Axe vs Hatchet: Do You Know The Difference?

One of the best tools ever invented by people is the ax.  People have been using axes for a long time now. They are essential and can help you with different woodworking projects.  Axes can be used to cut down trees, for kindling, cut different wood, etc.

But did you know that there are different types of axes? Let me explain… 

Except for axes, we also have hatchets and tomahawks. A lot of people get confused and think that they are the same tool, but in reality, they are not. Think about a situation where you have to do a woodworking project and you have the chance to buy an ax, hatchet or tomahawk, which one do you buy and why?  Buying the wrong one may put you and the project in danger, usually buying the wrong tool for the right job leads to the tool breaking or losing your time without getting any result.

That’s why today we will explain to you the differences between an ax and a hatchet. In this article, we aim to archive the following:

  • Explain to you what exactly is an ax and a hatchet
  • Differences between the ax and the hatchet
  • Help you understand how to choose the tool you need

What’s an Ax?

If you have been shopping for an ax for a long time then you probably have seen different tool manufactures claiming that they are the best when it comes to axes. They are using every marketing strategy to break even. But in reality, most of these axes are not that special. In order to know what’s the best one then you will have to also know the tasks you are going to complete using that ax.

We will explain to you what's an ax and how to choose one?

Except for the different types of axes that we have mentioned earlier, we have also different axes. By different axes I mean that we have double-bit axes, throwing axes, Viking axes, etc.  What’s the difference between these three?

Double-bit axes – They are normal axes, but instead they have two blades at each side of the head. Check our list of the best double-bit axes

Throwing Axes – These types of axes are mostly used for competitions.  There are different throwing competitions that you can participate with a throwing ax.

Viking Axes – These types of axes are mostly used for decorations. They come with a Viking design and in most cases, they can’t be used for woodworking projects because they come with a low-quality head/blade.  Check our list of the best Viking axes

By design, the axes come with a long handle and at the top of the handle they come with the head. The head has a blade that is used to chop wood and cut down trees.  The head is fitted to the handle exactly like hammers.

An ax is basically a simple machine that reduces the effort that you need in order to split the wood into two pieces. It cuts the wood by using the pressure concentration at the blade.  The handle also helps a lot because it acts as a lever which allows you to put more energy while cutting.  Source: Wikipedia.

How to choose an Ax?

As I mentioned earlier, in order to choose the best, you have to know the project you will be working on. What’s the best for you, may not be the best for someone else who is doing a completely different woodworking project, that’s why it is important to know beforehand.

Understanding how an ax work and what features you need is an important thing to know before buying one

You will have to go through a lot of information in order to settle for the best. That is because different manufacturers come with different features. Some features tend to do more harm than good and some are not necessary at all. That’s why we have made a list of the things you need to look at when deciding to buy an ax.

Blade Material 

The blade needs to have high-quality material, after that you will be using the blade to cut down the wood.  Different manufacturers use different materials, I highly recommend to use blades that are made from steel or carbon steel. If the blade is somehow made from plastic or any other material that is easily bent then you should stay away from it.

Moreover, the blade should be easily maintained and durable.

Handle Material

The material is the most important thing when it comes to axes. You don’t want an ax that will break or lose its value by wearing out, right? Of course not. That’s why you have to choose an ax with high-quality material.

When it comes to the handle, usually they are made of hickory. Hickory is a known material for durability, so make sure to find one that comes with a hickory handle. Steel is also a good material that offers durability.

Non-Slip Handle

Except for the material, handles also should be non-slip. That being said, you need to avoid the handle that comes with a smooth finish. A smooth handle may be comfortable but once your hands start to sweat then the ax will slip from your hand. So a smooth handle is a big NO.  This is important because you don’t want your sharp ax to slip from your hand while working.

Usually, to prevent this from happening, the handle comes with a non-slip grip material or the handle comes wider at the bottom. But, if you already bought an ax with a smooth handle then sanding the handle will help you to roughen the wood and reduce the chances of slippery.

Handle Length

The length of the handle is important. I usually prefer axes with a longer handle, but I have axes with a short handle too. If you will be working on a big project such as cutting down big trees, then you need a longer handle because that allows you to put more power. But, if you will be using the ax for a small project such as cutting easy wood then you can use a short handle too, although you will have to use more power.

Handle Orientation

Although this isn’t as much important as the other things, the orientation of the handle should be considered. Usually, the handle can come in two forms. The first and most usual form is the straight one, where the handle is straight and doesn’t have any curves. And the other form is when the handle comes with curves, especially at the bottom.  Which one do you prefer?

Studies have shown that the curved handle works better with double-bit axes and the straight one work better with single-bit axes.


What’s a hatchet?

In many ways such as the design, the hatchet looks exactly like an ax.  But in reality, they are used for different woodworking projects.

Hatchets are basically a smaller version of the ax, and they are used for different tasks as well.

Hatchets are mostly used by roofers, carpenters or campers. Basically, the hatchet is just a smaller version of the ax.  They come with a sharp blade and a smaller handle

If you want to choose the best then you need to go through the same steps as choosing an ax. You will have to look at the material and weight of the blade, and also you need to look at the handle and its material and length.

What’s the difference between an ax and a hatchet?

If you read the whole post then you would know the difference, but if you didn’t then here’s the difference. Basically, the hatchet is just a smaller version of the ax. While the ax is used to chop down big trees and hardwood, the hatchet is used more for smaller tasks. The hatchet is lighter and it comes with an endpoint that looks exactly like a hammer. So, sometimes you can use the hatchet as a hammer.

The hatchet is mostly used for outdoor things, such as camping. For me, I use the hatchet for kindling. If you are interested here’s our list of the best kindling hatchets.

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