Designed in a simple yet efficient way, carving axes have been around helping woodworkers and craftsmen for many many years. While the essential structure remained the same, a carving axe has been improved over time to become easier to use for different fields of woodworking such as wood carving.
Wood carving is a popular hobby nowadays, and a carving hatchet is an important tool in one’s toolkit. Hatchets can be used for chopping and separating wood, but also for the finest carving techniques such as the tapping technique. I’ve been experimenting with a few different carving axes and in this post, I would like to share that experience with you guys.
While talking about carving tools, if you need to buy a new leather strop, check out my recent reviews – Top 6 Leather Strops Reviews. I also wrote about what my preferences are on knives and chisels, so you might want to check that out as well. If you are thinking of switching to power carving, perhaps you want to know about Best Power Wood Carving Tools in 2021. Besides leather strops, sandpaper is important to keep our knives sharp and our carvings smooth, so take a look at Best 6 Sandpapers for Wood review.
- Prandi German Style Hatchet
- Best value. Beautifully designed elegant carving axe with a leather sheath.
- Husqvarna 13 in. Wooden Handle Hatchet
- Small practical hatchet, well designed, and easy to use.
- BRUFER 203651-3 Hatchet Axe with Genuine Hickory Wood Handle 600g 21oz
- An excellent quality blade for making thin precise cuts.
- Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet 13.50 Inch, Axe
- Small carving axe for a good price, handy to carry with you on a trip.
- mapsyst Bearded Hatchet/Axe Combined with Curved Adze Blade
- Professional axe that can cut through anything. Powerful and expensive tool.
Types of Hatchets and How to Choose Best for Carving
I wrote each axe review in this post having in mind the important factors of the best hatchet. This means, first and foremost, the quality of the steel of which the head is made, and the cutting edge – if it is thin enough to be sharpened well and make precise cuts.
Secondly, I evaluated the design of the handle and the material used to make it. The handle of a wood carving axe is very important because it enables you control and it mustn’t be slippery for things to get out of hand (literally).
Some carving hatchets have a more elegant design, which I really appreciate because it tells how much effort the manufacturer has invested in making a top-notch tool. Other designs are more rough and basic, which is also acceptable if the axe can give great results.
When I was checking out where can I buy a hatchet, I found pretty good prices on Amazon. That being said, the best carving hatchet can sometimes also be found on sale and you can cut yourself a pretty good deal with the best budget hatchet.
When it comes to the material a hatchet head is made of, you should be careful to choose hardened and well-treated carbon steel, that will not be prone to fracturing. Blade fractures can be very dangerous, so pay attention to this feature when purchasing your tool. Most axes use medium-carbon steel.
Sometimes a hatchet comes with a leather sheath for the head, and sometimes you can purchase it separately, but I would recommend you having one either way. The blades are usually not sharpened prior to the delivery because of safety reasons, so before you start using one make sure you stroked it with a sharpening stone and sandpaper.
An important aspect I was estimating is the length and the weight of each tool, but it is important to tell that what I find convenient might not be the same for you, so you should make sure what you want in a hatchet. I personally like the heavier and shorter hatchets, because that way I am more in control when I wish to achieve precision.
There are many different types of axes, and some might prefer a long-handled axe that you can swing, which is why the weight of the head matters a lot. A good hatchet, on the other hand, in my opinion, is a wooden hatchet with a short handle that is comfortable to grip. A wood-handled hatchet can be made out of hickory or ash, and these are the most common materials. Ash is very durable, although hickory is among the strongest hardwood you can find.
Axes can also have a curved or straight handle. A curved axe is designed to bring the blade a little bit more forward which doesn’t suit everybody’s style.
There are many different types of axe heads, upon which we differentiate Jersey axe, double bit axe, forest axe, and over 30 others. These axe head types are designed for different purposes, so, for example, a felling axe that is very common is designed for swinging with a lot of power and “falling” onto the wood you are cutting.
Hatchet head types can vary depending on the type of woodworking or woodcarving they are designed for. The blades can be in a teardrop shape or with very sharp tips on both ends of the edge.
Prandi German Style Hatchet – A beautifully designed tool for everyday use
This beautiful tool is one of my favorite carving hatchets in the world, and mostly due to its elegant design. Besides the German-style, it is made in Italy and has a guaranteed quality that comes with this brand.
My initial contact with the handle was a little slippery, but then I sanded it a bit and covered it with oil. I had no problems with it ever since, the grip is perfect. The head is dull upon arrival, for safety reasons, and needs to be sharpened. There is also a fancy leather sheet to cover up the edge of the blade.
Otherwise, the design is one of the prettiest. The head has a golden symbol of the manufacturer – Prandi on it, and a rope at the end of the handle so I can leave it hanging in my workshop. The handle is over 15 inches long, while the head size is 4 inches and it weighs 600 grams.
- The handle is ergonomic and non-slippery after you prepare it.
- I love the sheath for the head that is made of soft, good-quality leather.
- The thin edge cuts easily through softwood when sharpened.
- Excellent price and a great value.
- The wooden handle needs to be treated before you start using it.
To Sum Up
Since I am looking for the best axe, this design and quality are top-notch, no doubt. This is also a great spoon carving axe since the thin cuts are easy to make with the edge of this axes head.
Husqvarna 13 in. Wooden Handle Hatchet – A small and heavy multi-purpose hatchet
This is another handmade wood carving hatchet, very beautiful, and handy to use. Husqvarna has two models of woodcutting hatchets that differ in the sizes of the handle. A popular one is a 20-inch axe, but I found that the smaller 13 inches give me better control when making delicate cuts.
This tool is designed as a multipurpose one, but it can do far more than just cutting. It is also heavier than most woodworking hatchets, but that is something that I found to be working for me. The handle is curved and comfortable for a strong grip.
What qualifies this tool to be among the best carving hatchets is the high-quality head. The edge is not razor-sharp upon delivery, but once you give it a few strokes with a sharpening stone it is just right.
- Short and handy to use - only 13 inches long.
- Heavier than other hatchets which enables you more control.
- Very good quality of the blade.
- Not designed for carving, it is more of a general-use hatchet.
- It is not very cheap.
To Sum Up
This tool is a bit more expensive if you purchase it from a shop, but if you can find this carving hatchet for sale it is worth the buy. It is a versatile tool, professionally made, and good for general woodworking and carving.
BRUFER 203651-3 Hatchet Axe with Genuine Hickory Wood Handle 600g 21oz – A throwing axe with great application in carving
The texture of the wooden handle on this carving axe is designed to enable additional control and prevent the handle from slipping out of your hands. Along with the thin blade edge, this quality qualifies this tool for one of the best axes for wood carving.
The axe is 14 and a half inches long, while the head weighs around 21 ounces. It is not designed with wood carving in mind, but rather for other types of work around the house. It is popular as a camping tool, but this doesn’t mean it doesn’t get the job done for the woodcarvers.
The edge is made of high carbon steel, and I made sure that it holds an edge for a surprisingly long time. Most people use it for throwing as a hobby, but the fact the blade is so thin makes this tool great for making thin precise cuts for carving.
- Excellent quality steel holds an edge for a long time.
- The texture on the handle prevents it from slipping.
- The head is firmly attached to the handle, there is no way of breaking the joints.
- A general use axe, more useful for throwing than carving.
To Sum Up
This is not a carving hatchet per se, but it has a nice length and weight plus an excellent grip. The blade is made of good-quality steel, and it holds an edge for a long time. The axe is also quite cheap if you are under budget.
Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet 13.50 Inch, Axe – Small lightweight hatchet to bring on a camping trip
This is a smaller size carving axe, easy to use and carry with you. This manufacturer guarantees a certain quality, so this woodworking axe can’t be a disappointment. The handle is lightly oiled hickory, while the head is made of good quality steel.
The small size of the carving axe and the lightweight of it makes this tool easy to carry along on a road trip. Gransfors Bruks has a larger tool to offer if you are not finding this one handy. I, personally, love the smaller tools, but the lack of heavyweight is a problem for me because more weight helps me acquire more control.
Gränsfors small carving hatchet is a nice tool to have around since it is easy to carry with you if you are going to nature. It is also very cheap for carving axes.
- Good quality steel that can be sharpened to a razor-sharp level.
- Hickory handle, hand-made and eco-friendly tool.
- One of the cheaper small hatchets for sale.
- If I’m being honest in this axe review, this is not my favorite hatchet. It is handier for boy-scouts than it is for wood carving projects.
To Sum Up
If you are interested in buying a hatchet, try to find this Gransfors Bruks carving axe for sale. You can purchase it for under 20$ and end up with solid quality, especially if you are an amateur at wood carving.
mapsyst Bearded Hatchet/Axe Combined with Curved Adze Blade – Carving axe for experienced carvers
This is a professional wood-chopper axe, designed to cut through hardwood and softwood without a problem. It is medium-long but it is also quite light and very special in its design and quality.
The head is designed like no other and will cut through literally anything, especially once you sharpen the edge. Now, the axe review for this tool you can find online says that anything is possible with this tool, but I don’t quite agree.
In my experience, this is the best axe when it comes to chopping the wood and making curved lines out of a big wooden block. However, I don’t find it overly useful for the tiny, delicate parts of the project, and I would rather use something more simple in that phase.
- Unique and powerful design, outstanding quality.
- Best woodcutting axe - excellent chopping tool cuts through softwood and hardwood.
- Great size and lightweight.
- No doubt, this is an excellent quality tool, but the price is way over the top even for this manufacturer.
To Sum Up
This is, by all means, among the best carving axes on the market. However, even if it works great for cutting the big logs and shaping them into anything you think of, I wouldn’t recommend this single bevel hatchet for detailed carving projects. That being said, it is way too expensive as well. Even if you find it in wood axes for sale, it will still probably be beyond your budget.
mapsyst Viking Type Light Bearded Axe/Hatchet with Handle – The manly tool for a woodchopper
This is a classic best carpenters axe you can find. It is designed in a powerful way, very old-school, and ready to chop. The handle is basic, but it is still ergonomic and it suits my grip very well.
The blade is also made for chopping more than cutting thin slices of wood while wood carving. It is strong and responds well to sharpening. It is specially designed to resemble a Viking axe and it feels quite manly using it.
The head of the axe is strong and will certainly not be a disappointment as it is made of a very versatile steel. For this axe review I should also make a comment that this axe is cheaper than the previous Mapsyst axe I mentioned, but it is still very expensive in comparison to other carving hatchets I’ve used.
- Quite a versatile tool, powerful head steel and quality handle.
- The handle is old school, ergonomic for a longer grip.
- Authentic Viking design.
- Even though it is great for rough wood chopping, it is not the best for carving.
- More expensive than other axes and hatchets.
To Sum Up
So, overall, I really liked using this tool and it feels good holding it in my hand. It makes big, precise cuts when I chop the wood, but it is not perfect for delicate cuts in carving. The price is not very joyful either.
That would be the 6 best carving axes and hatchets I’ve used and my experience in using them in various projects of mine. Some of them are pretty basic and designed for a more general use (camping trips, chopping wooden logs, scouting). Even so, if the handle is comfortable and the head edge is thin enough, they can be very useful in carving projects.
The best carving hatchet, in my opinion, has to be a little shorter and a little heavier than most carving hatchets you can find. If you check out each of my axe reviews, you will notice that most axes won’t fail you when you chop the logs before you start carving. But for these specific types of projects that include delicate work and require a lot of control over the tools, I find that the heavy and small axes simply do a better job.
Another important feature the best carving hatchet must have is a strong and thin cutting edge. Most of these axes are made of great quality steel that will hardly ever break (perhaps only if you play throwing the axes), but it is another thing to make the edges in a way to make precise and very thin cuts to remove the outside layers of the wood.
All things considered, the best hatchet for the money is definitely the Prandi German Style Hatchet, and it is the most elegant tool on the list as well. Why I think this tool could be the best carving hatchet is that it probably satisfies most of my criteria – it is small, heavy enough, and the edge is designed in such a way I can make the most with this tool. This is also the manufacturer that is known for good quality of the blades, and the only downside of this tool is that you should sand and oil the wooden handle before the first use.
Axes are valuable tools, but they can also be quite expensive. This is why I usually try to find them on sale, where I can buy them for nearly half the price. I hope my experience helped you choose the carving axe for your next purchase, and that you will have as much fun using it in wood carving as I do.
What is a hatchet?
The main hatchet axe difference is the size. Hatchet is a much smaller version of an axe, which can be used with only one hand and it is very handy for working on different woodworking and wood carving projects.
Various types of hatchets can be connected to the same types of axes, only in a smaller size. Hatchet types vary in the shape of the head, the tips and the edges of the blade, as well as the length of the handle, its material, and whether it is curved or straight.
What are the best axe brands?
At the beginning of a woodworking and wood carving hobby, many craftsmen purchase a simple cheap hatchet. However, some of the top-rated hatchets from the best axe brands can last a lifetime, since these tools can be very durable.
The most popular axe brand on the market is Prandi axe and Prandi hatchet products, followed by Mapsyst that offers a wide spectrum of different styled blades. Husqvarna is among the top quality manufacturers, recognizable for its well-designed hatchets. Another brand that raises attention is BRUFER, with top-rated axes and top-notch ergonomic handles.
Who makes Husqvarna axes?
Husqvarna is among the best hatchet brands and top axe brands available at the moment. Originally, they are a chainsaw company, and the many types of axes they sell are outsourced and made by Hultafors Burks. These excellent manufacturers produce what is know to be the best outdoor axe, that carries the stamp of Husqvarna on its handle.