Lee Valley Tools Woodworking Newsletter
Vol. 2, Issue 2
November 2007
 
From the Collection
 

Grab Skippers, Grab Mauls and Log Dogs

 
Assorted logging tools


Innovative as they may have been, early logging tools proved incredibly labor-intensive. After trees were felled and limbed, logs had to be taken to a mill for processing. Particularly in small operations, the logs were dragged or floated out of the forest to where more efficient means of conveyance could be used. Those may have been sleds, trucks, railroad flat cars or a larger waterway where the logs could be floated, either individually or joined together as rafts.

Initially, either horses or oxen did the dragging. Loggers later used specialized tractors or overhead draglines, depending on the situation. To drag a large log, a noose-like loop of chain or cable was fastened around it. For smaller logs, a tong-like device was used. Both intensified the grip on the log as the tension increased.

If the logs were in water, a common connection method for dragging smaller logs was to drive a heavy fastener into the ends of them. These fasteners, called dogs, log dogs or grabs, were then bound together with chains or cables. Logs were eventually made into a raft, which was then floated to the mill. Mechanized logging operations now use heavy equipment to drag or even lift the logs to staging areas, or onto trucks or rail cars.

Loggers used heavy striking tools, such as traditional mauls or specialized tools called grab mauls, to pound the dogs and grabs into the logs. Grab mauls with end spikes could be jammed into a log and readily located again when needed. This didn't work well with a regular maul, especially out on the water. Extraction was done with a pry bar or a combination tool called a grab skipper. Some grab skippers had an axe on the opposite end of the head, while others had a maul head and a spike.

 

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