Hatchet / Axe Sizing Opinions

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So I have a Friscars X7 hatchet which is 1.4 pounds total and is 14" overall. It was bought sight unseen because there are few places to buy hatchets and axes around here, and, as it turns out, it's just about useless for me because it is just too small and too light. It feels like too much human energy is needed to use it. On the opposite end of the spectrum I have a vintage Master Mechanic 3 1/2 pound headed axe with 35" handle that feels just too big and heavy to be bothered with for my use. I mostly might use an axe/hatchet to cut small saplings, take camping for breaking down of precut delivered firewood, and perhaps use for minor trail maintenance near home (not on hiking expeditions).
So, what would be a reasonable head weight and handle length to focus on?
Lately the Council Tools Boy's Axe, or more specifically their velvicut version has caught my eye, but I'm thinking that might still be overkill in size/weight. Problem being there are not places to see or handle anything before buying.
 

EngrSorenson

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Council Tools Boys Axe is a fine option, but I can’t recommend the Council Flying Fox enough. I have both, but almost never use the boys axe. I have my flying fox currently hafted on a 19” house axe handle. It can do a lot of chores and punches way above it’s weight. I recommend FortyTwoBlades FortyTwoBlades and his shop for a good customer experience. While you’re there you could check out his design, the 3 lb Woox, which might be worth a try if you have the money. Also, select his edge refinement option and you’ll be glad you did.
 
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Council Tools Boys Axe is a fine option, but I can’t recommend the Council Flying Fox enough. I have both, but almost never use the boys axe. I have my flying fox currently hafted on a 19” house axe handle. It can do a lot of chores and punches way above it’s weight. I recommend FortyTwoBlades FortyTwoBlades and his shop for a good customer experience. While you’re there you could check out his design, the 3 lb Woox, which might be worth a try if you have the money. Also, select his edge refinement option and you’ll be glad you did.
The Flying Fox seems to be in the possible weight range that might fit but the standard handle is possibly on the short side at 16". What replacement handle did you use?
 

EngrSorenson

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The Flying Fox is a Woodsman, right? I ran across a number of videos that showed the blades easily damaged at the cutting edge. Was that an early or temporary manufacturing issue?
https://www.baryonyxknife.com/cotoha.html
It’s this guy- I can’t say I’ve read a single negative review about it. It’s by no means a super hard temper, but I’ve put mine through the works and it keeps on going. If I recall correctly it’s a little over 1.5 lbs nominal. And at that price? Shoot. Can’t miss. My only critique was the handle was a little narrow, but it was designed to be thrown as well as used in a traditional way.
 

EngrSorenson

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Here’s my rehafted Flying Fox next to the 24” boys axe, for a comparison.

here’s the night I got it, just a few strikes into this log... it’s a pleasure to use.
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https://www.baryonyxknife.com/cotoha.html
It’s this guy- I can’t say I’ve read a single negative review about it. It’s by no means a super hard temper, but I’ve put mine through the works and it keeps on going. If I recall correctly it’s a little over 1.5 lbs nominal. And at that price? Shoot. Can’t miss. My only critique was the handle was a little narrow, but it was designed to be thrown as well as used in a traditional way.
Sorry, I mixed up Woodsman with Wood-Craft. The issues seen were with the Wood-Craft.
 
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EngrSoremson: I appreciate your input and the Flying Fox is practically a give away. I spend more on a tank of gas in the truck.
Is the 19" handle optimum in your estimation?
What would you think of the Boys axe head on a shorter handle?
Looked at the WOOX but that's out of the weight range that I want to operate in. When I get to that level there are very proficient chainsaws on the shelf including one that is a mere 5 pound head that is amazing. I look for things to cut just because overall it is a pound and a half less than a gallon of milk.
 
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EngrSorenson

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EngrSoremson: I appreciate your input and it's practically a give away. I spend more on a tank of gas in the truck.
Is the 19" handle optimum in your estimation?
What would you think of the Boys axe head on a shorter handle?
It’s an unbelievable deal, for sure. I’m spoiled on it.

I think I kept mine at 19 inches to achieve an inexpensive “Gransfors Small Forest Axe”. I wouldn’t consider 19” ideal; too short for great two hand axe work, so long it takes time to build up single handed stamina. I have a 28” 3.5 pounder that serves me well for what I need an axe for, so I left this one shorter, but long enough it can “fake” being a two hander. I also have an Estwing 24A which serves well enough as a small hatchet. FortyTwoBlades hung his on a 24” (or was it 28”?) boys axe handle with great results. I bought a few 28” boys axe hafts to try it eventually. I think maybe try out the 16” stock handle a little. If you need more axe and less hatchet, rehang it on a 24” or 28” haft, but 16” is plenty for saplings. I’ve seen people hang them on shorter hafts, too. It’s a very versatile tool.

my axe skill has improved to the point now where I can reasonably expect to get through anything up to 2-3 inches in 3 swings using the Flying Fox. It’s thin edge profile penetrates deeply (at a small cost of occasional sticking). And again- especially if you’re not used to profiling axes? I recommend FortyTwoBlades edge refinement.
 

EngrSorenson

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Sorry, I mixed up Woodsman with Wood-Craft. The issues seen were with the Wood-Craft.
The other thing to keep in mind is that the woodcraft line is in a more premium price range, so folks will knit pick the heck out of them. That being said- I don’t think the woodcraft specs make it that much more attractive.

back to your question about boys axe heads on smaller hafts... the 19” haft that I bought for the flying fox is actually a “house axe” haft. It’s sized to fit a 2 1/2 lb boys axe. I don’t see much benefit to this, however, unless you’re chopping kindling indoors.

Pardon my lengthy double posts- I’m just excited about your upcoming decision.
 
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Another that I am looking at is the Council 19" Pack Axe. Comes in both 19" and 24".
 

EngrSorenson

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Another that I am looking at is the Council 19" Pack Axe. Comes in both 19" and 24".
Well it nets you a higher grade steel, and it has a hardened poll (like the Flying Fox) which is nice if you might need to hammer on something. You also get a leather mask, which the FF doesn’t come with (FortyTwoBlades sells a sheath for it, or you can make one with leather like I did).

last October I found myself in your shoes, really wanting a Gransfors wildlife hatchet, convinced I needed to spend the money on it. It’s got style, and some real nice touches. I followed the sage advice of the members here and went for the less expensive option. I’ve never thought twice about it since.

I wouldn’t discourage you from trying the wood-craft, but I do like the specs of the Velvicut bad axe boys axe better, if you’re going to go premium. I like axes with more haft tongue to eye contact. It’s more robust and give you a better chance of not needing to replace hafts as often.
 
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Well it nets you a higher grade steel, and it has a hardened poll (like the Flying Fox) which is nice if you might need to hammer on something. You also get a leather mask, which the FF doesn’t come with (FortyTwoBlades sells a sheath for it, or you can make one with leather like I did).

last October I found myself in your shoes, really wanting a Gransfors wildlife hatchet, convinced I needed to spend the money on it. It’s got style, and some real nice touches. I followed the sage advice of the members here and went for the less expensive option. I’ve never thought twice about it since.

I wouldn’t discourage you from trying the wood-craft, but I do like the specs of the Velvicut bad axe boys axe better, if you’re going to go premium. I like axes with more haft tongue to eye contact. It’s more robust and give you a better chance of not needing to replace hafts as often.

I looked at that for the head weight and longer handle, but on second look there were reports of the cutting edge rounding over so that's out other than as a guideline. I have a couple of other tools here so I know that 16" is too short for my objective. I need more potential energy in the tool to avoid aggrevating my carpel tunnel sensitivity.
 

EngrSorenson

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Well it’s starting to look like you need a boys axe of some variety. Don’t let the rolled edge reports bother you- those are easily fixed. Add a small micro bevel along the edge and that should take care of it. On the other side of that spectrum of edge-related problems is a chipped edge, which I think is worse. It’s hard to find that balance between malleable/soft and brittle/hard in a striking implement.

the 24-28” Council Boys Axe is probably the way to go.

How much do you think you’re going to use it?

I use my axes fairly often and, though I like the idea of owning a high end axe, I’ve never wondered if a higher end axe would perform much better. The WOOX is the exception due to it’s phantom bevels and slip fit head.
 
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I have three splitters, 18", 32" and 36" with heads about 1 1/2 pounds to 8 pounds so splitting at home is well covered and would not be the objective. They are all actually used quite a bit. The smaller one can hit the road when we decide to.
Hults Bruk has more than a couple mid sized axes that could be in the target range, just to complicate the decision. At least the idea is getting refined, so thanks for the input.
Perhaps a dealer with a generous return policy might be helpful to get a hand on something. Plenty of chainsaw dealers around here but no woodsman type places.
I have never regretted buying better if it turns out to be a lifetime purchase, especially with tools and equipment.
 

EngrSorenson

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Yeah, Brandon Roost is selling them. Forgot the name of his website. Good guy and fine axes.
Is his site Whisky River?
yes, but I don't know if they're a verified contributing seller here on BF, so perhaps we'll leave that alone.
 
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I suggest Council’s Forest Service edition boys axe. A very fine axe with great steel - 1080.
I saw that; a hundred bucks sans sheath. Was on the list.
Price with the sheath on the FS, the Velvicut version can be found for not much more money.
I am thinking I might want to be down to the 24" size though which is not the FS version.
 
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EngrSorenson

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I saw that; a hundred bucks sans sheath. Was on the list.
Price with the sheath on the FS, the Velvicut version can be found for not much more money.
I am thinking I might want to be down to the 24" size though which is not the FS version.

Personally speaking, I'd always elect for 28" over 24". minus 4" makes a pretty significant change in my swing.
 
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