Single bit vs. Double bit

Discussion in 'Edged Tools' started by Outdoor Dauber, Sep 13, 2018.

  1. Outdoor Dauber

    Outdoor Dauber Tracker

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    Which one do you prefer and why? I like the nostalgia of a double bit (like my vintage Plumb cruiser) but tend to think that a single bit is a little more versatile (like my 1920s Craftsman 2lb head I re-hung on a 28" straight handle from Beaver Tooth). What say you?
     
  2. Kelly W

    Kelly W Love the Axe Supporter

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    The axe I carry most in the woods with me is a 19 in. Wetterlings single. I love any sharp axe though. I working on a cruiser setup for this season. We'll see how that goes. I carry a Husqvarna multipurpose in my canoe with me most times.
     
  3. Outdoor Dauber

    Outdoor Dauber Tracker

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    I'd really like to get a Husqvarna Carpenter axe, but haven't pulled the trigger yet. I recently bought a True Temper broad hatchet and re-hafted it on a 16" handle. I would have preferred an 18", but couldn't find one.
     
  4. seasonofthewoods

    seasonofthewoods Lost In the Woods Supporter

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    Iv used both and prefer single. Maybe because I grew up using a single. But I know alot of guys who prefer double bits because you can have 2 felling edges or felling and one for splitting
     
  5. batmanacw

    batmanacw Guide

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    I have 105 axes and only 5 are double bits.
     
  6. Outdoor Dauber

    Outdoor Dauber Tracker

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    105 axes?!? I'm assuming there are a few specialty axes in the bunch...hewing, etc?
     
  7. batmanacw

    batmanacw Guide

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    A couple. Mostly hatchets, small pack axes, large pack axes, boys axes, then an assortment of full size axes but not many.
     
  8. Outdoor Dauber

    Outdoor Dauber Tracker

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    Very impressive! I'd like to see a picture of that collection, should you care to post one.
     
  9. MadMarcus

    MadMarcus Tracker

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    I like em all but when I have work to get done I almost always reach for a single bit like a Dayton or Jersey. I’m just more comfortable using them.
     
  10. Madwell

    Madwell Supporter Supporter

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    Single bit for me too though I will say I have very little experience swinging a double. I use a single bit or flat head axe fairly regularly at work. So I think that makes the tools seem more natural to me.
     
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  11. PaPa K

    PaPa K Supporter Supporter

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    I use both, but prefer the double for the versatility of the different grinds on each bit.
     
  12. J.M.

    J.M. Scout

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    I love old tools and going picking for them. Ive bought, sold and handled a lot of axes. In my area I hardly ever see a double bit axe, guessing 50 to 1 maybe. Not sure why that is, but double bits were not used much here. I like single bits myself, maybe due to lack of familiarity with double bits.
     
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  13. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Single bit...I find doubles a bit scary :eek:.
     
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  14. batmanacw

    batmanacw Guide

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    The double bits here are almost always used up with chopping roots for generations.
     
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  15. dirt7

    dirt7 Supporter Supporter

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    I have a Kelly Works double bit I scored at a yard sale years ago, fun to look at but I don't really like the balance of it.
     
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  16. RavenLoon

    RavenLoon axology student Supporter

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    Single bit although I own a couple dozen double bits. I never chop enough to get a single bit dull enough to switch sides. Plus I use the poll to hammer in a wedge when I use a chainsaw. I have a double with a blunt side I last used to cut roots on a stump but that's it.
     
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  17. Northwest Axe

    Northwest Axe Supporter Supporter

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    Anymore my use for a double bit is minimal. I end up always with a lot of them though because the Puget Sound is saturated with doubles(even though Ive yet to own a true puget sound head lol)I do a fair amount of trading with folks on here though so it works out nice having access to lots of doubles. Just got a Kelly Perfect cruiser for my birthday that I look forward to putting some time into.
     
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  18. Outdoor Dauber

    Outdoor Dauber Tracker

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    I live near Williamsport, PA which was once the heart of the lumber boom, so we have a lot of double bits around here too. Maybe that's part of my affinity for them. But I too find that a single bit is probably more useful for bushcraft. I really want a Sager Chemical double bit though!
     
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  19. arleigh

    arleigh Guide

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    I like having a poll , so the single is good enough for me.
    I grew up felling trees ,and have plenty of doubles and singles but if push comes to shove the single does all I need .
    Other that that I use a Saw. more efficient use of energy . and i'm particularly lazy.
     
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  20. sidmand

    sidmand Supporter Supporter

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    this right here - I like a double because I can have two different grinds, one for rough use and one for real deep cuts. That being said, I have only ever had two axes - one double and one single, and the single isn't very great and has a crap grind that I never fixed cause the handle is fiberglass and sucks and I just don't like it. The other is a double bit True Temper and is nice and I like it, so I use it more. I'm working on a single bit Plumb now, so maybe I change my mind.
     
  21. highlander

    highlander Supporter Supporter

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    I have five axes. Two boy’s axes, a 3.5lbs. Collins single, a 3.5lbs. Plumb single, and a 3lbs. Plumb DB.
    Out of all of them, I prefer the Plumb boy’s axe on a 26” handle.
    Although, I’m jonesing for a Hudson Bay head to hang on a 24” haft. They’re hard to find in Tennessee.
     
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  22. sea6ear

    sea6ear Tracker

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    I do most of my splitting by batoning an small Estwing hatchet. I really like being able to pound on the back of it (or even on the handle) as I'm pushing it through wood.

    Someday i'd like to get a double bit axe and a small double bit hatchet (ala nessmuk) to play with.

    However, I think I'd miss being able to pound on the back of it. I think for a full sized axe that wouldn't be a problem since I don't think I'd need to baton it, but for a hatchet, not having that poll on the back would force me to change how I would use it.
     
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  23. Kelly W

    Kelly W Love the Axe Supporter

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    As I have watched this thread progress, I realize that some folks have responded with their head and others with their heart. My first response was with my head. This post will reflect my heart.

    I love double bit axes. I don't think one will ever appreciate the effectiveness of the axe until they have used a tuned double. Once you find your comfort with the tool, they cut with a smoothness and effectiveness you'll never experience with a single. The added bonus of having two edges to use ranks it at the top of the axe food chain. They do require a tremendous respect. Also, the historical significance of the double bit axe to our society is foremost in my love for the double.

    That being said. I don't use them often but I collect them with a passion. As I stated in my prior post I am setting up a user for the winter and look forward to adjusting my method to see if I can fit it in my kit.

    Here are a few packed away waiting for their new digs

    IMG_2195.JPG .
     
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  24. batmanacw

    batmanacw Guide

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    My heart has always been with pack axes and smaller axes. That doesn't mean my heart didn't skip a beat when I found only my second real cruiser. My other cruiser is a wonderful felling axe. So smooth swinging and accurate.

    I really don't fell many trees and I only collect axes I intend to use, so my collection doesn't focus on double bits.

    I appreciate your post on things collected simply four the love of the things. I absolutely agree on the balance and beauty of a double bit and I still focus on singles. Not many full size singles at that.

    All because I fell in love with the Small Forest Axe years ago but I couldn't afford one. :D
     
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  25. Bryan King

    Bryan King Hobbyist Hobbyist

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    Single bit. Gotta bunch ,alternate from fiskers for rough work, to a nice light single bit axe gifted from @highlander , my fav.
    . My only double bit has a broken handle for about 5 yrs, I did'nt use only to shoot at in muzzleloader matches to split bullets, then we quit hosting the shoots. So it didn't get used. We use a wood stove for heat, so I get a lot of axe work.the single bit just works better cutting and processing firewood.
     
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  26. SiliconTi

    SiliconTi Tracker

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    I do not carry my ax in the woods, so I prefer a double. If I ding up and edge, I can just flip it over and keep gong.
     
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  27. Stophel

    Stophel Scout

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    Me too. It may be irrational, but I am just uncomfortable with a two bit axe.
     
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  28. Outdoor Dauber

    Outdoor Dauber Tracker

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    @Kelly W - Thanks for your thoughtful response. It seems we all look at gear with our heart sometimes rather than our heads. Neither one is wrong, but often the head makes more sense! BTW, looks like a nice broad axe and brush hook in the mix there!
     
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  29. Sandcut

    Sandcut Sed ego sum homo indomitus Vendor

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    If I was thinking with my head and not my heart I certainly wouldn't have the affinity for Fiskars axes that I have. :)

    I vote single bit. To me, a 3/4 axe with a Hudson's Bay head is as near to perfection as one can get. Although I'm gaining a newfound love for Jersey and Rockaway patterns. Rhineland patterns as well. I still haven't run across a rafting or a Maine wedge pattern yet, but I'm on the lookout.
     
  30. flip888

    flip888 Tracker

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    Like Northwest Axe said, the Puget Sound is full of double bits. I don't know why but that's all I ever find. That's probably why I like them the most.

    I've mostly used them for camping firewood use and storm cleanup. For whatever reason I feel they chop better than a single bit. Maybe because I've never had a properly sharpened single.

    As far as pounding wedges and tent pegs and such, I can do that with a double bit, just use the side (cheek?).
     
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  31. plumberoy

    plumberoy Guide

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    In my younger days I cut down quite a few trees with an axe. If felling trees or splitting wood is the job, a 3.5 lb Michigan pattern double bit is my tool of choice . The one I have was bought by my late uncle Ray some time before WWII it is marked true temper Vulcan and flint edge. For woods bumming a small single bit "pole axe" as they were called were I grew up is handier.
     
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  32. Kyle363

    Kyle363 Supporter Supporter

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    It depends on what I’m doing. I have a double bit that I call chipzilla that I love using it just seems to throw chips so well and it’s a great splitter. So overall a very well rounded axe. I also have a few single bits that I’ll use when standing on the log I’m bucking. That just work better in that situation. I think I’d be more likely to carry a single bit deep into the woods than a double bit but I’d grab the double bit for working close to the ground.
     
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  33. Northwest Axe

    Northwest Axe Supporter Supporter

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    Got any pictures of this so called Plumb??? lol
     
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  34. TheDandyLion

    TheDandyLion Scout

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    I have used a lot of both types of axes, and personally I think it's two different tools for two different contexts.

    To me, a double bit axe is a forestry tool. I used them when building trails (along with pulaskis) because you could chop wood all day with one edge and then have another edge that could be used for cutting roots, pitchy knots, or other things that might ruin that main edge you have to chop all day with. This means you have to sharpen your main edge less, and helps the user be a bit more efficient. I think double bit axes cut better too, something about the way they bite into wood is unlike any single bit I've used, though I admit my experience is limited. It does say something that pretty much every picture of old school loggers I've seen from my area (PNW, an area with a LOT of logging) you can see the loggers posing with a double bit axe and a saw. Those were my tools of choice when doing a similar job as well.

    The single bit axe is more of a woodsmans tool to me, as it seems to be a lot more versatile. While double bits might be the best cutters, they don't seem to split nearly as well as a hefty single bit axe. Plus if you get the axe stuck in a piece of wood during a split, you cant pound on the back of it to finish the split and unstick the the axe. This might not be a big issue with a larger axe and soft woods, but if you're a packer trying to use a hatchet to split harder woods for a fire this is kind of a big deal. On the topic of smaller axes, I think the single bit is the way to go for a small axe. Much safer and easier for carving and other such "small axe" chores. That flat back is very useful as a mallet for driving tent pegs and as a striking surface to use when splitting wood.

    So in summery the double bit is the professionals tool, more suited to long periods of chopping and use for felling and limbing trees. The single bit axe is the hunters or bushcrafters tool, it offers more versatility and honestly if you're not using a long, heavy axe for long peroids of time the benefits of the double bit are kind of lost. As an outdoorsman who prefers to keep his load light and mostly just uses a camp axe for splitting and light chopping, the long and heavy double bits aren't really worth their weight. That said, If I'm using an axe on the property to fell and process trees there's no axe I'd rather have than a nice double bit.

    Now of course there are exceptions to this, and by no means am I trying to say what can and cannot be used. There are a lot of sportsmen who have used double bits and a lot of industrial loggers who have used singles, but in my personal and very subjective experience the tools have different applications.
     
  35. marbleman

    marbleman Supporter Supporter

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    I am new to the Single/Double debate. I have used only double-bit axes for my experience. I like the choice of a chopper/splitter on one handle. If I should need to pound on a single-bit? I am probably/safer better with a maul. Serious hard-core splitting (by hand) could be better done with a sledge, and multiple wedges.

    I have used a Fiskars splitting axe for casual firewood use. I like it a lot.
     
  36. Dave L.

    Dave L. Scout

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    I like the idea of the double-bit more than reality. I would rather have a tool that doubles as a hammer than two axe blades since I usually have a saw with me.

    Specifically, I prefer axes with hardened polls like on my CT Woodcraft Pack axe and my True Temper Tommy Axe.
     
  37. Muleman77

    Muleman77 Hobbyist Hobbyist

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    Definitely both have their place with me.
    I can't say one is a better chopper, if the grind is right either is going to do well.

    The balance of a double is really nice and feels good.

    Sawing, particularly falling, is my main uses for axe and saw. The single bit is the go to for that. Crosscut falling, I can chop a face out as well and fast with a single as a double, then use it to pound wedges if needed.
    Chainsaw falling, the straight, short handled, full size single bit is king.

    20180308_153933.jpg
     
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  38. Outdoor Dauber

    Outdoor Dauber Tracker

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    I typically use a #3 mini sledge for driving wedges, but am planning on getting a #2+ SB head to haft with an 18" straight handle. My cutting partner uses one and it has definite advantages over the hammer.
     
  39. Guttersnipe

    Guttersnipe Supporter Supporter

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    These are my babies.
    Found both in the forest in Montana while harvesting firewood with my chainsaws.
    My favorite is the HB 2 1/2 lb boys that I put a 26" handle.
    I've been told by a few people it's very old.
    The other I still need to haft is a 4 1/2 Plumb rafting axe believe.
    I have a few others including an old Pulaski I always keep in my pickup and an Estwing hatchet w/leather handle I've had forever.
    Also have a Fiskar hatchet I got recently for backpacking. Haven't really used it much yet.
    We had a double bit when I was a kid, but I've not used one much since then.
    IMG_20170224_155811_928.jpg
     
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  40. Bax 40

    Bax 40 Supporter Supporter

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    knives 003.jpg Copy (21) of knives 001.JPG I am a collector and once a user of axes and if pressed I prolly would go with a Cruiser double for most of my needs, That said I own a huge amount of both as I have never seen anything with a edge or point that I did not covet!
     
  41. ATsawyer

    ATsawyer Scout

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    I typically buck blowdowns with a crosscut saw and use a single bit as a wedge driver and underbucker. I like the feel and balance of a double bit though and will gladly have one along if someone else agrees to carry it. When dealing with side bind, sometimes the only way out is to chop it, then I'm glad to have the DB with us.

    fullsizeoutput_1322.jpeg
    fullsizeoutput_63.jpeg
     
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