hatchet v. axe


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abominableSnowman
March 17, 2009, 07:02 PM
for a long term forest survival kit.
which one is best and why?

these are the choices: http://www.gransfors.com/htm_eng/index.html

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Hungry Seagull
March 17, 2009, 07:11 PM
Take them both. Axe to fell a tree and a axe to process that tree.

1KPerDay
March 17, 2009, 07:13 PM
Take them both. Axe to fell a tree and a axe to process that tree.:confused:

Gryffydd
March 17, 2009, 07:15 PM
I'd probably go with a hatchet and something to sharpen it with. You can easily cut logs/trees up to 8-10 inches or so in short order with a nice sharp hatchet. I guess if "long term forest survival" included building a log cabin, I might go for an axe. Otherwise I'll stick with something lighter and smaller than can do the same job as a full size axe, just slower.

Sharp is a real key too. I'd rather have a sharp hatchet than a dull axe.

Hungry Seagull
March 17, 2009, 07:15 PM
Imagine this. Axe fells tree. You take off the limbs with the big axe and break up the trunk into firewood peices.

Now put down very big axe and use small hatchet to work the small stuff.

I use a chainsaw myself and can drop a tree, strip it down to trunk and have a load of firewood in a few hours without too much difficulty.

mcwjr13
March 17, 2009, 07:18 PM
I would take the hatchet and a takedown saw much easier to pack and should cover all your needs.

Gryffydd
March 17, 2009, 07:41 PM
Imagine this. Axe fells tree. You take off the limbs with the big axe and break up the trunk into firewood peices.

Now put down very big axe and use small hatchet to work the small stuff.

That's easy enough to imagine. I think the question comes in because you said to get both, but then said to use the axe for both tasks without mentioning the hatchet. It's a good idea to reread the post in question before getting all smarmy ;)

catspa
March 17, 2009, 07:59 PM
Like many choices, it kinda depends on what you plan to do with it. "Both" is actually a pretty good answer, because limiting yourself to either one would have you wishing for the other before too long.

Axe: if you are going to fell trees with an axe, and there are very many of them, or they're very big, you better be a hell of a man. Most woodrats carry an axe for tasks like knocking in wedges and to a lesser extent, limbing. For falling or bucking, a handsaw (bow or buck saw) is a better choice for crosscutting, and even that is a lot of work.

Hatchet: I use mine a lot in log building/timber framing, and I often carry it on regular jobsites instead of a hammer. I worked with a guy once who carried a hammer and a hatchet, and he frequently used the hatchet as a sort of "chisel with a handle", striking it with the hammer head. Anyway, for 90% of camping or woodsman chores, the hatchet is the way to go. Collecting up dead limbs for firewood, cutting shelter poles and stakes, opening vacuum packed jerky, etc. Lighter and shorter than the axe, you have it with you all the time.

Either one needs to be as sharp as you can get it, and the edge should be shaped for the most likely tasks. Keep the edge out of the dirt and protected from moisture.

Here's the big thing. The tool itself is not as big a factor in success as the skill of the user. Those GB tools are nice, my buddy bought some and they are fine tools. BUT. They cost a lot, and if you don't practice with them, you'll be holding them back, not the other way around. If you are already a skillful axeman, buy the GB's and don't look back, or have a pro blacksmith make you a custom axe. Since you're asking this question on this forum, though, I'm gonna suggest you find a used axe and hatchet for 10 bucks each or so. Stout hickory handles, not that tubular steel shiite. Look for ones with a thin edge angle and learn to sharpen them, then use them for a while. When you can handle them well, then you'll be in a better position to select a GB or Oxhead that's just what you want, not just pick one out at random. Or you can decide if you'd be better off to spend that money on a chainsaw.

HTH, best of luck.

Parker

feudalson
March 17, 2009, 08:06 PM
in a long term survival scenario it would be better to have both and a saw... and a few extra bits.. or heads whichever you call them

vicdotcom
March 17, 2009, 08:36 PM
for a long term forest survival kit.
which one is best and why?
My answer would be both also. Reason is that you need the right tool for the right job. In a Long Term situation, you will have the room or place to store both items.

BUT if I had to choose one I would have to say it depends on your needs. Are you in an area where you will need a lot of firewood? I would certainly go for an axe over hatchet.

Another reason is that you will also have a good knife with you for fine work.

Now that being said, I would probably go for the Small Forest Axe or Scandinavian Forest Axe. They only weigh a few pounds and are portable enough not to be to tired by carrying it arround for a long way and big enough to get stuff done right. Scandinavian if you want to cut more trees down, Small forest axe if you will be walking more with it.

Either way, you wont go wrong with a Gransfors. Wetterling is also a good company. But I like Gransfors.

Good luck with the decision, but again, getting both (and a splitting axe) would be the ideal choice :P

Felling axes are kinda heavy to lug arround but can be useful for LARGE diameter trees. So go for a good balance and keep a knife with you.

vicdotcom
March 17, 2009, 08:42 PM
Most woodrats carry an axe for tasks like knocking in wedges

I worked with a guy once who carried a hammer and a hatchet, and he frequently used the hatchet as a sort of "chisel with a handle", striking it with the hammer head.

Wow I just cringed thinking of doing those things with my axes or hatchets (except for the ones designed to do that). Although I do use my one piece steel Estwing as a hammer from time to time. But using any good axe/hatchet as a wedge or chisel can seriously damage the eye.

The rest of your post I agree with100% especially the part about holding your axe back by not using/practicing with it.

theotherwaldo
March 18, 2009, 01:06 AM
How far and how often do you have to pack your gear? Do you expect to have long-term camps? Is it likely to get real cold? Do you expect to need to build stuff? Do you know how to maintain and use these tools? How much other stuff do you expect to carry? Do you expect to have help? Do you expect to be responsible for the well-being of others?

Answer these questions, then decide for yourself about axes and/or hatchets.

sm
March 18, 2009, 01:14 AM
http://www.dickproenneke.com/

Dick Proenneke retired at age 50 in 1967 and decided to build his own cabin on the shore of Twin Lakes. The first summer he scouted for the best cabin site, and cut and peeled the logs he would need for his cabin. Dick Proenneke returned the next summer to finish the cabin where he lived for over 30 years.

If you are not familiar with Proenneke, then I suggest you view the DVD.

Tools for task.

catspa
March 18, 2009, 01:31 AM
Vic, I don't hammer my faces together since I was about 17, when I embedded a BB sized chip of steel in my left arm. It's still there, to remind me that it was a stupid thing to do. I showed it to Bruce, who shrugged and kept on doin' what he was doin'. Whatever.

As far as wedge-knocking, I'm talking about plastic falling wedges. Basically you bore the center in line with your desired fall, tap in a wedge, cut your face cut and side-cut everything but the hinge. Then you pound the wedge in to lay the tree over. It takes an axe to do this with any sizeable tree, even a big hatchet doesn't have the snort. Sometimes you have to stack in an extra wedge. If you get three wedges in and you can't get the tree over, then get away from it before somebody gets hurt. Anyway, it's a kinda specialized falling technique used with a chainsaw.

But I remain convinced that the operator is a bigger factor than the particular tool, when considering hand tool usage. A skilled operator with an "okay" tool will get farther than an unskilled operator with the best tool money can buy. Investing your time and practice really pays off in the long run.

Parker

theotherwaldo
March 18, 2009, 01:43 AM
Hey catspa,

If it takes more than two wedges to drop the tree or free the saw then your undercut is wrong or your falling cut isn't deep enough. Or maybe you're trying to push too much wood uphill.

Anyway, amen to "it's the user, not the tool." I'm not a great operator but I've seen enough greats to know the difference.

catspa
March 18, 2009, 01:04 PM
Waldo:If it takes more than two wedges to drop the tree or free the saw then your undercut is wrong or your falling cut isn't deep enough. Or maybe you're trying to push too much wood uphill.


Right you are, and most likely the third, for me at least.

"Stay out from under 'em" is the big idea.

Parker

Hungry Seagull
March 18, 2009, 01:19 PM
Smarmy parmy :neener:

I love a bird in hand instead of wishing for two in the bush.

As a child I was taken to the shipyard where they built the Pride of Baltimore for a day, the tools that they were using to fashion the frames, bolts and decking were wonderful tools. But takes big strong workers eating much food many days to finish right.

Cheers.

highorder
March 18, 2009, 01:29 PM
http://www.nwbackpack.com/products/gerber_axes.php

My personal favorite.

alaskanativeson
March 19, 2009, 03:11 AM
I have the Gransfors Bruks Scandanavian Forest axe. Good intermediate sized axe that will domost anything I need it to.

messerist
March 22, 2009, 09:54 PM
I'd select a mid-sized ax and some sort of packable saw with replacement blades like a Swede saw or Wyoming saw. And then some sort of sharpening equipment

22-rimfire
March 22, 2009, 10:14 PM
If I were limited to one choice, I'd go with the axe, a good one. But frankly, I would probably want two axes; one two bladed and one with a sharped edge and hammer side for odds and end type tasks that you would use a hatchet for.

Cutting big trees with a hatchet is a BIG job and an impossibly miserable job for a hardwood tree. Yep, it can be done. You can use a pocket knife too.

thesolidus
March 27, 2009, 05:00 AM
Bought my friend a Cold Steel Tomahawk for his birthday but played around with it first. Light enough to wear on a belt, long enough to get a good swing, sharp enough to use close up and it can cut! Peeled a layer off of a phonebook cover (halfway through the top page) with a soft touch, then slammed through most of the book with a lazy chop. Cuts wood with ease and lashes to the side of a pack looking vaguely old time-y, not at all scary scary ranger stop that guy with an axe (california) yet is quite a formidable carry weapon. His had a little hammer on the back too.

Little hatchets, never had much use.
Big axe, to heavy to carry far in the woods.

Medium tomahawk, just right.
(Like the Goldilocks story, but with an axe!)

vicdotcom
March 27, 2009, 12:43 PM
Here is a short read and write up on a cold steel tomahawk for woods use.

http://cutleryscience.com/reviews/norse.html

I like small tomahawks for certain applications but not for gathering serious wood.

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