by Matthew Scott

When was the last time you purchased something you expected to last half a century, if not more? If you buy a Woodman’s Pal you may want to give it proper heirloom status and include it in your Last Will and Testament. These are tools intended to survive the suffering hard use of multiple generations, and endure that usage they have.

The Woodman’s pal is an oddity of cutlery. Part hatchet, part machete, they have the handle of a knife and the guard of a pirate’s cutlass. If that’s not bizarre enough, hanging off the end of the tool is a gnarly fang of a thing reminiscent of a sickle. In action, it swings effortlessly yet cleaves deep into anything it strikes. There was nothing like it before, and there’s been nothing like it since, making the Woodman’s Pal is a legend in its own right; a chopper without peer.

The storied legacy of the Woodman’s Pal goes back more than 70 years to 1941 when a Swiss immigrant in Pennsylvania by the name of Frederick Ehrsam first crafted the idea of a multi-purpose tool for the modern woodsman. Ten years in the making, the Woodman’s Pal was a marvel of design and quickly caught the attention of the US Army. Within months of final fabrication, the Woodman’s pal was pressed into government service and renamed the LC-14-B Jungle Fighting Knife. Issued to nearly every member of the Army Signal Core serving on remote islands of the South Pacific, it was put to use cutting thick vegetation from Guadalcanal to the Philippines. Long after the fighting had ended in WWII, this iconic cutter went to war again, this time in Southeast Asia. Shortened versions of the Woodman’s Pal were made to fit within the small confines of the survival kits positioned behind the seats of every Huey helicopter put into action over Vietnam. In fact, the Woodman’s Pal served right up to Desert Storm.

Today the Woodman’s Pal can be found where it was designed to be used, in the backcountry where wild thickets dare to be tamed. In hand, the Woodman’s Pal is a pleasure to hold, a thrill to swing, and a triumph of design and construction. Still made by a family-owned business in Pennsylvania, today’s Woodman’s Pal is exactly what Frederick Ehrsam wanted it to be, a trusted and valued tool fit for generations of hard and loyal service.

The Woodman’s Pal

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About the Author: Matthew Scott

Matthew Scott is a dedicated photographer, vintage car enthusiast, and regular contributor to Overland Journal. Growing up in Chicago in a family that valued “all things automotive” as much as exploring the region’s back roads, provided a solid platform for a career as an automotive journalist. He departed the Windy City in lieu of Prescott, Arizona, and the great open spaces and adventure opportunities of America’s Southwest. @matthewexplore