Axing the Axe ............

The Gransfors Small forest Axe is almost a iconic image associated with bushcraft these days. Made favourite by tv presenter Ray Mears almost every would be woodsman has at some point bought one. Some, if you ever go to the WG you'll seem, even own and feel the need to wear several. But is the axe the "essential tool" some so called experts make it out to be?

After all on my various trips tot he frozen north I've rarely even taken one, and on my trips and courses in more temperate climes apart from demo's I really dont use one ........... so is it so essential? Whats different about my bushcraft to say Ray Mears?

As a soldier to I rarly carried an axe, in fact as a squaddy I never had one - I would and still do carry a entrenching tool however and find this much more useful than a axe and in a emergency it can of course be used to hack wood like a axe.

The reason I rarely use a axe is because I always carry a saw ................ and this one tool, maybe doubled up with a Leuku in the north, seems to me to cover all the options I need!

Of course for the mass production of fire wood for my wood burning stove in Sweden I do use a axe but then I use a bow saw or even a chain saw too - not a folding one - and the axe I use there is a Wetterling Felling axe ........ I'm using full sized tools there and thats the key - when you live the life you need proper sized tools.

So does the axe earn its right to be carried - does its use make its weigh bearable? Or is a folding saw and tough entrenching tool a more adaptable combination for long term or even emergency use in the back woods??

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You cover a lot of good points in this post. In many areas, if not most, I don't think I'd need an axe.

Here in Eastern Finland, though, where it is winter for 5 - 6 months of the year, I find a medium-sized axe (65 cm) to be extremely useful and handy. I have felled and limbed trees up to 12 cm and bucked trees up to 20 cm with it. I've also used it to split this wood into fuel wood and kindling. A saw can be a very useful tool for processing wood, and I sometimes use a 10" one myself for bucking. But to split larger pieces of wood, I've found the axe to be just the ticket, and more effective on some knotty wood than batoning with a knife.

So for processing wood for heating and cooking in the bush during the loooong winters here, I find the axe to be extremely effective and useful, but I understand that it's not necessary in many other places. I would not want to be without one in the winter here, though.

Up further north where trees are small, the saw and leuku combo is perfect for wood processing.

Another thing I like about the axe is that it can be used to make lots of other implements, e.g. sticks/poles for digging, entrenching etc. :)

bmatt in Finland