to answer some questions about hatchets

I’ve had some more questions from readers about axes recently, so time to delve into this subject again. There’s lots of tools you can use; some better, some less-so. But don’t despair – the magic is not in the tools, it comes with practice. You can learn to hew with a crap hatchet, if you can make it sharp.

Here’s an earlier take on the subject – https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/the-endless-look-at-hewing-hatchets/ 

 

First off, for joiner’s work, my mainstay – I have shown several times that I like a hatchet that is large, heavy, single-bevel, and curved cutting edge. This one weighs 3 lbs 7 oz. and is about 7 ¾” along its cutting edge.  Hard to find. Really hard. 

best fuchs hatchet

Fuchs hatchet
Fuchs hatchet

 

Take note of the relationship of the eye to the cutting edge – for hewing flat stuff, this is the best scenario. Others will work; but this is the best. 

What do I use it for? Taking rough split stock and preparing it for planing; 

hewing
hewing

The Kent pattern (below) is one of the most common old ones you will find in both the US and the UK. Elsewhere, there are other similar tools. Nice thing about the Kent design is it’s symmetrical, so lefties can remove the handle, make a new one & insert it from the other side of the head. 

Kent hatchet

Before anyone tells me that Gransfors Bruks makes a carving axe available as leftie or rightie – let me save you some trouble. They offer some of their hatchets right-handed or left-handed; but the eyes on these tools are centered on the head, not shifted over to one side. Their tools’ bevels might be asymmetrical; but these aren’t single-bevel tools with a properly placed eye. I have used one of the Gransfors Bruks Broad Axes – it’s a nice tool, but a double-bevel. 

And for some reason, their axes and hatchets have convex bevels; for hewing, I like a flat bevel. That’s the principal complaint about the GB carving hatchet…Drew Langsner writes on the Country Workshops axe page how to fix a GB carving axe’s bevels; (file them flat) too bad they don’t just make it right 

http://countryworkshops.org/Axes.html

I also have a large Wetterlings axe, it’s nice. (called at LN the “broad axe, short handle”) A bit heavier than the GB broad axes; but good at removing a lot of stock… Lie-Nielsen sells a line of their axes in the US; we use some for spoon work when I’m up there. https://www.lie-nielsen.com/nodes/4085/wetterlings-axes

Some have shown me the Oxhead hatchet, from Austria. It’s a bit clunky; it will work. I would hacksaw off the nail puller/claw. It could be better; but for the money, it’s not terrible. 

For the spoon work, my favorite is a Hans Karlsson hatchet I got from Country Workshops years ago. They have a new one now, I have one of these too, and it’s excellent. 

https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/new-to-me-hans-karlsson-hatchet/

I just ordered 2 new hatchets for spoon work; one from Drew and one from Robin Wood. I’ll let you know when they get here. Some readers have reported success at the German ebay site for old hatchets. A gamble if you’re shipping to another country, but they go for reasonable prices. I like to see old tools before I buy them, but that’s getting harder to do. So I wouldn’t want to pay a lot for a hatchet that way…

Here’s more, some of which is repeats. 

https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/?s=hatchet

https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2011/08/27/the-hatchet/ 

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9 thoughts on “to answer some questions about hatchets

  1. I remember first seeing that Autine axe that Andy links to above just a couple weeks ago on Instagram. I could hardly believe it, almost a perfect example of your famous Fuchs hatchet. And when you compare the price to Gransfors, or that Fuchs that sold for $500+ on ebay a while back, I think John Neeman is really filling a great niche. Hard to spend that kind of money on a Gransfors or Wetterlings hewing axe when what you really want is a hewing hatchet. I’m saving my pennies and random foreign currencies to one day order from Neeman. Until then my Kent pattern gets the job done, as at this point the skill of the operator is my limiting factor :)

  2. Jennie here
    The flat side back side of hewing hatchet is not flat. It is oh so slightly convex drivenwhen viewed from the front. This allows the top and bottom of the blade to easily escape from the wood. In effect, the hewing hatchet is a very shallow gouge. With a lathe driven sanding disk I can make a so so hewing hatchet from a commercial hatchet. But I have yet to twist or carve the handle to offset the blade. It could be done. Stick with the Fuchs. I was told by Woodcraft Supply where we got ours in the 1980s that they were found in an abandoned factory in Alsace-Lorraine after WW 2. Keep on hewing.
    Jennie

  3. I have the GB carving axe and it is nice but I modified a cheap Home Cheapo hatchet to make it a single bevel. I found I liked the single bevel but my modified hatchet left a great deal to be desired. My quest for a good single bevel hatchet lead me to this post. I talked to my friend Adam DesRosiers who is an accomplished bladesmith and he agreed to try making a hatchet based on Peter’s Fuchs design. He also made me a stock knife which is a blast to use! The hatchet blows the GB away in every application I tested it on (while using the GB as a control.) I know the GB is a nice tool but Adam’s hatchet is just much easier and more intuitive for me to use. This is his site:

    alaskablades.com

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