Expert Knowledge - Hatchets and axes
There are three basic types to be distinguished:
- Axes and hatchets for cutting
These tools cut the wood fibres, e.g. for chopping down trees, removing branches, or notching. As a rule, such tools have slender double-bevelled blades with a relatively pointed cutting angle to enable easy breaking into the wood.
- Axes and hatchets for splitting
These tools split wood along the direction of the fibres, e.g. for chopping firewood, shingles, split boards, or poles. As a rule, such tools have thick and heavy doublebevelled blades with a relatively blunt cutting angle for high splitting efficiency.
- Axes and hatchets for cutting and splitting
These tools are used for the trimming and smoothing of workpieces and for the production of beams, poles, wood for construction, and wooden joints. As a rule, such tools have slender one-sided bevelled blades. Typical examples are the classic broad axes.
As axes are mostly used outside the workshop, a mobile sharpening device such as the DMT folding diamond sharpener (No. 705391) is recommended. It has two different grits and is extremely wear-resistant. You lay the blade of the axe on a solid support, such as a tree trunk, and guide the sharpener with uniform strokes transversely to the cutting edge, while maintaining the bevel angle.
Under the motto "An axe is as good as its smith", the Swedish company Gränsfors Bruks has been manufacturing top-quality axes for over 100 years. Gränsfors axes are forged by experienced specialists whose skill is evident in the precision of the tools they make, which renders any refinement unnecessary. This distinguishes Gränsfors axes from industrially manufactured axes. The unadulterated, smithied surface shows the skills of the blacksmith and thus the quality of the axe, which he then marks with his initials. With few exceptions, the blades are made of carbon-steel and hardened to 56-57 HRC. The axe handles, made of best hickory wood, are secured in the axe head with two wedges, and feel comfortable from the first touch. The harmony of shape, weight and length make working with Gränsfors axes a pleasure. Gränsfors’s 20-year quality guarantee proves their confidence in the durability of their products. Each axe comes with a set of instructions and a solid leather sheath.
With their laminated forged blades, consisting of an impact-absorbing soft iron body with a hard carbon-steel cutting insert (58- 60 HRC), Japanese axes are the epitome of durability and sharpness. There are two basic types of traditional Japanese axe heads: Ono axes have a wide beard and a narrow throat, making them excellent for smooth ing wood. The concentration of mass towards the cutting edge improves stability and control during use. They can also be used one-handed, holding them close to the throat. Yoki have a slender, long head, making them best suited for separating and splitting work. Their handels are made from unvarnished Japanese white oak.
Since the 17th century the Smithy Aberl has been known for forging and making fine, traditional tools. Its guiding principle is simple and effective: You don't have to reinvent the wheel to make great tools. All tools made by the family-owned Smithy Aberl, which is already in its 11th generation, are made using the same methods as hundreds of years ago – tried and true! They are made of hard and very tough carbon-steel and, unless otherwise specified hardened to 56-57 HRC. Entirely specified, handmade handles of hickory make these the perfect tools.
The art of creating good hand tools is to base them on old models that have proven effective over the years at the height of their development. Very often, the further development of tools after this point only served to simplify their manufacture and save costs – at the expense of their ergonomics and efficiency of use. Working closely with our master carpenter, we are now developing tools again that have proven their efficiency and durability. Our tools are made in small German forges which are still skilled in the old techniques. All heads are forged of carbon-steel. The hickory or ash handles are made and set by hand.