Hatchet Vs Axe image

Difference Between Axe and Hatchet – Everything you need to Know

A hatchet and an ax are essential tools for those who love to do outdoor-related work. But, more importantly, those bushcraft knife skills can never go wrong with these jury-rigged wood-carving tools. It is a common misconception that a heavy-duty knife is capable of doing the work of a hand ax or hatchet.

In current times, an ax is most frequently suitable for outdoors, in terms of alfresco activities. It comes in various shapes and sizes, each serving a unique function. In contrast, a hatchet is a multipurpose and user-friendly version of a traditional longer ax. While both might have similar appearances, they have unique functions in the forest or backyard. One shall never confuse an ax with a hatchet. But at the same time, it is also imperative to have knowledge of these tools and comprehend when to use them. So learn the which is better in hatchet vs axe and what is best time to use an ax or a hatchet and act accordingly.

Hatchet vs Axe – Which is Best?

Ax is a lumberjack’s most precious woodworking means, employed for chopping logs, hewing lumber, and splintering firewood. It is tough and promising enough with a wooden or composite handle and heavy metal blade. Whereas, a hatchet is typically lighter, and portable, famous in these modern days. Hatchets are almost similar to axes but there are little differences between them.

Back in those old days, our pioneers used the ax to carve their way through frontiers and make permanent settlements such as log cabins and other shelters. In addition, they have also processed wood to keep themselves warm, for protection, etc. Besides, this highly prominent tool requires both hands for working in order to enhance the walloping power.

In axe vs hatchet comparison, hatchet, as said earlier, are extremely portable wood processing means. And hence, people have been using them more than felling or splitting axes for their outdoor excursions. Hatchet is basically a smaller, shorter, or light-weight version of an ax. Its V-tapered head is fit for hacking down stumps into fragments. This uniquely single-handed striking weapon is also majorly used for splitting coals and lightwood into tiny sharp fragments. Ideally, cleaving cadavers, severing the pelvis with a sharp blow, kindling, setting thick barked trees aflame, preparing and hammering tent stakes are some of this weapon’s significant uses.

When to Use an Axe Or a Hatchet?

Tips for Using Axe and Hatchet

Before going forward, heed to the following warning:

  • Working with axes, hatchets, and cutting tools of any kind is perilous and can lead to severe injury or death, either to yourself or those around you. Thus, we recommend you take all reasonable precautions regarding safety.
  • In addition, we strongly urge people to seek training with professionals before proceeding.
  • Despite the similarity in appearance, these 2 tools have starkly dissimilar functions. And nothing is better than knowing when to use which. So proceed further without any delay.

What is a Hatchet Used for?

#1 Chopping Wood

Hatchet is an essential tool for shelter building. With its help, one can cut down the tree’s limbs and strip its bark to construct a shielding cupola material. In addition, this one can most conveniently chop off all those withered branches. Also, its back could be fashioned in a hammering way to buffet boughs from a main trunk.

#2 Kindling

This highly useful weapon is of an ideal size to lop off larger chunks of wood to create a rapidly smoldering kindling. In damp situations, contact splitting with this tool will aid in starting a fire, especially at times of emergency. Hence, it would certainly help one feel warmer and more comfortable during inclement weather conditions.

#3 Tindering

During survival situations, there might be a sudden need to create instant fire. What if your surroundings are wet and soggy, hindering all chances of starting a fire? Well, one quick option is to look for comparatively larger pieces of fallen wood. And then, use your hatchet to strip and shave off all layers to eventually expose a dry core to set the fire in the silvers of wood.

#4 As Hammers

Furthermost part of your hatchet tool blade is often preferable as hammers. It can function on multiple occasions in camping environments. For instance, people can use it as a hammer in tent skewers, drive in the center pole for a crude but adequate shelter. One safety tip is to appropriately sheath this weapon’s blade as chances of injuring oneself are higher during this technique.

#5 Gaming or Fishing:

There are so many things this tool is capable of if one counts on their mere hunting skills for survival. Weight and compactness features make it perfect for cutting up and grinding meat and fish at the respective joints and contours for trouble-free consumption.

#6 Protection from Predators

It goes without saying that one must try and keep away from larger predaceous animals amidst nature. When one encounters a wild animal, and there seems no feasible alternative to escape from such catastrophe, a hatchet could be your knight in shining armor.

#7 As a Shovel

Hatchets can help in digging just like a shovel. Thus, dragging and ridding areas of bugs and arthropods hidden underneath will be super simple. Digging trenches around your site of slumber is no big deal either. Freshly created deflection channel will drain the rainwater, not letting it run into and ruin your fire thus.

What is Axe Used For?

Uses of this weapon depend mostly on its varieties. There is more to it than what meets the eye. Moreover, even in those ancient days, our ancestors have led their lives with this weapon for their survival. Thus, its utilities are many. So, let’s proceed further:

#1 Chopping Down Trees

It is too cumbersome a camping essential and suitable for chopping down colossal trees with one sharp fling. However, it works in accordance with needs and demands that need to be applied with the right force and physics. An American axe is a most common type of axe which is used for felling purposes. Under similar categories come the Michigan, Dayton, New England, Connecticut and wood cutting axes.

#2 Carpentry

Modern-day carpenter’s axe, also known as a ‘carpenter’s hatchet’ – with its additional grooves – is excellent for fine wood carving and detailed carpentry. Designed especially for removing nails from logs, these grooves prove to be highly beneficial. Moreover, hewing lumber is easier with a broad ax that was an original means of carpentry even before industrial sawmills. However, carpenters of the present day seem to use broad ones quite often.

#3 Mining

Sometimes, individuals can employ this particular tool for mining purposes. In fact, dating back to history, Europeans used to mine copper and silver. Mining axs feature a typically pointed double-edged blade to precisely do the mining.

#4 Battles

There is a reason why people refer to this one as a weapon. Vikings, in their period, have used it tremendously in their fierce battles. Initially, for rendering opponents defenceless, by hooking their ankles, Viking axs cause enemies to trip over and plummet to the ground. However, obviously, they are no longer in common use. Instead, archeologists research on learning about past civilizations with these weapons. Double bit axes, despite being troublesome to carry, provide 2-in-one purpose.

#5 Camping

The Tomahawk ax, initially used during the American Revolution and Vietnam Wars, is now preferable among soldiers, law enforcement officers, security staff and preppers for their tasks. Lately, for camping purposes, including setting a campfire it is really purposeful. Tactical tomahawks have also marked their importance in knife throwing competitions. Moreover, a Hudson Bay ax also comes under camping trip essentials, owing to its carriageable size.

#6 Gardening

In times of gardening and landscaping, a pickax is an immensely useful tool. It flares up the hard soil, gravel and concrete to tear out the earth with a chisel. Sometimes, we can use a grub ax to carry out the same function in gardens – digging up holes to plant new saplings or split up and dismantle impenetrable roots of old trees. Such a tool is also famous as ‘cutter mattock’.

#7 Hunting

Some axs are ideally for hunting and throwing in the wilderness. Thus, they are popular as hunter’s ax and throwing ax respectively. Splitting mauls are essentially for splitting the wood, rather than chopping it. They tend to cut with the grain and are much heftier than felling axes used for cutting down trees of varied sizes.

#8 Emergency

What is unknown to many is an emergency ax, typically helps during an emergency situation. Crash axes are best at times of an aircraft crash landing. With a metal body construction their durability is undoubtedly great. For wood carving, people used to employ a wooden adze in the Stone Age. Typical feature of this adze is its sharp cutting blade. However, it is no longer put to use. Furthermore, one can categorize them into hand and foot adzes.

#9 Cutting and Splitting Wood

An ax is a traditional tool that has myriad other functions than just cutting, shaping and splitting wood and wooden materials. Its construction often includes different materials like iron, steel, copper and bronze. Hence, it requires less effort and exhaustion, unlike a woodchopper. Being available in different types, sizes, shapes and forms, one can term this one as reliable. In ideal conditions, axes do 2 main purposes: Cutting and Splitting.


Axes and hatchets have gained immense popularity nowadays considering their wide range of purposes. And, some might get confused which one to use the best for their jobs. Thus, this guide is here to provide fruitful insight into more than just bushcraft with these 2 multi-purpose tools. Hope, you know the difference between these 2 and understand their individual uses better.

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