Ax vs Hatchet- Is Ax the same as a hatchet?

A simple tool such as an ax or hatchet is a prerequisite for simple wood DIY projects. But how do you know which of the two best suits a particular task? What are the main differences between an ax and vs. hatchet? Join us for an explicit elaboration on the ax vs. hatchet debate. 

Axe vs. Hatchet: Definition

An Ax on a tree stump

Fig 1: An Ax on a tree stump

An ax is arguably one of the most common wood-cutting tools, weighing over 3 pounds. It features a handle measuring between 20 and 36 inches. Also, an ax has a hardy metal wedge with a sharp blade, allowing you to cut through hard objects such as trees effortlessly. 

On the other hand, a hatchet resembles an ax in almost all aspects. However, it is a miniature ax weighing between 1 and 3 pounds. Its handle is also relatively smaller than an ax, measuring between 12 and 18 inches. 

Besides, a hatchet has a smaller shaft but a heavier blade than a regular ax. Furthermore, you’ll spot a V-shaped cut on a hatchet’s blade, which separates it from other ax types. 

Differences between an Axe and Hatchet

A Hatchet

Fig 2: A Hatchet

There are two remarkable similarities between an ax and a hatchet. 

  • First, we apply both in cutting wood. 
  • Secondly, both have steelheads and a wooden handle, though lately, there have been some with composite handles. 

But, there are several striking differences between an ax and hatchet parts, as we’ll highlight below. 


A man holding a hatchet in one hand

Fig 3: A man holding a hatchet in one hand

A hatchet has a remarkably short shaft measuring between 12 to 18 inches. Fundamentally, the hatchet’s design allows use with one hand. Hence, its shaft has a characteristic curve that aids in enhancing grip. 

Conversely, depending on the design, the ax has a lengthier shaft than a hatchet, measuring between 18 and 34 inches. Nonetheless, you can still find an ax with a shaft the same size as a hatchet. 

In addition, the ax’s shaft has relatively strong wood compared to a hatchet. Finally, most ax shafts are at a 90 degrees inclinations to the head, and you’ll rarely come across those at an acute angle. 


 An ax head on a wooden shaft

Fig 4: An ax head on a wooden shaft

Again, the hatchet and ax heads appear similar. Both heads are heavy-duty metal, as both tools’ primary role is to cut wood. 

Nonetheless, there are significant unique features that differentiate the two. The head measures about 5 to 7 inches in length for most axes. Axes also have a relatively short bit.

Conversely, a hatchet has a shorter blade, while its tapered head is longer than an ax’s. 

Furthermore, an ax’s head features a wedge shape and differs from a hatchet’s v-shaped cut. A hatchet is a piercing rather than a direct-cutting tool like an ax. Hence the v-shaped end ensures it can easily penetrate wood making the tool ideal for ax-throwing competitions. 

The Poll Side

A hatchet’s poll resembles a hammer

Fig 5: A hatchet’s poll resembles a hammer

A hatchet’s butt or poll features a hammer-like head. Ideally, this will assist you during camping expeditions (probably in driving nails or setting up a tent). On the flip side, an ax’s poll is not suited to hammering, and in double-bladed axes, the poll has a blade. 


Again, since the ax is relatively bigger than a hatchet, it weighs more. An average ax weighs about 3lbs while a hatchet is lighter, weighing between 1 and 3lbs. 

An ax is heavier to improve its power during cutting. A hatchet is a more versatile tool that ought to be lightweight and easy to carry around. 


An Ax is useful in felling trees.

Fig 6: An Ax is useful in felling trees.

An ax is primarily for cutting down (felling) trees and splitting firewood. They are also customized axes that are handy in shaping wood by carpenters. Lastly, miniature axes are ideal for ax-throwing competitions.

On the other hand, a hatchet is for cutting softwood and is a versatile tool you shouldn’t miss while camping. You can use it to clear trails, hunt, and even break the ice. Besides, a hatchet is relatively sharp. Hence, you can use it to fight off wild animals while camping. 

Comparison Chart: Axe vs. Hatchet

Below is a summarized comparison between an ax and a hatchet. 


In summary, an ax is the most popular wood-cutting tool. Its characterized by a long wooden shaft, and its head has a wedge-shaped bit. In contrast, a hatchet resembles an ax but is smaller. It features a sharper edge best suited for cutting softwood, piercing, and hunting. 

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