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Axe Head patterns for chopping

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by vcbvcbvcb, Dec 10, 2015.

  1. Operator1975

    Operator1975 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Sep 24, 2010
    Are we talking about 1 log, or you planning on processing a lot of dry, seasoned oak? Either way, you need to go the saw route. Puget sound for this is way over the top. Simple sharp Dayton, will do, seeing you are going to be chopping until you are 80 on the first log anyway lol. Anyway, keep us posted on how this all goes, I hope it goes well.
     
  2. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
  3. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    I'll grant that there won't be a great gain in the PS over one of the standard patterns and that edge geometry and sharpness are the keys to chopping dry hard wood. But the narrow bit will help. And seeing as the PS falling axe was made for the timber industry you're not going to find one that is made of the poorer quality steel that might have went into a home owner axe (like that Draper).

    If I was adamant about cutting dry oak without a chainsaw, as stated previously, my first choice would be a Silky Big Boy with a fine tooth blade. But if I were going to do it with an axe it would be a narrow bit axe. Old hard wood can be cut with an axe. The old time swampers had to do it and they got it done with the axe alone. I've had to clear a few off the trail with just an axe and I've done OK.
     
  4. vcbvcbvcb

    vcbvcbvcb

    632
    Aug 1, 2012
    I plan on chopping wood past 80, just not the same piece.

    Operator, I would love to know what you mean by a "Puget sound for this is way over the top." If you mean over the top price-wise, I would agree with you, as most PS heads are very pricey. However, I think the 4 LB Sager PS I bought was a good choice, especially since it was priced like a good Dayton. I also think the clamp mark on the side of it put-off collectors who might have otherwise driven up the price. A clamp mark is meaningless to me unless it compromises the strength of the head.

    Asking for advice on head patterns was relative to what to get first for my current use. Just like the rest of you, I don't plan on it being the last. Restoring users has become a hobby. I started with hatchets and have 8, which is 75% of what I want. Now I'm starting what will end up as a small ax collection. I'm hoping that a Flint edge and Legitimus are next. Carolina, Connecticut, Dayton, Rafting, Michigan, and Yankee heads are all on the list.


    I'm chopping wood because I want to, not because I have to, I live in So. Cal. I use my fireplace as a pleasure. I don't need to stockpile wood quickly and efficiently for the winter. I'm chopping wood and hand sawing a little every day for fun and exercise. However, when I use an ax I want it to be an efficient chopper and not frustrating. I get that in general, an ax wastes wood, but it doesn't for me. I sweep the chips up in my backyard and use them for kindling.

    I understand the saw thing. I already have a Silky Katanaboy with ex-large teeth, and I'm going to see how that goes. As Square peg suggests, I'll probably end up with a fine tooth Bigboy for hardwood. I have access to my brother's chain saw. I'll will probably use that in the woods to reduce logs to a manageable size. However, I go into the woods for piece, quiet and pleasure and a chainsaw it the polar opposite of that. Once I'm home I'll take my time with an ax and hand saw. Likewise, I could use a wench and cable to drag the logs up a hill and back to the van, but I carry them for the exercise.
     
  5. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    This is how it should be. Axe work should be done for fun, pleasure and axercise. Whatever axe increases your fun is the right axe.
     
  6. Chignecto Woodsman

    Chignecto Woodsman

    746
    Aug 2, 2014
    I would question the narrow edge for bucking, especially given the length of a Puget Sound. You may get better penetration and chipping force with the narrow axe, but you also have to be extremely accurate to make good overlaps/cut out the corners and the length of the bit will make for poor bucking (I think, I don't have one in this style). The axe may also be more dangerous due to the centralized forces and the necessity of greater accuracy.

    The pattern and grind of your axe depends on the type of wood you are cutting. Rather than hardwood and softwood, it may be better to speak in terms of how the wood cuts and chips. Generally, dry wood will chip and cut with much greater difficulty, so not only does a change in the axe benefit chopping but also the angle and pattern of chopping.

    When people say to cut at 45 degrees it is an ideal, or an average. You cannot cut continually at 45 degrees because you will either glance, due to the wedge shape of the axe, or you will have to move the axe inwards with each cut - effectively widening your notch with each plate. In reality, you can only cut at 45* for a single plate, or layer of the notch.

    Given the standard cutting size of 12" we can estimate a notch of 6-7" depth and the second at 4-5" or so. In bucking you have to cut all the way through, as compared to felling where an inch can be left for the hinge. This means that your larger notch will have at least three layers of plates, depending on the wood you are cutting, so there will be at least 3 different angles for your cuts. The deeper you cut the greater the angle change will have to be.

    I am not certain what these angles would be, but I estimate between 2 and 5 degrees. Ideally, a skilled chopper will cut his first notch at up to 60 degrees (with the tree representing 90* and the chopper's axe 0*) and work down to 45*. This sounds like quite a drastic change, but when one remembers the four layers of plates and an average of 4* change at each depth of cut there would be a 12* difference from the first cut. This would mean that each cut angle would be at 57* , 53*, 49*, 45*. Just keep in mind that for some trees the more shallow angle is preferred, and the shallow angle is much safer for novice choppers.

    With dry wood and wood that is hard to chip it is better to cut at a steep angle, around 60* or so for your first notch. And it is unlikely you will be cutting more than an inch into the wood, let alone the 2-4" possible in green wood. This would mean 7-8 angle changes on the large notch, although much smaller changes are necessary here.

    This is ideally what you want to work towards, just keep in mind that steep angles tend to glance more, and the harder woods will increase the likelihood of glances. If you are learning, then 45* is much safer and you can use that as your starting angle. Just keep in mind that you will get less chip, so the plate will be narrow. And this will result in a very shallow chip which ends at 30* cuts, or thereabouts, making for difficult cutting work.

    As for patterns, the Connecticut is going to be the easiest to learn on for this type of work, although the other patterns square_peg mentioned may be best overall (considering other work you may want to do). In any case, have fun with it and think through what you're doing.
     
  7. vcbvcbvcb

    vcbvcbvcb

    632
    Aug 1, 2012
    Thank you. I will be able to do a limited head to head comparison with the 4 pound PS soon. I just bought a 4 pound Legitimus, a Dayton I think.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  8. M3mphis

    M3mphis

    Jan 13, 2011
    Seasoned oak is tough, but not excessively so. Anyway, for bucking up logs in tough hardwoods, I greatly prefer a round, wide bit like a Connie or a racing axe to a narrow, squarish bit like a Dayton (the Aussies and Kiwis have this figured out with their assortment of super hard woods). The Puget Sound pattern fills a very specific niche. That is for felling specifically, notching out faces on super wide trees where the other side of the kerf has been opened up by a saw. IMO they do not lend themselves well to bucking in general, or to efficiently opening up a kerf from both sides. They have fallen completely out of use due to the chainsaw, while other patterns live on and there is a reason for it.

    I like it.
     
  9. vcbvcbvcb

    vcbvcbvcb

    632
    Aug 1, 2012
    The next one will be a connie.
     
  10. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    But they're cutting green hardwood with those wide axes.
     
  11. vcbvcbvcb

    vcbvcbvcb

    632
    Aug 1, 2012
    Is this a Connecticut?

    [​IMG]
     
  12. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    Looks like a Dayton to me.
     
  13. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    Dayton
     
  14. vcbvcbvcb

    vcbvcbvcb

    632
    Aug 1, 2012
    I received the Sager Puget Sound head today. Thus begins the assembly of the Square_peg dry oak chopper.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    Looks nice. Giver her a good sharpening.
     
  16. vcbvcbvcb

    vcbvcbvcb

    632
    Aug 1, 2012
    Thanks. I am a little concerned about that. It looks like the former owner tried to take some small chips out of the edge, and he got most of them. He left a few tiny chips that are less than a 1/32". However, the very edge is a razor thin "V". I'm thinking about grinding it dull until all the chips are gone, and then re-sharpening it convex. It looks a little fragile and I'd hate to take an 1/8" chip out of it on the 1st swing.

    On another note, I found the handle at Lowe's. It's an Ame's hickory, and I'll be damned if I can find anything wrong with it. The grain alignment is perfect. The head slipped on maybe too easy, there's about 1/8" all the way around it, but it seems like a wedge will take care of that. I need to figure out how to remove what appears to be a thick, obnoxious poly coating. I read on "Jimbo's" website that he burns varnish off with a propane torch while sanding, but I don't think this is common varnish. I'm worried about melting it into a blob. The up side is that it doesn't stink like varnish.
     
  17. Hacked

    Hacked

    947
    Jun 1, 2010
    [​IMG]

    Here's a DB I hung on a Lowes handle. It belonged to my wife's grandfather I came to find out, and the MIL was happy to see it restored. As for removing the varnish I used an aggressive rasp to both remove the finish and thin the haft out a bit. Feels much better now. I will note that it took a rather large wedge to fill the kerf, you may need to do a DIY job. Being that you are looking to use the axe to chop seasoned hardwood I highly recommend getting all the chips out, thinning out the better of the two bits, and finishing it with a nice sharp edge like you would for a knife.
     
  18. vcbvcbvcb

    vcbvcbvcb

    632
    Aug 1, 2012
    Thanks, will do. I'll be working on a big oak wedge, and rasping for a while, the finish is very thick. I'll get an unvarnished one from handle house next time. Which I would have done this time if the grain on the Ame's hadn't been so darn perfect.
     
  19. Hacked

    Hacked

    947
    Jun 1, 2010
    I personally have decided not to order the unvarnished handles from HH any longer. I ordered the last batch from them that way and from the kerf and an indent in the bottom of the handle it was clear that the finish was simply removed prior to shipping. My issue being that I felt there was less material to work with particularly in the swell. This matters more on a curved haft but if you plan to shape your handles its worth saving the money and material IMO. I found with an aggressive rasp I was able to remove the finish in no time, and of course take the time and care to remove as little as possible where needed.
     
  20. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    A metal or glass scraper would remove the factory finish.

    Agree with what Hacked said about ordering unfinished hafts from House.
     

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