The Axe! Well this is another tool/subject that people like to argue about. Let me tell you right off that I am not here to do that. I will be talking about this great tool in a positive way. I know some will not agree with what I say. To those who disagree I completely respect you and your opinion. There are different reasons why some of us would not carry an axe. Like for instance if your backyard is the desert or the jungle the axe will not be suitable for your needs.
Ok, let’s get on with this blog. First, a little definition. Where is Wikipedia when I need him! Oh! There you are! 🙂
The axe (or ax) is an implement that has been used for millennia to shape, split and cut wood; to harvest timber; as a weapon; and as a ceremonial orheraldic symbol. The axe has many forms and specialised uses but generally consists of an axe head with a handle, or helve. WIKIPEDIA
I have to admit that I love the axe. Not only because of its history (like being one of the main tools to help shape our country) but especially for its uses especially in the Northern Woods.
When it comes to my part of the world either it be building a shelter and harvesting fire wood for the night, the axe is the right tool to have. It makes the work a lot easier and faster than most tools. Now I know a saw, knife, and other tools are important but this blog is about the axe. 🙂
It is also a very versatile tool. Not only does it do the big jobs well but can also be used for the smaller tasks. Note: Like the knife or saw, the axe has to be sharp if you want it to work well for you.
I have to stop here for a moment and give you a sincere warning: Have the proper training and safety tips before ever thinking of using an axe. The axe is a powerful tool and if not used properly can cause severe damage. What I am trying to say is that the axe does not forgive! PLEASE LEARN TO USE IT PROPERLY!
Let’s look at some important uses of this tool:
– Harvesting wood for building shelters
– For felling, cutting and splitting wood for fire
– It can be used as a useful hammer. Pounding things in like stakes.
– It can be used for notching, trimming, limbing and even for feather sticks
– It can become a very useful defensive weapon (on four legged animals please!)
– The shape of the cutting edge on the hammer head is very strongly made. Especially if you are facing cold winters. The cold will weaken any cutting edge. But the axe is made to endure.
I guess that’s enough said! Nothing else is coming to mind anyway.
The famous question? Which one should I get? This blog is not being written to tell you what to get. Just to give you a little awareness of this amazing tool. Also to show you what I am currently using. I will not explain all the facts of the axe. There is so much to talk about and there are a lot of knowledgeable folks out there that could instruct you more properly. I am just giving my 10 cents.
Gransfors and Bruks is what I am currently using (Wetterlings is very similar).
I personally own the Small forest axe, the Small Hatchet, and hopefully if my wallet permits it I will be purchasing the Scandinavian Forest Axe which is a little bigger and makes the job so much easier. All these axes listed above are from Gransfors and Bruks.
Why that company? It’s a well known and long existing company in Sweden. There axes are truly made for the woodsman. Shape, balance and let’s not forget the COOL look they have. 🙂 So depending on your particular need you will need a particular axe.
The hatchet is maybe comparable to a large knife in effectiveness. So if you are in an area where the axe is not a real need this little hatchet is something you can consider. The Small Hatchet is Josie’s by the way. 🙂
If you want something a little bigger. Like an all around camp axe. The Small Forest axe would be a great choice. Small enough to use with one hand yet big enough to use with two if you need the necessary power.
Now the Scandinavian Axe can do all of the above but with a little less effort.
Ok, so all of this is great news and they seem to be amazing tools but what about the weight?
Obviously, the bigger the heavier. So that is a choice all of us must make. Am I willing to carry the extra weight? Is it worth it?
I certainly cannot answer that for you but to me the extra weight is not a problem especially in knowing how essential this axe is and what it can do for me when traveling in the Northern Woods.
Why don’t you talk about other axes? I can only talk about the things I know. The Gransfors and Bruks have never disappointed me and always get the job done. Oh! I have owned other axes like the hatchet made by Buck. Great little hatchets but I don’t like a hollow plastic handle. It misses strength and weight to help me do what I need to do. I even broke a handle off. Please do not think I am bringing down this hatchet because I am not. I am just saying that it’s not for me.
I am leaving you with two of many fundamental truths to consider about the axe:
- If you are a lightweight backpacker the axe is certainly not an option
- “The larger the axe, the safer it is and the less effort is required for its use.” — Mors Kochanski
Ok, now you just mixed me up 🙂 Depending on who you are… it should help you make an easy choice….
“The axe is the most important of the basic bush tools. Outside of fire, little else can contribute more to living comfortably in the wilderness than knowing how to properly use a well chosen axe.” — Mors Kochanski
Words of wisdom from a man of knowledgeable experience. Thank you Sir!
Maybe that will help you choose 🙂
Here is a full description of my three preferred axes depending on your immediate needs:
Scandinavian Forest Axe
3 ½” Face/2 lb Head/25 ¼” Handle
Small Forest Axe
3 ¼” Face/19 ½” Handle/1 ½ lb Head
2 1/2” Face/0.7 lb Head/10 ½” Handle.
The axes are hand forged by professional smiths from Sweden with a beautiful oiled hickory handles and including grain leather sheaths. It’s pretty cool that each axe is personally marked with the initial of its maker, a true mark of their craftsmanship.
Related Video (Sharpening an Axe and the ULU knife)
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