptic economy!
Flash forward a few years. The Zombie Apocalypse has come and gone. And you are still alive. Surrounded by billions of rotting corpses, the barrel of your rifle still smoking.
What to do, what to do? What to do with all those headshot corpses? Shouldn’t they be put to some sort of use?
What can one do with a dead zombie? How can it’s rotting corpse help you?
The answer my friend is soil.
Everyone is dead, the supermarkets have been looted bare and your personal stockpile will be running out in a year or so. Your life now depends on the richness of the soil, and as a good gardener you know that any and all biomass is valuable as a soil amendment if handled in the right way.
Compost comes to mind. But you know that composting meat is not without its problems. To make it happen well you’ve really got to chop that stuff up and mix it with other decaying matter to make certain that the composting process doesn’t go anaerobic, that is “get unbearably stinky”. Plus you’ve also got to deal with the problem of bio-hazard leach-ates potentially contaminating your water supply. Ick! These sons of bitches used to be humans after-all, well, consumers anyway, but that’s close enough to human to harbor communicable diseases. It’s a damned slow process too, could be two years before you can use it.
Personally, I’m just going to say no to this task. No way in HELL am I going to chop up dead zombie corpses mix them with sawdust and woodchips (Which I’m going to have to haul in from somewhere, another problem), and worse STIR the bastards periodically!!!! No WAY!
When I see a dead zombie there are only two things I want to do with it.
1. Burn it.
2. Piss in its face.
Fortunately there is something we can do with the zombie corpses that allows us to do both of these things AND put the resulting product to use as a safe and useable soil amendment.
We’re going to turn these bastards into Charcoal, or BioChar in Tree-hugger speak. Charcoal can make an outstanding soil amendment provided it is combined first with moisture and nitrogen. If you don’t do this it can suck the nutrients out of the surrounding soil like a Bankster on a pension fund. However, properly “inoculated” it holds moisture, and prevents fertilizing nutrients from being washed through the soil to where the roots of your plants can’t get at them as well it provides an ideal habitat for soil building microbes. It’s good stuff, and some of the richest soils on earth i.e. the “Terra Preta” soils of the Amazon were man-made this way. The interesting part though, is that the improvement to the soil is permanent, unlike the temporary benefits of compost and fertilizers.
So here’s what we’re going to do. Grab Grandma, and the corpse of your cottage cheese gulping fat-ass cousin Bubba and take them to a windy spot downwind of your home. You’re also going to need two steel barrels one larger than the other, a few firebricks, some wood and a stove pipe.
Pop a hatchet into the spine of your dearly deceased flesh eating family to break the rigor mortis that has set in. This will allow you to fold them in half and drop them ass first into your barrel.
Now poke a few holes into the bottom of the barrel that you’re going to stuff the corpse into. This is to allow the hot gasses to escape. Some of these gasses will include methane which is highly flammable. Directing it out of the bottom is going to give you the opportunity to burn that gas and up the temperature of the process even more giving you more efficient ZombieChar production.
Next you’ll want to put a few holes into the sides near the bottom of the bigger barrel. Set a couple of fire-bricks in the bottom of the large barrel. You’re going to set the smaller barrel on top of these and they will allow air and the flammable zombie gasses to flow underneath the smaller barrel.
Now cut a hole the size of your stove pipe into the lid of the large barrel. You’ll besetting the stove pipe on top of this hole to create a draught. That is a chimney affect that will increase the speed and intensity of combustion.
Stuff Grandma or your fat-ass cousin in the smaller barrel (if he’ll fit) and load the smaller barrel into the large one on top of the firebricks. Fill whatever loose space remains with either other zombie parts or any biomass like wood or weeds that can also be made into charcoal and seal up the smaller barrel.
Pack the area between the two barrels with firewoodthen light it up.
Put the lid on the large barrel and then put the stovepipe into place.
It’s going to smoke quite a bit for the first 30 minutes or so while the zombie corpses dry out, so you’ll want to stay upwind, but pretty soon that smoke will clear up and the burn process will get good and hot.
3 or 4 hours later you’re done and Grandma is now charcoal!!!
Now let’s put her blackened crumbly limbs to work growing zucchini!
First thing you need to do is crush the ZombieChar. The more surface area the BioChar has the more easily the microbes that make nutrients available to soil can move in and set up shop.
Next you need to piss in Grandma’s face! Yep, urine is super high in nitrogen and is one of the best ways to “inoculate” that BioChar with the nitrogen and moisture it needs to be a good soil amendment. So drop that zipper and get to work!
Now you simply mix the material into the soil. 10% by mass is generally considered to be the optimal level of biochar to soil. That’s a little tricky to figure out since the charcoal is so light, but if you go by volume, i.e. bucketful or so. A mixture of 1/3 biochar. 1/3 regular compost and 1/3 native soil will likely make for some rich gardening dirt.
Not a bad process at all!
Sure there are other ways out there of handling composting of meat that would work for zombies. Vermiculture (worms) comes to mind, but this is by far the easiest, most rapidly rewarding and emotionally satisfying method of useful zombie corpse disposal that I can think of. And it is especially useful in places where the soil is too porous and needs a moisture holding amendment like biochar!
I think the toughest part of dealing with the fast approaching Zombie Apocalypse is coping with our own Pre-Zombie behavior. That is to say, while we aren’t out literally performing cannibalistic acts, we arecannibalizing ourselves in a way. We cannibalize our ability to prepare and survive.
Just like Zombies we are compelled to do things that are inherently anti-necessary for our own survival. Zombies don’t NEED to eat human flesh. They don’t ever die, and the flesh munching doesn’t revitalize them. While it’s true that it helps them reproduce, how necessary is reproduction to a life form that never dies anyhow? You’d think they could just eat a person once in a rare while to keep their numbers up, replacing those hit by busses or shot by drunken hunters mistaking them for deer. But they don’t, they eat as many people as they possibly can and because of this, humans will inevitably try to annihilate every last one of their species rather than finding some quasi-happy medium like we do with Great White Sharks and Grizzly Bears.
Now I am thinking of one anti-necessary thing in particular that we do as humans preparing for the inevitable and fast approaching Zombie Apocalypse and that is shopping. It has been so deeply engrained in our modern culture that we can’t help it. It is like we are being compelled by a dark and sinister force deep within our own being to buy crap that we don’t need in order to feel whole. Of course we don’t feel more complete when we buy unnecessary crap, not at all, we just have a new set of problems like where to put the newly purchased stuff, how to maintain it, how to pay for the interest expense arising from its purchase, how to protect it from theft, and on and on. If we’re feeling incomplete it probably has something to do with the breakdown of first the tribal structure then the extended family and then the destruction of even the nuclear family, leaving us feeling empty and alone. Buying stuff cannot fill that hole in our lives, so let’s not kid ourselves. But I am digressing a bit. The point is, every dollar you spend on some impulse buy, or a “want” buy diminishes your ability to put your dollars to work SAVING YOUR GODDAMNED LIFE.
Relax, I’m probably just about as bad at this as millions of other festering, fiscally irresponsible Americans, however I have come up with a few strategies to help put the dollars that I just can’t hold onto into things that stand a chance of helping me survive when the Z-shit has hit the fan.
So since I’ve identified that I have a problem I decided to come up with a plan. My plan was not to stop the shopping, not to fight the urge, although I try to as much as possible, but to work within certain budget limitations putting the dollars I would spend anyway into useful tangible goods, and in some cases services (such as taking a Wilderness Medicine course (i.e. “Wilderness First Responder”)) The first thing I did was to realign my perception of what I would like to buy by asking the question, “How does this thing help me when Zombies start ambling down the street eating the afternoon commuters.” Quickly I lost interest in cool clothes, expensive cars and iPhones. A good start! However, I started developing an obsession with really expensive knives, machetes, axes, and things that go boom.
Also a problem…
So the next step was to start asking the question, “Is this thing going to give me the best bang for my buck in regards to being prepared to survive a prolonged Zombie Onslaught.” Looking around and seeing that I own six bowie knives that cost 200 plus dollars each but only a couple months supply of very cheap rice and beans and no good means by which to cook them when I could have diverted a fraction of the bowie knife funds to food storage and had a year’s supply of food stashed away with money left over, left me doubting my situation. So it was time to take stock of things, really figure out how I see the Z-pocalypse playing out and working up some plans for dealing with it.
So I started putting together several rough and flexible plans by answering a few simple questions.
What did I need to hunker down where I am?
What did I need to get out of Dodge in my vehicle?
What did I need to get home safely if vehicles stopped working?
What did I need if I had to “bug out” on foot?
What skills did I need to spend time and money learning?
Not being one for focus I thought it would be best to get cracking on all of these more or less simultaneously striving to get a minimum level of acceptability across the board. That gives me something to work towards, and when I feel like I have the minimum survival supplies for each scenario covered, then I can start to polish, refine and improve each strategy with more and better gear, take advanced critical skills courses, read more books, etc.
This way I’m not fighting the Pre-Zombie symptomatic urge to BUY, BUY, BUY that we’ve all been so deeply infected with, instead I’m taking that assaulting energy and in a deft aikido like move, redirecting it to inflict a powerful blow against my enemy, death.
I’m still blowing money that maybe I aught to be saving for a rural piece of land with lots of wild game and a big garden, but I justify it to myself by arguing that if I devoted all my money to saving for some future goal then a hyperinflation struck and wiped out all of my savings, or if the Z-pocalypse came fast and early I would have wasted that cash resource, saving it and never using it. Life is a balancing act and so is preparing to survive the Zombie Apocalypse. Good luck!
That said, if you do still happen to have a little extra cash on hand, you may want to check out some of our Zombie Apocalypse Gifts and Attire at the new The End Is Here store! Oh the irony!!!
I have found over the years that there is a lot of information on the Internet about axes, yet very few of the people writing about them have any real experience in working with them. With the Zombie Apocalypse nearly upon us I feel it is high time to solve this issue.
I have spent the last four years of my life living and working in designated Wilderness areas in the Rocky Mountains where motorized equipment (chainsaws) are not allowed, falling trees, building log bridges, clearing trail, etc, all with crosscut saw and axe, and it would be fair to say that I’ve learned more than a little about axes since then, particularly given that they are something I’m very interested in in general anyhow. Of course I won’t have the time or gumption to share everything I know here about axes, it would take a full book to do so but I can give a good primer for folks who are new to the axe ( or ax depending on your spelling preference ).
First off it’s best to ask why you think you need an axe? Axes are specialty tools, one axe will not fit all your needs, though some are more versatile than others, there will always be sacrifices to be made. Do you need to split firewood, buck (that is chop through logs), fall trees, hew logs (flatten out surfaces for building), limb trees, split kindling or cut off the heads of thousands of the maurading undead?
Think about this seriously, it’s important when the axe meets your wallet.
Splitting Axes and Mauls
The first thing people ask when they learn about peak oil or come to believe some other sort of apocalypse is upon us is “Should I buy an axe?” then “What kind?” So try to think through what you think is the worst case scenario in the future you envision, chances are a chainsaw may suit you better. Really even an EMP attack won’t make a chainsaw not work and they use so little fuel even in a major scarcity you aught to be able to aquire enough to cut your firewood. You just might not be able to drive to the gas station to pick it up.
A splitting axe / maul and some splitting wedges on the other hand is probably the most likely tool that you’re going to need, the need to split firewood to heat your home, assuming firewood is available is a real possibility.
This also is the easiest axe to purchase. Every hardware store sells some cheap piece of crap with thick, obtuse edges that will accomplish this task. Look for a long handle 35 inches or so. It’s safer (goes into the dirt instead of your shins when you miss your mark and gives you more power for dealing with the notty stuff.
A neat trick for splitting firewood that I’ve seen is mounting an old tire on top of your splitting stump into which you place the logs to be split (yep you can fill it up not just split one at a time) and instead of the wood falling off onto the ground after each blow and needing to be reset, it stays in place on end in the tire and can be split over and over until you have it split to your specs. A bonus is that the axe handle hits the tire and stops the bit from going into your splitting stump and destroying it. Your stump will last for years this way instead of maybe for a cord or two depending on your firewood type.
Now of course I just said that any old piece of crap will split firewood, which is true, especially if you sharpen it and apply large amounts of force, but the best splitters start out thin at the cutting edge and quickly and smoothly taper to a thick obtuse angle. Check out the Gransfors Bruk splitting mauls / splitting axes if you want the best. I’ve used these, and found them to be superlative, though a bit pricey of a tool to solve a problem that a $35 hardware store maul will solve.
Also don’t forget your splitting wedges and make sure you have some sort of heavy sledge hammer (5lbs plus) to drive them with when you have to split rounds that are large in diameter, any axe or maul is likely to get stuck in big rounds if the type of wood you have doesn’t readily split from the outside of the log round working in. Bucking and Falling Axes
Axes intended for bucking (chopping) and falling tend to be similar and are largely interchangeable in nature. I would, however, caution against using a axe with a head heavier than 4lbs for falling. It is an order of magnitude more physically challenging to swing an axe horizontally with good accuracy than to swing down with one and as such a lighter head will make your work much less punishing. I also recommend a longer handle as it is safer for falling work. Glancing blows when you’re working at waist level or above are ueber scary. I like a 2.5 to 3.5 pound axe head on a 35″ handle for falling trees.
As far as bucking with an axe goes, there is very little reason to base your choice of axe on this action as it is generally more efficient to use a crosscut saw to buck larger diameter logs, both in terms of energy spent and amount of wood wasted. Only if you work on a trail crew or are into competition axe racing would you likely need something geared towards axe bucking. That said a 3.5lb double bit axe with a 35″ handle works very well for this task. Keep one bit sharp and filed acutely for the bulk of the work and then when you are about to finish your chopping flip the axe around and use the other bit that you keep a more obtuse (and thus more rugged) edge on in case your final blow goes into the dirt or strikes a rock. You won’t damage your sharp acute edge this way.
Single bit versus double bits… While in many cases a single bit axe can outperform a double bit, the difference is marginal. A single bit has the benefit of being able to pound falling wedges (use plastic or even better magnesium wedges, but avoid steel as it can damage your axe), but you don’t have the benefit of having the second more obtuse cutting edge that you can use when working around rocks or other places where you might damage your axe.
Personally I find a 35″ 3.5lb double bit axe to be the most versatile axe out there and thus chose it for much of my backcountry work. The major drawback is that to get a good one you’re going to have to pay out the yin yang or find a vintage axe head at a garage sale and re-hang it with a good handle.
A good alternative would be the Iltis Ochsenkopf (or oxhead) 2.5lb falling axe with a 35″ handle. It is a European design so it may look a bit strange with it’s belled out bit, but I can assure you it is a fine tool, the only downside is that you may, as I have, find the handle to be uncomfortably thick, so you may end up re-hanging it or at least filing it down with a wood rasp to get a thinner more ergonomic grip. This company makes double bit axes as well, but they don’t really float my boat as the design is a bit to unconventional for my tastes.
A note on axe head weight. You may have seen some of the massive axes in the lumberjack competitions. These beasts are impressive tools indeed but super highly specialized for working for just a minute or two. The extremely strong lumberjack racers who only have to work for a minute, instead of all day will chose axes from 5 to 8 pounds in head weight. These heavy axes will wear even the most massive of lumberjacks out in short order so they really aren’t practical for actual WORK. Avoid them unless you’re looking to compete for show.
Limbing is one area where a competent and experienced axeman can still outperform most people running a chainsaw. Don’t believe me? Drop me a line if you’re in my neighborhood and we’ll race for cash.
When it comes to limbing, a falling or bucking axe performs well and if you are strong can even be preferable but for most people it will be to their advantage to acquire a more maneuveable 28 – 30″ axe with a head around 2.5lbs. Your aim will be better with the smaller axe. If you want something new, I would recommend the Gransfors Bruk Scandinavian Forest Axe for an excellent limbing axe , they are fine hand forged tools that take an exceedingly strong edge, hold it and don’t chip, otherwise shop for a vintage American head and re-hang it with the right length handle. Remember to stand on the opposite side of the log that you are limbing whenever possible for safety. A shorter axe is often more dangerous because a glancing blow is more likely to go into your leg than the dirt, but what you gain in controllability with the smaller axe often offsets the danger. It’s all about having the right tool for the job!
I’m not going to get into specialized axes here or I’d never finish writing this article and you’d never finish reading it. There are many, including axes for hewing, cutting sod, short handled light weight double bit cruiser axes etc. These all have a place but unless you’re seriously into primitive cabin building or have a highly specialized job like a tree climber / arborist, they should probably be avoided as they often require learning a specific technique for a specific task. Generally speaking you can perform most of these specialized tasks relatively well with a regular bucking or falling axe.
Axes for Killing Zombies
Ah, the Zombie Axe! This is what you’ve been waiting for. First off, Kudus for realizing that an axe is a superior zombie slaying device to the ubiquitous machete. Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for machetes especially after having lived in the Jungles of South America, they are phenomonal tools under the correct circumstances, and a great hand-to-hand weapon against humans, however, when it comes to the maurading undead, you’re going to need more penetration than a machete offers, a machete’s strength is in its shearing action, especially when employing the pinch grip, whereas an axe’s strength lies in its force over area or pounds per square inch (PSI). An axe can sever a head or penetrate a skull. You just can’t do that as easily with a machete, particularly penetrating a skull.
So, the strength of the axe being recognized, what then is going to make an axe a good zombie slaying weapon. The answer is SPEED! A heavy axe is more than likely going to be too slow and too inaccurate when swung not only above the waist but above shoulder level. It’s really hard to swing an axe at that height, especially when you have to do so with accuracy over and over again. I know, I’ve had to do it to fall trees on steep slopes where my face cut was above shoulder level. It was exceedingly difficult. So the type of axe that benefits us the most here is going to be one with a light head and comparitively long handle.
I’ll take my 2.5lb Iltis ochsenkopf falling axe, but mind you, I AM a pro. A limbing axe might be OK too, but I would highly recommend that you look into a tomahawk. Long handle, light narrow bit = fast swinging high PSI weapon. A tomahawk is also highly portable and many include a hammer poll on one end which may even be a preferable weapon when you want to crack a skull but not risk getting the bit stuck in said undead cranium. Sure a tomahawk can’t sever a head in one blow, but it can easily sever the spine. Contrary to popular belief, Zombies can be paralyzed too, severing the spine is an excellent way to disable a ghoul. You can also take away it’s iPhone for an equally devastating blow. Imagine what you could do to an iPad with a tomahawk!!!
I recommend the Cold Steel Trailhawk as an economical weapon. However if you want the best edged weapon money can buy, I can recommend Custom Tool designer Mike Gapp’s custom Tomahawks Equinox Coronado . He can put together a long super tough composite handled custom profiled weapon that you will serve you exceedingly well should the hordes of undead rise and take to the streets.
If however, after all this the equinox coronado hawks are still a bit out of your price range and you still prefer a machete, or, and I shudder, a sword to an axe or hawk, I would encourage you to compromise with a Ditch Bank, a wicked brush clearing tool that sports much thicker steel than a machete and a longer two handed handle. Long enough to gain enough force to sever heads easily if the edge is well maintained. Ugly but effective, and still can do double duty in actual work.
Now a few technical notes to wrap it up:
Selecting a good wooden handle
When chosing an axe handle you want straight grain that runs parallel to the head of the axe. To see this you’re going to want to look in two places one, the end of the handle opposite the head and two in the eye of the axe head. If the grain runs in the right right direction (towards the cutting axe and not perpendicular to the cutting edge) then you are half way there. Next you’re going to want to make sure it is good hardwood. It should be ash or hickory, and the grain should be tight. Bigger spaces between the grain often indicate a handle that is less strong. It is probably best if the handle is NOT coated with a clear lacquer. If it is, that is OK, you’re just going to want to sand it off when you get it home and then rub the sanded handle down with linseed oil, try not to buy “boiled” linseed as that just means they’ve added some seriously harsh toxic chemicals to make it dry faster. You don’t need to be soaking that into your skin. As far as fiberglass or the yellow pastic handles go, one word, Don’t.
Uhg… Sharpening is almost another book unto itself, but you’re going to want to have a large mill bastard file for when you’ve chipped the hell out of your axe or if you want to customize the profile, and also a round axe stone for when the edge just needs touching up. This is going to take some practice so I highly recommend you find someone who is experienced in sharpening with a stone and file and get them to SHOW you. If they use a bench grinder immediately stop listening to them, you can do a lot of damage to an axe in very short order with a grinder including, in extreme cases, ruining the temper on the axe rendering it garbage. Don’t do it.
One final note, if you are a total bum and just want an all around axe that is going to survive your being exceedingly abusive to it, spare a fine tool like the Gransfors or Iltis axes from your abuse and get yourself an Estwing, it will serve you well and nobody is gonna cry if you do bad things to it.
Anyhow, I realize the limitations of this article but I hope I’ve given you a good starting point from which to learn more about the axe and make your first purchase if you still think you need one. There is much to learn. So don’t be shy, ask questions in the comments section below, If they’re reasonable, I’ll be happy to answer. But bear in mind I’m busy preparing for the onslought myself so be patient if it takes some time for me to get back to you.
Cheers! And on the field of Zombie Battle, let us show them our hearts and then show them theirs!!!