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I am looking to buy an axe for processing firewood. I don't require a head larger than a hatchet but, for safety, I would rather have a handle long enough to comfortably grip with both hands -- as this would make it impossible for me to accidentally hit my own hand and remove the urge to steady the wood with my free hand. It would be very helpful if this type of axe had a name. Trying to find such an axe online is made difficult by not knowing what to call it. Does this type of axe have a name?

I can easily buy a longer axe but every axe I have found seems to have a head in proportion to the length, and I would also like to minimise weight if possible.

  • To me (English English) a hatchet is inherently short-handled. While long-handled hand axes do exist I don't think they tend to be called hatchets. The ones I've seen do have slightly larger heads than short-handled hands axes but only slightly. Two suggestions: go to a shop selling farm tools etc. and loo ; concentrate on technique and setting up your chopping workspace in a way that doesn't encourage you to put your off hand in the wrong place. – Chris H Mar 6 '16 at 12:44
  • Shop for a 'pole ax', or a 'halberd'... – ShemSeger Mar 6 '16 at 17:11
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try to look for a "hunter's hatchet/axe" or a "forest hatchet/axe". Its easier if you can just look at catalogs of manufacturers like Gransfors and get an idea of what you want as often you can find the name hatchet and axe used interchangeably in some sale catalogs, manufacturers are more precise. Generally though an hatchet is a small axe, so shorter in lenght and lighter head. To confuse matters a bit more there is the hand axe which is small like an hatchet but the head is shaped differently but people still call it an hatchet. There also are "boys axes" which are lighter axes, lets say something sometimes less than 2lbs head on a 28inch handle. You can make one yourself buying the head you need and fitting an handle of the desired length that you bought separately or making the handle from scratch.

If you would want to dig a little deeper you could look for a tomahawk. Let all the movie ideas about a tomahawk aside. Tomahawk is nothing else than an Algonquin word that means "hatchet" and if you get a colonial era french axe and the tomahawks traded at the time they are the same animal. Overtime they took two different paths differentiated in shape of the eye etc and now we have a very different image in our head of what a tomahawk is while in origin was just an axe with a light head or an hatchet with a longer handle, same result. A search for tomahawks online will pull up a lot of garbage too but some companies still make "colonial style" heads for tomahawks that are still great for bushcrafting.

Don't just use the longer handle idea just to go around a lack of skills as that might catch up with you, if you think you're gonna put the other hand in the way then you need to review your technique.

  • Thanks for the reference. I ended up buying a Hultafors Hunters Axe which is 50cm long -- about the right length -- and weighs a kilo. It seems Gransfors have a good range of lengths and their bits are generally smaller than normal, however this is partially due to the narrow grind that makes the axe more suitable for limbing than splitting. – Daron Mar 29 '16 at 14:18
  • As for buying the head and handle separately, I have not the tools or expertise to do this. I'm sure if I knew how it's a relatively simple job and is the best and cheapest way to get several axes of these dimensions. But for just one, the time and energy (and money) spent sourcing bits and handles separately, and someone to do the work, would probably outweigh that of ordering an expensive axe online. – Daron Mar 29 '16 at 14:26
  • Well I'm afraid you think its more difficult than what it actually is, fitting the handle is not a big deal, sources are the same from where you would buy the whole axe, if its a manufacturer sometimes you can request one which head on which handle. Big box stores its a whole other thing and then you are on your own with those. Well at the end you found one and if it handles the way you want then you found your tool. – Erik vanDoren Mar 29 '16 at 15:02
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When I think of a long handled hatchet I'm thinking of something like a Hudson's Bay Axe. With a longer handle, even with a smaller axe head, there is a lot more power in each swing. I have a similar one for a camp axe. I think it's a nearly perfect compromise of weight and function.

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