Axe Skills, and info

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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by ineffableone » Thu Jul 26, 2012 1:59 pm

KentsOkay wrote:Huzzah! I am a lurker on SBG.

I speak of the Estwing Carpenter's Hatchet:

http://www.amazon.com/EstWing-Solid-Car ... rs+hatchet

Image
Ahhh, ok I can see the issues you were talking about now.

Yep you would want to wrap that metal handle, not just to make it a softer grip for choking up but to bulk it out for fitting your hand better. I remember trying to choke up on the old school boyscout hatches and having issues of the thing just being too thin and small to hold properly and bet the same for this.

You might also want to file down that nail puller. I would worry about that being too near my knuckles.

I can see how the hammer part might be awkward too, but think it is rounded enough to be comfortable. The awkward part comes from being so far up and so limiting where on the blade you can get your weight behind.

For $30 though I can understand why you might put up with these issues.
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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by bark-eater » Thu Jul 26, 2012 2:29 pm

Might I recommend the Rigger Hatchet:
Image

http://www.amazon.com/Estwing-E3-R-Rigb ... iggers+axe

I've been meaning to grind one of these into a tomahawk.

I apologize for the thread drift. My past acquisition disorder was focused on axes for a spell. If I can make it that far into the back of the crap cache I will have some porn to add.
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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by Turtlewolf » Thu Jul 26, 2012 2:59 pm

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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by ninja-elbow » Thu Jul 26, 2012 3:05 pm

When I first mentioned making a thread like this this is exactly what I envisioned. As stated, good job ineffableone.

I've been carrying a Wetterlings Hunter's Axe http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopi ... 34&t=57986" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; for the past few years on all my woodsbummin'. I'm a woods bum BTW. I walk a mile or 2, set up camp, and do camp craft for my trips. I'm not a big through hiker or forced marcher. I like a 20-30 pound pack and a relatively flat trail and some good woods. Things I like to do in camp is work on making things - things like fire craft and accoutremants to make my fire easier to use; shelter and camp furniture; coffee and/or tea; I love meat over an open fire... these are the things I do in the woods.

Also of note I grew up with axes and chopping wood. One of my chores was to split firewood for weekend use. This was my job starting when I was around 12 years old. Before that I stacked our 2-3 cords per year. I'd turn out the kindling and split logs for fuel. I used a file to keep that old family axe sharp. My Dad bought that axe in 1980, when we bought the house, from Sears.

In the SCA, I was a known axe fighter - but that has very little to do with IRL axe use for bushcraft. I also threw axes in many competitions and did very well, even won one of them. So, I been around an axe a lot. I'm no pro logger or nothing but I've a little experience.

Anyways, I used to carry a hatchet and a 'hawk until about 2002 when I switched of to a Spetz shovel for it's multi-tasking glory as I just was not really chopping too much wood or splitting it down. Most of my outdoors recreation in that time was either car camping or "through" hiking - trying to cover 10 miles or some such to get to a point, set up a quick camp, eat and tend to hygiene, sleep, wake up and pee, wrap things up, and then do another 10 miles to point C. THat ended up not being fun as it seemed I was passing up all the cool stuff in nature while "low impacting" it. *shrug* Nothing against that, just not my style. Around 2008, and after I joined up here, I decided to pare down some and go towards woodsbummin' as opposed to classic hiking trips.

This changes the dynamic of your interaction with the woods. Instead of the proposed "front row seat" to the game you end up becoming the game.

Yes, keep your axe sharp. Sharp like your knife, hair popping sharp. It is safer because when you are taking pinky-sized twigs off of a pole you want to pass through in the same direction that you begun your swing, which would be in a direction away from your legs or somebody else. Plus, see that vid ineffableone posted with NutnFancy on it working a sweat up and getting all uppity about an axe? Dull as fuck. My Wetterlings goes through forearm thick (my forearm, I am an ex powerlifter and lineman, I eat a lot) green sugar maple in 3-4 swings.

Philosophy out, here is what I use my axe for:

Taking down dry twigs that I cannot take down by just pulling.
Making stakes.
Cutting poles for fire pit or structure.
Cutting knotches in said poles.
Shaving wet bark off logs for burning.
Splitting.
Making a fast pot hook or hanging hook.
Choking up on the haft all the way up to the cheek to do some fine shaving and cutting.
Clearing the top of a log to create a flat surface to work on.
With the poll, driving stakes and thumping stumps to find usable materials.

That's off the top of my head.
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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by CipherNameRaVeN » Thu Jul 26, 2012 3:13 pm

This is a Hall of fame worthy thread!
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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by KentsOkay » Thu Jul 26, 2012 3:13 pm

Turtlewolf wrote:Those are both good choices, not the best but good.
The head geometry makes them poor splitters but after you reprofile the edge (elbow grease/single cut file/stone then strop if you can-I can't worth a crap) it should chop as well as a standard Estwing axe.
The Estwing design has one hidden strength, battoning is the easiest with this axe design even if standard splitting is its weakest function.
Why didn't you just grab the standard Estwing hatchet with leather wrap handle?
It's boring, the leather wrap is inferior, and I like having the hammer head on the back.

None of these reasons are entirely valid reasons on their own, but the sum of them clinches it.

Also, it oughta work better for killing zombies.
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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by ninja-elbow » Thu Jul 26, 2012 3:23 pm

BTW, I was last in line for the sub $50 Wetterlings Hunters Axes (as per my linked Jan. 2010 review)

The haft is about 15". The biggest difference between the axe and my tomahawk was head weight. The axe, obvioulsy, has a totally different head symmetry than my 'hawk. The 'hawk was made for slicing while the axe was made for chopping - the biggest difference from a "fighter" or a "worker" if you did not know. That Wetterling really takes chunks out of wood like it was designed to do it. Right about perfect for a backpack-able axe.

I always never liked my hatchet, which I believe was an Estwing - it looked like all the Estwing hatchets I see pics of around here. I think it was just too short to have any kind of leverage that would be useful for me.
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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by ineffableone » Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:33 am

Lets talk handles. Axe handles.

Ever wonder where the phrase "get the hang of it" came from? It is from axes. It refers to mating the axe head and handle. If you couldn't get the hang of it, it meant you just couldn't quite get your axe head to sit right on your handle. Either the head was angled wrong, not on fully, or other details.

Things to look for in the handle of your axe.

#1 the wood quality and grain.
You want good quality wood, with no heart wood in it. It should only be made of the sapwood. You can tell the difference as sapwood is light golden colored, and heart wood is a deeper redish color. Also you don't want knots, cracks, splits, etc These things in an axe will create weak points for the handle to fail at.
The grain should run parallel to the length of the handle and to the wedge slot.
Image
Image

#2 the hang of the head on the handle, straight handle
You want to make sure the head blade lines up straight down the length of the handle. The handle should be balanced and even with no warps.
Image
At the same time the head should not tilt forward or back and evenly be seated upon the shoulders of the handle.

#3 a simple wood finish
You really don't want the varnished finish that a lot of stores sell on their axe handles. If you can get one without this. If you have no choice, and they only have the varnished versions then you will want to sand the varnish off. All you want is a nice light linseed oil coating on your handle, maybe a little thin coating of bee's wax if you have trouble gripping your handle.

#4 wood wedge
Contrary to modern axe thinking, a good axe hanging needs only a good wooden wedge. You don't need the metal cross wedges or the metal round wedge if the axe was hung properly. These additional metal additions in modern axes actually will make the handle fail sooner than if it was done properly with just wood. The metal wedges tend to be a result of mass production, and a way to make up for a handle not fitting perfectly.
From An Ax to Grind wrote:Never insert iron, steel, screws, nails, or any other metal object down in the wooden wedge to tighten the handle, even though you see this being done on many factory-handled axes. Epoxy should not be used, either. This advice applies for the entire life of your ax. The metal wedges tend to split the grain on the hickory handle. I can't see any reason why you would want to do that to a properly hung ax.

These are just a few things to look for with wooden axe handles. Hope this helps people understand the handle part of the axe a bit better.
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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by Turtlewolf » Fri Jul 27, 2012 7:25 am

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Last edited by Turtlewolf on Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by ninja-elbow » Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:05 am

Turtlewolf wrote:I do admit a certain interest in the Roselli axes from Finland, they look as if they could do a good days work as well even if they are a non traditional design.
I didn't realize that hiking had become "bush bumming", I just can't see hammering from point A to point B if you don't actualy stop to smell the flowers.
I mean even my basset hound likes the smell of roses, but he also likes fresh cow crap.............
A bit off topic - that is the common difference there. To some, hiking is covering distance or a sport ... which feeds into the ultralight sport. Bushcraft is percieved as high impact but many of us know the arguments and talking points.

I'm a big man that used to be a big kid. I walk slow. Thus, I lean to woods bumming. I take time off to chill and if I want to get to that one place that is 12 miles away I will take 2-3 days to do it and chill the whole time. I carry an axe and have the time to use it safely to make my tent stakes from fallen wood that I look around for (and find the plastic spoons and metal tent stakes others leave behind). :) My axe is not extra weight, my axe is options open to me.
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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by ineffableone » Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:39 pm

Yay my Fine Forest axe just arrived, I took it out for a little brief test and love it. It is working great! I think I am going to absolutely love this axe.

I will post up a full review after I give it a good testing and take some pictures.

I posted up my initial impressions over on the Bushman axe thread http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopi ... 2&start=24 if you don't want to wait for the full review to hear more about this axe. :awesome:

*edit to add, I posted up my full review, see here http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopi ... 92&t=97467 also I realised I had been callig it by the wrong name, it is the Forester's Fine axe not fine forest axe. LOL
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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by Turtlewolf » Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:56 pm

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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by ineffableone » Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:48 pm

So I thought I would post up some popular axe manufactures for people

Gransfors Bruks
S.A. Wetterlings
Hultafors/Hults Bruk
Husqvarna
Council Tool
Snow&Nealley
Barco Industries
Estwing
Condor
Fiskars/Gerber


Some of the Vintage Axe Manufacturers that made good axes and you can often find at garage sales cheap

Plumb
Collins
True Temper


More about vintage axe companies http://www.yesteryearstools.com/Yestery ... /Home.html

*edit to add, BushcraftUSA forum's The Axe Collector, And Restorer, Reference And Supplier Thread http://bushcraftusa.com/forum/showthread.php?t=67268 This is a great place to get info on vintage axe heads.

An Ax to Grind: A Practical Ax Manual has a list of new and used axe manufactures and dealers
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/rec ... page23.cfm

Some good info about many of these companies is at Woods Trekker's blog
http://woodtrekker.blogspot.com/2011/09 ... t-axe.html

He also put out this very nice video about what to look for with vintage axes


This is just to help give people an idea of the different companies out there, there are many I have probably missed but these cover the more popular.
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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by ineffableone » Sun Jul 29, 2012 2:07 am

Since I brought up handles earlier I figured I would finish up talking about them with a bit of advice for beginners to axes.

When you start out don't worry too much about throwing much power into your swings, let the weight and moment do the work. Try to work and concentrate on accuracy, aim for a spot and try to get as close to it as possible, keep trying for as accurate as you can rather than worrying about moving more material. The reason you want to do this is more accurate you are eventually you will find well placed cuts will move more material than extremely powerful cuts, as you will know where to cut to take bigger chunks out.

What does this have to do with handles you might ask? Simple, as a beginner you will miss your target more often. Some times you will over shoot the target and instead hit with the handle of your axe rather than the blade this is called an over swing, or over strike. This can and will damage your handle and cause potential for breaking your handle. A lot of beginners end up doing this, so if you do don't feel bad. Heck even experienced axe user will do it sometimes. So I figured I would help you folks out by sharing some simple ideas on how to help protect the area most likely to get hit if you miss with the axe head.

Well due to photo size issues, I will link to a BushcraftUSA thread that shows some of these DIY protectors.
Bike inner tubing, hardware store tubing, and paracord is all in this thread. http://bushcraftusa.com/forum/showthread.php?p=1254389

Here is a guy who used a mountain bike inner tube to cover the over strike area.
Image

While these are rubber and plastic handle guards are cheap quick diy ways, it is sort of tacky and looks sort of getto, especially on such a nice axe. Better than nothing but you can do better.

A fairly low cost yet nicer looking is a paracord wrap. This is a quite common technique. I have seen plenty of people who use this method. Not only does it protect your handle, but it also gives you some cordage in an emergency. This wrap style also makes for good grip surface if you choke up to use your axe for finer detail work. So it is multi purpose. :clap: I have also seen this cord wrap style with jute twine, giving not only protection grip and cordage, but fire tinder too.

Now if your wanting something sort of classy, and really nice looking, is a leather wrap. This style has been used for ages, and it something the grandfolks would have used as kids.
Image

Again due to size issue here is a link to another leather handle guard http://www.survivalistboards.com/showth ... p?t=216384

So don't let your handle get damage, add a little protection before it gets banged around and weakened. You can go low cost diy, or beautiful hand crafted leather work. And yes I have seen the leather stuff sold by some places if your not crafty and don't think you can make your own, so you can buy them if you look around, or you can find a leather worker and request one custom made usually.

Keep practising and get better accuracy, though just because you get good enough not to miss, doesn't mean you have to take your wrap or leather guard off, if you like the look then keep it on. :awesome:
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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by Ad'lan » Sun Jul 29, 2012 2:25 am



Me doing some work with my two Gransfors. Oh how I love them. I still use the Chopping Board.


A good tip I don't think has been mentioned yet is the sissy stick.


When chopping kindling or such like, a sissy stick is something I always think I should do more often... while I still have all my fingers :lol:
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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by ineffableone » Sun Jul 29, 2012 2:40 am

Ad'lan wrote:

Me doing some work with my two Gransfors. Oh how I love them. I still use the Chopping Board.


A good tip I don't think has been mentioned yet is the sissy stick.


When chopping kindling or such like, a sissy stick is something I always think I should do more often... while I still have all my fingers :lol:
One of the videos I posted in the first page with all videos had mention of the sissy stick, but always good to mention it again since it is such a simple way to prevent accidents. I use this technique quite often, it just ingrained while I was beginning and even though now I have decent aim with an axe I still use it since it is just habit for me to to so.

BTW cool video of you, nice cutting board! :clap:
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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by ineffableone » Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:27 pm

I just found this PDF download of the An Ax to Grind website info, http://bushcraftusa.com/forum/downloads ... ile&id=402 I edited the 1st post adding this in for first time readers of this thread to find it, but figured a post here for all you who already read my 1st post and might miss it. This is a way to down load a bunch of the info and have it easy to access on your computer in PDF file, or even print it out and have a hard copy of it for reference if the grid goes down. :clap:

*edit to add, since BCU updated their site, they have made the downloads section for paying members only. So sadly the link is no longer useful. :cry:
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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by Keith B » Sun Jul 29, 2012 11:30 pm

tag
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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by ineffableone » Sun Jul 29, 2012 11:46 pm

sigboy40 wrote:tag
Your it, :clap: :lol: :clap: :lol:

Sorry couldn't help it.
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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by mk_ultra » Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:36 am

I did an 8 day canoe trip in the Boundary Waters at the beginning of the month . A friend brought his Granfors hatchet along . After using it a bit , I cannot believe what a piece of junk my Gerber is in comparison . :gonk:

Now I need one . :D
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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by ineffableone » Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:50 am

mk_ultra wrote:I did an 8 day canoe trip in the Boundary Waters at the beginning of the month . A friend brought his Granfors hatchet along . After using it a bit , I cannot believe what a piece of junk my Gerber is in comparison . :gonk:

Now I need one . :D
Cool you got turned on to higher quality hatchets. Gransfors Bruks, Wetterlings, Hultafors/Hults Bruk, Husqvarna, Council Tool, Snow & Nealley, and Barco Industries all make good axes, and are worth checking out. GFB is often sited as the go to axe for bushcraft, partly due to being a great axe but also due to Ray Mears using them. If the prices for GFB are too high then Wetterlings is often the next choice for people.

I would say go for it and up grade your hatchet. Having a good high quality tool helps your skills develop more.
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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by Turtlewolf » Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:55 pm

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Last edited by Turtlewolf on Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by ineffableone » Mon Jul 30, 2012 7:28 pm

Turtlewolf wrote:Except after your report of what should have been an amazing axe, it is clear that some Swedish axes are not higher quality. That type of welding defect is a serious flaw in the head of your axe and anyone telling you otherwise is soft in the head, you were shipped (by your own account) a rusty, poorly fitted axe in a crappy scabbard with a massive, critical flaw in the head while still being charged full price.
I'm not sure when this became acceptable but five years ago no Swedish axe maker would have allowed something like that out the door. Cutting costs like that and shipping crap is unnaceptable regardless of what any fanbois say.
EDIT:After all that I am an axe whore and would probably still buy one, but why must they slouch such nice axes?
I think your blowing my review out of proportion. As I mention in my last comment in response to yours on my review.

The issue of rust is so common it is ridiculous to hold any axe maker accountable for it. GFB axe heads commonly have surface rust on them. Yet people still hold GFB up as top of the line for Swedish axes.

The gap issue turns out to be quite common, for at least 4 yrs, and so unnoteworthy no one else but me bothers to mention it. But I tend to be thorough in my reviews, reporting everything I notice.

When you look at tomahawks the gap issue is extremely common, as the same folding around a mandrel technique is the most common used making tomahawks. Knowing this is common with tomahawks and yet they still tend to be functional and long lasting I was not overly concerned about the gap. I asked for input as my other Wetterlings did not have this gap, and I had never heard anyone else mention it. Seems no one mentions it because it is just a common thing to see just like the rust on a mail order axe head or the same gap on a tomahawk.

*edit to add, I just got a another comment on another forum about the gap issue,
yeah the gaps a non issue,my gb mini hatchet has a simmilar issue on the underside,nothing to worry about,nice axe though,the only thing i dont like is the steel staple to secure the head,apart from that it's sweet :),hmmmm im tempted when finances allow,i've always fancied a medium sized axe and this one looks like a great buy
So looks like this issue is not just limited to Wetterlings, but also seen in Gransfors Bruks axes, and cause no problems.

Hopefully this will put some new axe buyers at ease if they buy an axe with this issue and do a search online about it.
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Re: Axe Skills, and info

Post by MarkW » Sat Aug 11, 2012 3:55 pm

I'll chime in and mention that in my opinion the swedish axes of today are made with the same quality of American axes of the 30's-60's but I honestly do not think they are necessarily any "better".

As mentioned, "An Axe To Grind" is one of the best written texts, and the fact that it is a free download should make it required reading for most anyone interested in chopping stuff. Maybe it is because I'm cheap, but I get a lot of satisfaction from making handles for classic axe and hatchet heads that I find at garage sales and antique stores.
Image

I have a few more, but this picture was handy. I should say that there is a story to the orange hatchet with the hammer handle- when one of my kids was about 4, he wanted an axe of his own. Part of this discussion arose because I found one of my axes stuck in a tree about 100 yards into the woods and keep in mind he was 4! Anyway, I had found this old axe head that when I was a teenager we used to split firewood into kindling, so I just mounted it up on a hammer handle I had laying around (and painted it orange!) and gave it to him. Well, that was 10 years ago and this is still his favorite hatchet so I guess I should have put a better handle on it at the beginning since I'm forbidden to now!

In the back left, the handle is maple and the one on the right has a handle of Osage Orange (first and probably last handle of that wood for me!).

One more comment in regards to hatchets and woodcraft- you will notice that quite a few of the old hatchet heads have a nail puller notch. This is not to make them handier around the farm, but around the turn of the century it was popular when making a camp to bring a few nails to use for constructing items and structures. When it was time to move on the nails could be pulled out and carried along to the next campsite.

Oh, one more story that should be required reading for anyone interested in the chopping tools is "The Christmas Hatchet" by Patrick F. McManus. It is in a couple of his books, "Never Sniff a Gift Fish" is one that comes to mind.

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