Hatchet vs. Axe: What is the Difference?

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Many people do not know the difference between a hatchet and an axe.

It is important to do your research on these two items, as this could prevent you from choosing the wrong tool for a specific job.

There are many different types of axes, such as the regular axe, the hand axe, and the camping axe.

The main difference between these axes is their sizes.

You may think that there is one simple answer, but there are actually quite a few differences.

The shaft size, head shape, head weight, purpose, shaft design, and portability are all defining features that differ between these two tools.

Differences Between Axes And Hatchets

Here are the main differences that you will find between hatchet vs axe.

Shaft Size

The hand axe is about two-thirds the length of a regular axe, whereas the hatchet is half the size of a hand axe.

The different shaft sizes enable different cutting abilities, cutting angles, and leverages for the different tools. For example, if you wanted to chop down a tree, an axe would be far more appropriate than a hatchet.

Head Shape

The head shape of an axe and a hatchet are similar but still different.

Some hatchets are designed with a hammer on the back side of the blade head. However, an axe will not include this, as true axes aren’t intended for hammering.

The hatchet has a narrow head, a small body, and a large cutting blade. This enables the hatchet to cut against the grain of the wood more effectively and efficiently.

The head of an axe is larger and only tapers slightly from the edge of the axe blade to the back of the head. You can also find a double-edged axe.

The one side of the axe normally has a thicker and more obtuse angle, whereas the other side is thinner and sharper. Double-sided axes are normally used to get a job done more quickly.

Hatchet vs. Axe

Head Weight

The head weight of a regular axe is the largest. It can weigh two to three times the weight of a hand axe head. The hatchet weighs half the weight of a hand axe and six times less than a regular axe.


Each tool is also meant for different purposes. The regular axe can be used for many different jobs, ranging from chopping firewood to cutting down large trees.

The hand axe is used for intermediate chopping jobs, and the hatchet is meant for lighter tasks, such as cutting small tree limbs.

Shaft Design

Metal handles are commonly found on the shaft of a hatchet, but you are very unlikely to find an axe that has a metal handle.

More so, the shaft of a hatchet is normally curved forward. Hand axe shafts may be slightly angled, but they tend to extend at a 90-degree angle to the head of the axe.


Hatchets are the most portable of all the tools mentioned. As mentioned before, hatchets are lighter and shorter than axes. They can be strapped to a belt holster and carried with you wherever you go.

However, the same cannot be said for the axe. If you tried strapping an axe to your belt holster, it would constantly be hitting your knees and shins because the regular axe is much longer than the hatchet.

It is also much heavier, which would make it even more of a nuisance to carry around. Even hand and camping axes aren’t meant to be taken with you when you are on the move.