#axe #bushcraft #tools
Save your money and buy only what you need – my top 3 axes for building a log cabin and bushcraft can be pared down to one if you select the right one for your needs. Ignore the fact that I have over one dozen axes. I have collected those over many years and many of them were free or very cheap and some of them are redundant and unnecessary. That being said, collecting tools is fun and most guys like collecting knives and axes, which are at least useful items. While I could reduce my collection to 3 or less, I actually do use the majority of these axes for different purposes.
The axe on the left in my thumbnail is a Chopper 1 splitting maul. Mauls are essential if you have a lot of firewood splitting to do. A regular axe is just too light and thin to be an effective splitting, so a heavy maul will make the job much easier.
The axe on the left beside the maul is a standard felling axe, the best all-round axe. If you can only find or afford one axe, this is the one. Three and a half pound head (3.5lbs) and a 32″ handle, this axe is used for felling trees of any size and for general purpose wood processing. It can be used for splitting firewood, albeit less efficiently than a maul, and it can be used for finer woodworking and carving, although it's a little to big and cumbersome to do that effectively.
The two axes on top and just to the right of the maul and felling axe are medium sized axes used for limbing and other light work, like cutting down small softwood trees and finer woodworking.
Hatchets and boy's axes are also useful and I would include one in my top 3 axes. They are much lighter with heads in the 1-2 pound range (0.5-1.0kg) and handles from 9″ to 15″. They are great for camp axes when small wood processing for fires, shelters and finer carving is needed. They are small enough to fit in a pack or on a belt so it's an axe you can carry with you a lot more often than a full sized axe.
The hewing axes I show are used for squaring timbers for timber frame shelter building. I use them for flattening out section of logs for the log cabin, and I'll be using them a lot more as I build timber framed accessory buildings, like the outdoor kitchen and workshop I'm starting this spring.
The other poorly maintained axe are used for clearing sites in the forest. Cutting roots below ground level is difficult and hard on equipment when working with hand tools, so I cheap axe is required. I frequently hit stones and sandy soils when cutting out stumps, and the axe is badly abused. A fiberglass handle and a heavy cheap axe head does the job.
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