tomahawks vs hatchets?

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Birdman

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was pondering a bit n wondered if sometimes carrying a hatchet may be more authentic then carrying a tomahawk. Technicly they are different, but both can be used in very simaler ways, my thought was if your a farmer/townie even someone like a station hunter n ya head out hunting, trapping or whatever for a couple weeks would you have carried a hawk or hatchet. the hawk I think we see as more of a weapon n the hatchet as a tool even though they are more or less interchangeable for use.Never really paid that much attention reading to back up either one completely. hmmm I gotta quit asking myself these questions LOL, MORE REASERCH-- anybody got any opinions?
 

Rifleman1776

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Keep in mind, frontier folks didn't have much in the way of goods. A farmer likely had an axe and, maybe, a hatchet. He would have carried what he had.
 

Trench

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I've often wondered the same thing. In 1807, when the Indiana Territorial Rangers were formed, one of the items each man had to supply himself was a tomohawk. Made me wonder how easy to get they were if you didn't have one to begin with.
 

Jim Blair

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One wonders when they mention about the equipment and each man supplying himself with a tomahawk what the criteria was for that item.Something other than a full sized axe?A hatchet?A belt size axe?Or whatever they had.
 

Claude Mathis

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I've been under the impression and I've heard others say, that an "belt ax" or "hatchet" was a utilitarian tool and a "tomahawk" was a weapon. Different shapes, weights and designed to perform different tasks. Of course, the terms are interchanged in casual conversation.
 

BrownBear

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Speaking from the practical side, having used both for the same jobs, the tomahawk barely substitutes for a hatchet or belt axe. Might be much better as a fighting tool, but that's speculation on my part. I used to carry a hawk and try using that for camp chores, but pretty much gave it up. Maybe a big one will a pole, but not a typical hawk.
 

Rod Lassey

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When driving a trap stake, one works really well, the other you'll smack your hand with :haha:

I've always favored a half-axe, I suppose it could be called a hatchet, but it's somewhat bigger and heavier than those 'trekkers hatchets' like the so-called Ft. Meigs variety. Not as bulky as a full sized axe, but can handle some bigger jobs (felling medium sized trees, pounding in trap stakes) that would be difficult with anything smaller.

Rod
 

Jim Blair

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Very true.As others mention a tomahawk makes a poor chopping tool in most cases and a hatchet/axe doesn't make a really good handling weapon.Although if one goes back aways and looks at some of the medieval or even Viking woodworking hand axes they look to have more in common with a tomahawk than an 18th or 19th century hatchet.I always liked the 18th century British Light Infantry hatchets as an example of what a dual purpose tool/weapon would/should look like.LOL Then there's those naval boarding axes,made for chopping arms,legs,or shroud lines with equal facility.
 

fatboy

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Just my opinion but it seems your tomahawk had a longer handle and was a better fighting weapon because of that and the weight of the head you could strike quicker. Not a perfect camp tool but some of those probably didnt own both . A hatchet, belt ax shorter handle a some what heavier head and wider profile is good for camp work, butchering not maybe as good a fighting tomahawk but could and I bet was used as a fighting tool also or would have been if it needed to be. I belt ax with a bit longer handle and head modified would be maybe a better dual purpose but these are my ideas LOL sorry
 

aflineman

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New to this reenactment stuff, but this subject is something I thought on as a younger man. I have always been fascinated with swords and fighting knives, but I have much more experience with an axe or hatchet. If I needed an edged weapon, I would probably grab a smaller "camp" axe that I have before I would ever grab a tomahawk. I kinda figure it might be the same for someone of the time frame when wood was a primary heating source. While a tomahawk might be a more convenient weapon, I figure that someone would grab and use what they were more familiar with swinging. Unless they had trained with a tomahawk, that might tend to be an woods axe or hatchet of some sort.
Just food for thought, and not based upon any real history, just my ramblings.
 

tiger955

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I am kind of new at this but could one of you more experienced gents provide a more detailed description of the differences between a hawk and a hatchet? Perhaps even a pic of the 2 items from the same era side by side.
Most of the guys in my club throw hawks, they are all modern manufacture and look pretty similar, and I have and use modern hatchets most of my life. I have no idea what an 1800's hatchet would look like. I always thought hatchet and tomahawk were different names for the same item, only styles/ shapes have changed over the years.
 

necchi

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tiger955 said:
one of you more experienced gents provide a more detailed description of the differences between a hawk and a hatchet?
Yeah I'm curious too, cause I'm not really sure.

I always thought the difference was the way the handle affixed to the head.
The tomahawk having the tear drop for a slide in handle easily whittled in the feild,,
and the hatchet needing a pushed in handle with a wedge or "welded" metal handle??
 

Claude Mathis

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In my opinion and in very general terms.

A belt ax (hatchet) is heavier and designed to chop wood.



A tomahawk can have a longer handle and is lighter for ease of use when fighting. The head shape is not designed to cut wood, but rather to kill.

 

Jim Blair

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To get back to the OPs original question,what would have been more likely/authentic to be carried by a farmer or hunter going to the timber hunting or even called up for militia duty,a hatchet or tomahawk?The differences and usages between the two are obvious,which one historicaly would have been the most common for Mr.Average to have owned.Were the terms interchangeably used during the period?
 
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