Saturday, September 12, 2009

They don't make 'em like they used to

Digging through the old workshop here on the homestead I came across a couple hatchet heads.
I showed you a while back the handles I made from some firewood.

If you are like me you have seen endless amounts of the head on the left at garage sales and auctions.
I have come to think of it a the top of the line hatchet just because it is so common.

100 years ago Horace Kephart wrote "The Book of Camping and Woodcraft".
In the "personal kit" section he has this to say about hatchets.

"A woodsman should carry a hatchet, and he should be as critical in selecting it as in buying a gun. The notion that a heavy hunting knife can do the work of a hatchet is a delusion. When it comes to cleaving carcasses, chopping kindling, blazing thick-barked trees, driving tent pegs or trap stakes, and keeping up a bivouac fire, the knife never was made that will compare with a good tomahawk. The common hatchets of the hardware store are unfit for a woodsmans use. They have broad, thin blades with a beveled edge, and they are generally made of poor, brittle stuff."

Seems my great grandpa didn't read Kephart. I found these broken heads in the shop also. They still had handles and my grandpa was still using them for light hammers. If you are planning on using a hatchet as a tool it would be good to avoid the example above since it appears that Kephart was right when he said they were made of poor brittle stuff.

The one on the right (in the first picture) is also brittle but of a thick design so it will be harder to break the steel.
A tomahawk is better for woods running than either of these but beggars can't be choosers.
At least now you and I know the limitations of this type of hatchet.

Still clinging to my God and my guns,

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