View Full Version : Another axe question?
Having just taken delivery of a Gransfors small forrest axe, I'm really impressed, but I notice many people have 2, a larger - maybe the forrest, and a small hatchet. The small hatchet also appeals to me, especially for lighter carry, question is, which one?
The small hatchet axe - £35
length: 26 cm.
The wildlife hatchet axe - £40
length: 36 cm.
I'm leaning towards the smaller of the two, as I figure if I needed the heft of the larger one, I might as well take the small forrest. So the smaller, lighter one, gives me a bigger range of options. The problem is, I've never held either and have no idea of their performance limitations. The small hatchet, at 400g, is less than half the weight of the small forrest at 1kg, maybe it'd be too small and light to be of much use?
What do you think?
It depends entirely upon what you need to do.
If you already have an SMF I'd say go bigger. The SMF can handle most small tasks anyway. If you got a smaller axe you'd just be doubling up.
The main advantage with an SMF is that you can perform smaller tasks like splitiing matchwood and also a bit of carving. You can combine this with larger tasks like limbing and felling smaller trees. Any smaller jobs can be done with a sturdy knife and a baton.
I only have an SMF but if I was to buy a second axe (for UK bushcraft) I'd probably go for the Forest Axe.
Thanks queeg, I was thinking "instead of" rather than "as well as" the SFA really. More for lightweight backpaking. My concern was that maybe the hatchet was *so* small, it'd be pretty redundant - or is it still a useful size?
i have both of the axes pictured. the GB mini can be a bit too small, but it does fit into a coat pocket. yes you can use a knife with a baton, but the mini is so much faster and easier. the mini will out chop anything in it's size and weight range. ideal for those shorter rambles where you might not want to take a ruck. or those day hikes where you don't want to bother with the weight of an axe. lennart petterson (?sp) who designed it, refers to it as "my instead of a knife hatchet" if you read kepharts woodcraft and camping, he refers to a 12oz colcesser? tomahawk, which he says "i use oftener than my jacknife"
the wildlife hatchet is probably a better all rounder. but if you already have the sfa, the wildlife is probably redundant. the sfa will do every thing the wildlife can, albeit a little heavier in the pack. it may be worth pointing out that the wildlife in the photo is the old type. the new ones are slightly shorter and look more like a bigger version of the mini.
it has often been said that the sfa is the ultimate bushcraft axe. you probably would't want anything bigger unless you have a specific use for it, or you were car or canoe camping.
so, a few extra points to bear in mind. what do you want it for? firewood/carving? size of wood to chop? how big are you? if you're a big fellah you might well find that the mini is just too small, so the new style small wildlife might be just the ticket.
my own thought is that as you already have the sfa, the wildlife is largely redundant, so get the mini.
hope that hasn't confused you even more.
My own personal choice for UK bushcraft is the SMF. I'm name dropping here a bit but I've been guided by Ben Mcnutt from Woodsmoke in my choice.
I attended the Woodsmoke Axe workshop this year and the prerequisite is that you bring your own SMF. As a result this is an axe I have learned to use and grown to love using. I wouldn't go smaller willingly.
The SMF just fits in my daysack and is light enough not to be a burden.
I was almost a complete novice previously having only split rounds at home using a black and decker axe from homebase.
Following some training I'm completely comfortable using a variety of axes for a variety of tasks from the smaller gransfors hatchets right thru to heavy mauls.
Unless your proficient with an axe my advice is to get some training to go with your new axe aswell.
hi martyn, we must have cross posted.
yes the mini is definately useable. as a lightweight tool for back packing, it's ideal. back in the last of the mohican days, there was something called a longhunters hawk. basically a very light hawk for those who travelled fast and light. some might dismiss the mini out of hand, but you won't find a tool that will do what the mini does without paying the weight penalty.
I have to agree with qweeg here - I certainly wouldn't look at getting a smaller axe than the sfa, and it will probably be all u need unless you are heading into the Arboreal forest, in which case a larger forest axe is probably in order.
In my case - the second axe I referred to in the first topic is actually a Swedish carving axe - which is really a workshop tool, I use it for preparing blanks for the lathe and wouldn't take it out with me (unless i was carving a totem pole...my next plan... :wink: )
/edit - it didn't make sense :-?
my 2p worth....I only use the sfa and my knife, the knife can cut through anything up to about and inch and a half and splits well so a smaller axe is not needed. 2 handed a sfa will go through and inch and a half in one swing and I have taken down 12" oaks with it as well (very hard work!)
was that 3p worth? :-)
Thanks for the replies gentlemen. As I see it, it depends on circumstance. I really like the SFA, but my main concern is the weight. I cant imagine anything better for car-camping or short hikes. But at 1kg+, I wonder if it's just to heavy to be part of a hiking pack. I can certainly understand it being perfect, if you actually manage to lug it to your location, but what if you have to walk 20 miles carrying the thing? So, I was looking for an alternative "lightweight" option. I doubt very much if anything would replace my knife, cos they're just so useful, so, what could I do with a mini, that I cant do with my knife? OK, so the mini is better at certain tasks, but if it's do-able with a knife, then the mini isn't necessary (for lightweight camping). On the other hand, if I can achieve more, faster, with far less expenditure of energy, it may be worth hauling.
I need to give it more thought. I may just stick with the SFA + knife when I can take both, and just the knife aloneif I feel the need to limit weight.
I should add, I'm a total novice, just starting to put some minimal kit together. ;)
Mate, if I were going 20 miles and I thought the axe was too heavy I would take a good folding saw and a good knife. A knife with a baton can do a lot of things. With the right technique you can go through wrist sized trees with just your knife. You can make wedges to slit large pieces of wood, you can carve spoons, cooking equipment, make containers, digging sticks, cordage etc. The axe can make these easier, but your talking a fairly big bit of wood before the axe can only do what a knife and saw can't. Unless your really stuck the axe is something that makes life easier and tasks quicker, to go smaller than the sfa your talking knife and saw and to go bigger your talking another axe. Buy yourself a good saw - At the moment (pre-saw review) I would go for the Bahco/sandvik laplander or one of the silky fox range.
I must say though that I don't think the axe is too heavy and it goes with me everywhere. I had a car accident in Manchester a year odd ago and the attending PC helped me unload the car of camping gear (me and the family were off on Hols) he warned me that I should stay with my stuff as he had had people nicking stuff off of unconscious bodies in that area - I pulled out my axe and said "no worries" he chuckled and said "I'll leave you to it then" I bet if I had pulled out my woodlore knife he would have had second thoughts about leaving me to it! :mrgreen:
Cor, I cant half waffle :biggthump
Thanks Tone, you've confirmed what I was starting to think. The SFA is a truly useful size, the hatchest add convienience, but if I'm weight limited, I can acomplish what the hatchets will do, with my knife plus a lot more besides, if I'm not weight limited, I might as well use the SFA.
Looks like my next purchase will be a saw. Think I'll wait for your review. ;)
I've got both the SFA, and the new shape Wildlife Hatchet, I've also got a 7" Busse Steel Heart (a 1/4" thick wide bladed chopper). I took all out recently on a trip for a bit of testing and found myself reaching for the wildlife most often of the three. I was doing a bit of shelter building and foraging fuel for my Kelly Kettlle. I'd go for the Wildlife in a flash... you won't be dissapointed.
it is true that a saw is more efficient than an axe. it could also be argued that the saw is a little more limited to a specific application.
the gb mini in action, by hoodoo:
and to quote nessmuk "before i was a dozen years old i came to realise that a light hatchet was sine qua non for woodcraft" 8-) :-D
I must agree with gurushaun..... since I got a mini it has become my prefered tool... I use an opinel for smaller work and the fixed blade has become a sort of redundant backup blade that hasn't been used since.
I didn't plan it that way... just it seems to be the tool I reach for first... and its a joy to use :-D