Difference Between A Hatchet And An Axe – Everything You Need To Know

Difference Between A Hatchet And An Axe

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New to woodworking?

No wonder you’re here, doing your homework on the difference between a hatchet and an axe. It reminds me of my research on simple things like this when I was a newbie cutting and chopping down wood. 

It’s no surprise that people still get confused about hatchets and axes. Some think they’re two different things while others think that they’re the same and they don’t have a clue why they have different names then. Well, since I know all the nooks and crannies of these tools, let me shed some light on you. 

Keep reading….

What is an Axe

If you’re a regular woodworker, an axe should be your best friend; at least, while splitting or chopping woods. Axes are designed in such a way that you can easily cut through wood fibers. Thanks to their robust construction, you can use axes for heavy-duty tasks. 

The body shows off a steel blade (sometimes heavy iron too) along with a wooden handle. While one of the edges of the metal blade is sharp, the other one attaches the blade itself to a wooden handle. You’ll find both of its sides rounded off while they don’t have any flat bevel. 

Since axes are a bit heavy in weight, you’ll find a hard time using them with one hand. So, when you’re using it, you should use both of your hands for all the cutting, chopping, and splitting jobs

What is an Axe Used for

  • You can use an axe for felling trees
  • Axes are great for splitting pieces of firewood
  • You can chop small branches of trees 
  • Flattening lumbers for construction is another thing axes are used for

What is a Hatchet

If you’re not into heavy woodwork, I don’t see any point in using a bulky axe, to be honest. Rather, you should go for a hatchet. A hatchet, even though it looks like an axe, is used for light tasks like chopping small pieces of wood, cutting saplings, etc. 

You might mistake a hatchet for a camping axe (also known as a hand axe) sometimes. It’s because camping axes are smaller than regular axes. Now, I’m not here to start a hatchet vs. axe for camping conversation, but just to let you know, camping axes are larger and heavier than hatchets, even though they’re lighter than regular axes. 

The overall construction of a hatchet boasts a sharp blade on one of its sides while there’s a hammer on the back of its head. It comes with a short handle and weighs no more than 2 pounds. 

Unlike axes, you can use a hatchet single-handedly and maneuver it easily. However, if you still find it tough to flex, you can use a shingling hatchet, a lighter version of the regular one. 

What is a Hatchet Used for

  • For light woodworking tasks
  • You can split pieces of firewood using a hatchet
  • Felling small trees and saplings should be easy
  • You can cut small to medium-sized bushes

Difference Between an Axe and a Hatchet

To be honest, the key difference between an axe and a hatchet isn’t much. However, you’ll find a few noticeable differences below.

The Basics

Both Axe and hatchets use the geometry of a chisel and hammer. So, they’re pretty much the same when it comes to percussion. You use an axe basically to chop and split wood. However, the handle an axe comes with is a bit long, and when you use an axe, you use your two hands. In fact, you can swing an axe as a sledgehammer. 

Hatchets, it seems, are somewhat a smaller variant of an axe. 

The handles are smaller in size, and you can flex it using just one of your hands. Thanks to their lightweight, hatchets are pretty easy to maneuver. Unlike axes, hatchets are used for lighter woodwork since they’ve got a less-striking power.

Head Shape

If you don’t pay attention to the hatchet and axe closely, you won’t find much of a difference. However, if you take a closer look at the head, you’ll find some noticeable differences. 

You see, there are hatchets that have a hammer on the back of their blade heads. Axes don’t have this design as they’re not made for hammering. 

The head of a hatchet is a bit narrow and blends in with a large cutting blade. For this, cutting down the grain of wood seems a lot easier.  

On the other hand, the head of axe is a bit in the larger zone. It tapers a bit from the blade’s edge and makes its way to the back of its head. 

Head Weight

The head of a regular axe feels heavy. When I’m talking about ‘regular axe,’ I’m not referring to a hand axe, though. The head of a regular axe is about 2 to 3 times heavier than a head of a hand axe or camping axe.  

The head of a hatchet weighs about half the hand axe’s head weight. So, you do your math. Yep, a hatchet’s head weighs 6 times less than the head weight of a regular axe. 

Shaft Design

You’ll find metal handles on a hatchet’s shaft. As for axes, you won’t find any metal handles. This is because a hatchet’s shaft usually curves forward. Axes, on the other hand, have slightly angled shafts. However, if you judge it carefully, you’ll find that the shaft is extended to a 90-degree angle, making its way to the head. 


Thanks to their compact and small size, hatchets are more portable than axes. In fact, they’re shorter in size as well. As a result, you can strap a hatchet to a belt holster and carry it wherever you want. 

Final Verdict

So, that was everything on the difference between a hatchet and an axe. In a nutshell, if want to strike down hard-to-cut trees or woods in no time, you might use an axe. But keep in mind that you need to have your own natural strength to use it. For simple cutting and chopping, a hatchet should be enough for you.

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