Hatchet vs. Knife w/ safety lesson(somewhat graphic)

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by Machine27, Apr 7, 2012.

  1. Machine27

    Machine27 Ridicuously Good Looking Supporter Bushclass I

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    Ok since determining which knife I owned was the best chopper, I decided to put it up against a 10.5" wetterlings hatchet. The knife is the kabar potbelly.

    Here are the tools.
    [​IMG]

    Chopping test. 20 swings each. The axe straight up dominated here.
    [​IMG]

    Making notches. Both did this well, potbelly felt more natural.
    [​IMG]

    Fuzz sticks. Both get the job done, but for some reason was easier with the axe.

    Potbelly.
    [​IMG]

    Wetterlings.
    [​IMG]

    I was then doing more tests, chopping vs batonning, etc. Was kneeling on my left knee and went to chop the axe into a piece of wood sitting on the ground and hit myself right below the knee.

    Didn't feel much but saw a small cut in my pants when I looked down.
    [​IMG]

    So I figured I'd better check it out. Here's what I saw, pretty deep from my perspective but not bleeding all that bad. Still figured I'd better get home and patch myself up.
    [​IMG]

    Here's what the inside of my pants looked like once I got home.
    [​IMG]

    Lessons learned. Axes chop/slice great, even your leg. Can't be too safe with tools, especially heavy/sharp ones. Even though I'm the guy that's always about safety I slip up sometimes too, we all do, never get complacent. It also sucks being able to see your subq tissue.

    Hope everyone can learn a little something from my screw up, I sure did!
     
  2. Zig

    Zig Guide

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    I love hatchets. They are my favorite type of axe, but they carry the caveat of having a short handle. It's much easier to hit yourself with a hatchet than an axe with a longer handle.

    Hope you heal up nice, man. Be sure to clean it out well. You know where that axe has been!
     
  3. Machine27

    Machine27 Ridicuously Good Looking Supporter Bushclass I

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    This is true and thank you. Luckily I was an EMT and learning medical stuff is another hobby of mine, so I'm able to competently take care of wounds.
     
  4. BushTramp

    BushTramp Team Canada Bushclass I

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    Good stuff and glad you never hurt yourself too badly
    -one thing ,I do this often but don't see alot of others doing with a hatchet is batonning
    My little mini hatchet pops wood apart when batonned with a stick and is much more efficient use than trying to chop/split
     
  5. Hubb

    Hubb Scout Bushclass I

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    I agree. I was just out yesterday doing it. It split the wood into small enough pieces to use in my twig stove. And it actually seems easier to control than my knife when used that way.
     
  6. scottman

    scottman Guide

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    Batoning a hatchet is something that is a very good skill. Pretty much all the time a hatchet is thicker then a .25 inch thick knife and will split wood very well with more mechanical advantage.

    A lot of people say the .25 inch knives weigh less then axes/hatchets but my husqvarna hatchet weighs as much as my kabar heavy bowie/buck hoodlum knife with sheath- 1 pound 5 ounces. For people who carry a ".25 thick chopper/splitter" a hatchet will often split better with more mechanical advantage for that role.

    Here's a little 9 oz hatchet head being used. http://bushcraftusa.com/forum/showthread.php?t=57063&highlight=mini+hatchet
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2012
  7. Machine27

    Machine27 Ridicuously Good Looking Supporter Bushclass I

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    Good thinking. Next time I go out I'll do some batonning with the hatchet.
     
  8. PeterCartwright

    PeterCartwright Guide

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    The batoning thing works especially well with the thin-bladed Estwing hatchets. My old (50 + years now!) Estwing is a size smaller than current offerings. It takes a razor edge, but doesn't have much mass. I've been beating it with heavy "batons" to split firewood ever since I first read Cliff Jacobson's recommendation years ago. Cliff said it was the way to prevent "axidents". However, I still use chopping/splitting swings with more traditional hatchets.

    Accidents happen in a heart beat. Glad you weren't hurt badly.

    PC
     
  9. Looker

    Looker Guide

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    Thanks for the comparison. You pretty much confirmed what I thought all along. I baton with my hatchets sometimes too.

    I'm glad your injury was minor!

    Looker
     
  10. bearhunter2

    bearhunter2 Guest

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    nothing a little duct tape cant fix;)
     
  11. Sealegs

    Sealegs Scout

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    Gramps always said if you carry a small axe, bring a large patience.

    Had a few relatives through the 19th and 20th century who didn't make it home to the farm from logging injuries. Glad you are OK.
     
  12. xj35s

    xj35s Banned Member Banned

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    I spent Saturday at the in laws. They have a stump that has been there for over 40 years I thought for sure would have some fat wood in it. I used my Fiskars X7 to hack at it. very hard wood and not getting into it much at all. Thinking it was hemlock not pine.

    The hatchet deflected once. Not too close but enough for me to realize my stance was all wrong. I mentioned the shaving sharpness and moved my left foot back and widened my stance. My Father in law was impressed but doubted it was that sharp. After hacking at it a while and realizing just how solid this wood was I showed him I could STILL shave hair off my arm.

    I put this hatchet through a ton of wood. I never retouched the factory edge. It is still shaving sharp. I have a lot and I mean a LOT of respect for this thing. One slip and there will be some serious down time.
     
  13. scottman

    scottman Guide

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    That's part of the reason I'm such a big fan of the saw for crosscutting, a light weight option.

    The bahco peg teetch 24 inch blades weight 1.75 ounces each.

    The thing about a small axe/hatchet is that you can increase it's handle length if your "stay" turns out to be longer (assuming it's a conventional axe- not a fiskars/estwing type)
     
  14. woodsmannorway

    woodsmannorway Guest

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    axe > big knife
    Anyday :)
     
  15. Trail Dust

    Trail Dust Scout

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    Large knives, hatchets and short axes, any swinging tool, chainsaws can eat you REAL quick if they are not used with great skill and caution. Over the years, I have seen a number of VERY serious accidents occur in the woods, and at home with these tools. Though I have been diligently using these tools for over 50 years, I make sure each and every time that, my mind is fully awake and alert before I even place my hand on the tool. "Familiarity" with a tool can be as dangerous as inexperience at times so, starting the task with a mental checklist of "do's and don'ts" isn't a bad thing to have when the cost of medical attention, loss of a limb, or lost wages and time is considered.

    Wille Sundqvist, master woodcarver and woodworker. This was a familiar scene and technique (striking with mallet or cudgel) that I observed in my youth among German craftsmen. Yes, it still works, I still do it at times.
    [​IMG]
     
  16. WoodsJack

    WoodsJack Guide

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    Glad you didn't split yourself any worse. It went into your right leg?

    I sliced a finger good recently with a knife. Such injuries can seem relatively "minor", but the splinted/wrapped finger has been in the way of doing more things than I'd like since.

    May you heal quick & keep the bacteria away.
     
  17. Machine27

    Machine27 Ridicuously Good Looking Supporter Bushclass I

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    Yeah it got my right leg. I'm lucky that basically all it did was graze/slice me open rather than chop my leg. I imagine it would've been alot worse if it was a straight on chop.
     
  18. zammer

    zammer Guide

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    Thanks for the reminder, hope its a quick heal.
     
  19. stillscout

    stillscout Supporter Supporter

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    It is a safe way to split the smaller stuff for me, and can be used to wedge out your blade if you get lodge in. Carefully!
     

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  20. KanukKarhu

    KanukKarhu Scout

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    SO true.

    First off, glad you're alright.

    Second, thanks for sharing this graphic reminder!

    I'll NEVER forget the sight of my brother's leg when he sliced himself with an axe. The 'meat' was hanging of his calf muscle just like a thin slice of beef. Gross! VERY educational for a young kid...

    I smiled to myself when I read what you said above. Reminded me of when I was very young man and went to my first job as a meat cutter. The butcher was showing me around and when we came to the saw, he said, "This saw will cut chicken, lamb, beef and pork, but not human flesh." I said (duh!) "Really?!?" (I was impressed and incredulous all at one time.) He then said, "No! SO be CAREFUL!" (He kinda looked disgusted a bit, and I felt stoopit...)

    Yea, so axes cut what you swing 'em at. Good post. Thanks!
     
  21. kelly24179

    kelly24179 Scout

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    I carry my Condor Classic Scout Hatchet it wights a little over one pound with sheath and a Mora or two or three most of the time at least three different sizes I like the feel of the wood handle so I bring the classics #1, #2 and my fav #3 the long blade a lot of fun Almost aslong as my hatchet but if I just have a #2 and my Condor that is about all I need to do all my wood work.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2012
  22. Fat Old Man

    Fat Old Man Supporter Supporter

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    I'll have to agree with BushTramp and Scottman - Batoning with a hatchet works well and the hammer poll on the back of my old cheapo hatchet makes a great target to beat on.
     
  23. kelly24179

    kelly24179 Scout

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    Mora classic #3 and Condor Classic Scout Hatchet
     

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  24. scottman

    scottman Guide

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    I read on Ross's review that hatchet (2011 VERSION) splits very well. Do you chop with it at all?

    I still want to get some dirt time with a roselli.

    The size of wood I end up splitting with my hawks is usually about as thick as the bit extends from the handle. Usually I can split that same size wood with my CS shovel. I'm tempted to pick up one of those 12 oz construction hatchets at the hardware store- they are a more gentle sloping head and would work better Then a traditional hawk for splitting with a baton.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
  25. KanukKarhu

    KanukKarhu Scout

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    Second that. But you can't baton with a Nessmunk-ish double-bladed hatchet... just pointing that out... :)
     
  26. scottman

    scottman Guide

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    With the hawks and removable heads, you can stick some wood in the socket and baton that. The CS spike hawk has a much more gentle slope up to socket- still slightly balloons out to the socket- not as good a splitter as an american axe, or a more purposely "wood splitter designed spike". It will still split wood usually about as thick as the bit extends from the handle.

    If you have a split started you can just work the bit out of the wood- this is quite easy with the amount of leverage you can get on a hawk handle/hatchet/axe handle. IF the split is wide enough, you can insert a wedge there. The scandinavian axes have a bit that is thickens out quicker then most hawks, so they leave a wider crack.

    A polymer felling wedge weighs 3 ozs.
     
  27. Wildmike

    Wildmike Scout

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    And here I thought I was strange for batoning a hatchet.
     
  28. Two Bears

    Two Bears Banned Member Banned

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    I have a new big knife, its a Becker/Kabar Machax, I found with the little I've used it it batton's pretty well, almost as good as my Gerber hatchet.
     
  29. MiddleWolf

    MiddleWolf Guide

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    The message for constant caution comes through here clearly. The other day I managed to saw my fingernail in half crossways with a Dremal tool and vacationed at the VA for 4 hours while they xrayed for metal particles and flushed and cleaned the wound. Just one moment of carelessness when I knew I should have put that cable end in a hand vice while cutting taught me a lesson. You can imagine what it's like right now on this keyboard for one who has learned to type using the home row technique and having one of the most used fingers out of commission. (left index by the way)
     
  30. scottman

    scottman Guide

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    I've found no substitute for mechanical advantage. If you only have to break the bond of straight grain wood a knife is no problem- even a thin knife. ONce you have a crack though, mechanical advantage will greatly aid your knife/bit.
     
  31. rlh2

    rlh2 Guide Bushclass I

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    Thanks for the comparison. Sorry about the leg. Don't worry it'll grow back!
     
  32. gobblegobble

    gobblegobble Scout

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    I'm relatively new to wood processing, so I have a question about using a hatchet/tomahawk to baton: Can you strike the handle to continue the cut after the head is buried in the log, or will this damage the handle? (FYI, I use the Gerber/Fiskars products and the Sog hawks, though I recently picked up a CS Frontier Hawk as well). In my limited experience, it seems that the hatchet/hawk head sometimes gets completely embedded in the log, leaving nothing but the handle to strike. Thanks for your help--
     
  33. cellis

    cellis Post less. Do more. Supporter Bushclass II

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    I am not great with axes/hatchets but from what I understand you never ever want to strike the handle (correct me if I'm wrong mobsters please.) What I do is pick up the piece of wood and hatchet together and slam it into the ground when it gets embedded like you describe.
     
  34. gobblegobble

    gobblegobble Scout

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    Gotcha, thanks for the help--
     
  35. Howling Dingo

    Howling Dingo Scout

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    Yip the smaller the axe the more dangerous.I like the 19 inch hunters axe from Wetterlings...


    [video=youtube_share;ntUvOZmKhrc]http://youtu.be/ntUvOZmKhrc[/video]
     
  36. Sides

    Sides Guide

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    That was the main reason I started battoning, when I go to the Boundary Waters.
     

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