The hatchet or small hand ax is an important tool for any camper, outdoor adventurer, hiker, survivalist, and even ordinary folks who need some essential tool to cut, split, and chop wood without burdening themselves with the bulky, heavy nature of a standard-sized ax. As compact and functional as it may be, one should always strive to learn the proper handling of a hatchet. These may be small but they are still heavy and can come with a very sharp cutting edge. It’s so easy to get into an accident if you don’t know how to properly handle such an important tool. Here’s how.
Felling a tree requires precision. This is an area where most newbies are having issues with. They can swing at the tree all day long but they will never fell a tree this way. Try to imagine hitting the tree at a 90-degree angle or perpendicular to the tree and parallel to the surface of the ground. The edge of the hatchet will cut into the grain of the wood. Now try swinging the hatchet at exactly the same angle or orientation and you’ll be spending the rest of the day pondering why it’s taking you that long to fell a tree.
Knowing the proper technique of handling and swinging a hatchet is crucial to chopping wood in an efficient manner. This significantly reduces the amount of work that you need to perform and reducing arm and hand fatigue in the process.
If you don’t have the proper ax for chopping wood, the best way to chop wood using a hatchet is by cutting into the wood at a 45- and 135- degree angle. This essentially means you will need to cut in a V-shape with the pointed tip of the V mentally positioned at least in the center of the wood. This also means that the wide base of the V needs to be as wide apart as possible. The trick is for the section between the upper and lower legs of the V can be easily removed with just a simple twist of your hatchet.
Once you reach the tip of the V you can start swinging from the other side. Here’s a tip: make your V as wide as possible as it is a lot easier this way.
Whenever you have to split a piece of wood, make sure to do it in a kneeling position. This helps reduce the risk of swinging the hatchet all the way to your legs in case you miss the target and you are standing. By kneeling, your hatchet will hit the ground first before it reaches your limbs.
It is also important to place the wood on a tree stump rather than on the ground. This can help minimize damage to your hatchet’s blade in situations where the blade drives right through the log and into the ground.
Lastly, make sure to hit the edge or the corner of the wood that you want to split. Aiming for the middle can increase the likelihood of getting your hatchet stuck.
Knowing the proper handling of a hatchet is crucial to a more efficient and safer cutting, chopping, and splitting of wood.