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There are probably larger mattocks to be had, but I’VE never seen one. This mattock came from the oilfields of Volcano, West Virginia, and belonged to one of my dad’s elderly half-first cousins. Despite being the largest mattock that I’ve ever seen, Lyss, the man who used it, was just a small fellow, maybe 150 pounds in his prime, but probably less. He was tough as whit leather, though.
The area around Volcano is all hill and holler, with hardly a level spot to be found. So, if you wanted a level spot, for a well-site, a house or an out-building, you made it with mattocks, picks and shovels. Maybe that’s why a lot of buildings (and oil derricks) in that area were set on stilts and pilings. I’d originally thought that I was going to give this mattock to my stepson, but I decided to keep it for now; I’ve got a lighter one that I’ll give him, since I’m probably more likely to have need of the heavier one.
This mattock has stood in the basement for several years, the large end of the handle resting on a brick with a board atop it, so the handle wouldn’t wick moisture from the concrete floor and go soft on me from dry rot. I finally fit it up today.
As you can see, I didn’t have to do a lot of work to get the blade seated. The handle measures 36” overall, but I’ll cut it off just above where the paint ends, rather than do the rasping required to take it farther up the handle. Years-old hickory is nearly as hard as iron, so I’ll simply avoid the effort. Considering that I did the fitting on my truck tailgate in the Chinamart parking lot, I had no power tools available. Cutting where I mentioned will still leave enough room for it to wear for many years before it nears the large end of the handle. Mattock handles rarely go bad from being wore out, but from abuse and neglect.
The main blade is four inches wide at the cutting edge; I didn’t measure the “axe” blade. From cutting edge to cutting edge, though, it measures 16-1/2 inches. I forgot to weigh the head alone, but with the handle as is, it weighs just barely over seven pounds. I figure once I trim the end and rasp it smooth, it will be seven pounds even.