Back a few weeks ago, when I was cold weather camping with my friend Ian, I noticed that he was using his hatchet for a number of different tasks. He chopped down a few small trees and he used the hatchet to chip away two small divots in pieces of wood so his bench would fit together nicely without the top log rolling around. I thought my friend’s usage of this tool was pretty clever. I’ll admit that I never much had a use for a hatchet, but after seeing him use his, I thought one might be handy in my world.
When I go outside into the woods, I generally bring either a lopper or a bow saw to cut down small trees when cutting trails. Since I haven’t gone camping in ages, I haven’t had much use for a hatchet. Now that I’m getting more into camping though, I know I’ll need one. While I can easily use my bow saw to cut down trees and saw them up for firewood, a hatchet will help immensely when it comes time to split wood and to harvest some shavings for starting a fire. Fatwood is all the rage and I’ll get to that in later posts. For now, I’d like to show off the small hatchet I picked up on Amazon.com.
Okay, the proper name for this hatchet is the Estwing Sportsman’s Axe – 14″ Camping Hatchet. Now, I had to look up what the difference between an axe and a hatchet is and I discovered that the name of this tool is a bit misleading. A hatchet is a small tool that’s used with one hand and an axe is a much larger tool that’s used with two hands. So this would be just a hatchet, not an axe. I’m sure some sizes are right at the cusp of being used with either one or two hands, and those tools can be called whatever you’d like.
Here’s a photo of my new toy. I hope you like the way I have it all set up on a pile of firewood. I thought it’d be very rugged looking this way.
This has definitely got to be one of the most popular camping hatchets out there. I see it all over the place. It’s made right here in the U.S. and I think the steel is poured in Wisconsin. I don’t know why I say that because the headquarters is in Illinois. I think I saw the name Wisconsin out there somewhere though.
Let’s take a look at a few more photos.
I’ve seen a lot of talk out there about this leather handle. Some folks say that the polyurethane that’s used to coat it flakes or wears and then if the leather gets wet, it can rot. Some people who have purchased this hatchet actually sand away the poly with 100 grit sandpaper and then apply Fiebing’s Neatsfoot Oil to the leather, so it repels water. While it takes many, many coats of this oil to completely soak the leather, it’s supposed to be the best thing you can do for these tools. Perhaps I’ll do that one day.
This next photo is a shot of the bottom of the hatchet. I watched a video of this tool being made and it’s so cool how the manufacturer adds the leather rings around the shaft and then presses on this bottom plate and rivets it in place.
I like the ballistic nylon sheath very much on this tool. It unsnaps and then you slide the sheath down the handle to the bottom of the hatchet for removal. I’ve seen this same tool come with a leather sheath, but I don’t like the look of them very much. I like the black nylon a lot more.
See? This is what I’m referring to. The sheath slides down the handle.
This is the head of the hatchet. As you can see, this is a one piece tool. It’s all steel, unlike some others that have only a steel head and then a wooden handle. I think these are pretty strong.
I thought this photo was pretty cool. I got the blade straight on. I figured I better take lots of photos now while it’s brand new. It’s going to get dirty very quickly.
Well, there it is, an introduction to my new Estwing camping hatchet. I think this will last a good long time and I’m excited to start using it outdoors. I’ll also be showing more photos of it in the outdoor gear forums on the discussion board, so be sure to check them out. Thanks for reading!