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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a hand tool kinda guy... I plan on investing in a chainsaw eventually but for now I'm shopping for an ax. I have some hardwood land in south Georgia and the plastic handled oversize hatchet I've been using isn't doing the trick. I am sure they are not all created equally between the $30 and the $300 kinds I've seen.

What do I need to consider, what should I look for... and how much should I expect to spend to get a good one without going all overboard?
 

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What do you expect that blade to do?
Flatten beams?
Carve bowls?
Shape house logs?
There are many shapes and they do many different tasks.
There is no single axe which does everything. Fools claim otherwise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'd like to flatten beams, shape logs, and probably one for firewood. Not all the same one I'm sure but will want todo all of that.
 

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I'm not an expert, but here's what little I know:

1) For flattening beams, you want a broadaxe or something similar. They're sharpened like a chisel: only one side of the blade is tapered, and the blade is offset on the haft so that the whole thing can lie flush against the beam.

2) For shaping... maybe the same? Maybe an adze? I'm not really sure on that one.

3) For firewood I assume you mean splitting; you'll waste a lot of wood if you try to chop them to length. Get a good quality frame saw of some sort for that, and make sure to keep the teeth sharp. For splitting, you probably want a splitting axe. They tend to be heavy, with a very wide head. Fiskars makes a truly absurd looking one with a blade that tapers up fast from the blade, reaches maximum width a couple of inches in, then narrows again. It works amazingly well.
 

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Probably the most all around useful ax if you can only have one:
Not sure what that is exactly, but I just picked up a Plumb that looks similar and I love it. 4 LB head, sanded the handle down used a light coat of minwax stain and 3 coats of varathane. Ooooo, she's pretty.
 

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In History is the Future
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Start with a 3-1/2 pound Collins single bit with wooden handle. If you become friends with that one, go from there, or come back here to ask what's next. Ace Hardware sells them, as does many other places.

Get an 8" mill file, and handle to sharpen it with.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/390677345994?lpid=82
Here's job we did with axes and chainsaw on a dry log: http://www.historic-house-restoration.com/structural.html
I don't know much about you, Tom, but I'm starting to like you.

I was going to suggest the same thing. My go-to axe is a Collins that I tuned up quite excessively. I thinned it down a good bit for good penetration and I like it more than the Granford Bruks felling axe I have. It just cuts so deep!

As for hewing timbers - look for a vintage side axe (broad axe). Plumb made them for so long that they are cheap to pick up. Handles are difficult to find - they are bent.

When it comes to hewing there is an INCREDIBLE amount of bad info out there particularly on youtube. If you do want to watch a video on proper technique however look-up "an axe to grind" there is also a book by the same tittle with excellent information on axes. The felling axe is very important for hewing, the broad axe is a finishing tool. Forget the foot adze for now.
 

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I just did a search on ebay for "broad axe handle" and he's still there.

While I was looking for that, I thought about saying that Broad hatchets are handy to have too, and may be better to start with than a broad axe. A pair facing different ways is very handy to have when doing axe work.
 

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In History is the Future
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There used to be a guy on ebay, might still be there I hope, that sold/sells axe and other tool handles. I've bought bent broad axe handles and adze handles from him.
I've made mine from the beginning of it all - just cause I can - but I've been contacted quite a few rimes by fellows looking to hang an old broad axe and I just tell them to come over and make one.

Do you have a link to this guy?
 

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Don't see your location but if you are near Camden, SC, I will be hewing a couple of logs during my Christmas vacation and you are welcome. What species of log are you hewing? Axe shape comes into play when the density of the log changes as well as the desired finish. Also, dwell upon the damage an axe can do if you mishandle it; this comes into play when hewing a log between or alongside your legs. Minor details are important, such as foot/leg position and log height while hewing. Be safe and if you have any questions fee free to post them and I will try to monitor this thread.
 
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