Obscure Object Of Desire

Question of the Day: TTAK Axe Testing Protocol?

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My Hultafor’s Bushcraft axe arrived this week. How do you suggest I test it?

I have long coveted a Hultafors axe.  There are other perfectly good camp axes out there, but there is something inherently cool about a tool that has been hand forged by the same company since 1697.  Add to that the fact that you can’t buy one in the United States, and you have the recipe for an object worthy of desire.

My first impression is extremely positive.  The handle is 15″ long, so it is bigger than a standard hatchet, and its 1.25 lb. head is heavier than most.  You actually choke up on the handle for a one handed swing, and there is enough room to grip the pommel for a two-handed swing for larger logs or harder swings. It is the axe equivalent of a “bastard sword”, filling the niche between one and two-handed use.  The axe is extremely well balanced and in the limited time I have spent chopping a few pieces of wood from my pile, it is a joy to work with.

So that leaves me with a question.  How do you, TTAK’s loyal readers, suggest I put my new toy through its paces?  I will certainly do the standard fire material preparation, but I want you to be creative.

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Be creative folks. I want to put my new toy through its paces.

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I tried the axe at both rough chopping and fine splitting. I halved a 5″ log and turned an 8″ piece of 2×4 into kindling.

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The axe bit deeply with each swing. The chips flew easily and were well-cleaved.

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Discussion

18 responses to ‘Question of the Day: TTAK Axe Testing Protocol?

  1. I have no idea how you should QC test your new ax. It looks great. I’m just now slowly starting to get into axes (and tomahawks). What type of wood is in the picture above? I like the grain.

    “Be creative folks. I want to put my new toy through its paces.”
    — OK, I’ll be creative. Build a long boat canoe-shape with the axe.

    Last night, I was reading reviews for and watching videos on the Cold Steel Pipe Hawk Tomahawk. The handle is solid (not a hollow pipe stem for smoking) and the pipe poll part is filled in with steel and can be used as a hammer.

  2. The obvious way to test an overpriced axe is to see if it cuts better than other axes. If the Chinese Walmart axe is equally sharpenable, durable and as well balanced then it’s all about bragging rights. Otherwise, you could go backpacking in Alaska and test it’s effectiveness at harvesting and butchering caribou for dinner and repelling grizzly attacks…

  3. Camp chores come to mind. Also build a variety of shelters for the great outdoors using just the ax and your favorite knife. See how well they work together and if it’s even necessary to have the knife in the job. See how many knife jobs can be done with the axe.

    Make the reviews and tests a year long event. You guide for fishing and you hunt. Use your axe in different seasons and jobs and let us know how it does and how well it holds up.

  4. Like Mark, I say compare for the durability of the edge sharpness. And try the Juranitch (sp?) test–sharpen and shave with it. Carve a bear with it (chain-saw sculpture).

  5. So I thought of one completely objective test for making kindling:

    How many pieces of kindling can each axe make from a 12″ section of 4×4 in 5 minutes? In order to qualify, a piece of kindling must be 8″ or longer.

    Just an idea…talk amongst yourselves.

    HCA

    p.s. I sharpened my daughter’s colored pencils with the Hultafors tonight.

  6. I don’t have any suggestions for your tests, but thought I’d take this opportunity to share what I learned last year while casually researching the history of the survival knife on the internet.

    It seems that common practice in the early 20th century was for a woodsman to carry an axe and small pocket knife. Earlier, when most forays into the woods were with beasts of burden, I assume common practice was to carry an axe and a big knife. The more sturdy survival knife materialized during the Vietnam era, and today’s higher technology, more lightly equipped woodsman often eschews a heavy axe for a sturdy bushcraft knife that can tackle the finer work that used to be reserved for the pocket knife, and most of the heavier work, through battoning, that used to be done by the heavy axe.

    I thought this perspective was interesting, but strange, as I did my Boy Scout stint when an axe was still considered essential patrol kit. The first time I saw someone beating the heck out of a bushcraft knife while battoning to make kindling, I thought that was stranger. In fact, I would have laid odds on the guy being mentally challenged.

    That said, I happily carry a hatchet in my vehicle, because weight is not an issue. But, I’m fascinated of the idea of an all-around bushcraft knife that can do a good job of functioning like an axe while hiking or backpacking.

    • I’m old school too. When I camped with the scouts, I carried a 3/4 length pack axe, a 6″ fixed-blade knife and a folder.

    • A knife is a knife. Even a hell for stout knife is still a knife. If you’re batoning your knife it’s because you have no ax and no other choice. This is abusive of the knife. You need an ax for those times. IMHO.

      • The first time I saw and heard about battoning, I thought it abusive, too, and with most knives it would be. A knife designed to be used this way typically has a very stout convex blade reminiscent of a good axe blade. If downward pressure is not applied to the grip while battoning, such blades to a very good job of splitting kindling and even felling small trees.

        What persuaded me to start carrying a Bark River Mini Fox River in lieu of my Gerber Ultrlight LST was an overnight backpacking trip in a WA rainforest two Aprils ago. The forest was drenched. We had no need for a fire due to proper clothing (although I did learn the hard way not to wear cotton underwear beneath nylon pants) and backpacking stoves, but if fire would have been needed, the Ultralight LST obviously would not be up to the job.

        The Mini Fox River isn’t what one would choose for heavy camp chores, let alone logging, but its convex 2.9-inch blade, if necessary, is capable of splitting 3-inch-wide branches in search of dry heartwood in a rainforest.

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