Author Topic: Looking for a hatchet  (Read 811 times)

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Offline gregory_d

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Looking for a hatchet
« on: December 24, 2019, 11:33:15 PM »
First post gents, and thanks for letting me join.
Long story short.
I've never had much use for an axe or hatchet (I've always carried a saw) but now I'm in the market for a hatchet and I'm not sure what direction to go in. Of course, I did my research first and that's exactly what brought me here. Still, there are too many brands, and I'd like to narrow down my options before pulling the trigger. Currently I'm eyeing Husqvarna, Council tool but I'm open to any suggestions as well.
I usually do lightweight backpacking, but it doesn't mean that axe has to be terribly lightweight - I rarely go more than a couple miles on foot. Wood handle, not plastic. As for usage - I need an axe for processing wood mostly, also wood carving (in the future) so I guess it should be multipurpose. Budget is about $150.
And thanks in advance.

Gregory
Never regret. If it's good, it's wonderful. If it's bad, it's experience.
― Victoria Holt

Offline Alan R McDaniel Jr

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Re: Looking for a hatchet
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2019, 06:51:18 AM »
When I was 8, which was some time back, I collected pop bottles and saved the 2 cents I got from each one until I had the necessary $14 for the "Collins" Hudson Bay Axe from Herters.  I still have it.  It is light enough and although not quite a hatchet, it is also not nearly an axe. 

Other opinions may vary, but I really find a hatchet to be of little use except as a mallet to drive tent stakes.  For wood chopping a hatchet has a greater likelihood of creating a "First Aid" situation than anything else.

Alan

Offline wsdstan

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Re: Looking for a hatchet
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2019, 12:31:57 PM »
Agreed greyhound.  Hatchets are iffy in my hands unless it is just splitting small pieces into smaller pieces. 

I have found the most useful thing is a small axe like a boy's axe such as one of these:

https://www.amazon.com/Husqvarna-26-Wooden-Multi-Purpose-Axe/dp/B004WJGXAQ/ref=pd_cp_86_2/147-6783942-2844229?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B004WJGXAQ&pd_rd_r=2e2a574d-be35-4cf3-bb44-1cf4b4e0269f&pd_rd_w=LJXDB&pd_rd_wg=nqnGI&pf_rd_p=0e5324e1-c848-4872-bbd5-5be6baedf80e&pf_rd_r=9M1TYD25X46GNGVFT14Z&psc=1&refRID=9M1TYD25X46GNGVFT14Z

or this one:

https://www.amazon.com/Council-Tool-Wood-Craft-Hickory-Handle/dp/B01F442H8E/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=council+tool+boys+axe&qid=1577297697&s=lawn-garden&sr=1-5

There are other brands too, like Gransfors Bruk or Snow and Nealy.  Snow and Nealy axes are made in China but the heat treat is done here.  A fellow I know has one and it isn't bad.  Your budget is adequate to get a wide range of good ones gregory_d so you should be able to find one perfect for your use. 

Dabberty knows a lot about axes as do several others on this forum so hopefully they will see this an post a reply.  I have been using a couple of American made axes the last few years and they work pretty well for what I am doing; which is limbing cut trees and splitting small pieces into kindling. I don't carve so I have no thoughts on what works best for that activity.
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns  something he can learn in no other way. 
(Mark Twain)

Offline Alan R McDaniel Jr

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Re: Looking for a hatchet
« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2019, 08:08:45 PM »
This is my Collins Hudson Bay Axe and a Sweden hatchet.





Alan
« Last Edit: December 25, 2019, 08:14:50 PM by Alan R McDaniel Jr »

Offline Alan R McDaniel Jr

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Re: Looking for a hatchet
« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2019, 08:19:26 PM »
Probably the most important thing you can do with any axe, hatchet or edged tool is to keep it sharp.  A sharp axe is a joy to work with.  A dull one is a PITA.  Keep the blade out of the dirt and let the edge do the cutting not the power of the swing.  It takes very little time to dress the edge on an axe and that time is more than made up in work done with a sharp axe.

Alan

Offline Dabberty

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Re: Looking for a hatchet
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2019, 01:21:02 AM »
Well, that all depends a bit what your intended use for it is, and which area you live in.
In my part of Europe, it's not common to take a full size axe on a camping/bushcraft trip.
On the sort of trips I do, just gathering wood from the ground like broken of branches is enough for an evening fire.
If we want a big fire or all night fire, we take down a dead standing one.
For this a hatched is more then enough. To be honest, a good knife and a saw is enough.
One of these 2 axes I usually take with me.
Top one is a 21 inch, 1.7 lbs modified hatchet.
Bottom one is a 16 inch, 1.2 lbs modified hatchet.

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Offline gregory_d

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Re: Looking for a hatchet
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2019, 12:10:20 AM »
First of all thanks for your wisdom, folks!

Other opinions may vary, but I really find a hatchet to be of little use except as a mallet to drive tent stakes.  For wood chopping a hatchet has a greater likelihood of creating a "First Aid" situation than anything else.

Alan

That's a nice one, Alan, thanks for sharing! Nice equipment. How much do they weigh?
I was thinking about this recently, also reading your comments and forum, and now I'm leaning towards switching to an axe. I believe it's all about personal preferences, still I don't have an opportunity to test and compare these two types in woods.

Agreed greyhound.  Hatchets are iffy in my hands unless it is just splitting small pieces into smaller pieces. 

I have found the most useful thing is a small axe like a boy's axe such as one of these:

https://www.amazon.com/Husqvarna-26-Wooden-Multi-Purpose-Axe/dp/B004WJGXAQ/ref=pd_cp_86_2/147-6783942-2844229?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B004WJGXAQ&pd_rd_r=2e2a574d-be35-4cf3-bb44-1cf4b4e0269f&pd_rd_w=LJXDB&pd_rd_wg=nqnGI&pf_rd_p=0e5324e1-c848-4872-bbd5-5be6baedf80e&pf_rd_r=9M1TYD25X46GNGVFT14Z&psc=1&refRID=9M1TYD25X46GNGVFT14Z

or this one:

https://www.amazon.com/Council-Tool-Wood-Craft-Hickory-Handle/dp/B01F442H8E/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=council+tool+boys+axe&qid=1577297697&s=lawn-garden&sr=1-5

There are other brands too, like Gransfors Bruk or Snow and Nealy.  Snow and Nealy axes are made in China but the heat treat is done here.  A fellow I know has one and it isn't bad.  Your budget is adequate to get a wide range of good ones gregory_d so you should be able to find one perfect for your use. 

Dabberty knows a lot about axes as do several others on this forum so hopefully they will see this an post a reply.  I have been using a couple of American made axes the last few years and they work pretty well for what I am doing; which is limbing cut trees and splitting small pieces into kindling. I don't carve so I have no thoughts on what works best for that activity.


I guess finding the perfect one is almost impossible considering that it would be the first axe in my collection, and it's still trial and errors. Let's say - my reservation are more about longevity. And of course I don't want a tool to fail on me in a situation where I need it. 
Been eyeing Council tool, as it has very nice reviews but it doesn't speak to me for some reason. Still leaning toward this option as it's size is about what I am looking for - not quite a hatchet, still smaller than an average axe and USA made. Though it's heavier than Husqvarna that you've linked to, which is confusing to me. Because of the handle?
Also, I heard that swedish steel is better in quality than others. Is that really so? Some amazon comments mention that Council tool's steel is way too soft, but as for Husqvarna - way too much complaints about manufacturing defects.

Probably the most important thing you can do with any axe, hatchet or edged tool is to keep it sharp.  A sharp axe is a joy to work with.  A dull one is a PITA.  Keep the blade out of the dirt and let the edge do the cutting not the power of the swing.  It takes very little time to dress the edge on an axe and that time is more than made up in work done with a sharp axe.

Alan

As for keeping it sharp, also wanted to ask - do you have any recommendations, just in case? And what's your preferred methods for sharpening?
Once again, thanks, and stay safe in the wild.

Gregory
Never regret. If it's good, it's wonderful. If it's bad, it's experience.
― Victoria Holt

Offline Dabberty

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Re: Looking for a hatchet
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2019, 06:03:39 AM »
On hiking trips I never have something to sharpen with, cause the axe is not much used.
When out chopping wood, i usually have a doubleaided sandstone, 180x1200 grit, sometimes also a small file.

But there are so many different ways, it is indeed trial and error to find out what you like.
Example, lot of people prefer the puck sanding stone, i absolutly hate it for no real reason.
Go ahead, try something out, and let us know when you find what sooths you :-)
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: Looking for a hatchet
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2019, 07:07:03 AM »
  Suggestions are usually too subjective (what did he say ???),  most often when you ask what's the best what ever, you'll get a variety of answers that likely don't include much thought about your specific needs but rather reflects more on the favorite whatever of the person offering the suggestion.
  My answer to your question will not be much different,  you mentioned three clues for your need for carrying a hand axe,  the first, most of your woods bumming is light weight back packing,  but you're not a distance hiker,  you expect to use it to process wood,  I'm assuming you're talking about firewood and possibly some light camp projects, and you intend to use it for carving,  these clues should point you in the direction of a reasonably small axe, say with a head weight of about 1-1/4#, and a handle length of about 12"~ 18 inches.
  Of course it also depends on the area you'll be hiking into, is it mostly hardwoods or softwoods, maybe a mix of both,  how's the availability of firewood and carving wood, is it easy to get or are you going to have to work for it (process big logs into more manageable pieces).
  If your somewhere in the middle then perhaps a heavier weight hand axe would be a bit better, one with a head weight of 1-1/4#~1-3/4 pounds on a handle about 18"~ 20 inches long and able to use two hands if needed.

  With a budget of about $150.00 you are not limiting yourself to hardware store budget minded axes, that's a good thing, most mid priced brands like Huskies, Snow & Neely, and Council Tool are a pretty good compromise between quality and price,  I've tried most of them and found them to be ok "if" you aren't particularly fussy about balance and handle size,  I am one of those fussy kind,  if it's not comfortable to use (even briefly) it's not for me,  I've pretty much settled on a few hatchet/axes that fit me perfectly,  two are Gransfors Bruks, the Wildlife axe and the Small Forest axe, which one I carry is dependent on my planed needs for that trip, my third favorite is a Hunter's axe I put together from a vintage Swedish forged head weighing about 1-3/4 pounds on a premium quality 24" figured hickory handle for those bigger camp chores.
 I have heavier weight axes on longer handles of course but my lumberjack days are way behind me, so, my suggestions are don't skimp on quality,  actually handle the axe before buying it to make sure it fits you, don't buy more axe than you need size wise, a good quality well balanced axes can usually be counted on to cut well way above it's weight class,  and don't discount vintage tools when you can find them in good shape, refurbishing and rehandling an axe can be fun and rewarding, there are quite a few gems still waiting to be found at yard sales, flee markets, and junk shops,  and there are several good handle makers still left around. 

 Good luck with your search.     
In youth we learn,   with age we understand.

Offline Alan R McDaniel Jr

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Re: Looking for a hatchet
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2020, 05:05:19 AM »
Greg, I don't know how much they weigh.  I know some folks count pounds and ounces but I seldom hike and when I do I don't carry an axe. 

As far as sharpening, I prefer a medium sized flat bastard file.  And, as was mentioned you won't want to carry the file either, so sharpening should be done prior to your camping trip. 

Really, in camp there are a lot of other things to do besides chop wood.  The axe is going to have limited use or perhaps none at all.

Alan