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UL Titanium Hatchet
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Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
UL Titanium Hatchet on 11/20/2011 18:25:24 MST Print View

Thought you guys would get a kick out of this one. I cut it on the waterjet the other day, sharpened the blade with a benchgrinder, and was surprised at how well it worked. Big hook on the back for camp tasks and a bottle opener cut into the profile. Weighs in at 4.4 ounces.

Here's the link.

Titanium Axe

Here's the pic.

Titanium Hatchet


Brian Camprini
(bcamprini) - MLife

Locale: Southern Appalachians
Re: UL Titanium Hatchet on 11/20/2011 18:31:09 MST Print View

That's too cool. You really are creative. Is the lack of weight an issue? I mean, can you let the tool do the work or do you have to really swing it? Vibration?

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Re: UL Titanium Hatchet on 11/20/2011 19:01:01 MST Print View

Well, the light weight definitely doesn't help splitting wood. You definitely have to swing it. The majority of the weight is in the head of the axe so it has that going for it. I can split a 2X4 about 12"-18" long though. Bottom line: It works much better than I thought it would, but obviously not better than a real hatchet.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: UL Titanium Hatchet on 11/20/2011 19:06:30 MST Print View

As soon as I saw "titanium hatchet" I knew this was going to be a Steven Evans creation. I wasn't disappointed. Nice hatchet.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: UL Titanium Hatchet on 11/20/2011 19:07:30 MST Print View

A water jet is a nice toy to have at your disposal.

You know what would be cool for a fire making tool? Do you know what a splitting froe is? It is used for splitting cedar to make roofing shingles. I've always wanted a small simple one for batoning wood for campfires rather than a knife. The traditional froe is made with an eye for a handle. Now, imagine one with a straight 6" blade and a thick parallel spine for accurate hits with a thick branch. The handle just needs to be big enough for a good grip and smooth edged (and keep your fingers out of the way). Mora makes a chisel knife that is close. Titanium would be light, and you don't need a shaving-sharp edge for such work.

So, blend these two designs with your ti ax:

Mora chisel knife


Brad Walker

Locale: SoCal
Thickness on 11/20/2011 19:25:16 MST Print View

How thick is it? 3/8"ish?

Nicholas Martin

Locale: SoCal-High Desert
i want one! on 11/20/2011 22:02:33 MST Print View


Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

hatchet on 11/20/2011 23:12:35 MST Print View

Very cool. You should add some sort of a mechanism (ie. cage, clamp) for adding a rock to the head area, so once in camp you could grab a small-medium rock and add it as ballast.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: UL Titanium Hatchet on 11/20/2011 23:48:44 MST Print View

Interesting... does it hold an edge? I could see it working better for light splitting tasks than crosscutting.
You should make some carbon fiber scales for a handle!

Benjamin Moryson
(hrXXL) - MLife

Locale: Germany
Axe on 11/21/2011 01:39:07 MST Print View

Oh man you did it once again. The axe looks very nice

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Steel Edge? on 11/21/2011 07:04:01 MST Print View

Very cool. I'm just courious how long the titanium will last. Isn't it softer than steel? If this becomes an issue would it be possible to insert a steel edge onto the blade while leaving the rest titanium? I know in the 1800s blacksmiths would make and axe blade mostly out of softer, cheaper iron but add a steel blade to the edge so it would be sharper.

Matthew Perry
(bigfoot2) - F

Locale: Oregon
UL Titanium Hatchet on 11/22/2011 04:06:13 MST Print View

What are the chances of you producing some? I'd definitely buy one.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Steel Edge? on 11/22/2011 04:18:30 MST Print View

I'm not a bladesmith, but I have a good friend who is. The Ti will not stay sharp unless you put a carbide edge on it.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: UL Titanium Hatchet on 11/22/2011 07:50:36 MST Print View

Glad you guys like it. Now, some answers...

Dale: I didn't know what a splitting froe was until I googled it, but I actually have one at my cottage, just didn't know it was called. Very useful for splitting logs in the evening hours when there is no light (less likely to hurt yourself) - at least that's what I have used it for in the past. I'll look into it. Appears it would be much more useful as it does not rely on it's own weight to split the wood...titanium blade and carbon fiber handle of course :)

Brad: It is 1/8" thick.

Dan: Good idea. The lack of weight is this little guy's own enemy. We want it light, but will it still be useful, there must be a sweet spot. I was actually thinking to add water to a container on the head.

Those concerned with the edge: Will it hold up? Probably not. Ti is hard, but not hard like heat treated tool steel (D2 maybe?) or whatever an axe is supposed to be made from. But, I split/chop wood on the trail with a rock, my foot, and my thigh...surely this will do better? Why not sharpen it before every trip...

I could produce these fairly easily, but I am aware that a real hatchet user would find this to be more of a toy and need something with a heavier head. I have to admit, it looks great sitting on my desk though :)

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: UL Titanium Hatchet on 11/22/2011 07:53:39 MST Print View

Your projects continue to amaze me. They are so much more advanced than most of the myog projects that the comparison is laughable.

There was a Farside cartoon where one caveman is trying to light Thena's cigarette by rubbing two sticks together. A slick looking caveman walks up and lights it with something like a Bic lighter. You are the guy with the lighter.

You remind me of Larry Penberthy when he was starting MSR and experimenting with all types of projects (e.g. metal ice axes, stoves, etc.) He made a lot of stuff that never went to market. I enjoyed going to their factory store where they would sell all the stuff they had experimented with.

Steofan The Apostate
(simaulius) - F

Locale: Bohemian Alps
UL Titanium Hatchet on 11/22/2011 11:28:54 MST Print View

You are so right about this looking nice on your desk.
Even if it ends up as a desk toy, that is still one sweet-looking 4.4 oz paperweight!

Nice work... keep up the creativity!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: titanium froe on 11/22/2011 12:01:05 MST Print View

Steven wrote: "Dale: I didn't know what a splitting froe was until I googled it, but I actually have one at my cottage, just didn't know it was called. Very useful for splitting logs in the evening hours when there is no light (less likely to hurt yourself) - at least that's what I have used it for in the past. I'll look into it. Appears it would be much more useful as it does not rely on it's own weight to split the wood...titanium blade and carbon fiber handle of course...."

I wouldn't go any farther than a straight handle with lightening holes and a paracord wrap. What you have is a thin wedge with a handle and it doesn't require weight to work-- that is supplied by a locally found stick. I wouldn't expect high edge retention for titanium, although I assume some alloys would be better than others. A driven wedge should be less demanding than something that is expected to cut like a sharp knife blade. The idea is to have something light that will take the abuse that you wouldn't want to subject to a valuable knife blade. I see people wanting to carry big knives with the idea of using them to baton firewood, but there really isn't much need for a knife longer than 3.5" for general purpose cutting. A light titanium froe would make a good companion to a smaller folding knife.

Your hatchet design could be used along the same lines if the back side of the head was made flat and parallel to the blade, so the lack of weight could be made up with a stick for a mallet. Hunters will typically use a butchering hatchet that way to split the sternum on large game. the weak point is if someone tries to pry sideways with it, bending or breaking the handle.

Mora of Sweden makes a kindling froe that is pretty much what I had in mind:
mora kindling froe

FYI, to make shakes, cedar is cut in a block called a "bolt" and it is flipped end-for-end each time a shake is split off to keep the sides parallel and square. The tool is very handy for making kindling too, so it has a good purpose in your wood shed. It is typically used with a home-made mallet-- a single piece of wood with a carved handle and a fat tapered head, much like a big carver's mallet.

Edited by dwambaugh on 11/22/2011 12:09:01 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Froe, or Hacking Knife on 11/22/2011 14:22:06 MST Print View

You can pay $$$ for a fancy brand-name froe, or a few $ at a local hardware store for a Hacking Knife. Used by glaziers to remove glass and putty from windows. Consists of a suitable simple blade of hard steel with a bit of leather bolted to each side. Rugged as all hell!


Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Froe, or Hacking Knife on 11/22/2011 15:06:14 MST Print View

Excellent tip, Roger. Exactly what I had in mind. A kydex sheath would be good, but you could use a chef's knife blade cover if you carry it in your pack. It can be used as a plain knife--- the design is very similar to the Wharncliffe blade. At $15-$20 it could be bashed without too much guilt.

Hacking knife,51222&ap=1

Javan Dempsey

Locale: The-Stateless-Society
Re: Re: Steel Edge? on 11/22/2011 17:40:17 MST Print View

Yeah Josh Leavitt ground out a couple of Ti hatchets in a similar size/weight, that Zoe Crist and I carbidized and reground the edges on.

They were fun toys, but essentially useless. Edge holding is a problem with Ti, but Axe/Hatchets generally utilize rather blunt edge geometry. The main issue with the concept of a UL hatchet, is that you're trying to eliminate the exact variable which causes the tool to be efficient at it's task. Axes are separated (in a specific style) by head weight for a reason.

It like trying to hit someone with a paper towel tube, no matter how hard you swing it, it's just not going to do any significant damage. Hardness isn't the issue, a carbon fiber tube would be rigid but similarly useless.

A Ti hatchet will work for batoning, but the problem you're going to run into is vibration and impact forces doing more damage to your hand than the work piece. The obtuse cross-sectional edge geometry also impairs the ability to move the tool through tight wood. Ultimately, a fixed blade of a thin cross-section, high toughness alloy will be *MUCH* more efficient, hold an edge, and with proper edge geometry will out-chop the axe by about 10 to 1 even if the weight is exactly the same, since it'll hold a thin sharp edge and allow it to bite the wood.

We've considered some other options, ideally, you want to concentrate the maximum percentage of total weight into the head of the hatchet, but I don't think you can make one that's really effective for less than 12-16oz or so total weight, but that's just my opinion, and in doing that, ideally, you want to make it out of a material that has high toughness, but can take and hold a keen edge to leverage the aforementioned "bite".

Carbide impregnated Ti excels at cutting tasks (since it creates a microserrated edge), but performs poorly in impact tasks like chopping, due to the brittleness of tungsten and titanium carbide. It's also important to use an industrial quality spark depositor to create a deep/thick enough carbide layer to hold up to long term abuse.

Anyway, fun project no doubt, and man I wish I had access to a waterjet.