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Carving hatchet recommendations?

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  • Carving hatchet recommendations?

    I like to take a carving kit when I go camping. Usually that consists of a bow saw, two or three knives (a relatively strong, thick blade for roughing, a normal whittling knife, and sometimes a detail knife), my strop, and a stone. I have a camping hatchet, but mostly that's just good for chopping where I can't use the saw.

    But I've seen a few hatchet carving videos. It's obvious they're not using a standard out-of-the-box camping hatchet. Not with the factory edge, for sure. I spent a few hours with a file this weekend, re-shaping the bevel on a cheap hatchet I bought at Harbor Freight. The result is encouraging, but not quite there yet. And that dang hatchet is heavy. Doesn't take much time to get tired swinging a 20 oz tool. (Well, the head is 20 oz. Not sure what the whole thing weighs.) Yeah, I have a 20 oz. mallet, but I'm not hitting things that hard.

    Any suggestions on a good carving hatchet that's reasonably light and has a good edge? Or suggestions on shaping an edge that's both strong enough to chop with, and thin enough to carve with?



  • #2
    I've been a member of the British bushcraft forums for some time ( BCUK).
    If my memory serves, their idea of a carving axe is a smallish hatchet
    which has a single bevel on one side of the head like the blade of a froe.

    If I'm right, I suggest you join up with those people and ask.
    There's a few extraordinary spoon carvers that show their work from time to time.
    Brian T

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    • #3
      Hi
      I suggest one of the following axes, good edge, light and the last one is very small (easy to put in a backpack). I used the second one (allmost identical to the first one) to carve spoons and it was a real pleasure. For the bigger work (like spoons and bowls) I use the carving axe but this one is much heavier.

      Gränsfors Small Carving Hatchet or Gränsfors Small Hatchet or even smaller Gränsfors Hand Hatchet





      Jos
      Belgium

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      • #4
        You might also consider an adze. In my opinion we have better control in the up & down line than the left & right line of an arm stroke.

        Comment


        • #5
          Brian: Thanks. I'll check out the bushcraft forum.

          Jos: Wow, those Gränsfors hatchets are expensive! Is all that extra money really worthwhile?

          pallin: Interesting idea. I'll have to look into the adze. Any particular recommendations?

          Jim

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          • #6
            Jim:
            Here are examples of three kinds of adzes which I use.

            The blue blade is a full (7/75) sized wood carver's adze made by Stubai.
            It looks and performs like a hopped up mountaineer's ice axe.
            OK for the roughest of roughout work, that's about all I can find.

            Next is an elbow adze. Dry whipped, elbow is 55 degrees.
            Kestrel Tools Baby Sitka adze blade, my woodwork and hafting.
            Provided that you don't strike any faster than your heart rate, you can chop all day.
            One Alaska carver was quoted as calling it a "band saw on a stick."

            The D-adze is used more commonly around the Salish Sea to the south.
            Kestrel Tools D-adze blade, my woodwork and hafting.
            This is my favorite of the three. I can even push it like a woodworker's plane.

            I have a full-size Kestrel Tool Sitka adze blade all tuned up on the bench, starving for a handle.
            Kestrel supplies very good patterns so that part is no puzzle.

            AdzesB.JPG
            Brian T

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            • #7
              Originally posted by jmischel View Post

              pallin: Interesting idea. I'll have to look into the adze. Any particular recommendations?

              Jim
              The tradition among Native Americans is to make your own. Start with a piece of automotive leaf spring. . .

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              • #8
                Pre-'65 Volkswagen Bugs and Ford F350 leaf springs are the best.
                I desperately needed to avoid the learning curve of a blade smith.
                Might make an adze for texturing. Maybe. Some day. Maybe.

                FN kids with promise usually got apprenticed with a relative. Grandfather, maybe an uncle.
                Tool making was an important introduction. 6" mill file, forge is a trench in the ground.
                One very serviceable crooked knife coming right up.

                Kestrel*, Cariboo, North Bay, Crescent* (Lee Valley) and Jamie Sharp* are the big bladesmiths.
                Mike Komick* (Summerland) made very good knives but he died not so many years ago.
                *I have and use one or more crooked knives from them.

                As a means to an end, going with blades from Kestrel or Cariboo or North Bay is easiest.

                Brian T

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by jmischel View Post
                  Jos: Wow, those Gränsfors hatchets are expensive! Is all that extra money really worthwhile?
                  one of those will last a lifetime... I used them in workshops and noticed the difference with any ordinary axe.
                  I only own the GB large carving axe and because for a lot of people the other ones are expensive like you say I bought the Robin wood carving axe. It is the best solution for quality/price I think. See https://wood-tools.co.uk/shop/

                  The other (more expensive) carving axes I used in workshops with great pleisure : Karlsson axe and Kalthof axe. The last one was extremely good. The right size, weight, edge, ergonomy, balance ...

                  Jos
                  Belgium

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                  • #10
                    Depends on how much actual carving you intend to do with it. If you're mainly going to split and debark with some preliminary roughing I'd suggest a good camp axe with about a 14" handle and a slightly modified edge to aid in carving. Those true carving axes are great for that purpose but not so great for more general use and their acute edge is more easily damaged than a more convex edge. I found a Swedish Axe Works 1.25 lb axe at a flea market that I reground to a more acute but still convex edge and sharpened to a polished edge with hand stones and it does great for chopping, splitting, debarking and general roughing. I can't see buying a super expensive carving or hewing axe for hobby crafting or occasional bushcraft adventures.

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                    • #11
                      There is a ritualistic process for spoon carving which is rarely, if ever, shared here.
                      As I have learned, you are allowed three particular tools and no others. None. Dogma.
                      First, a true "carver's axe." Second, a straight knife with approx 4" blade.
                      Third, a spoon knife, aka a really crooked knife.
                      Examples would be MoraFrost #162, #163 and #164.

                      The same rigid experience appears in carving kuksa from birch burl.

                      I don't know if this process is drawn from the Sammi people experience in Scandinavian countries or not.
                      Brian T

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                      • #12
                        Brian T, that ritual seems to apply mainly to the bushcrafters. I use an axe, camp not carver's, to split a log and debark if needed and a band saw to rough out the spoon. I'd probably use a froe if I had one and it's too unstable to split a log on my band saw so axe it is! I can't imagine all the critters that could grow in/on a green wood coffee mug (kuksa), won't be making one any time soon.

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                        • #13
                          True enough, I see those spoons in that style in the BCUK site.
                          Must have some much earlier off-shore origin.

                          I buy shake blocks 24" tall x 12" x 8-12" thick. Split them into useful pieces with a froe.
                          My preference is to follow an axe/hatchet strike with wedges for splitting.
                          When I buy short (less than 8') logs, I can follow the splits down the sides
                          with simple wooden wedges.

                          Fresh woods have strong antibacterial & antifungal properties or all trees would rot.
                          Sealing the kuksa surface as the wood seasons looks to require all sorts of traditions.
                          Brian T

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jderijcke View Post

                            one of those will last a lifetime... I used them in workshops and noticed the difference with any ordinary axe.
                            I only own the GB large carving axe and because for a lot of people the other ones are expensive like you say I bought the Robin wood carving axe. It is the best solution for quality/price I think. See https://wood-tools.co.uk/shop/

                            The other (more expensive) carving axes I used in workshops with great pleisure : Karlsson axe and Kalthof axe. The last one was extremely good. The right size, weight, edge, ergonomy, balance ...
                            Sadly, the Robin axe is sold out. But thanks for the alternative. That's a whole lot less pricey than the others!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by pallin View Post

                              The tradition among Native Americans is to make your own. Start with a piece of automotive leaf spring. . .
                              I'm neither Native American, nor a traditionalist. I'm a bit curious about how to make knives and such, but I'm more interested in using the silly things to carve wood. Think I'll skip tradition for now.

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