Packing in an axe, ultralight backpacking is just no fun...(axe suggestions and discussion)

Discussion in 'Backpacking' started by 2Stroke, Feb 28, 2018.

  1. 2Stroke

    2Stroke Tracker

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    Okay everyone, let me just preface this by saying I'm not bashing on ultralight backpacking, I actually generally pack as close to ultralight as possible, I just don't like to skimp on tools (quite frankly I just enjoy bringing tools on trips because they're just fun). Also, I put this here because I bring it backpacking alot and figured backpackers may have an Idea what I'm talking about; If any moderator thinks it would be better in another forum, please don't hesitate to move it!

    Well if you can't already tell I like axes. I used to bring my tomahawk everywhere weather camping or hiking, but I just felt too under gunned at times. I slowly made the switch to hatchets and I enjoyed the extra heft, but it still wasn't enough. I carried the fiskars chopping axe for a while and it worked great but I just hated the balance and how awkward it was. Well I recently purchased the husqvarna carpenters axe and my world was changed.
    20180221_121429.jpg

    A minute on the belt sander and a few minutes of fine tuning and this axe is a true monster. It chops like all hell, and it splits wood way better than expected. I've brought it backpacking and it is awesome to have but no matter how much I've fallen for it, I just cant escape the feeling that something is off with it.

    I think that the problem is in the fine tasks. I fully understand that I am using an axe and it will never be as good as a knife for fine tasks, but I think it may be turning me off a bit. It carves great and splits kindling down just fine, but there's just something that bugs me. I'm going to carve down the handle under the head for a better fit in hand but I am not sure that it is going to work like I think.

    So here is my question: What techniques for using a larger axe will change my mind on the husqvarna, or what can I do about that feeling. I have also caught the axe bug and I feel that it is going to be my next money blower. Outside of the GB small forest axe, what would anyone suggest for another good backpacking and bushcraft axe? I'd like to have a handle about the same size (19"-22''), and a head weight about 1.25 up to 2.25, preferably around 1.8lbs.

    Thanks for sticking around through my ramble and I look forward to hearing everyone's thoughts!
     
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  2. Kreger

    Kreger Guide

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    I like the vintage wetterlings hatchet. I prefer it over GB Scandinavian Forest Axe personally.
     

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  3. cbrianroll

    cbrianroll Professional Tinkerer

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    I would like to find one to re hang., I only see them for 60 or more though....

    2 stroke...whats the handle length on the husqvarna carpenters?
     
  4. Waynemanning84

    Waynemanning84 Tracker

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    20180226_084632.jpg It doesn't fall into your length category tough you could certainly make it I guess but my Kelly cruiser is 2 1/2 pounds and I have it set up so I can chop with one bit and the other is ground for finer work. I fitted a full sized axe handle too it requires some shaping filing and sanding which makes it 35" overall. I carry it strapped to my pack with no problem and it gives me the versatility of a full sized yet it's light and easy to do carving and small work with.
    I made covers for it I take them both off when splitting or felling trees but have one side on when carving and such so I don't get cut with the unused bit.
    You don't get the option of a hammer with a double bit axe but I can make one in a few minutes in the bush so no big deal. 20180223_100554.jpg 20180223_142252.jpg
     
  5. Kreger

    Kreger Guide

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    @cbrianroll , set up auto reports on ebay. I found this one for around $30. It was a buy it now option. I searched for a long time to find it though. From what I've read on here, it sounds like the American makers were top dogs back then. I'd like to get a couple different American heads to try out. Plumb is on my list at the moment.
     
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  6. Phisikos

    Phisikos Scout

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    2Stroke, I've managed to accept that I don't really need a hatchet but I think we are alike in feeling drawn to have one... don't let anyones opinion of what you should or should not bring effect you. Way I see, all the weight we fight to trim off our packs is currency we can spend any way we want.

    That said I don't think I have any advice you'd need to hear... Wooden handle, keep it fairly small. You guys have me skimming eBay now though!
     
  7. TheRambler

    TheRambler Scout

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    I'm probably an odd ball, but i prefer to bring my cold steel special forces shovel.
    My fixed blade can split larger wood if i need to, other than that the shovel is a win for me.

    Chops very well. Throws very well. Digs very well. Can also choke up on it and use it for fjner tasks like shavings etc

    In the winter it is handy for snow and breaking through ice. It's always handy for moving coals or digging out a firepit. Used to dig a below grade fire pit/dakota hole if stealthing it. Digging for worms and such in the warmer months.

    Did I mention throwing it is fun?
     
  8. UAHiker

    UAHiker Supporter Supporter

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    nice sheath! i may have to steel that idea :)

    my next outing is going to be with my shovel. fowler has shown how worth that shovel can actually be.

    i'd also like to bring either my hatchet or my 18/19" plumb axe along as well.

    personally i can't justify spending $$$ on a gf just b/c it's gf... when i paid less than 60 for my old vintage plumbs. each to his own and personal preferences and what you want out of the trip and what weight your willing to carry and how many miles your covering :)
     
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  9. Glock Holiday

    Glock Holiday Scout

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    image.jpg Its a Supar Banko 14.5 inches total. Made in Sweden. 1lb 7oz. I purchased this at a garage sale for 9 bucks. Surface rust and wobbly head. Cleaned right up and put in a better wedge. Very sharp and holds an edge.
     
  10. Togus

    Togus Supporter Supporter

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    Council Tool Hudson Bay axe 2# head w/ 18” handle with leather mask less than 100 clams. Made in USA. If you have the funds you can upgrade to the Velvicut line; 5160 steel and premium hickory handles. I have the WoodCraft Pack axe and love it.
    I scored the one of the Standard Hudson Bay Axes for about $40 and a full leather mask for belt carry for $20. I stripped the paint from the head, the lacquer from the handle, and then I torched the handle, and sealed it with BLO, pine tar, and turp. Great little axe for camp chores and still packable.
     
  11. arleigh

    arleigh Guide

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    You know why they don't use Mac trucks to race against Ferraris ?
    The truck has infinitely more power ,and bigger in every way .

    A felling ax is designed thin for the deepest 90 degree cuts across the grain in the tree.
    A splitting ax is beefy wedge like and designed for splitting at the end grain .
    One does not perform the same, in place of the other.

    Cheap sheet metal hatchets are not good splitters nor fellers lacking any real body "kinetic energy". these make one work all that much harder .

    If you know the woods you trek and the wood you expect to process arm you self accordingly .

    Hard woods need a thinner edge, and softer wood needs a broader wedge .

    The unknown is more fun ,an in this case I like an ax that had a hump in the faces of the blade . DSCN4619.JPG
    This is a little marbles hatchet ,you can see the hump in the face of the blade .
    DSCN4626.JPG
    This is how I cary it . I almost forget it's back there.
     
  12. CHREBA

    CHREBA Guide

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    My latest do over . I just did it a few days ago (New/longer) handle . Wasn't sure if I'd like it ? Honestly have only used it on a 6' stump I use for testing on the property . It's rock hard and will/has put the hurt on many an edge . With hafted tools it's no small feat to send chips of any respectable size airborne . Heavier knives peck at it . This thing bit deep and held it's edge . This could be the love child of a lighter Tomahawk and a small axe . Very usable tool . Makes great curls and I predict a decent carver . Under $25 including its second new handle , 19" California framing handle .
    1519927658753-1166717672.jpg
    IMG_20180227_064748711.jpg
     
  13. Waynemanning84

    Waynemanning84 Tracker

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    20180223_100554.jpg
    Yes but why not carry something that can do BOTH? My little cruiser splits wood like A MAUL yet fells trees like it SHOULD. It carves, skins squirrels I'll take a pic next time I do prolly next week and well DOES IT ALL... I've never weighed it with the haft but I'm sure it's not much over three pounds and I get everything... Well with the exception of a hammer but I've said before I can make a bush hammer in ten minutes in the bush with a 2 foot 6 to 8 inch diameter piece of wood....
     
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  14. CHREBA

    CHREBA Guide

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    Anything other than dedicated tools is a sacrifice . The question is what's important/necessary for you to prevail . I'm a firm believer that "Self preservation is the first law of nature" Point Blank !!!
     
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  15. Waynemanning84

    Waynemanning84 Tracker

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    I really like that carry setup...
     
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  16. Phisikos

    Phisikos Scout

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    I'm gonna check that shovel out... Pretty darn useful.

    Just for kicks I found these photos of my Estwing 12" hatchet. I made it in preparation for my first backpacking trip.. really enjoyed using it but I would later restore another hatchet with a wooden handle to save weight... These days I don't plan to bring a hatchet unless for a specific reason... I'll dig that up and post pics as well
     

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  17. mrwes40

    mrwes40 Tracker

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    6AC19F53-9369-4365-B5FF-695109A48142.jpeg New Council Tool Woodcraft Pack Axe. She’s purty.
     
  18. Syntria

    Syntria Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    I'm going on my first backpacking adventure this weekend (I hope). Ambitiously attempting 25 miles but will probably actually only do 10-15. Part of me really wants to bring my axe or hatchet, but its also a state park and I'm not sure that its okay? I will certainly be bringing my mora bushcraft knife but maybe not my new AA forge for fear of hurting it.

    What's the avg weight range on hatches and axes? I mean my guess is 2-5lbs?
     
  19. Phisikos

    Phisikos Scout

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    Bought this for $3 at a flea market and cleaned it up with an angle grinder. Did an acid etch of an owl on 1 side and a coyote howling at the moon on the other side but this metal rusts far too easily, coyote side fading away

    Likely wouldn't take it it out on any trip where weight matters anymore.. but I did carry it for 30 miles, and it was a fun project that I'd so again
     

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  20. 2Stroke

    2Stroke Tracker

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    It's about 19"
     
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  21. DuctTape

    DuctTape Scout

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    I bring the tools I need for the trip. If I am doing trail maintainance I have a lot of different saws, blades, loppers. On an ultralight multiday backpacking trip, my only tool is a SAK. Fishing, I will have a fillet knife. If it is a plop camp and sit around the fire, a saw for sure and sometimes a hatchet. It all depends.
     
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  22. 2Stroke

    2Stroke Tracker

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    I really like that carry method, how did you make that?
     
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  23. Red Wing

    Red Wing Guide

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    I've taken a Scandinavian forest axe to Linville Gorge.

    Do you man!
     
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  24. GreenFrog

    GreenFrog In the Forest Supporter Hardwoodsman Bushclass III

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    I pack a gb hunter axe when backpacking. My distances usually cap at 10 miles a day tho.
     
  25. Wolf427

    Wolf427 Scout

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    My favourite pack axe of late has been a Husqvarna hatchet head hung on a 19" handle. Perfect overall size and weight.
     
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  26. rkcolt45

    rkcolt45 Scout

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    My vote is also a GB Scandinavian if you're anticipating heavy duty chopping/felling. My GB wildlife hatchet will chop larger wood I'd just take longer to complete than using the Scandinavian. I also use all my GB's for cutting/field dressing animals during hunting season. They're as sharp as my knives.
     
  27. Jim Quattlebaum

    Jim Quattlebaum Tinder Gatherer

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    This Council Tool Boys Axe 24 inch handle is a nice American Made product that is quite packable for most camp task.
    You won't necessarily be felling trees with this one, but for camp stuff it's great
     

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  28. Jim Quattlebaum

    Jim Quattlebaum Tinder Gatherer

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    Thats a looker. I went with the Boys Axe 24 inch.
     
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  29. thereandbackagain

    thereandbackagain Scout

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    I met this guy stationed in Kodiak. He was from a Pennsylvania hunting family and had a .257 Roberts used for deer hunting gifted on his birthday. He couldn't get it in his worldview why everyone carried .30-06 up and thought us fools. He saw the brownies from a helicopter and got religion.
    So, rather than ask which axe, I must ask 'what are you chopping with it?'
     
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  30. Keyser Söze

    Keyser Söze Usual Suspecto Lifetime Supporter

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    that axe a good knife and a quality dry wood blade 24" bucksaw is all you need for bushcraft backpack and camping fishing...
    learn how to make wood splitting wedges for larger firewood ... is part of crafting
     
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  31. Woods Walker

    Woods Walker Rattlesnake Charmer. Supporter Bushclass I

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    Those better be dead trees!!!!! :4:
     
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  32. mrwes40

    mrwes40 Tracker

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    I was thinking about the Council WoodCraft 24", but opted for the 19" instead.
     
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  33. mjh

    mjh Supporter Supporter

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    Well IF I was going to be packing an axe I'd carry one of three: A Snow & Nealy Hudson Bay, A Council Tool Hudson Bay, or a Council Tool Woodcraft all around 24+- inch handles. I have packed with a 'hawk but never an axe. Have packed with break down saws too. Never been to country where an axe was really absolutely needed. Rockies, Cascades, Northern Minnesota....small fires if any, solo or small group...we always managed....
     
  34. Ptpalpha

    Ptpalpha Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Take a look at the Hults Bruk Salen. Sounds like it's exactly what you're looking for.
    Otherwise, I'd highly recommend buying a vintage American head (Plumb, Kelly/True Temper, Mann, etc), and hanging it on a West Woods handle. You end up with a top quality tool and a new (for some) skillset.
     
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  35. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Guide

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    Well I'm late to the party on this thread. In case the OP is still interested. I have a mini hatchet that I take on some backpacking trips, other times I bring no axe, but my favorite pack axe that I've taken on a few different legitimate backpacking trips is this setup.

    [​IMG]Camp Axe at the Falls by MJGEGB, on Flickr

    TrueTemper Woodslasher head, 25" custom handle, 1 lbs 15oz total weight without a sheath. The picture is from a trip after hiking about 10 miles into mountain valleys give or take. And of course I had to hump it back out, but considering I only needed 2.5 days worth of food and there was water sources everywhere it wasn't a big deal.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2018
  36. Gii shi kan dug

    Gii shi kan dug Supporter Supporter

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    Here is a nice light little pack ax

    thumbnail_WP_20180507_001.jpg
     
  37. CaliforniaCanuck

    CaliforniaCanuck Guide

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    That's going to feel good with the hip belt!
     
  38. GoKartz

    GoKartz Sharpaholic Supporter

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    I’ve taken this guy backpacking a couple times, mostly because I enjoy using him. I really don’t think it’s worth the weight.
    4A670E51-C1EF-4274-A19C-E9D72B1634AC.jpeg
    Not sure what you can do about your husqvarna; I like using mine choked up, but I much prefer to have a belt knife I can pull out and work with. Even making that transition a lot, I think it is worth it.

    I think this axe is a Wetterlings. I picked it up used, so I don’t know much more than that. It takes a great hair-popping edge and demolishes green wood. I’m a fan. :)
     
  39. WILL

    WILL Guide

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    I back-pack. Typical summer trip is 40- 50 miles over 5 days. Pack weight is a big deal, but I too enjoy working in a little bush-crafting. This year I'll take a Swiss Army Knife Huntsman model, bow saw blade and this hatchet. Your Husky carpenters ax is a bit overweight for my older body to carry up and down mountains all day. For a hatchet, the 20-24 oz. range seems to be the sweet spot for me as far as still having reasonable ability vs. weight. The longer the handle the better.
     
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  40. JAY

    JAY Guide

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    I like hawks, but most are not heavy enough for camp chores. I bought this CRKT Woods Chogan, and found it has more weight like a hatchet. I have used it a lot of times, and am now a happy camper. DSC00923.JPG DSC00924.JPG
     
  41. darodalaf

    darodalaf Guide

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    I don't consider the Husqvarna Carpenter's axe to be a very good all-arounder for backpacking or other mobile backcountry activities. The blade weight is overkill for most backcountry woodworking applications and the bit length is also unneccesarily long for most bushcrafting tasks.

    It is a great tool around the shop, especially if you do large carving operations like carving bowl blanks or other types of stock reduction, and it is really a nice and entirely appropriate tool for building semi permanent camp structures like lean-tos, walls, etc.

    Also, Husqvarna handles are usually bulky. I have only had a couple, the carpenter's axe and the regular hatchet, and I pared down the handles on both considerably.

    I really like the Husqvarna Carpenter's axe, but I wouldn't recommend it as the ideal all-around bushcrafter's axe.
     
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  42. Northwest Axe

    Northwest Axe Supporter Supporter

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    Helko Werk has a few really nice options, I think the rheinland series you'd like!
     
  43. 2Stroke

    2Stroke Tracker

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    Hey guys, here's an update: I think I found my new pack axe...i hung a 22oz carpenter's hatchet head on a hand carved 19" hickory handle (22" from butt to top of the axe head). It's pretty light but the longer handle makes it fast. I've only done a few test chops with it but so far it seems awesome. I'll post some pictures when I get it out to play with it!
     
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  44. Ptpalpha

    Ptpalpha Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    That's a great size combination, I'm surprised we don't see it more often. Incredibly useful tool.
    IMG_20171029_181621.jpg
     
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  45. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Guide

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    I've got one of those heads sitting in my garage. I rescued it from rusting away in the neighbors yard after he chopped rocks with it and broke the handle. Might need to play with it a bit.

    I've got a few of these camp axes setup. Getting ready to beat on my ugly duckling. I need to clean up behind my garage.

    [​IMG]Harbor Freight camp axe side view by MJGEGB, on Flickr

    It's an ugly bastard with a Pakistan made head attached to a bowed handle with a warm hole that was originally fitted to a different head. Still works great, and it's fun not worring about the axe your swinging.
     
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  46. Ryan Alexander

    Ryan Alexander Supporter Supporter

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    That's really nice lookin!

    I understand your looking for good size axe with a shorter handle but why not get a hatchet? It will do everything you need it to do and it's easy to pack. Personally for bushcraft I prefer an axe with a 26" handle and at least a 2 1/2lb head designed for felling. This is because most of the work i do with my axe is bucking, felling and splitting (hardwoods). While a felling axe doesn't EXCEL at splitting.. I've never had much of an issue with it. If it does get stuck, and it will. You can baton it through.

    Packability.. tie the thing to the side of your pack blade facing behind you. Just remember to set your pack down before you sit down.. made that mistake a time or two. You won't even notice it's there... unless it knocks you in the head but it only happens once in a while... lol
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2018
    Guttersnipe and Kelly W like this.
  47. 2Stroke

    2Stroke Tracker

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    20180810_194730.jpg Screenshot_20180813-123939.png

    So here is my new baby. I made it because I ended up breaking the handle on the original hatchet and decided to make a small bushcraft type axe. I took it "camping" this weekend (read: in a camper) and it totally blew my mind. It chopped excellent for its size in both hard and soft woods, and it even split better then expected. I pitted it up against the husqvarna carpenter's axe and it was a very close match, the husqvarna only coming out on top because it has double the head weight. All in all though I am beyond impressed and am incredibly happy about how it worked out!
     
  48. CaliforniaCanuck

    CaliforniaCanuck Guide

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    I put a small hatchet head on a 26" handle for experimentation and portability but it turned out looking pretty ugly. It stays in my vehicle as an emergency tool but I've never actually used it. It's one of those creations that you regret as soon as you finish making it! Total weight is under 2.5 lbs.

    I put a 1.25 lb head on a 20" handle for my son and it's actually a decent little chopper. Doesn't look or feel unnatural.
     
  49. riokid87

    riokid87 Tracker

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    While cleaning up the remnants of an old barn a few years ago I found this. It's bent and probably not worth refurbishing but I thought it was a cool artifact and relevant or at least of interest to this thread. It weighs 2lb 4oz and the eye is 3/4 x2 inches 15356844033801829623407.jpg
     
  50. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Guide

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    It might not be bent, looks like an old hewing hatchet. They were ment to have a chisel grind and often had a non-symmetrical shape.
     

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