QUICK GUIDE TO CHOOSING YOUR AXE
The axe is one of the most versatile and useful outdoor tools on the planet. Every outdoorsman worth their salt has their formidable axe and knows how to use it. If you have decided it is about time you got one for yourself, you need to choose what axe variety is for you. This will depend on your cutting needs and what you will be using it for.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT AXE HEAD
Handles can be easily replaced, but the head is the axe’s integrity. Modern axes are usually constructed in the far east and use cheaper, lower quality steel. Picking up an older, antique axe head at a flea market or antique dealer will ensure you get a durable steel axe head, made from stronger metal built to last the test of time. It doesn’t matter if it’s a little chipped or scratched. Just make sure it isn’t completely worn away.
SINGLE-BIT OR DOUBLE-BIT AXE
The next question to ask yourself is, do you need a single bit or double bit axe? The single bit axes are optimised to ensure all the power and torque of the swing is driven behind the one blade to generate maximum force. The double bit axes are balanced around a symmetrical line, offering two blades, one sharpened to cut and the other designed to split the wood.
For most people, the single-bit axe is sufficient. They are lighter and can be wielded faster and get the job done quicker. However, the double-bit offers more versatility. The two edges give you more options and the whole axe is more balanced, meaning you can swing it more accurately.
Because of the balance in a double-bit axe, you can also throw it and get it to spin in the air, unlike its single-bit counterpart. While this is a complete novelty, it still offers some fun and games when it comes to cutting wood.
WEIGHT OF THE AXE HEAD
While it may be tempting to run out and buy a heavier head because cutting wood is macho and more power is better, in reality, most people don’t need an axe head heavier than 5lb. Heavier axes provide less accuracy and for most of us, the increased force is wasted when you are hacking wildly at a piece of wood with no control or accuracy.
AXE HANDLE LENGTH
Similar to the weight of the head, the longer handled axes deliver more force but sacrifice accuracy and control. I would recommend opting for a shorter handle in your first axe. For an averaged sized male, a handle of around 31 inches should be sufficient. It is long enough to maintain the power but you will find it much easier to control and provide an accurate swing. If you aren’t using your axe to chop firewood then something shorter, around the 28-inch mark, is even better. If you are looking to buy an axe for doing odd jobs on the campsite, this will be long enough.
AXE HANDLE MATERIAL
For a sturdy handle, look for wooden models. The plastic ones just don’t have the durability to last. Look for several growth rings in the wood, narrow and tight growth rings indicate a strong handle. Ideally, the handle shouldn’t be varnished. If it is, it isn’t much of a problem removing it with some sandpaper. The varnish makes the handle slippery and makes it difficult to hang on to with wet hands.
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