There are three modern tools that descended from the ancient stone axes of our ancestors. These are the axe, the hatchet and the tomahawk. Although there are obvious similarities among the three, they also have differences that may make one the better tool for a job than the others.
When you are trying to choose between an axe, a hatchet and a tomahawk, keep this list in mind.
1. Consider the size of the job at hand. Axes are the biggest, heaviest of the three tools. They will tire you out faster when you are using them and will be less convenient to carry with you. Hatchets and tomahawks are both smaller tools meant to be used with one hand.
2. Decide if two bits is an advantage. The cutting edge of these tools is called the bit. The hatchet and tomahawk have one bit while the axe may have one or two. An axe with two bits is the traditional tool for felling trees due to its weight and the availability of a second cutting surface when the first becomes dull.
3. If you are chopping wood, choose either an axe or a hatchet. For larger jobs, you will want an axe. For chopping small branches for a campfire, a hatchet should do the trick.
4. Decide if you would like a more general purpose tool. A hatchet is your best bet for all-around utility. By definition, a hatchet has a cutting blade on one side and a hammer head on the other. This makes it valuable for any chopping and pounding tasks that may arise while camping or just working around the shop.
5. Do you need portability? Being smaller, the hatchet and tomahawk are the tools to choose if you need something to carry with you.
6. Choose an axe for emergency entry. The classic firefighter’s axe with a single bit is the best tool to have on hand for breaking through doors. Public buildings and airplane cockpits are always equipped with this heavy, sharp tool to use when lives are on the line.
7. Sport throwing requires a tomahawk. The classic Native American tomahawk has traditionally been used for the competitive sport of throwing. Its light weight and straight shaft make it an excellent throwing tool.
8. Tomahawks are the only appropriate tool for Native American ceremonies. Tomahawks are still widely used by many Native American tribes in their sacred rites.
9. Axes and battle axes are the best choice for medieval fairs and reenactments. Many people enjoy recreating the middle ages with costumes and role-playing, and the double-bit battle axe can always be found at these affairs.