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Need advice on my first axe or hatchet

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by minimalist, Oct 24, 2015.

  1. minimalist

    minimalist

    206
    Jul 3, 2013
    I've recently started camping and last time we spent too much money on firewood. I'd like to be able to get fire wood from downed trees or at least get some small branches to toss in throughout the night. I really don't want to spend more than $75.

    The brands I've been looking at are Estwing, CRKT, and Husqvarna. Is there a tweener that falls between an axe and a hatchet?
     
  2. 300Six

    300Six

    Aug 29, 2013
    Flea markets and garage sales, and if all else fails; EBay. $75 ought to get you a really nice domestic-made splitter that is not being used or valued as such anymore. Are we talking firewood for campfire marshmallows or firewood for heating a house? Big difference.
     
  3. minimalist

    minimalist

    206
    Jul 3, 2013
    Lol sorry. Firewood for a campfire. And the fire has to be a decent size since my gf likes to be warm.
     
  4. Hacked

    Hacked

    947
    Jun 1, 2010
    The two in between sizes that come to mind are a boys axe which is generally about a 2 ΒΌ lbs head with about a 26" handle give or take. And a house axe which is basically a boys axe on a 19" handle. The other option is a hatchet on a longer handle similar to the GB Small Forest Axe. A vintage American made axe would be impossible to beat for price and functionality IMO.

    Boys axe on the left house on the right.

    [​IMG]

    Just wanted to add that wood selection goes a lot farther in making a warm fire than simply making a larger fire.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2015
  5. Operator1975

    Operator1975 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Sep 24, 2010
    Hey send me a friend invite, Ill hook you up with what you need.
     
  6. minimalist

    minimalist

    206
    Jul 3, 2013
    Go on!

    Who makes the axes in your photo? The one on the right looks perfect.
     
  7. 40oz

    40oz

    70
    Aug 12, 2015
    Get a bow saw and hatchet. The saw is more efficient at cutting logs to length. If you've never used an axe before the hatchet will help you split the sawn pieces into firewood. I usually use another piece of wood to drive the hatchet through bigger pieces.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2015
  8. minimalist

    minimalist

    206
    Jul 3, 2013
    Done.
     
  9. Hacked

    Hacked

    947
    Jun 1, 2010
    As a general rule hardwoods will produce hotter longer lasting coals. The coals are where your heat comes from more so than the flame. So if you pick out pine or poplar vs oak or maple you won't get as hot of a fire. There is a lot more to it but as a general rule stick with hardwoods and build up a nice bed of coals with a wall behind the fire reflecting the heat back towards yourself.

    [​IMG]

    This fire was hot enough to cook over and heat the surrounding 8' or so well enough to notice. If you ever wonder if your fire is putting off heat on a cold morning or night just walk away from it ;-)

    The axe on the right was not labeled and judging from its style was made somewhere in Europe. The head weight is right about 2 lbs and it is hung on a 19" house axe handle from House Handle. Sorry I don't have more information on that one. The one on the left is a Mann Edge True American boys axe probably from the 1940s on a 28" handle from HH. It's one of my favorites out of the axes and hatchets I own. Both handles have been thinned and shaped.
     
  10. 300Six

    300Six

    Aug 29, 2013
    You do know that you don't need an axe "to keep the gf warm", right? In any case never mind the 'Boy Scout-type' hatchet and go for a 'Boy's' axe. Longer swing with a little more weight. In Canada these (2 -2/14 lb heads on 'axe' handles) are known as 'Pulpwood' or 'Chainsaw' axes. The term 'Boy's' might seem particularly derogatory in USA vernacular but these lightweights are wonderful all round choppers/splitters and carvers for recreational users and sure beat the pants off trying to use hatchets to do the same thing.
     
  11. pjwoolw

    pjwoolw Sharpening guy

    407
    Nov 12, 2012
    One of Estwing's would do fine unless you plan to hike with it. Along with a Silky saw you will do fine. Could probably do both within your budget.
     
  12. 40oz

    40oz

    70
    Aug 12, 2015
    Really depends on how you use it. A boys axe is too short for safe use while standing, especially for someone new to axes. And doesn't have a long enough handle or enough mass in the head to make a very good splitter or felling axe. A hatchet from 12" to 18" still requires careful use but is capable of felling small trees and splitting firewood easily. And safely.

    But use a bow saw for felling and bucking. So much quicker for the size wood needed for a campfire. No need for more than a hatchet for splitting 4" rounds. And simply use a baton and wood wedges for larger.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2015
  13. Lieblad

    Lieblad

    Jul 24, 2015
    .......
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2015
  14. 300Six

    300Six

    Aug 29, 2013
    I presume this entirely to be an opinion.
    The wiry WWII veteran I befriended 30 years ago used a Walters pulpwood axe (boy's axe to USA folks) to split all of his chainsaw-generated firewood. And he had grown up on a no-electricity subsistence farm where everything was heated and cooked with wood. At age 70 he was still producing 2 full cords of firewood every year. He enjoyed the exercise, was incredibly efficient, and turned down my offers of free splitting mauls.
    Unbeknownst to me my 'go-to' axe of choice over the past 50 years also happens to be 2 1/4 lb and with a 26 inch handle.
    A small axe is much more versatile than any hatchet.
     
  15. Bo T

    Bo T

    Feb 12, 2011
    My boys ax cuts small wood just as well as my larger axes. For your task, an inexpensive True Temper, Collins, etc. can be picked up at most hardware stores for less than $40 US. The Estwing is bulletproof (you should never have to replace the handle) but a little heavier. I'd personally go for a bow saw and a boys ax in your situation.
     
  16. 300Six

    300Six

    Aug 29, 2013
    Gotta agree here, especially with regard to outdoor activities such as camping, hunting and fishing. Bow saw (they're called Swede saws up this way) or more recent folding-type Japanese-toothed versions are definitely the way to go for cutting trees and limbs to length before splitting into firewood.
     
  17. Chignecto Woodsman

    Chignecto Woodsman

    746
    Aug 2, 2014
    Tried posting this yesterday but it said the site was down (now it's doing that silly glitch again where it won't let you copy and paste the post):

    A huge topic. If you're camping in parks you probably are not allowed to cut your own wood there, they want the wood to contribute to the forest floor. People talk of reflector fires, what's really a re-emitter fire, but these are not really useful until you get into the long fires used in below 0 temps. Woods like pine and balsam fir generally produce very little heat, and often the dead wood you find around campsites are only really good for starting fires. Afterwards you're spending more time trying to keep the fire going than anything else. And these really soft woods also generally are smoky with lots of sparks.

    Birch is probably the best all-around campfire wood as the smoke is very little and pleasant. It can be burnt green as well. Maple produces a lot of heat and lasts quite a while. If you combine smaller wood with a larger piece you will burn at the most efficient rate; the most heat, least smoke, and fairly long lasting for little effort. You want your pieces a finger to two fingers apart at most, depending on the size of the wood, pencil to finger-size space for smaller wood.

    Depends on what area you live in too. Maybe you have very different wood than what is in my area.

    You also need to consider clothing. Sitting too close to the fire can damage your clothes, you don't want to be closer than a large step. Generally this means fires are for cooking and atmosphere/night lighting, and if you're too cold then you need to wear more clothes. Stay off the ground and wear wool with a windbreaking layer (again, most new fabrics will be absolutely destroyed by fire).

    Don't forget the hood and toque, you lose most of your heat from your head and neck. and for a warming fire you basically need a long fire, or Scandinavian/Russian type of fire. These take quite a bit of wood and can be dangerous for inexperienced people/certain times of year, but they are the fire to learn for emergencies and staying warm/drying out in colder seasons. You can also set up windbreaks with a tarp.

    The very conservative rule for sleeping is 1-1.5 inches of loft for every 10 degrees f below 70. This means that at freezing you need 3.5 inches of loft, 1.75 above and below you for sleeping. Generally this is for down, and with fabric like wool you can have a little less. For clothing the rule is about the same for at rest, so your girlfriend needs about 1.75" thick layers for her upper body, and likely a little less for lower. This is why layering is very helpful, rather than one thick layer you can create space with layers and also reduce weight. A wool sweater and a large windbreaking layer should do it for most people at freezing.
    ...
     
  18. DeadboxHero

    DeadboxHero

    Mar 22, 2014
    Great knowledge. Good share
     
  19. Chignecto Woodsman

    Chignecto Woodsman

    746
    Aug 2, 2014
    I would disagree that a saw is faster. Once you get good with an axe most limbs and small trees you need in bushcraft will come off/down in a swing or two. It's much faster, plus you don't have to be in bent down, awkward back and knee positions. Saws were considered faster in the industry only because average people could cut faster and be paid less, as it took far less skill. A top axeman can cut faster with an axe than two men with a saw.

    A crosscut saw will be faster for most people on large wood, but certainly not a small saw. Take the few weeks to learn how to use an axe properly and I guarantee it is quicker on smaller wood. Where the saw excels is that you can easily cut after dark, and shorter lengths can be cut while saving energy if you make a bucking horse.

    I would agree on the 3/4 axe, 2 to 2.5 lbs. Shorter axes can be good for carving, but generally aren't so good for splitting and collecting wood. They require a lot of energy and the short length makes them dangerous, so you're always having to bend over.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2015
  20. Curt Hal

    Curt Hal Gold Member Gold Member

    548
    Jul 8, 2014
    Minimalist: For $75, I can give you the choice of several fine, refurbished American axes that will do exactly what you want.
     

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