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HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsGeneralGeneralChoosing an axe/hatchet for bushcraftChoosing an axe/hatchet for bushcraft
New Post
12/24/2019 6:48 PM

Gents, finally it's time for me to ask for a piece of advice. What is your favorite make and model of axe (and please, explain why is it so if possible)? I am thinking of obtaining a well axe for my collection of woods tools - the one I have now is quite bulky and cheap made. In my case I rarely need to chop down a tree (and that's why I take only machete with me) but still that is an important consideration.
I have been thinking of picking up the Wetterlings #118 outdoor axe. It seems to have just the right length of handle at 19" and the head is about 2 lbs. And my other option is Husqvarna Carpenter's Axe - 19" handle as well + 2 lb head. 
What is your opinion? Are there any comparable axes that I'm not considering?

New Post
12/25/2019 1:28 PM

I don't care for any axe with a "mid-length" 20in or so handle.  I would only consider one if I absolutely couldn't transport a 26in handled axe.  The 26in Husqvarna MP axe is my preference.  Can't get the link to paste here from Baileysonline.  It is long enough to chop and limb with two hands, as an axe is designed to do, and still short enough to offer enough control to split smaller wood.  A 3/4 length axe is MUCH more dangerous to your shins.

Hatchets?  Fiskars if your money is tight.  GB Wildlife if you can afford it.  I also have the lighter GB with the metal shroud on the handle but I prefer the Wildlife.


New Post
12/26/2019 4:32 AM

It really depends on what your are looking to do with an axe. If you are looky for a general purpose field axe then the foresters style axe, 19" handle ~2lb head, is the way to go. It is lighter, more compact, easier to use for a larger variety of cutting needs, but due to size it has limitations and you need better technique. However if you have good technique you can do a lot more work for less energy expenditure. Think of it as a scout rifle or g19, not the best tool for all things, but pretty dang good for most things. I would take that style of axe over any machete or tomahawk I have ever tried. On  the other hand  if, you are looking for an axe to fell a tree or split wood, then you are going to want a longer handle and a bit heavier head. I am not a fan of super heavy heads, because I think good technique trumps weight and the more mass you are using the more enery you expend.   Unfortunately I can't recommend buying any axe sight unseen. It used to be Wetterling and Gransfor Brucks were good to go, but I have seen to many in recent years that were poorly hafted to do that anymore. They both still make goid axes, and last I looked Wetterling had a better orice point. I just would want to inspect it first. Most of my other experience is with old tools in the FS that where just re-hafted and sharpened as needed over the years. 

As far as other brands, just do some searching. I can't remember which brand, but one had a bunch of reports of the heads breaking in half due to poor tempers. It may have been a bad batch. Look for reviews by folks who usee them though, not jjust unboxed them and swung them around a bit. 

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
New Post
1/14/2020 4:59 PM
For a lighter weight axe that I might take on a canoe trip or pack trip, have in the camp kit when traveling, I chose a Hudson Bay Style axe. I'm not much of a hatchet guy except for wood carving. I have an older Snow & Neally. I like a length of about 24inches +- and the head weight between 1.5 and 2 lbs. I know some people don't like the style but I have found for the the lighter weight camp chores, ease of travel, weight it's about the right size for me.
Current offerings from Council Tool are adequate, their velvicut line is not as nice as it used to be. Not sure how good the the new S&N's are, the newer company in the US that is making them is better than the days of when the heads were made in china and the axes were finished in the US, but I'm not sure that the new company is up to snuff with the original made in Maine S&N that I have.
I know Wetterling made one but I'd bet they are hard to find. A couple of other makers out there perhaps. Something to think about.
New Post
1/16/2020 9:25 AM
I will reflect much of whats already been said here, with the addition of saying selecting a "correct" axe is much like tying a knot.

The end result needs to be functional, and do so safely. The selection will be determined by the function required and your skill level, and how you go about tying the knot is a personal accomplishment as long as it holds the standard in the end.

Weight and length will depend on those things ( function, skill, and your physical characteristics)

I believe most folks would be suited with a boys axe. 2 1/4 - 2 1/2 pounds with 27" - 30" in length, council tools has one that fills this range.

For general purposes this is what I reach for most of the time, even at a larger physical size and skill. There is no need to be a hero about swinging an axe. Remember that speed kills, and a sharp axe moving quickly at a light weight will conserve your energy.

Now days, the only time my brothers or I really reach for a axe at or beyond 3 1/2 pounds is for driving wedges when falling timber or for "fun" bucking logs by hand.

As a lighter option a 1 3/4 pound (but no more) hatchet with a handle around 20" seems to be ideal. I would look for one that has less "curve" rather than more as I find it to swing strange to me at that length, and be bothersome when choking up the grip for fine work. This is personal preferance though.

We`ve found council tools to be great as working tools as recreation and in production. Very economical, although perhaps lacking pedigree to some snobs.

The european axes look great but i havent handled them but a few times indoors.

You could find many Kelly Perfect or Plumb head on ebay, to order and haft them yourself, ensuring proper grain orientation when you fit them. As scott noted, this is commonly an issue.

This link reflects the same thinking in a much clearer way with more detail.

Remember, a saw is often more efficent.

Good luck !
New Post
4/7/2020 10:12 AM

I have a Fiskars camping hatchet and I love it. It's an all-around great ax. Also, it's light but powerful.

New Post
5/9/2020 6:07 PM
I still think Gransfors produces some good axes and it you are looking for something like the small forest axe (around 19") you can't do much better unless you go to a custom. Though, if you are looking for an axe to take along with you on a camping trip you might want to look at their Outdoor Axe (hatchet) designed by Lars Falt. Oh, and if you want a Gransfors order them from Lamnia as they have the best prices.

That said, I waited for over two years to get my Hoffman Blacksmithing Trapper's hatchet. It is by far the nicest axe or hatchet I have ever owned.
New Post
5/9/2020 7:28 PM
Here is the Trapper's hatchet, the poll is hardened so you can use it like a hammer if needed.

New Post
9/3/2020 12:24 PM
First off, rgc that is a gorgeous piece of steel and wood! I checked out their webpage and, Wow! Beautiful work! Not in my price range right now, but maybe someday.

I have a two pound Hudson Bay with a 28 inch handle from Council Tools (not the Velvicut.) It is a nice unit. It is light enough I don’t mind hiking it to a campsite for the weekend. The length gives me the leverage to take down small trees and buck them if I need to. I can choke up tight on it and do some rough carving. It keeps a sharp edge, has a nice straight grained handle and the head was mounted straight. I think it was a well spent $70.

My favorite is a Husqvarna camping axe. It has a one pound Hudson Bay head and a 15 inch curved handle. There seems to be a consensus that this is a Hults Bruk Almike with a few rough edges, at half the price! The weight makes it very packable. I can do almost as much with this little beauty as I can with my axe albeit at a somewhat slower pace. It is also a great little carver, filling many of the duties of a large knife. I think it was a super bargain at also around $70.

I live in the Deep South and I haven’t had any need for processing large amounts of wood. To be honest, most backpacking trips we do, a small folding Silky and my Mora 511 is more than enough to process what we might need for cooking. Usually just breaking up twigs by hand for the little folding Ti wood stove does the trick. And I usually start my fires with a Bic. But learning and practicing bushcrafting skills is fun and hey, I might NEED them someday. Have fun and be safe!
New Post
6/6/2021 3:56 PM
When choosing an axe, first of all you need to decide on the type of tool. This will determine a number of characteristics that you should pay attention to when buying.
The cutting part of the head can be of different widths:
You should pay special attention to the following points when choosing a tool:

The shape of the blade. It can be rounded or straight. The rounded shape allows you to emphasize the cutting qualities. The second option is more suitable for chopping wood.
Blade sharpening. The sharpening angle of less than 40 degrees allows the axe to penetrate deeper into the material. Such tools are ideal for chopping wood, but will blunt very quickly. This type from flexcut tools review is suitable for chopping firewood, will help chop a log or timber. It is used by carpenters and construction workers. Its main features include a wooden handle and a blade made of quality steel.
HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsGeneralGeneralChoosing an axe/hatchet for bushcraftChoosing an axe/hatchet for bushcraft