Anyone use a hatchet / small axe for bushcraft?

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Hi Southern Cross. I live and trek in a forest, so my fires are kept small. But in winter I still need them to last at least part of the night before I have to stoke it. So I tend to use short pieces of larger stock. I agree that breaking over a rock can really shock the arms, but if done right it works well.
I use a small fire-pit with a rock surround and a reflector rock at the back to reflect heat back into my shelter. But yes, your method is easier if one is in open ground.
Good to hear from you.
Le Loup.
 

SouthernCross

Forager
Feb 14, 2010
230
0
Australia
G'day Le Loup

I know what you mean about the necessity of keeping fires small & containable.

Here's a couple of pics of my area









I'd imagine where you are in the New England area is very similar :camping:



Kind regards
Mick
 

g4ghb

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Sep 21, 2005
4,152
67
51
Wiltshire
I have a SFA and a mini hatchet (and I've just got an argos axe which I'm working on......

I have to admit I use the mini more than the SFA though I expect the argos axe will get fair use in camp soon
 

Tye Possum

Nomad
Feb 7, 2009
337
0
Canada
I use a hatchet at the moment but have been thinking of upgrading to a full sized axe.

Sure a hatchet can fit in your pack and is more controllable for carving and such but strapping a bigger axe to the pack isn't too difficult and although not as controllable, can be used for carving and more detailed work, as well as bigger jobs like splitting wood and maybe even felling trees. So basically I think that a hatchet is great if you know you won't be doing big jobs but that kind of makes it a specialized tool, and I think that a full sized axe is just capable of more so I'll probably be switching.
 

Tadpole

Full Member
Nov 12, 2005
2,842
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Bristol
So basically I think that a hatchet is great if you know you won't be doing big jobs but that kind of makes it a specialized tool, and I think that a full sized axe is just capable of more so I'll probably be switching.
How big do you need to go? with a Hatchet it is possible to cleave a 12' x 24" oak tree into fence rails, and in just a winters day. Ok you could do it by carving a maul and wedges with just about any sharp knife, but how big does it need to be before a felling axe is really needed?
 

forestwalker

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
How big do you need to go? with a Hatchet it is possible to cleave a 12' x 24" oak tree into fence rails, and in just a winters day. Ok you could do it by carving a maul and wedges with just about any sharp knife, but how big does it need to be before a felling axe is really needed?
Sure, a lot of things can be done. But if I'm out in the northern boreal forest, and need to cut some serious amounts of firewood for the night, then a full size axe is better. Right now the temp is up (it was -30 C when I got up, only -15 C in the sun now), but if was out with no sleeping bag overnight I'd need a huge stack of firewood, and the ability to take down, and partition) a full size standing pine might be the difference between life and death.

But in summer a fire is mostly about repelling mosquitos and getting dry, then the axe is not even needed, just a convenience, and handy for carving.
 

Tadpole

Full Member
Nov 12, 2005
2,842
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Bristol
Sure, a lot of things can be done. But if I'm out in the northern boreal forest, and need to cut some serious amounts of firewood for the night, then a full size axe is better. Right now the temp is up (it was -30 C when I got up, only -15 C in the sun now), but if was out with no sleeping bag overnight I'd need a huge stack of firewood, and the ability to take down, and partition) a full size standing pine might be the difference between life and death.

But in summer a fire is mostly about repelling mosquitos and getting dry, then the axe is not even needed, just a convenience, and handy for carving.
In that case why not take a chainsaw? you know Just in case.
 
Sure, a lot of things can be done. But if I'm out in the northern boreal forest, and need to cut some serious amounts of firewood for the night, then a full size axe is better. Right now the temp is up (it was -30 C when I got up, only -15 C in the sun now), but if was out with no sleeping bag overnight I'd need a huge stack of firewood, and the ability to take down, and partition) a full size standing pine might be the difference between life and death.

But in summer a fire is mostly about repelling mosquitos and getting dry, then the axe is not even needed, just a convenience, and handy for carving.
Now it makes more sense. Totally agree. Good post.
Le Loup.
 

pango

Nomad
Feb 10, 2009
380
4
66
Fife
I carry knife, saw and small axe when out in the wilds and use all of them, depending on requirements.

I regularly use my G/Bruks small forest axe for dropping dead-standing trees, de-limbing and for splitting, among other tasks.

My current saw is a very light, fixed blade gardening saw I bought from Lidl for £3. I thought at the time that if it turned out to be crap, it was only £3. I've been using it now for 3 years and it's still going strong, so the present cost is £1/year, not bad economics.

My knife is a Brusletto knife-blade which I fitted a handle to. I do use it for splitting but there's a limit to the abuse I'd put it through. I love my knife... truly, madly, deeply!

Where there's a will, there's a way, but why give yourself work, struggle with equipment which isn't ideal for the task in hand, or risk a miserable experience when a cosy and relaxed one would have been possible, if only... You've been there and didn't like it!

And then there's the Scotsman in me... the peasant with the Work Ethic and 600 years of Calvinism behind him, who is trying to put off the inevitable for as long as possible!
 
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SOAR

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jan 21, 2007
2,031
2
44
cheshire
How big do you need to go? with a Hatchet it is possible to cleave a 12' x 24" oak tree into fence rails, and in just a winters day. Ok you could do it by carving a maul and wedges with just about any sharp knife, but how big does it need to be before a felling axe is really needed?
Ever done this?
 

Tadpole

Full Member
Nov 12, 2005
2,842
20
56
Bristol
Ever done this?
Not oak, though OldJumbo has, (and posted pictures) Robin Wood has and has posted pictures, though not with an axe using just "hand tools"
I've split a dead elm tree into planks using wedges and a wooden mallet/maul, but that was in my youth. (we made a bridge stong enough to take the weight of a landrover, and twelve people)
 

SOAR

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jan 21, 2007
2,031
2
44
cheshire
Not oak, though OldJumbo has, (and posted pictures) Robin Wood has and has posted pictures, though not with an axe using just "hand tools"
I've split a dead elm tree into planks using wedges and a wooden mallet/maul, but that was in my youth. (we made a bridge stong enough to take the weight of a landrover, and twelve people)[/QUOT

Bridge sounds good! Bigger axes are a must for bigger jobs, take some doing just using a hatchet! to be fair Robin had a big maul for knocking the wedges in.
Its all about the right tool for the job, hatchets have their place just like double bit working axes, takes less time and effort.
 

forestwalker

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
In that case why not take a chainsaw? you know Just in case.
Because carrying a chainsaw (and a tank of fuel and oil) when out bird-hunting for a day is a wee bit excessive, but an axe isn't? Sure, the chainsaw (and the safety gear that goes with it) is better for the task, but if you only need to do the task very seldom, and the chainsaw (etc) makes the activity virtually impossible, then the equation is fairly simple.
 

Tye Possum

Nomad
Feb 7, 2009
337
0
Canada
forestwalker said:
Sure, a lot of things can be done. But if I'm out in the northern boreal forest, and need to cut some serious amounts of firewood for the night, then a full size axe is better. Right now the temp is up (it was -30 C when I got up, only -15 C in the sun now), but if was out with no sleeping bag overnight I'd need a huge stack of firewood, and the ability to take down, and partition) a full size standing pine might be the difference between life and death.

But in summer a fire is mostly about repelling mosquitos and getting dry, then the axe is not even needed, just a convenience, and handy for carving.
Exactly what I was thinking. I think hatchets are great for a lot of people because they're small enough to always carry without too much extra weight in your pack, yet are capable of quite a lot. Or in the summer when you don't need a big fire. I've seen OldJimbo's pictures where a mini hatchet is used to split up a fairly big tree (which I thought was very cool), but you have to remember that dead trees aren't always on the ground when you find them and so in certain conditions felling a tree may be necessary and that can be hard to do with a hatchet, plus splitting it and such. It can be done but it's just too much work, especially when you need that wood to survive the night (excessive sweating isn't exactly a good thing in that situation). There are still uses for full sized axes and that's why they're still around.
 

SouthernCross

Forager
Feb 14, 2010
230
0
Australia
G'day Guys.

I thought I'd repeat this here.

At the end of the day, IMO what does matter is that the individual is able to make productive use of the tools that they have selected. We all have different preferences and live in different locations with different requirements, so it is only natural that the tools we select should reflect this difference :beerchug:




Kind regards
Mick