Hatchet and axes are the tools that have been used for centuries for chopping wood. Many people get confused between an axe and hatchet. Some people often use axes and hatchets interchangeably as both of them are similar in appearance while other also say that a hatchet is a type of axle. However, it is not so. They are completely different tools designed for completely different purposes. These tools are designed for varying workloads. Let us explore the nitty-gritty of axes and hatchets.
An axe is a handy tool that is used for chopping, splitting, piercing and chipping of wood. It is a wedge. The stone age axes originated as a simple stone tool that has a wooden handle around 30,000 BC. Copper bladed axes were seen in Egypt around 4000 BC. Then axes with bronze blades come in existence and eventually axes with iron blades originate. The axe generally consists of axe head with handle which is also called as haft or helve. An axe is basically a simple machine that reduces effort needed by the wood chopper. Depending upon the intended use axes are of different types and are available in different forms in the market. Depending upon the intended use width, angle and bit sharpness may vary. In general, the cutting type axes have shallow wedge angle whereas splitting axes have deep angle. Also, most of the axes are double bevelled i.e. symmetrical about the axis of the blade whereas some broad axes have single bevel blades. Nowadays, most of the axes have iron heads with handles made from hickory wood. However, there are some axes that also have steelheads. Axes are designed in such a way that they easily cut through the wood.
A hatchet is a small tool that is designed to chop the dense wooden logs with minimum effort. A good hatchet is designed in such a way that helps to cut the wood rapidly without pain. It is basically a single handed tool having a sharp blade on one side and is used for cutting and splitting the wood. Also, it is a versatile tool that can be used for hammering, splitting, chopping and throwing. Hatchet can be used for splitting woods with small and thin branches or twigs of trees in the bushy forest. The blade size of the hatchet ranges between 3.6 to 5.25 inches. This tool is highly suitable for light work and is a good alternative to axes that makes the work cumbersome. They are best suited for splitting small pieces of firewood and small branches. This single handed tool requires less space for working and hence can be used in such areas where use of axes is difficult. Sometimes you might mistake a hatchet for a camping axe. This is because the camping axes (also known as hand axes) are generally smaller than ordinary axes.
Axe vs Hatchet
Axes are two handed tools whereas hatchets are one handed tools. The heads of axes are heavy wedge-shaped with the flat poll whereas the heads of hatchets are heavy and feature a V-shaped cut and a hammer like poll on the other side. Also, axes are longer than the hatchets. An axe is twice the length of hatchets.
The difference between these two tools can be explained on the following headings:
The Heads of axes are heavy wedge-shaped with the flat poll on the other side whereas the heads of hatchets are heavy and feature a V-shaped cut and a hammer like poll on the other side. Heads of axes are usually larger than the hatchets and feature a very slight taper. Heads of hatchets are more narrow and have a significant tapper than the axes. The metal wedge of the hand axe is made from heavy metal. The blades have sharp and tapered edges. Hatchets are more compact with heavier blades. The shaft of the hatchet is curved and shorter, which facilitates stronger grip on the handle whereas the shaft of the hand axe is longer and is not curved. Handle of the hand axe is made from strong wood or fibreglass whereas the handles of hatchets are made from metal, wood or fibreglass.
Axes are generally longer than the hatchets. An axe is twice the size of a hatchet. A hatchet comfortably fits on one hand but the axe requires two hands for operating. The handle of hand axes measures 20 to 36 inches whereas that of hatchet measures 12 to 18 inches in length.
An axe is heavier than the hatchets. Due to its heavy weight, it is best suited for heavy work. An axe weighs 3 pounds in weight whereas the weight of a hatchet may be 1 to 3 pounds.
Hatchets are smaller in size, weight, length and girth than the hand axes, so they are best suited for chopping small-scale wood. A hatchet is particularly suited for following work:
- Splitting of firewood
- Chopping the small branches of tree
- Cutting the bushes
- Felling the saplings
- Suitable for hiking and hunting
- Clearing trails
An axe can be used for several purposes. It is particularly suited for following works:
- To cut down a tree
- Splitting wood to make houses, benches, shelter and many other wood crafts.
- Different sized hand axes are used for recreational purposes like axe-throwing.
Also Read: Splitting Axe vs Splitting Maul: Know The Difference
Similarities Between Axe and Hatchet
Due to the number of similarities between axes and hatchet, some people use them interchangeably. Both the tools are primarily used for cutting tools. Traditionally both tools have steel heads with sharp edges. Although they both are functionally similar but are completely distinct tools designed for different purposes.
Pros of Axe Over hatchet
Following are the advantages of axe over hatchets:
- It is best suited for heavy work.
- It can be used to perform work that cannot be done by using a hatchet.
Pros of hatchet Over Axe
The lighter weight of hatchets limits it to light work. Beside this limitation, it has following advantages over an axe:
- It is easier to use, handle and carry.
- It is more versatile than a hand axe.
- It requires less energy for operating.
- It is best suited for light work.
- It is easy to store.
- It is a one handed tool.
Which is Best for Splitting Wood: Axe or Hatchet?
Both axes and hatchets are used for splitting pieces of firewood. We cannot say which one of them is best for splitting wood. The choice axe or hatchet for splitting wood basically depends upon the type of work and wood type. If you have to split small wood, a hatchet would be best, whereas if you have to split heavy wood, go for an axe.
This is all about an axe and hatchet. Both are the tools that are used for chopping wood. Most people get confused between these two tools and often use the term interchangeably. But in fact it is not so. Both of them are completely different tools used for completely different purposes. An axe has a heavy wedge shaped head with a flat poll on the other side. Hatchets are heavy and feature a V-shaped cut and a hammer like poll on the other side. Heads of axes are usually larger than the hatchets and feature a very slight taper. Heads of hatchets are more narrow and have a significant tapper than the hand axes. Axes are generally longer than the hatchets. An axe is twice the size of a hatchet. A hatchet comfortably fits on one hand but the axe requires two hands for operating. Axes are two handed tools whereas hatchets are one handed tools. Although both the tools are distinct in terms of their design, length and weight but both the tools are used for cutting the wood. Hatchet is easier to carry, handle and store and also requires less power for operating. An axe is best suited for heavy work and it requires more power for operating.