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Thread: Hatchet Search

  1. #1
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Hatchet Search

    Hi, for the past year I have been casually watching for a new hatchet. That probably sounds easier to buy than it is, especially for someone like me.

    There are a few applications I have in mind for it:
    - Camping - general wood cutting around the campground. We don't hike far from the van, so it isn't like it is going on a Mt Everest expedition.
    - Replacement for a knife. That probably sounds strange, but it would be really handy to just carry a small hatchet rather than a larger knife, at least I imagine it to be so.
    - Tree root cutting. Perhaps the most difficult application of all - removal of various small tree roots in the yard. I continue to be impressed by just how tough and flexible tree roots really are, and what a pain it is to dig out even a small stump. I have had some luck with using a hatchet that I sharpened about every 20 strokes, but that was a real pain. If I didn't keep the blade razor sharp, the root just bounced off, and of course the sand in the roots just wears down a blade.

    The challenge of course is that most people would recommend a blade that is not super hard (like a ceramic) due to its brittle nature, but that would be really nice for staying sharp.

    I saw some high end meat cleavers, and was actually fairly impressed with them. Nonetheless, the sales people frowned at me when I mentioned using it on tree roots.

    I was wondering about the possibility of finding a 6 - 8 inch ceramic blade and gluing it into some kind of hatchet / blade holder ?

    It was also pointed out to me that modern hatchets all have curved blades, although I don't really know quite why.

    Suggestions ?

    Thanks

    HarryN
    Homebuilts - "BREEZE" RCR2 sidexside, "Tornado" 4 x 18650 side x side, Streamlight SL20x LED module (Custom BST Feeler Thread)

  2. #2

    Default Re: Hatchet Search

    I've really had the best success using a cheap fiskars 17" hatchet. Its light, scary sharp and does medium/small wood for a weekend of camping just fine. I don't get the batoning thing so I'd rather have a good knife and a small hatchet. At home recently it was deployed as a root cutter but as you mentioned the dirt and rocks worried me. I ended up using a powered sawzall to cut through using long aggressive wood blades. Hope that helps.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Hatchet Search

    My Fiskars will cut 1" limbs like they were sausages after a fine sharpening. I have to be very careful using it because it slips through everything with much less force than you'd think was needed. I don't think there's any production tool out there that gives you more for the money than a Fiskars or Gerber ax.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Hatchet Search

    Quote Originally Posted by bushidomosquito View Post
    My Fiskars will cut 1" limbs like they were sausages after a fine sharpening.
    There's my problem! I never sharpen my sausages!! All kidding aside, I've had the fiskers and gerber, both do a TON of cutting for the money, though I've also been fortunate enough to spend many quality hours with a gransfors hatchet, and you really can see and feel where the extra 4x the money goes. Worth it? Like anything on this site, that's a deeply personal question, but damn...that's a fine tool.

  5. #5
    Enlightened
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    Default Re: Hatchet Search

    + 1 on Fiskars hatchet.

    I own one and it is a great tool.

    However for root removal you may want something heftier. Since it is yard work, I presume it will stay at home hence extra size should not matter.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Hatchet Search

    Thanks for the replies - they are appreciated.

    The roots of a eucalyptus tree are not so easy to get to, as they like to twist and turn in 3 dimensions through sprinkler pipes, etc. There really is not a lot of space to get to them sometimes.

    I don't own a sawzall, but I do see the value in one for this type of work. Even then, it still will not get to everything, so a small, very sharp hatchet is still needed, ideally one that will stay sharp cutting through root wood. (so a very hard edge) It would be really neat if somehow a person could use a ceramic edge on a hatchet, but I know that would be tricky.

    I don't plan to buy multiple hatchets for this - just one, so size and performance really do matter. Perhaps foolishly, I would like to think that a hatchet could replace the need for a large camping knife and be more general purpose in nature. That might not be possible.

    I don't joke when I say that a high end meat cleaver looked very interesting for this application.
    Homebuilts - "BREEZE" RCR2 sidexside, "Tornado" 4 x 18650 side x side, Streamlight SL20x LED module (Custom BST Feeler Thread)

  7. #7
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Hatchet Search

    Thank you for moving this to the right location. I was sort of looking for someone that makes custom hatchets, or possibly making one myself, but this is fine.
    Homebuilts - "BREEZE" RCR2 sidexside, "Tornado" 4 x 18650 side x side, Streamlight SL20x LED module (Custom BST Feeler Thread)

  8. #8
    Unenlightened
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    Default Re: Hatchet Search

    Have you looked at the Woodman's Pal? I use it around my yard for the sort of application you describe, as well as keeping the neighbor's bamboo at bay. I find that the small hook edge is perfect for those hard-to reach areas.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Hatchet Search

    Look at the Cold Steel TRAIL BOSS. Not pricey, and probably all you need...as for replacing a knife...to eaach his own. Wetterling and Snow Neally have some good products, too.
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Hatchet Search

    i got the Gerber 45905 Camp Axe (18") about five years ago and have found it perfect for around camp and yard work.

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* AnAppleSnail's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hatchet Search

    I've had good experiences with the short, heavy 'kukri' type machetes as a hatchet replacement. Cold Steel sells a darn fine one on the cheap. They're made of a thick piece of steel with a decently grippy (although hands bigger than mine would run into trouble) plastic handle. The sheath with the one I got is of good quality. As a young scrawny teenager I was able to easily chop (2" thick variety) bamboo and bamboo roots in our yard with one slice. The length of blade allows use of the very tip for root work, and the sharper side for cutting 'cleaner' things that won't damage the blade.

    A ceramic blade in a chopping application runs the risk of explosively shattering one day. I would strongly suggest ANSI Z87+ eye protection if you do this.
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Hatchet Search

    A Busse paul's hatchet or swamp rat knife works ratchet functions well as a small hatchet and servicable replacement for a knife- I've both felled 5" hardwood and dressed game with one, handy in the kitchen as well. I've sharpened mine to a shaving edge and had it hold up well in the field, but never tried it on tree roots specifically.
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  13. #13
    Flashaholic* Sub_Umbra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hatchet Search

    I also recommend the COLD STEEL Trail Boss. With it's 23" handle and 2.5 lb head the TB is a more versatile tool in the woods than a small hatchet if you may only carry one size. Style wise the TB is a European Tomahawk. It's beefy, and has a broader edge than what I grew up using.

    I really like mine. I got it for a bit over $30 at Amazon.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Hatchet Search

    The thing is that you are talking about very different tasks. I can chainsaw for hours and keep the chain sharp but as soon as I'm cutting the stump, slip and dip the chain into dirt it's time to stop and sharpen or put on a spare chain.
    If you keep an ax sharp it's a lot safer, it'll cut really nice and keep you happy.
    Use a pick adze for the eucalyptus roots, also this is the age of good quality tool steel in cheap tools, I've got a 5$ machete from the hardware store that is my all around root chopping, branch de-limbing, lendable chopper. Made in China, got another one just like it made in Malasia.
    Axes should be just about shaving sharp, if you wanted a nice axe and wanted to keep it sharp (a really strong edge is a convex grind, once it's established you just keep it honed with a leather belt and some honing compound) then I'd say start with a Snow and Neally, then if you really grow to love axes get a Gransfors Bruks.
    I got dirt tools and then I've got wood tools, and they don't ever switch off unless it's a 5$ machete with a bastard file on hand.
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  15. #15

    Default Re: Hatchet Search

    Survival experts recommend a fixed blade survival knife over a hatchet, if you must cut down on weight, since a knife is more versatile than a hatchet.

    But if you can use a van, you could choose for a hatchet plus a separate garden folding-saw for tree roots.

    Choose a hatchet with a metal handle (full tang) for safety, since a wooden handle will break eventually. Or you could consider a full tang survival knife that is wide and heavy at the top, for chopping.

    There are also sharpened mini shovels that are fit for chopping wood, like the Coldsteel.
    Last edited by Philip2; 12-17-2013 at 06:41 PM.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Hatchet Search

    Glueing a chopping blade is dangerous.

    You need a curved blade, since it reduces the contact surface while chopping, which gives more impact.

    Always be very careful when chopping. Use proper working gloves and safety glasses. And have someone around, who can call an ambulance for you, if needed.

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