Hatchet or saw

12:41 a.m. on November 22, 2012 (EST)
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I carry a small hatchet or tomahawk in the winter. Ive recently started carrying a sog fasthawk. Its not light much less ultra light but I like a fire in the winter and I find its easier to notch bigger sticks before I break them. I can control where it breaks and get much larger diameter pieces processed this way. Its worth two pounds on my hip and I downsize my knife so I lose a little weight there. Does anybody else carry something just to deal with firewood?

6:53 a.m. on November 22, 2012 (EST)
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I always have the same debate, 'hatchet or saw'. I typically bring either a boys axe or a saw. I like both, and both have their pros and cons. I would say that for short overnight or 1 or 2 day trips I find a saw to be suitable. For longer trips or trips where I know available wood to be somewhat limited I will bring a boys axe and a small folding saw.

A saw conserves more energy , but a good sharp boys axe makes quicker work of everything. Bottom line is they are both good tools and each has their benefit. I would say my preference is the axe because its more versatile. However, in your specific dilema between a hatchet and a saw I would choose a saw. I think hatchets have a very limited effective use when compared to other tools. In the axe family the smallest I will go is the boys axe, which IMO is the perfect size for a pack axe.

In the warmer months its pretty much always just a small folding saw and my normal knife that I use for batoning. But in winter I find the axe to be able to do all the tasks i need much faster, especially when trying to fuel a small wood stove.

11:03 a.m. on November 22, 2012 (EST)
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Both - saw to cut, hatchet to split.  Also a fixed blade knife.

11:15 a.m. on November 22, 2012 (EST)
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I like a small axe but rarely carry a saw.  I just put one end of a long pole in the fire and push it into the fire as it burns.  An axe is useful for splitting firewood and can be used to shape tools and for cutting when necessary.

3:30 p.m. on November 22, 2012 (EST)
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IMHO, ppine's right. That's the easiest way to do it, especially if you're in a place where there's lots of deadwood for making a fire.  I like the heft of a hatchet, but I have to admit that a saw is probably more efficient.

5:33 p.m. on November 22, 2012 (EST)
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What kind of saw do you use? I havent found one I really like. I just notch the wood where I want it to break then step on it. I notch it until my weight or a small bounce will break it. I carry the hatchet because I can cut and split with it then I can eliminate carrying a big fixed blade.

6:07 p.m. on November 22, 2012 (EST)
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If you are utilizing this tool to just notch larger branches and not actually split wood I would suggest maybe taking a look at Gerber's Gator or Gator Jr. machete.

I have a standard length Gator:


It has a full length saw on the spine and the blade itself can be sharpened to the point where if you are not careful it will slice ya open.

(don't ask how I found that one out.)

The Jr is just a shorter version. 

Here is the link for the Jr(which is the model pictured) here at TS.


8:50 p.m. on November 22, 2012 (EST)
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Rick does the saw work well on that gerber? I do split with it too, I wish I could figure out how to load pics from my phone. This sog fasthawk is really cool lookin and does a great job chopping and splitting. It also throws really well when your bored. I swung a hammer for a living for many yrs so the chopping motion doesnt wear me out like it does to most people, where the sawing motion is more unfamiliar to me.

11:30 a.m. on November 23, 2012 (EST)
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I'll sometimes carry a Silky SUGOI XL saw when I think I might need to cut back a bit of brush on the trail, and of course it makes quick work of the aforementioned firewood notching. Not to take anything away from the "jack-of-all-trades" nature of the Gator, but Silky saws are the bees-knees, and will cut faster/easier for a given blade length than anything besides a well-sharpened Stihl.

Otherwise, I can often be found with a "Vaughan Sounding Axe." It is a tool which I use almost every day in my Forestry duties, and I find it's quite capable for bushcrafty-type uses as well. It has a real poll, so you can hammer with it, or hammer on it to help split the bigger stuff.

11:57 a.m. on November 24, 2012 (EST)
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I carried a Norlund axe with a 26" fawn-foot handle and a two pound tomahawk head. (image below is from a Norlund site)


I used, and still use, that little axe for everything - from root clearing, to peeling the bark from cabin poles, to a splitting wedge on troublesome logs, by pounding the poll with a persuader.

12:58 p.m. on November 24, 2012 (EST)
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Nice illustration.  I would call the tomahawk axe a Hudson's Bay bit.  I have a Norlund kindling axe which is one of my favorites.

I used to carry an axe on the first pack mule during wilderness trips.  It is amazing how many fallen trees there are on trails that don't get used much.  When you cant' walk around, there is no choice but to get off and cut the thing out of the way with an axe.  It was always a reminder of how much work it is to use an axe on a big tree.


2:39 p.m. on November 24, 2012 (EST)
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hotdogman said:

Rick does the saw work well on that gerber?

It does the job. I have used it on more than one occasion and it works as intended. I sometimes carry it with me on trail to perform some trail clearing/maintenance here on the LHHT. 

In combination with the main blade it also worked out very well when clearing various areas on my buddies property for creating access trails etc.  


11:16 p.m. on November 24, 2012 (EST)
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If you have good skills with a hatchet and the knowledge to sharpen it properly, a saw really isn't needed. I've used both plenty of times & have numerous different types of both but still find the hatchet to be much less effort for most things. The above was a $5.- garage sale find. Really good, old steel & a pleasure to use.

6:43 a.m. on November 25, 2012 (EST)
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I bought my Norlund at Canadian Tire, back when. I would have called it a Hudson Bay bit, too, because that was on the original sticker (the same sticker used on all their models), but the Norlund image above identifies it as a tomahawk. In outline it follows the trading axe of the Hudson Bay Company. (Remember when you could buy a 4 pt blanket at a reasonable price?)

12:07 p.m. on November 25, 2012 (EST)
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The sog fasthawk that I have is way different than a traditional ax or hatchet. Im always on my phone so I dont know how to post links, but google it. I have some axes sold by stihl,but made by fiskars I think. They are lighter than a traditional wood handle but the same style or shape. The sog has a smaller cutting surface and the shape focuses the weight on the cutting edge extremely well. Its only a foot long and really compact, but it cuts like a much larger tool

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