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  • Parts of an Axe

    Posted on April 12th, 2019 admin No comments

    Basic Parts

    Asked to name the parts of an axe, the average person will say, “Uh… the head…and the handle… and, uh…” And that’s a pretty good start, since the head and the haft or handle are in fact the two basic parts.

    Basic Parts of an Axe

    The Head

    The head is the working end of the axe, the entire V-shaped metal (usually steel) cutting portion. There is a wide variety of head styles developed in various locales and for various purposes, and the names of the parts may vary as well.

    • Bit or blade – the tip of the “V”, that cuts into the wood (the sharp part is sometimes called the cutting edge)
    • Toe and Heel – being the top and bottom portions of the blade
    • Cheeks – the two sides of the head between bit and the hole where the handle goes. Each side may also be called a Face.
    • Eye – the hole through the head where the handle passes (or the portion at the top of the head where the handle sticks through or can be seen)
    • Wedge – a smaller V of wood, metal, or plastic driven into the top of the handle to secure it firmly in the eye
    • Butt or poll — the flat end opposite the V of the blade
    • Beard – oddly named, the underside of the blade immediately forward of the haft on the blade side
    • Shoulder – the underside of the blade immediately behind the handle on the butt side.

    The Handle

    Variously called handle, haft, or helve, depending on region, this is the user end of the axe. Traditionally made of wood but today of fibreglass, composite, or steel, the handle can be curved or straight and in various shapes and lengths.

    From axebyp.com
    • Back and Belly refer to the rear and front surfaces of the handle
    • Knob is a swelling on the “bottom” of the handle, furthest from the head, designed to keep the handle from slipping out of the user’s hands
    • Some types of handle have other parts, such as Toe, Heel, and Grip, as shown in the diagrams.
    • Throat – shown in the top diagram as being the highest part of the Back, but sometimes (by comparison with human anatomy), the part of the Belly just below the head.

    Axes come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, designed at various times and places for a range of users and purposes. Although the names of the parts may differ from place to place, those shown here are fairly common.

    Further Reading

  • Selecting an Axe by Size

    Posted on April 12th, 2019 admin No comments

    Select an Axe by Size

    It is important to have a tool that’s not to big or too small for the intended user. An axe that has too heavy or too light a head, with a handle that is too long or too short, is an axe that poses a potential danger to the user and to bystanders.

    Weight of the Axe Head

    A light hatchet head might be one to two lbs (0.5 to 1 kg). A typical forest axe is 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 lbs (1 kg to 1.5 kg). A splitting axe is in the same range. A splitting maul might be 4-1/2 to 8 lbs (2 kg to 3.5 kg). An axe that is too light or too heavy will be more work to use, the first because it is uncomfortably heavy and the second because more swing effort will be required to drive the light head.

    A stronger person may be more comfortable with a heavier axe head.

    A variety of sizes of axe (note that the three to the right have identically designed heads)

    Length of the Axe Handle

    Axes come in a range of lengths for each type.

    • A hatchet may range from 8″ (200 mm) to 14″ (400 mm),
    • A forest axe might range from 28″ to 36″ (700 mm to 900 mm)
    • A camp axe will be 20″ to 24″ (500 to 600 mm).
    A variety of head weights and handle lengths

    Generally the shorter handles also have lighter heads. Because an axe is a lever, the force of the head is magnified by the handle. A handle that is too long takes excessive effort to wield and will be dangerous in the hands of a small or unskilled user with insufficient strength (who will choke up on the handle, compounding the danger), while a handle that is too short cannot apply sufficient force and may strike at an awkward angle.  Generally speaking, a taller user might be more comfortable with a longer handle. A smaller user or a youth will find both a lighter head and a shorter handle to be convenient.

    There may also be carrying considerations – backpacking or canoeing may dictate a shorter, lighter axe, for example.

    For efficiency and safety, choose the right axe

    For most efficient cutting and greatest safety, choose an axe that is right for the job, with a head weight and handle length that suits the strength, frame, and skill of the user.

  • How Much Does a Good Axe Cost?

    Posted on April 12th, 2019 admin No comments

    What is the cost of a good axe?

    There are several factors that determine the cost of an axe, but the price is not always related directly to the value. Of six apparently identical axes in a rack, one may well be worth more than the others. Here are the factors to consider:

    Axe head considerations

    A well-forged head will not split or crack, but cheaper axes may not be well-forged. A head that is annealed and hard enough to maintain a good edge may also chip if mistreated.

    Most axes in hardware and camping stores are general-purpose splitting axes, with a wide bevel at the bit, and a convex shape towards the eye.

    “If you just casually camp and want to split wood at campsites where chunks are likely to be gritty – stay with a cheap axe: it will be more durable and the less acute bevel will split knotty stuff better.” – James Aston, http://www.oldjimbo.com/survival/iltis.html

    Axe handle material also affects the cost.

    • Wood is the traditional material and remains the most economical, though cheaper axes use poor wood of low strength and questionable grain hidden by paint. While some feel it is the most ecologically friendly (because of the cost and environmental impact of other materials), it does require regular maintenance and care.
    • Fiberglass – stronger and lighter by comparison to wood, but more costly. Because it is relatively impervious to moisture and abuse by porcupines, and because it damps striking vibrations, it is an increasingly popular choice in standard axes and especially on splitting mauls.
    • Steel – Unibody axes, with head and handle forged as a single unit, are high-end models. The striking force transmitted down the handle is damped with a rubber grip. One popular brand that uses steel handles is Estwing. Cheaper versions may have a tubular steel handle brazed into the eye of a standard head.
    • Composite – New plastic/fibreglass composite materials are finding their way into handles for axes and hatchets.The handle is molded around the head, eliminating the eye. Fiskars and Gerber are well-known brands using this design. Other composites include a fiberglass core, a polypropylene sleeve, and an elastomer grip.

    Watch for sales

    Of course, you’ll want to watch your local stores for specials. Sometimes top quality tools are available at discount prices. You might luck out for a good discount at a “scratch and save” event. Manufacturer’s specials also come up from time to time.

    Get the best axe you can afford

    When choosing an axe based on cost, you’ll still want to look for a tool that will be suited for its intended use and user. Your goal is to select the best axe you can get for the price you pay.

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