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Turk
2007-09-22, 19:32
Hey folks.
blah....blah....blah.... you know how it goes.
I am working on another article for my website... and I usually run the first
drafts past you guys to see how far off I am from a finished product.

This one is hopefully going to become a basic guide to selecting
hatchets, saws... and I may go much further to include khukuri's
machete's and some WSK style knives.

Anyways here is a VERY rough first draft. It needs a great deal of
work. I just started talking to myself and typing as fast as I could go.
Not sure how much is coherent yet. I don't think or speak in linear fashion..
so dictating to myself won't be much better. Oh well. ... oh ya and forgive
my spelling. Also need to dig up more images and give the whole thing several polishes.

I am looking for anyone with anything good or bad to say about the following:
- sierra saws
- hatchets you have used.
- anyone with experience with the Tom Brown Tracker WSK for chopping and sawing.
- experiences with the Pocket Chainsaw
- anyone with considerable machete experience
- experiences with the Swamprat Paul's Rat-chet
- Ron Hoods ATAX
- The TOPS Trailmaster
- The Woodsmans Pal
- double bit hatchets
- khukuri experiences.
Please share your thoughts and ideas in any context that might apply to an article like this.
If coherent, I will do my best to include your thoughts and pics to the finished product.


Anyways .... here is a first peek.

Turk
2007-09-22, 19:41
Woodcutting For Backpackers - A Practical Guide by Turk.

Introduction

I wanted to write an article like this for some time. I know loads of people out there right now
are carrying camp axes, hatchets, and saws with them into the backcountry. My intentions with
this article are to firstly explain the features of common wood cutters and to share my own
insights and views on how these features are best incorporated into the lightweight backpackers
philosophy. This guide is designed to aid someone completely new to using wood tools as part of their
backpacking gear and to help lightweight fanatics find the ideal balance in an ultralight
tool of this type. Because of these considerations I have tried to avoid getting overly technical and
present this as more light and social. Please observe that the opinions and views expressed here
are my own and are developed from growing up harvesting our own wood from our own land to
fuel our many woodstoves which were a primary source of heat. And also a lifelong kinship
with open-fire cooking. I am by no means any sort of expert on any facet of this information, just
a great deal of associated personal experience.



Part 1 - Understanding the Tool

Before you can choose the right camp axe, or hatchet, we need to discuss a few parts of
the tool. There is a great deal of terminology associated with the head, but for our purposes
as hikers, I will break it down it only the essentials that most affect our choices. Here is
a far more technical breakdown of the various parts associated with the axe or hatchet for
those that just have to know:
http://ehko.info/art_axe1.JPG

So, having looked at the basic components it is time to decipher what these features actually
mean and how they will affect as lightweight backpacker.
"What does it do ? - How well does it do it? " - my gear motto.

In the below photo I have three very commonly purchased wood choppers, used by hikers/paddlers.
1. - The Gerber BackPaxe (aprox $30.00)
2. - The Granfors Bruks Mini (aprox $120.00)
3. - The Coldsteel Trailhawk (aprox $40.00)
http://ehko.info/art_axe2.JPG
Have a look at the different shapes and dimensions of each axe head and difference in handle
lengths. In the picture, lying on their sides note the cheeks, or face of each axe head.

Wide cheeks or bits - are designed for splitting wood. They allow large, clean pieces to
be split from already sawn log rounds. Wide cheeks make for heavy axe heads. They require
greater force behind the swing.

Narrow cheeks, or bits - have less surface area and are designed for deeper penetration, but
make for poor splitting. Narrow cheeks means a deeper cut and a lighter axe head.

In the next photo have a look at the difference in blade profiles. The Gerber has a thick
and stubby continuous taper while the CS tomahawk is very long and narrow.


http://ehko.info/art_axe3.jpg
Thick and Stubby Profiles - make for good clean splitting characteristics.
Because there is so much more steel, these heads tend to be much heavier. When
chopping wood, as opposed to splitting, this type of blade profile requires much more
effort to swing and get a good 'bite' on the log you are cutting. If you are trying to chop
down a piece of standing dead-wood, you must pay special attention to your swing angle.
Because the blade has little 'sticking' ability, a glancing blow could bounce and result in
injury quite easily. This type of profile makes quick work of splitting kindling.

Long and Narrow Profiles - make for great penetration. The axe heads are much lighter.
This type of blade profile has a very 'deep bite' when chopping a log. With a powerful
swing, and decent accuracy, you can cut your way through any size of log. The big
drawback to this profile is that they make for absolutely lousy splitting characteristics.
A long, thin, narrow profile bit will just sink right into log round and get really stuck,
really easily. With good accuracy and a powerful swing it is possible to split but
you are limitted to smaller diameter log rounds.

Handle Length - Plain and simple, handle length is power. The longer the handle, the
more power behind your every swing. Long handles mean more weight to carry, but
less effort expended when using the tool.
Short handles, especially really short handles, do save weight, but at a huge penalty
to both power and effort required. As a rule of thumb.... any handle under 12" long
is going to require some serious sweat and good hard swing.


Part 2 - Splitting, Sawing or Chopping and Lightweight Philosophy

Think back to some of the most basic of reasons for 'going light'. Much of it boils
down to having more energy at the end of the day, and more control over how
you will expend that energy. Fair enough. When it comes to using wood fires
and harvesting wood.... this philosophy still applies. At least for me anyways.

Gathering wood and making fire, requires a great deal of personal energy.
In winter, this goes triple. Choosing the best tool for you, means figuring
out exactly how much you are willing to put out in personal energy as a
sacrifice to the gods of 'weight savings'.

http://ehko.info/art_axe4.jpg
Splitting - There are really only a few times that splitting wood is ever really practical.
If you are car camping or using purchased pre-cut firewood, then by all means... carry
a decent splitting hatchet to lop up your firewood into appropriate pieces. If you are
hiking in extremely wet or swampy enviroments and are looking to use a wood fire...
splitting may become more of a concern. If it has been raining for a week straight..
you need to get at the dry core of the wood to get a good fire up and lit. Once you have
a good coal base.... any wood will burn. If wood is scarce, then splitting your wood
will provide you with a more effecient flame with higher concentrated BTU output.
If using wood in winter as combined with a Kifaru or Ti-goat stove....splitting some
of your wood will give faster start-ups and quicker warmth in the mornings or
evenings when first setting up. Personally I never split wood in the backcountry
unless I absolutely have to. Pouring rain, a lack of dry wood, winter, or car
camping are the only times I will bring a hatchet or camp axe designed to split.
If I had to recommend one... it would be the 18" Gerber camp axe. Very light for
its potential power, a good functional yet packable handle length, very reasonably priced
and unbreakable as opposed to hickory handle alternatives. The weight is concentrated
right where you want it, and the weight savings is taken right from where it should be.
Its a good little camp axe. But I digress.....
Before you can even consider the effort you are going to invest in splitting wood....
you have to cut it. This usually means a saw.
http://ehko.info/art_axe5.jpg
Sawing - Finding the perfect saw, is like looking for the holy grail. There are so many
variables that factor into choosing the right saw. More teeth-per-inch means a finer cut,
with less bite, but considerably more effort to saw anything large. Less teeth-per-inch
means lots of bite, fast cutting, but more prone to binding - which can lead to personal
injury. Conventional saws cut on the push stroke (pushing towards material being cut).
In the backcountry this is an unnecessary risk to the operator. Japanese-cut saws cut on
the draw-stroke (pulling towards yourself). The downside to this type of saw is they
are usually very expensive and extremely difficult to find with an aggressive tooth-pitch.
Bi-directional saws cut on both strokes either forward and back. This type gives you
the most efficient cut for the effort you put out. One drawback of this design is that
many of this type are prone to binding and jam sawdust fairly easily. I have owned
dozens of saws from take-down bows, to sierra type folders, to LeeValley Tool
Jap-cut saws. The absolute best saw I have ever used is the Gerber Gator fixed blade.
If the Gerber Backpaxe is arguably the worlds most worthless and useless hatchet...
Fiskars made up for it in spades with the Gerber Gator fixed blade saw. Two extremely
useful tooth-pitches, bi-directional cutting, a functional blade length for larger diameter
logs, cheap, and decently light-weight. You could cut more than half the weight of the
saw by removing the overkill handle.... a mod I plan to undertake soon. Other than that ...
it is great at what it does.

http://ehko.info/art_axe6.jpg
Chopping - Definitely the bulk work of any camp axe in the backcountry. Chopping wood
efficiently is all about getting a good bite, and a powerful swing, without getting stuck.
Technique certainly plays some role in this equation. For all the reasons discussed
in part 1 of this article... my chopper of choice has long been a tomahawk. You get
a very light weight head, a thin cheek, long and sharp profile. For the pounds you save
in a lightweight head... you can afford to spend a few ounces in an extra long handle.
Most tomahawks come in 15",18" or 20" handle lengths. This gives you big power,
in a lightweight package, for a very efficient wood gathering process. The only time
that a well designed chopper like this is beat out, is when you have large quantities
of dead wood at 3" or less in diameter (Such as a fallen tree) In this scenario, if all you
want is a small cook fire. then a good bi-directional saw will beat out any chopper in effort
expended for wood harvested. When you get into larger diameters....a good chopper proves
invaluable.


.....to be continued. and revised.

Turk
2007-09-22, 20:07
umm ya.... for anyone that didn't want to read all that.. or
fell asleep. The punch-line is...

'wide cheeks are only good for splitting'



speaking of woodcutting still of course. :biggrin:

Take-a-knee
2007-09-22, 21:19
Good read Turk, I remember reading, I think from something Calvin Rutstrum wrote many years ago, that a 3/4 length "Hudson's Bay" pattern axe was an extremely dangerous implement due to its length. It you hit a glancing blow with it, it could lay your shin wide open, and he had seen it happen. A dull tool increases the likelyhood of this.

I'd always wondered if one of those Cold Steel tommahawks was worth owning, I must get one.

GGS
2007-09-22, 21:42
...Rough draft? Wow, I learned a lot already! I look forward to seeing the finished product.

Take-a-knee
2007-09-22, 21:56
Has anyone had their hands on this hatchet?

http://www.buckknives.com/catalog/detail/478/232

Take-a-knee
2007-09-22, 22:03
Turk, I went to Gerber's website and I didn't see that saw of yours, they make a folder with a much shorter blade now.

pure_mahem
2007-09-22, 22:22
...Rough draft? Wow, I learned a lot already! I look forward to seeing the finished product.
My sediments exactly.:beer:

Turk
2007-09-23, 01:30
Turk, I went to Gerber's website and I didn't see that saw of yours, they make a folder with a much shorter blade now.


ya ... I noticed that too. Its out there. I see it in stores all the time. Its
just an elusive item.

dropkick
2007-09-23, 01:34
OK.
I can give my opinion on a Fiskars hatchet, An Estwing hatchet, wire saws, and Coghlan's 6 inch folding saw.

Fiskar's hatchet:
I bought my Fiskars 14" Hatchet (http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=productDetail&productId=214972-1078-7850&lpage=none) 2 years ago at Lowes.

It has a fiberglass handle and weighs just under 24 oz. It's made by the same people who make the Gerber Sport Axe Hatchet (http://www.bobwards.com/bobwards/servlet/item/features/100332-03) and except for being less expensive is the same hatchet.

I did replace the "safety sheath" (a plastic holder for the blade) with a homemade leather cover right after I got the hatchet as I thought it was bulky and cheap looking.

I've been really happy with it as both a splitting and chopping hatchet.
It has made short work of several fallen trees up to about 16 inches in diameter. (I have to deal with many fallen trees on my land as the property burnt in 2000, killing all the trees) The hatchet will cut through an 8 inch pine or fir in less than 5 minutes.
While my full size double bit would be faster than the hatchet for ease of use I like this hatchet.

For a camping/hiking hatchet I haven't delt with a better hatchet.

Personal note: Turk, I got the feeling that you might be prejudiced against this hatchet due to your experience with the Gerber Back Paxe. It's my belief that the Back Paxe was designed for the gram weenies and it has to short of a handle to operate very well for anything other than limited use. The handle size makes a world of difference in the usefulness of the hatchet.


Estwing hatchet:
The Estwing hatchet (http://www.amazon.com/Estwing-E24A-Sportsmans-Hatchet-Handle/dp/B0002JT0BO) I have is at least 60 years old. It is a very well made hatchet. It is all steel construction (blade and handle are one piece) with a leather grip.

I use it when hunting for any bone work. It has held up under this abuse from both myself and my father and hasn't shown any noticeable damage.

I have used it on firewood and I prefer the Fiskars, but this is probably due to the sharpness of the blade* and the easier handling of the Fiskars due to the lighter weight.
*I can't remember ever sharpening the Estwing - I must have at sometime though.

Because of the durability if it wasn't for the weight I would probably carry it all the time.



Wire saws: I have tried several wire saws over the years (not to be confused with pocket chainsaws (http://store.everestgear.com/370793.html)) and the only thing I can say about wire saws is "Skip it". They break, often before you've even finished cutting one small branch.
I have tried cheap ones:cheap (http://store.everestgear.com/370800.html)
expensive ones:expensive (http://www.amazon.com/ProForce-Commando-Wire-Saw/dp/B00069OMH2)
they all broke fairly soon.



Coghlan's 6 inch folding saw:
Coghlan's 6 inch folding saw (http://www.modernoutpost.com/gear/details/cg_sierra.html) is inexpensive and cheaply made, I always worry about breaking the plastic handle.
I got mine for X-mas.
The best thing I can say about it is I would take it in place of 100 wire saws.

If you have the choice go for a good pruning saw like the Carona clipper (http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=productDetail&productId=10452-63731-RS7265D) instead.

Turk
2007-09-23, 01:43
Thanks dropkick for the input. You remind me that I need to include a section with pics on wire saws. I too have a dozen of those garbage saws.

Your Fiskars 14" is not a bad little hatchet. But for the extra 2oz you can
get 3.5" of more handle if you buy the camp axe.
I will try and make more distinction between the extremely terrible
Backpaxe, and the better 14" and 18" models in the final draft.

Hog On Ice
2007-09-23, 06:56
for general wood cutting / trail maintenance I prefer the Corona 21 inch Pro. pruning saw - the sheath fits nicely in a ski slot in my pack - cuts on pull stroke

the Coglan's 6 inch folder has lasted me well but then I don't use it much - I use it mostly for nasty stuff like trimming up a root ball of a pine or I'll toss it in the pack when I don't want to carry the 21 inch saw and I don't think I'll need to do any serious cutting

wire saws are close to worthless

generally I prefer sawing to chopping

Take-a-knee
2007-09-23, 10:25
When I went to SERE school many years ago, one of the instructors had taken a wire saw, the kind with the rings on each end, and made a bow saw from it buy taking three small pieces of hardwood and using a piece of parachute cord for a windlass. He said that he'd used it to cut a bunch of 2 by 4's without a problem. If this was all you had and you had to construct something sizeable, the time/effort to make a bowsaw would be worth it, I think.

dropkick
2007-09-24, 01:40
Your Fiskars 14" is not a bad little hatchet. But for the extra 2oz you can
get 3.5" of more handle if you buy the camp axe.

The extra 3.5 inches would make for a more powerful axe and also make it more useful, but then it wouldn't fit in my daypack.

The 14" fits into the side of my daypack perfectly, and if you've ever read some of my posts on firefighting equipment you'll know that I'm kind of anal about always carrying it.

However now you've got me thinking about getting the axe for my backpack (I normally hook my hatchet or an axe to the outside of it).
- Won't look as cool as my double bit tied to my pack though....

KLeth
2007-09-24, 02:26
My hatchet (http://www.gransfors.com/htm_eng/produkter/new_prod/p_lillayxa.html) Good for making kindling, cutting down small branches and for hammering. On long hikes I normally just use my trifold entrenching tool as hatchet/axe since I am hauling it with me anyways.

Nice and well written guide to woodcutting tools Turk !

I have wondered if anyone have tried splitting e.g. 5cm banches with a knife as I have seen Ray Mears do ? Wonder how hard it will be on a good knife.

Iceman
2007-09-24, 09:22
Kleth, where you been hiding?

Hey, your link wasn't working for me.... anyone else had the prob....?

SGT Rock
2007-09-24, 11:41
Very nice. Thanks for posting that. Getting more and more into trail maintenance I need some professional help with all this.

BTW, something I figured out this weekend. I wanted some nice fresh hardwood for cooking the steaks on instead of rotting dead fall. So with some of that already cut hardwood from the blowdowns I used a wedge and hammer for splitting wood (since someone broke my pulaski handel). I figured it was a good solution to use one of the wedges I was already carrying (for cutting with a saw and the hammer for driving them in place) instead of an axe or a hatchet. Saves carryting an extra hatchet or axe for a single use.

Hog On Ice
2007-09-24, 17:26
I've done just that several times - usually I would cut a wooden wedge with a long butt end, use the steel wedge to get the split going and then use the wooden wedge to finish the job - typically the wooden wedge would be approx. a foot long with the wedge part being the first couple inches and the rest straight.

KLeth
2007-09-25, 01:14
Hardlinked:
http://www.gransfors.com/htm_eng/produkter/new_prod/p_lillayxa.html
Swedish company that makes famous axes for wood crafting.

--|Offtopic|--
Iceman: Being having problems with the new house we are to move in to, the construction ect. is now delayed 10months, still counting. One week before we were to move in 01 of june (6 months late), they delayed the whole thing until further notice. We had to ship dog home since baby were comming a month and a half later and we have no room in apartment for young dog and baby. My son (http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1029/1345720848_a9602aefc1.jpg?v=0)arrived 11 days early on the 03 of July in good health . Also I am working three+ projects at work instead of one.
--|Offtopic|--

Iceman
2007-09-25, 01:25
Nice axe.

Sounds like you have been very busy. Congrats on all of it, especially the newborn!!! Good to see you back posting... Maybe we should start a diaper changing thread or bottle sterilizing with an alcohol stove,....maybe lightweight child carrier thread?

dropkick
2007-09-25, 01:25
I have wondered if anyone have tried splitting e.g. 5cm branches with a knife as I have seen Ray Mears do ? Wonder how hard it will be on a good knife.
I haven't ever seen Ray Mear's show, but other than whittling and fashioning tools, the only reason I would ever use a knife to cut wood is if I had no other tools and desperately needed the wood cut.

Dulls a blade, and if you're cutting large branches you have to beat on the back of the blade which can mushroom the metal and damage the blade. Not to mention the possibility of breaking the blade.

-You'd want a very thick blade if you were doing this, at the very least 3/8 inch and thicker would be better. Also you wouldn't want it to have to hard a temper as normally this means it's also somewhat brittle.

CaSteve
2007-09-25, 23:20
First, I'd like to recommend some books on this subject:

Woodcraft and Camping (http://www.amazon.com/Woodcraft-Camping-George-Sears-Nessmuk/dp/0486211452/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2/103-5595312-5466209?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1190771388&sr=8-2) by George W. Sears "Nessmuk" (if you google, you can find PDFs of this book online)
Camping and Woodcraft: A Handbook for Vacation Campers and for Travelers in the Wilderness (http://www.amazon.com/Camping-Woodcraft-Handbook-Travelers-Wilderness/dp/0870495569/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-5595312-5466209?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1190771388&sr=8-1) by Horace Kephart. This book is a continuation of many of Nessmuk's ideas.
Both of these books were written over 100 years ago.

Also worth reading are Calvin Rutstrum's books: The New Way of the Wilderness, North American Canoe Country, and my favorite: Paradise Below Zero :biggrin: .

So about a year ago I became very interested in hatchets, knives, axes, and saws. I read Nessmuk's book & tried to adapt his "trilogy" (hatchet, knife, and pocket knife to my style of backpacking/camping. I bought a Gransfors-Bruks Mini Hatchet (http://www.gransfors.com/htm_eng/produkter/new_prod/p_lillayxa.html), a Nessmuk Knife (http://www.lostrock.net/websites/ctfischerknives/nessmuk_style.htm), and a Muskrat Pocket Knife. It all adds up to alot of weight.

I also obtained a Trailblazer Take-Down Bucksaw (http://www.trailblazerproducts.com/products/list/showcase/?id=27). This thing is awesome. Cuts thru wood like it was butter. This is my favorite wood cutting tool. I bought mine here (http://www.trailblazerproducts.com/products/list/showcase/?id=27).

I like my GB Mini, but I find I'm starting to leave it at home on many of my backpacking trips, taking only the bucksaw if I think I need a fire.

dropkick
2007-09-26, 02:18
I also carry a take down bucksaw somewhat similar in shape to yours, but I built mine out of L shaped 1/2 x 1/4 inch aluminum that I bought at Home Depot.

I put it together with wing nuts so it's easy to break down, and made the tensioner (up top) from a shoe string and a chunk of apple wood branch (I twist the shoe string with the branch to tighten and then tie the branch to the string to keep it from unraveling).

dropkick
2007-09-26, 02:51
Another of my beautiful drawings - did my saw.

Iceman
2007-09-26, 09:54
Cool drawing, no shame...

Take-a-knee
2007-09-26, 11:33
Very ingenious saw design Dropkick, that would work as well with a wire saw.

CaSteve
2007-09-26, 11:35
Very nice. What kind of blades are you using?

dropkick
2007-09-27, 02:48
I just bought a raker tooth bowsaw blade at the hardware store. They usually sell them with the tree pruning supplies. I think it cost about $3.00.

-If you've never used a buck, bow, or swede saw you might not know this, but these blades are some the best handsaw blades for cutting green wood quickly. A normal crosscut handsaw would just be starting it's cut when this blade finished.

Just stopped and made a drawing of the teeth.
-this is from memory but it should be about right, I can't remember if it's normally 3 or 4 teeth between the raker teeth - but it doesn't really matter.

pure_mahem
2007-09-27, 03:53
I also obtained a Trailblazer Take-Down Bucksaw (http://www.trailblazerproducts.com/products/list/showcase/?id=27). This thing is awesome. Cuts thru wood like it was butter. This is my favorite wood cutting tool. I bought mine here (http://www.trailblazerproducts.com/products/list/showcase/?id=27).
What type of metal would you say the handles are made out of? Kind of curious about what strength type of metal I would need to use to make one of these as it looks kind of easy to make.

Nice job on yours by the way Dropkick!

doug12
2007-09-27, 06:44
To start:
I have currently an Estwing hatchet, Marble double bit hatchet, steel tomahawk, Gerger/Fiskars hatchet, Snow and Nealley Hudson Bay pattern hatchet, Pocket chainsaw, Woodsmans Pal, Tramontina machete, Norlund Hudson Bay pattern axe (28" handle), folding bow saw (wood frame), and full size single bit axe. Oh and one of those little 8 oz hatchets they sell to foresters to peel bark with.
If I had to pick one to keep warm with it would be the full size axe. If weight was a concern it would be the Norlund. I like hatchets (obviously) but I don't think any of them is worth their weight until yopu have an ice strom and need to split alot of wood to get to a dry core.
Machetes and fun and safe (the Rutstrum quote is true) but they are too light to cut wood well.
My bow wsaw is very effective. It has a square frame. back in the 70's I had a flding saw with a triangular frame - the crossbar would hit the wood as you cut, effectively shaortening the length of the saw. For anything over a few inches thick it was worthless.
My pocket chansaw works surprisingly well, but it has one drawback. As you get near the end of the cut the chain wants to bind up - the curve the chain takes in the wood is too tight unless you hold your arms apart. Somewhat awkward.
Again, back in the seventies my cousin and I went out on an overnight to try out different tools for cutting wood. We knew where there was a pile of down oak, so we took the triangular bow saw mentioned above, one of the wire saws so popular back then a folding pruning saw, an Estwing hatchet and our knives out to test. All failed miseralbly in our opinions. We got more wood faster, with less effort by bashing things with a large rock.
Summing up - I carry a full size axe and bow saw when car camping. On foot in the winter I sometimes carry the folding bow saw and hatchet (Gerber or Marbles) for splitting. Usually I just carry a knife.

Spice1
2007-09-27, 13:21
When I went to SERE school many years ago, one of the instructors had taken a wire saw, the kind with the rings on each end, and made a bow saw from it buy taking three small pieces of hardwood and using a piece of parachute cord for a windlass. He said that he'd used it to cut a bunch of 2 by 4's without a problem. If this was all you had and you had to construct something sizeable, the time/effort to make a bowsaw would be worth it, I think.

You can do this with a pocket chainsaw and 550 cord.

Give the BackPaxe a break. I wound up with an unfunctional chainsaw and used the paxe to cut down a 2 foot wide madrone. Wasn't the most elegant solution, but it was at hand and worked. The excitement of the british volunteers who watched was great. They had never seen a tree felled before, let alone with a little pocket hatchet. One of them said, "Guess that's true what they say about rugged americans..." I had to laugh.

Oh, and splitting wood: I usually try to cut wedges for splitting larger logs. A few thin sharp wedges can be hacked out easily and used with the flat back of the hatchet. If a wedge gets stuck, cut another, and so on. My new pursuit is breaking open rotting redwoods. Turns out the outsides rot, but the guts can remain red and gorgeous for YEARS. Trying to get enough strips to panel my living room in them at the cabin.

Hollowdweller
2007-09-27, 14:38
Tom Brown Tracker sucks. "It is obvious Tom Brown has never handled a khukuri" - My wife.

Pocket chainsaw - great but better with 2 people

Khukuri- Great. A good hatchet pound for pound will outchop a khukuri, but a khukuri will beat the crap out of a hatchet for cutting small limbs and chopping.

Hatchets- Gransfors Bruks Wildlife. Too heavy for long trips but a very aggressive chopper.

Gransfors Bruks Mini- Great chopper for the size

Reeves custom Nessmuk - My favorite

Wetterlings- need a lot of reprofiling to chop right.

Gransfors Bruks Hunters axe- nice.


Khukuri

http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c19/hollowdweller/k5.jpg
http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c19/hollowdweller/k4.jpg

http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c19/hollowdweller/bc1.jpg

I have broken a mini! They replaced it!
http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c19/hollowdweller/hollowdweller_gbsnap.jpg

Mini in hand
http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c19/hollowdweller/axe3.jpg

GB Hunters, Firestone Belt Axe, Old Norlund, Mini
http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c19/hollowdweller/axes.jpg

Nessmuk hatchet and knife
http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c19/hollowdweller/stripey.jpg
http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c19/hollowdweller/neslog.jpg

Funky pics but pocket chain saw
http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c19/hollowdweller/KFSods47.jpg

Valiant Golok

http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c19/hollowdweller/golokbigcut.jpg
http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c19/hollowdweller/golokhand.jpg

Hollowdweller
2007-09-27, 14:44
Reeves Hatchet with ash handle and Scott Gossman nessmuk knife

http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c19/hollowdweller/razor1.jpg

Nessmuk, a Two Hawks Hawk and a GB Wildlife

http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c19/hollowdweller/2hawksline-1.jpg

More khukuris

http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c19/hollowdweller/withall.jpg

Crosscut saw

http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c19/hollowdweller/crosscut.jpg
Nessmuk on pack
http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c19/hollowdweller/07OCT4.jpg

Sorry for all the pics but you said you wanted them:ahhhhh:

Mutinousdoug
2007-09-27, 22:19
HD,
Would you care to comment on the apparent grain direction of the handle (haft) of your otherwise purty Reeves hatchet?
(Relative to your GB mini.)
I'm not a hatchet guy, too much, but I've swung a hammer a bit. (No pun intended)

Take-a-knee
2007-09-27, 23:13
I may be wrong, but it looks like the grain is running the wrong way in that hatchet handle. I always picked handles that had the grain running vertically, the same direction you swing the hatchet/hammer. You want widely spaced growth rings also (from a tree that grew fast) with hardwood also, as it is less brittle than the wood from a slow growth hardwood. This is the opposite of soft wood.

Hollowdweller
2007-09-27, 23:19
Edit: I think I know what you are saying. Yes, the grain runs up and down in the handle. If you cut the handle in half halfway up the handle you would be crosscutting it, if you cut it down the middle, lengthwise you'd be ripping it. Does that make sense? Maybe the weird Osage patterns are misleading.

If you hold the butt of the handle toward you the pores of the wood and rings and pores are there, not on the side of the handle.

Mutinousdoug
2007-09-28, 00:22
Edit: I think I know what you are saying. Yes, the grain runs up and down in the handle. If you cut the handle in half halfway up the handle you would be crosscutting it, if you cut it down the middle, lengthwise you'd be ripping it. Does that make sense? Maybe the weird Osage patterns are misleading.
If you hold the butt of the handle toward you the pores of the wood and rings and pores are there, not on the side of the handle.

Making a handle with growth rings across the length of the haft would be super bad, functionally as well as wasteful (ly?). i.e. using 150 years of growth to make an inferior handle.
Cutting through the handle crossways on the handle of your Reeves will be crosscutting regardless of the grain orientation of the hatchet blade, but shouldn't the grain(rings) run vertically through the eye of the axe head?

Am I confused?

dropkick
2007-09-28, 00:39
I've seen badly made handles where the grain is on a diagonal, and I've seen them break.
I've never seen a handle made with the grain running across the width of it.
If one was made I wouldn't be surprised if the handle broke just from the weight of the head.

The grain has to run lengthwise down the handle, otherwise it wont have any strength.

dropkick
2007-09-28, 01:01
Hollowdweller,

Towards the end of the movie Twister when Bill Paxson and Helen Hunt were looking for shelter from a tornado they went into a barn. The barn was totally filled with cutting implements. Bill Paxson looked around and said wonderingly "Who are these people?"

Was that your house?


Now for a serious question:
I've been making knives (made 3 so far) and I was looking for a good belt knife pattern. The other day I was looking at Nessmuk knives and I liked the looks of them, so I was thinking of making one.

Anyway, I read George Washington Sears (Nessmuk) liked a thinner knife than was currently popular in his day and I was wondering how thick yours was? (plus length and width of the blade by the handle if it's not too much of a bother)



P.S. If and when I start to build this one I'll try to confine myself to working on it during the day so my crappy digital can take pictures of how I do it, to post here.

Take-a-knee
2007-09-28, 01:38
HD, looking again at that picture of your hatchet, even if that grain is running the "wrong way" it probably wouldn't matter because their appears to be absolutely no runout of the grain, the lines run from one end of the handle to the other. Where the grain runs out is where it will shatter and break. It almost looks like it was laminated, like a gunstock. Come to think of it, that would be a good way to make a handle for a hand-made piece of steel.

Hollowdweller
2007-09-28, 10:45
Making a handle with growth rings across the length of the haft would be super bad, functionally as well as wasteful (ly?). i.e. using 150 years of growth to make an inferior handle.
Cutting through the handle crossways on the handle of your Reeves will be crosscutting regardless of the grain orientation of the hatchet blade, but shouldn't the grain(rings) run vertically through the eye of the axe head?

Am I confused?

It does. This is not mine but look at the pic of the end of the axe in this thread and you get an idea of mine

http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=216580&highlight=reeves

If you ran the grain across the handle, even an osage handle, I'd expect it to break with the first blow:ahhhhh:

Hollowdweller
2007-09-28, 11:05
My nessmuk knife is 3/32. Most are between 1/8 and 3/32.

I always kind of liked thick knives till I got this one and the thinner blades are such great slicers.

Did you see the Nessmuk Knife Thread I compiled with all the variations on them??

http://ramanon.com/forum/showthread.php?t=38454

Mutinousdoug
2007-09-28, 12:19
HD,
Are we talking about the same hatchet? I'm looking at the one you have described as a Reeves hatchet with an ash handle pictured with a Scott Grossman Nessmuk. Not the one you have pictured with your Chudinski (sp?)

Hollowdweller
2007-09-28, 13:03
Nope. Were not. Both are Reeves.

Not sure about that one cause I don't have it anymore.

incognito
2007-10-01, 16:34
Ron Hoods ATAX might be good for a boat anchor. It's extremely over priced/rated as a survival tool. One of his henchmen sold his a short time after puchasing one. That tells you alot about its value.

Does he still sell them? At a point in time he was'nt replenishing inventory.

My time on his site ended 3 years ago. I have no current info regarding the ATAX.

sailingsoul
2007-10-01, 21:04
You asked for input Turk, here's mine. Part of your third sentence said,,,,

,,,, explain the features of common wood cutters and to share my own insights and views on how these features are best incorporated into the lightweight backpackers philosophy.
Your mention of "lightweight backpackers" is what struck me. I have a lightweight saw that I first bought in the early 70's. It's the Campmor folding saw. http://www.campmor.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?productId=13834&memberId=12500226 My experience with this saw is,,, Ever since I first used it, I never carried an ax again. The difference in weight and ease of cutting fire wood are what made me a convert. With it I can cut up a log of any length into shorter lengths for the fire, in a fraction of the time and effort it takes with any ax. I don't cut logs larger than 8 inches for my fires and this saw can cut them. Larger than that and the available stroke gets smaller as the log gets bigger. I don't miss being able to split large wood as might with an ax, I see it as extra work. I cut to length and pile the wood on as needed. I have never used the Gerber saw in the photo but feel that because all the force is applied to the handle, (at one end of the blade) it would tend to bend if the effort is other than in line with the blade. With the campmor saw force is carried to the front of the blade also, through the frame. When cutting one does have to keep your wrist straight, no rotation. With the large teeth on the blade, binding due to saw dust is not a factor. I only wish I could show a video of usage, prehaps some day. For me, it's the grail. I could bring up other points but I'll stop. If anyone has experience with this saw, I would love to hear of it. wishing you the best. SS :captain:

Take-a-knee
2007-10-01, 22:38
Wow, 29.99 for that Sven saw, I think I paid something like ten bucks for mine. I also paid Twelve dollars I think for my SVEA 123 stove...my age is showing, isn't it?

dropkick
2007-10-02, 01:36
Hollowdweller,
Thanks for the link.

I think I'm going to try reproducing the Nessmuk knife from his original drawing instead of going off of anyone else's version.

--Needed something to copy the shape from as every version I tried to draw myself wasn't coming out good enough to satisfy me.
Could do the sine wave shape but for some reason was having problems with drawing the heavy tip.

Hollowdweller
2007-10-02, 14:56
Hollowdweller,
Thanks for the link.

I think I'm going to try reproducing the Nessmuk knife from his original drawing instead of going off of anyone else's version.

--Needed something to copy the shape from as every version I tried to draw myself wasn't coming out good enough to satisfy me.
Could do the sine wave shape but for some reason was having problems with drawing the heavy tip.

Dropkick,

This pic is really large but here's a drawing of Nessmuk's knife from Kephardt

http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c19/hollowdweller/J07pdj3-a.jpg

Turk
2007-10-02, 20:34
Thanks Sailingsoul, that is exactly the kind of devil's advocate post I was
hoping to get from someone here. There had to be some people that could
expound upon their tool of choice. Very good info, thanks for sharing.
I like that you told us exactly what you are cutting and how you are using the
tool.


Hollowdweller being a khuk nut, I thank you for all your advice on the
subject. Feel free to rant at length. I for one would like to hear specifics
on how one should choose a khukuri... how heavy? how large? are best
for serious chopping. How small could you get away with for the more
weight conscious? Are smaller khukuri's capable of performing double duty
as both a chopper and a primary camp knife?

Dropkick - thanks for that folding bow saw info. I will have to hear more about
it in terms of ease of use, speed and weight?

I would certainly like to hear more from everyone about:

- Why exactly you have made a particular cutting tool 'your tool of choice',
- What considerations brought you to what you currently use.
- And please explain exactly what you use the tool for, as that will of course
synch with the choices and considerations you have made.


great so far. Thanks for everyone that is contributing.

Hollowdweller
2007-10-05, 11:12
Hey Turk!

Pound for pound a hatchet will out chop a khukuri. However with the khukuri you have that dual purpose aspect of being able to cut saplings and stuff.

When I am backpacking I bring that Reeves Double Bit because I'm never hacking a trail and my main focus is fire building.

When I am hiking in my woods and on the land surrounding my land I bring a khukuri because most of the time I am the only one using the paths and I need to keep them clear.

I think when you go below 15" and 20 oz the khuk loses it's advantage. It will still machete but won't really chop.

For me the ideal is around 16 or 17 inches and 23 to 25 oz. If I am backpacking and taking a khukuri I take the 15" 20 or 22 oz one I have. But like I say usually I use the Reeves.

If you go above about 27oz on a khukuri, depending on the design, then you compromise the machete aspect.

When I am backpacking and carrying a lot of water or something I switch to the GB mini hatchet. I saw a review where somebody put the mini up against a folding saw and the saw cut the same size wood faster so if you were just cutting wood for a fire the saw might be better. But I think the mini is a little better for quickly whacking small limbs and stuff than the saw so it has the advantage there.

Hope this helps and it is all just my opinion. Not gospel:boring: