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Axes

Post in 'The Gear' started by Gene K., Oct 21, 2007.

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  1. Gene K.

    Gene K. New Member

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    Hello fellow woodburners. I've seen various discussions about chainsaws, but I've seen few regarding the venerable axe!

    You see, I only use axes; I refuse to use a chainsaw. Over the years, I've used various axes from my local hardware stores and have fallen in love the Fiskar's brands (I know, there may be better ones on line, but I refuse to buy an axe which I can not hold and heft before I purchase), because the hardened steel holds the edges, and the handles never break.

    So, who out there uses axes, and what brands and styles do you prefer? Of course, why?

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  2. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I keep an axe in the pickup in case my saw gets stuck. Gransfors makes a nice axe. A friend of mine has a few old Kellys, really fine axes from back in the day. I don't know much about axes, but I prefer a white ash handle over hickory.
  3. KeithO

    KeithO Minister of Fire

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    I have 2 Fiskars, but I thought they made only splitting axes ? At least those are the only ones I have seen. I would hate to have to try chopping down trees with a splitting axe !! (Just looked at the web site and see that they have some chopping axes too, just haven't seen them in stores anywhere)

    My personal take on felling trees is that anything that gets the job done faster and lets me get out the danger zone any quicker is better in my book. Whacking away at the bottom of some long dead tree is not my idea of fun. The chainsaw produces very little vibration in the tree and is less likely to get something loose and falling on my head. Of course if I have no options, I would be using an axe too. The russian olive I have dealt with this past summer would be no joke with an axe. I suspect one would be chopping away for days on that hard tough stuff. I have hit one 8" round more than 20 times with the big "super" splitting axe without getting anything to budge, just to give you an idea...

    Furthermore, I have to assume that you saw the trunk into rounds ? The amount of material it would waste to cut 14" long rounds from a 16" diameter tree with an axe would reduce the yield by 40-50% compared to sawing.


  4. computeruser

    computeruser Feeling the Heat

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    In my teens I used to fell trees with a double-bit ax, which was fun and surprisingly productive. Over the years of not doing any ax work I lost the technique and haven't had the chance to get it back.

    However, I do keep an ax with me when cutting. It is primarily for bumping wedges, but sometimes I use it for limbing, too. Incidentally, a good machete is actually pretty good for limbing smaller, green wood. I dropped and processed a half dozen box elder trees last year and limbed everything under 2" with a machete in surprisingly little time.

    Currently I have a couple older axes that I use, but most of them need new handles. But since the heads are older and have an atypical opening size, I have yet to find a suitable replacement handle. I also have a half-dozen good heads that need these old-style handles to accomodate the larger opening in the head.

    I also bought a Coronna ax last time I was at the saw shop. I haven't touched it with a file or a stone, but for a utility ax it seems pretty nice right out of the box. It has red plastic-over-fiberglass handle that feels OK (true, it's not wood, but it does OK) and is super easy to see in the woods, which is definitely nice.

    The Fiskars products I have used really impressed me. I was skeptical at first, but they are surprisngly effective. I don't own any of their axes or mauls, but I have their splitting hatchet (a sort of mini-splitting maul) that really blew me away. I keep it with me by the splitter for cutting the stringy stuff between pices, and also use it for kindling. Great little tool, definitely worth the $25 it cost me.
  5. WarmGuy

    WarmGuy Feeling the Heat

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    Axeman,

    Being a big fan of manual splitting, I can appreciate your attitude towards cutting trees with an axe. But I can't see how it could work for, for example, bucking thirty feet of an 18 inch diameter trunk. I would think that a bow saw would be much more effective. Also, I'd figure that about 10% or more of the wood is going to end up as wasted chips and chunks.

    Can you tell us some more about how you use the axe?
  6. My_3_Girls

    My_3_Girls Member

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    I've been looking at the offering from Gerber lately. They seem to be the same type as the Fiskars. I have a Snow and Neally kindling axe that I love for limbing and splitting kindling (imagine that). I haven't tried any of the Gransfos', but they look like high quality tools.
  7. MALogger

    MALogger New Member

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  8. Gene K.

    Gene K. New Member

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    Well, I could be a smart-aleck and say "by swinging it." LOL

    Seriously, I use a splitting axe for splitting, naturally, and for gnawing-away at tough knots. Otherwise, I use my chopping axe for bucking rounds (and the toughest rounds get split with a sledge and wedges).

    I really don't "waste" as much as you would think. The long strips from the beginning of the kerf burn nicely. The smaller chips at the end of the kerf make pieces roughly the size of charcoal briquettes. These make great firestarters and provide great mulch. And, as an amateur experimenter in wood gas, they're great for gasification.

    One technique which I've started playing with is to make a shallow kerf, then split from the end of the log to the small kerf with the splitting axe. I then start a new kerf where I've left off and repeat the process. This makes some quite usable rounds with little wastage. As you would expect, it only works well on straight-grained logs.

    I have nothing against chain saws--I have a Homelite which works well. I just started experimenting with an axe after studying the history of the pioneers (I'm a fan of old things, like smoking a pipe and using fountain pens). I started building some amazing muscles, and my wife says that watching me chop with an axe is sexy. Who am I to argue? :)

  9. Gene K.

    Gene K. New Member

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    As you have discovered, they do make chopping axes.

    Most of my work is on already fallen trees. I get more wood than I can burn every year from people who have storm damage or have already cut a tree for a reason, and so I've had little reason to fell any trees on my own. I've only had to fell smaller sassafras trees. So, I really don't have a lot of concern about anything falling onto me. For instance, this year, we've had two nasty wind storms and one ice storm in our area, and once it became known that I burn wood, the offers for free wood quickly appeared through my circles of friends, coworkers and family. On top of that, my in-law's neighbor had two large maples removed so that they could expand their house. I simply bucked and split the logs as large as I could carry and roll to the trailer then hauled them home, where I worked at my leisure.

    It has been great exercise. Some people spend lots of money at a gym. I go outdoors where I get the company of nature and the comfort of knowing that I'm contributing to my family.

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