There’s something about wrapping your digits around a machete that just makes you want to wield it through the brush like you were on a mission to discover the lost tribes of the Congo. This isn’t a hi-tech tool with a laser sighting system and an electric motor. The motor that powers this piece of equipment is the muscles in your arm that fire at your will, and in doing so, create the original hi-tech weapon. The WOODMAN’S PAL is a throwback to one of man’s original tools, and maybe the urge to put it to work is instinctive to all of us. The connection can’t be denied and we decided to pay a visit to the factory where one of man’s earliest tools is honed to perfection today.
THE TOOL MAKERS
It was a beautiful, clear spring day when we hit the highway headed for the town of Pottstown, Pennsylvania. The town of Pottstown is your average small town nestled into the rolling hills and farms of PA Dutch Amish country. As horse drawn buggies and fields of corn give way to the town of Pottstown, the factory sits in an industrial park very near the Sly Fox Brewery, a well-known microbrewery in the area. We made a mental note to pay a visit there on the way back!
As we arrived, we were greeted by Mark Scheifley, factory owner, and he was proud to explain that the Woodman’s Pal has been around since 1941. Along the way, their signature tool has been to battle with the U.S. Military, has fought fires in the west, cleared the dense jungle on expeditions to discover ancient ruins and civilizations, been a rescue tool for law enforcement, and closer to home, carved trails for off-road riders. Clearly the Woodman’s Pals’ merits are many and its uses are multi-purpose. It can be used for land-clearing as a machete, axe, hatchet, a survival tool, and much more. Scheifley was also proud to point out that every Woodman’s Pal is Made in the USA, right in Pottstown PA.
TRAIL CLEARING EXPEDITION
Last fall we had an opportunity to put our Woodman’s Pal to work clearing underbrush for a new trail and campsite in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We waded into the brush and quickly opened up a long unused path that would be the drive to our camp site. The Woodman’s Pal did a great job on the brush and pretty much everything under an inch in size. For larger branches you might need a couple swings, but the blade maintained its edge, and we were especially fond of the secure grip and protective knuckle guard. As with any tool though, you want to be VERY aware of what you are cutting. Keep everything you don’t intend to cut – and by this we mean you and your work buddies’ fingers, arms, and legs - well clear of the work area. Also, avoid glancing blows to the brush which could redirect your attack into soft flesh. Contrary to popular belief, most significant others DON’T dig scars, blood, or trips to the emergency room!
As a tool for clearing trails or underbrush, we highly recommend the Woodman’s Pal to ATV Clubs, campers, and anyone with acreage to maintain. We’ve also used ours to tidy up some landscaping long overdue for a trim. ProTool Industries not only manufactures the Woodman’s Pal, but they also have a high quality line of utility tools such as fire and brush axes, sheers, saws, lopping shears and their own line of tool care accessories. If you place your order factory direct, they’ll even laser engrave your name on it for free, and since there will be a long line of people ready to “borrow” it, this is a very good idea!
The factory tour took us several hours as we watched the Woodman’s Pal being made from the very beginning steps down to the complete finished product. We have to say, there is something nostalgic and truly commendable for a product to be made by hand right here in the USA! The Woodman’s Pal is also one of those tools we always want to have along on any expedition or long trail ride. You never know when you might need it! It’s one of man’s original tools, and thanks to ProTool, it’s better than ever!
Special thanks to Mark Scheifley and Friends at ProTool!