Double Bit Axe Shape Variations

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by mako20ft, Oct 17, 2014.

  1. mako20ft

    mako20ft

    279
    Mar 23, 2014
    Good morning,

    I'm in the market for one last (ha,ha) piece and it's a 3.5 - 4lb Double Bit Axe for splitting duties. I have a beautiful 36" Octagon Hickory handle that is a rather thin profile...not to thin but just giving you an idea for the advice I'm hoping for.

    In this search the shape of the available Vintage DB axe heads seems pretty standard and I've let the maker's mark help me with quality. I've been looking at Plumb 1st to match the other ones I'm using however I stumbled over a Stiletto DB piece. The thing that caught my eye was the weight is listed at 3lb 10oz which is the range I'm in BUT the feature I know nothing about is the short height to length ratio. I'm continuing to look at the Stiletto brand since I see this feature on more of their vintage axe heads than the others I'm running across by Collins, Tru-Temper, etc. Roughly the axe head is 10-5/8" across and 3-13/16" maximum

    If anyone has any experience with this narrow height version please do chime in. I wonder if the physics (all of which are way over my pay grade) mean that the force of the axe blow is concentrated at impact. Advantage could be the power generated to split the log however other thing is would this also be a downside by causing the head to dig deeply into the wood without effectively splitting it enough to release the axe head? No sense sinking the blade so far that you ruin the handle or head trying to pull it free every time.

    Sooo, is a little head a good thing? Should I stick with letting the big head run things?

    Come on....one of you was thinking the same thing ;)
     
  2. chuxwan

    chuxwan

    423
    Aug 26, 2012
    Heh heh...
    Why a double bit for splitting, though? Am I missing out on some common knowledge here?
    I think I'd go for an old splitting maul.
     
  3. Square_peg

    Square_peg Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    Sounds like you're looking at a Puget Sound Falling pattern axe. Those are designed for the specific purpose of felling large softwood trees in conjunction with a crosscut saw.

    For general woods use - clearing trails, etc. - a western pattern DB is a good choice. Most DB's in the 4-pound range will make nice splitters using the twist method.
     
  4. mako20ft

    mako20ft

    279
    Mar 23, 2014
    No, you didn't miss anything. I likely should have worded it better... I simply like the looks and options with the Double Bit. I might be over thinking this but I hear the main advantage to a DB is one edge very, very sharp for easy grained pieces but the opposite bit is not exactly dull but rather a working edge for use on knotted sections.


    For trails and campsite I have a well made Plumb Double Bit (cruiser weight) or a Plumb Single Bit Boy's Axe with a new 24" Handle. (That's the one I just finished over in that other thread). Now that said, if your advice is to switch gears and look more towards a Single Bit with a shape that lends itself to splitting then I'm all ears. I trust your advice and if necessary...I'll park that new Octagon Handle shaped for a DB and pick up another Single Bit Handle. I've got a new Boy's Axe Handle looking for a new head but I've got several of those already and have had zero luck using any of them as splitters.
     
  5. Square_peg

    Square_peg Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    I like a heavy single bit for splitting duties, 4-6 pounds, with a nice high centerline. When that isn't enough I'll usually reach for a sledge & wedges. There's very little that a 5 pound axe won't split that a maul will. Still, I like mauls. I like the feel of that powerful hit. I just don't find much wood that splits best with a maul. [​IMG]
     
  6. garry3

    garry3

    Sep 11, 2012
    Them Puget sound patterns have long bits to reach deep into a notch off a spring board. I see them with handles over 36" pretty regular. I own a couple in that pattern but have not played with them yet. I would be interested to know how well they would split useing the twist method. They may perform great. Let us know what you learn.:thumbup:
     
    Square_peg likes this.
  7. trailtime

    trailtime

    258
    Feb 4, 2005
    I've never used a DB for splitting, and a Puget Sound head was typically hafted on a 42-48" handle. The long profile increases head wobble and requires skill to swing accurately. Save that 36" handle for a quality True Temper. I'm fond of the Michigan pattern, but then I'm from MichiganÂ…Â….

    I split my wood -- mostly red oak-- with a monster maul, which busts up the rounds pretty fast.
     
  8. Axe Master '94

    Axe Master '94

    224
    Sep 24, 2014
    I split a lot of green maple and elm, (as well as some random chestnut, mulberry, cherry, and others) and I've found that what my 4# single-bit won't split my 8.5# maul usually will, but if anything survives both I just save it for when I rent a log splitter at the end of the season. (I split 4-6 cord of wood a year, so I can't afford to rent it for the whole pile). I've never split with a double-bit, mainly because if the difficulty of getting it un-stuck.
     
  9. bbforstr

    bbforstr

    324
    Jul 10, 2013
    Mako

    It's good to have a few tools available for spitting. I personally like to have a double bit at hand for straight grained wood. They are my favorite splitting tools because you can sink it into a split half laying on the ground and pick it up without being over. I like an 8 lb maul for the tougher pieces w/o straight grain or with knots. A wedge and double jack are great for the really tough pieces.

    All are pretty easy to come by and if kept nearby are easy to grab depending on your need. A good splitting block also helps reduce the amount of energy you use. You bend over less and it's safer plus it adds some weight behind the piece you are splitting.

    I' sure you know a lt f this stuff but it also might help people with less experience splitting.

    Later.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2014
  10. mako20ft

    mako20ft

    279
    Mar 23, 2014


    Taken all together it seems I should take a pass on the Double Bit idea. I can't help but really like the basic design. My vintage Plumb DB 3.2 is really outstanding but I don't believe it's the DB configuration but rather the combination of the weight and head shape really come together on this one.

    I'm going to shift gears and open the door to a 4lb Single Bit. I know very little outside of the really obvious makers and their marks. I don't want to invest in a Legitimus unless one falls in my lap.

    Would someone be willing to say what design is considered a solid type for a dedicated splitting axe?

    As always, much appreciated gentleman :thumbup:
     
  11. Square_peg

    Square_peg Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 1, 2012
  12. BG_Farmer

    BG_Farmer

    556
    Mar 13, 2014
    Wouldn't a maul be the best dedicated splitting Axe? I've generally only ever split hardwoods, so I prefer sledge (I used to like 16 lbs., but now I'm more comfortable with 10) and wedge(s)--never found anything that wouldn't split, even pretty monstrous trunks. As a kid (not small at 200 plus pounds, though) I played with mauls at my friends house, but his dad bought most of his firewood in fairly small sizes. Even at that we had to use the wedges pretty often. I'm guessing soft woods where that is the thing would be a lot easier to split. Even some softer straighter hardwoods, also, but I would want at least a maul.

    I have a great old TT Woodslasher double bit michigan that is hard to beat for felling, but it makes me more than a little nervous for splitting. Too much chance it could bounce back and split my head. Don't get yourself hurt trying to be unique!

    Anyway, I guess my point is that very few people consider a db Axe an ideal splitting tool, so the chances of finding one that is good for that might be rather slim...
     
  13. Square_peg

    Square_peg Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    I haven't found a maul that will cleave through knots efficiently. Until then I'll stick with an axe.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. Axe Master '94

    Axe Master '94

    224
    Sep 24, 2014
    Working on a 4.5# Norlund Rafting currently- hope to have it done this weekend while I'm home. I'll have to see if I agree with you!
     
  15. BG_Farmer

    BG_Farmer

    556
    Mar 13, 2014
    Square peg,
    That is a good point! I guess I would say sledge/wedge until the last split or two, then a heavy sb Axe. I meant to convey that i was never that impressed with the mauls, but that they must work for someone. I remember me and my old pap splitting 4+ ft dimeter rounds of oak (one fell on our chicken house!) with a sledge hammer and a couple of wedges which is all we had (I've got 6 or 8 now, and I don't even burn firewood in the house now:)), whereas even 16" rounds could be irksome with the mauls... We usually had a boys Axe or 4 lb. Pole Axe to clean up. A block is indispensable for any splitting, although I see people doing without.

    What would you say is the cutoff point b/t wedges and Axe? I am rather plodding in my pace, so I will switch to wedges around 8" thick. It seems like there is very little time lost with wedges on the bigger stuff overall.
     
  16. SC T100

    SC T100

    Apr 2, 2014
    I've never used a maul or wedge (but I do own a maul now waiting to be tried), but I used axes exclusively for splitting wood for the family a few years back. Most were old, dull, and had bad hafts, but I still got through it all pretty easily, even with the occasional knotted monster. So because I am biased, I still really like an axe fro splitting. Grab something in the heavier weights with a high centerline and it'll split well, at least in my experience. My 85+ year-old Kelly Michigan pattern SB splits wood really, really well even at a relatively lighter 3.5 pounds. I think it's due to the sharpness I gave it and the high centerline and awesome geometry the maker gave it.
     
  17. Square_peg

    Square_peg Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 1, 2012

    Those are the key things, aren't they? Geometry makes the splitting axe. Thin-cheeked euro imports need not apply.


    For me it's whatever works. I'll start with the axe. If I can work a large piece down by taking chunks off the edges I'll just stay with the axe. If the axe ain't getting it done I'll usually go straight to the sledge and wedges. Once in a while I find something which the axe just barely won't split. Then I'll grab a maul.

    A couple years ago I got into some London Plane - toughest stuff I ever split. Coarse intertwined grain. Much tougher than even Elm. It laughed at my maul. The larger rounds soundly rejected my wedges. That's when I learned a trick. Put a very slightly hollow ground bevel on the tip of the wedge and it will stay stuck. Then nothing made of wood will stop it. Mostly I use a single jack with wedges. A stubborn piece draws a double jack.


    Only you know how your wood splits - what's working and what's wasting time.
     
  18. mako20ft

    mako20ft

    279
    Mar 23, 2014
    I couldn't give up the DB chase. That Octagon Handle from HH is just to pretty to sit idle. Would anyone care to comment on this example? For whatever reason it really seems like it would fit my expected needs.

    DOUBLE BIT SWAMPING PATTERN AXE 10 3/4" X 4 3/8", 4 lb. approx. with logo ( last A in ARVIKA and parts of WDEN visible of SWEDEN 3 1/2 LBS ) see photo. I believe Part of DIAMOND image is part of ARVIKA logo.



    [​IMG][/URL][/IMG]
     
  19. Square_peg

    Square_peg Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    That was really the key to the Puget Sound falling pattern. Long bits and deep penetration for springboard notches.

    Back in the day of crosscut saws and axes most trees were never felled with a cut close to ground level. These were all large old growth trees. Frequently, more often than knot, they began life atop a nursery log or nursery stump. This resulted in big fat "bell end" trunks that were rotten in the middle and had no value as lumber. Considering the human effort that went into falling and bucking such a tree, no effort was wasted cutting wood that woudn't go to the mill. So the springboard was invented to get the sawyer up above the bell end and into wood that was profitable.

    And to set a springboard you needed a deep notch. Sometimes a sawyer worked on a single springboard. Other times a pair of springboards were used as the base for a makeshift scaffold from which the sawyer/axeman could gain access to a large cross section of the old growth tree.

    A few years ago I was fortunate to find a bunch of perfectly preserved springboard notches. In 2012 and 2014 the Elwah Dam and Glines Canyon Dam were removed from the lower Elwah River, built in 1913 and 1927 respectively. In 2014 I hiked the Glines Canyon and observed springboard notches that had been preserved at the bottom of the Glines Canyon Dam reservoir for 87 years and just revealed a couple months prior.
    [​IMG]

    They appeared fresh, as though they had just been cut. It was startling how wide and deep these notches were. A special axe was needed to form them, a long bitted axe, the Puget Sound falling axe.
    [​IMG]

    This notch is almost 12" wide and 8" deep. My Leatherman is open 8" wide for scale.
    [​IMG]

    In some notches every blow of the axe was plainly visible even after 87 years!
    [​IMG]

    After some time of looking at these photos and considering their significance it became apparent to me why and how the Puget Sound falling axe evolved. The long bit was necessary to cut the springboard notch. And the long handles, 36" minimum, gave the sawyer/axeman access to the full width of the trunk of these old growth trees.

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. phantomknives

    phantomknives

    Mar 31, 2016
    Guys I'll be splitting some wood here in a couple months and I have a 4 pound Kelly, an oversized aingle and a Puget, if you can wait that long I can test all 3, only on oak and hickory though so I feel one is gonna pull ahead more than the others
     
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