Knives vs. axes - why axes are better!

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Set the contest between the axe man and the knife man in the north woods in the winter for a month. See which one walks out alive in the end. The knife man will be a frozen corpse because he could not cut enough firewood to survive.
 
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Give me a knife and I will survive. But give me an axe and I will live like a king!
Square_peg the Beheader.
Square_peg Rex
Square_peg Wrecks

It must be quite a while since kings carried axes. Bring back the old ways!
I think I like Wrecks best.
 

Square_peg

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Square_peg Wrecks

Uh....that's not the first time I've been called that.
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I think that the length of time one was planning to spend in the wilderness would influence which tool you carried. Also it depends on whether you're establishing a base camp or continually moving. On a 5-day hike the large fixed blade would be better. But on a 3-week hunting trip at a destination you'd want the axe.

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215135-Penny.gif
 
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That's a loaded question to axe. Well deserving of loaded answers!

Is an axe a better survival tool than a large knife? Are bullfrogs waterproof? Do bears crap in the woods? Is the pope catholic? :D

I love axes. So I'm totally biased. I find large knives to be far more limited than axes. I like to carry a good, solid belt knife and an axe.

On rafting trips (ESPECIALLY winter steelheading trips), I think it is easily worth the weight to take a full size axe, a saw, and belt knife. To say that taking a huge knife, a saw, and a belt knife would be better or more versatile or whatever is ridiculous. To say that a large knife is just as good as an axe for processing a large amount of fire wood is an interweb fantasy. That's my less than humble opinion.

Long live the axe.
 
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Nov 22, 2011
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Honestly I always have both with me. Both are too good at what their meant for. I do find myself using my axe or hatchet more though. Mostly to preserve the edge on my knife.
 
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Axe vs. knife? Try using an axe to smear a pat of butter on your 10 year daughter's morning waffles. No can do ...
 
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Axe vs. knife? Try using an axe to smear a pat of butter on your 10 year daughter's morning waffles. No can do ...
Why sure you could.
If she's 10 she can do it herself. Or just tell her to use her finger, or even a stick.
:D
 
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Are talking axe, hatchet, or tomahawk? :D And knife, or machete?

Anyways when I go on extended trips I tend to take a machete for soft smallish green wood, a saw for cross cutting larger dry logs and a junior/youth axe for splitting. That said I have been meaning to try a smallish 'hawk style axe to cover more of the machete and axe side of things, and maybe the large camp knife bits too. I don't see why a properly designed head wouldn't work well at those tasks, processing game, as well as wood prep and clearing.

The flip side is a large knife to cover those tasks too... I know how effective a machete is and I can see a large knife in premium steel being even more effective, but handling for finer tasks may be trickier as it gets larger.

I think the real difference is not whether certain tasks are possible with either, but the effort required with where they differ. Is it better to get the speed and length with a handle or with a blade? Is it better to have the easy swing all the time or to use a local log to baton with?
These are things each of us can only answer for ourselves and our preferences. I like low effort and low carry weight, thats why I carry a portable saw. It gets me the most wood with the least effort.

Which are you more likely to hurt yourself with? This is critical for those of us who do the backwoods stuff alone. Safety matters more there. What woudl be a minor inconvenience at home can be fatal in the backcountry alone.
 
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I have been on both sides of this.

I spent several years of hard survival living with just a knife ( but the knife was an HI M43 Kukri ) which could chop nearly as well as a full size axe. I built two trappers cabins and a slew of wikiups and such shelters with that kuk.

However, when it came to building my final heavy cabin. I went to using a bowsaw to do the crosscutting. I still didn't have an axe.

While I still love my M43, given my current equipment inventory, I would probably take my CT boys axe, and a knife or two as well. Both have their strengths.

If I could only take one. It would depend on the environment I was entering. Winter woods I'd definitely go with the axe. But if Ihad to build a substantial shelter, and cut a lot of wood to length, I'm throwing on a bowsaw.
 
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Axe vs. knife? Try using an axe to smear a pat of butter on your 10 year daughter's morning waffles. No can do ...

if ya are using a big ole axe you may need to buy your spread in a 2 or 3 pound tub to scoop some out.
 

Square_peg

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But if Ihad to build a substantial shelter, and cut a lot of wood to length, I'm throwing on a bowsaw.

I'm starting to prefer fixed blade or folding blade saws to bowsaws. The back of the bowsaw just gets in the way.
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Without becoming part of the potential piss match here, I think it would be very interesting to have two "woods knowledgeable" individuals who are well versed in their tool of preference (in this case, one with an axe and the other with a knife) each spend a week in the woods with only their tool of choice and then come back here and tell about their experiences independent of one another. IMO, that would be a cool thread!

But dont you think that most woodsmen (if not all) carry an axe over a knife in the first place? Everyone i've ever known or read about that lived off the land in the forest would choose thier axe over any other tool that exists! The axe, to me is the most versatile vs. a large knife.. Theres nothing a knife can do that an axe cant do. Theres a lot of things an axe can do that a knife just cant do safely or efficiently like: pounding nails, stakes, or wood splitting wedges or Felling trees, and notching logs to build a cabin. Not gonna happen with a knife.. I still agree with you, that it would be fun to watch 2 people compete with different tools
 
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The axe has a tremendous mechanical advantage over the knife. But a large knife is very versatile and easier to carry. For basic survival use,building light shelters etc it will work well. But the axe will do far more work with less effort which will prove advantageous. Especially in the winter months when heavier shelters, and greater amounts of firewood must be processed.
 
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hard to cut a pie with an axe

Frankly you could shape a piece of wood to cut the pie or spread peanut butter but why would you when you know an axe man is going to have a small knife on his belt!

I have three standard cutting tools I use in the woods...always my swiss army knife, always a small fixed blade and either a 12" machete or a hatchet/axe depending on location/vegetation. One big knife cannot equal the verstaility of that combination.
 
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Squarepeg the bowsaws I use are the 32" blade variety, usually afoot or so of depth. They don't weigh much more than the little takedowns, are more rigid, and give waaaay better performance.
 
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