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What makes this hatchet from Stanley a carpenter’s hatchet? Probably the fact it has a hammer head rather than a flat for striking and a notch in the blade for pulling nails, but it’s still primarily designed for cutting wood and driving stakes.

Forged from one piece of steel and rim-tempered to prevent chipping, this 13″, 28oz. hatchet uses a tuning fork design to dampen vibrations, and the grip is covered with rubber to further cushion your hands.

Stanley’s hatchet will run you about $30. The solid metal construction and the anti-vibe technology make this look like a nice hatchet for camping even though it’s categorized as a carpenter’s hatchet — does anybody have any experience with this hatchet?

Carpenter’s Hatchet [Stanley]
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46 Responses to Carpenter’s Hatchet

  1. David Bryan says:

    I always heard that called a half-hatchet or rigging axe. I’ve got an Estwing and I love it. They used to be common as dirt for framing.

    • I have been reading what all you are saying about the RIGGING AXE, Well, let me just tell all of you, I stared in framing in Tulsa, OK back in 1972 just out of the U.S.Marines. I used my rigging axe for over 35 years till some one stole it from me in Memphis, TN. back then we tool safety as it was our life. I never knew of any one getting hurt by one. you get hurt mostly by horse playing or goofing off. all tools are danger-est if you play around with them doing Horse Play. I am now 67 and wish I still had one today

  2. Jerry says:

    The real issue I would have with this tool is that when using it as a hammer, you are swinging a sharp hatchet blade back towards yourself. I can see a huge potential for injury with this.

  3. fred says:

    @David Bryan:

    Half-hatchet it is – or was.
    Hatchets were common on jobsites when I started working. Plumb (now part of Cooper) was one common brand – and you saw folks using their Lath Hatchet (#3025) – their Shingler’s Hatchet (#565-1/2), and their Half Hatchet (FAPH2). Drywallers – also used a hatchet-like drywall hammer like the one made by Goldblatt which had a convex bulls-eye striking face – and a hatchet end opposite.

  4. David Bryan says:

    Jerry, how often do you hit yourself with your hammer claw?

  5. Michael says:

    For 30 bucks to can get a Estwing hatchet with a curved, ergonomic leather handle. Plus the round head would dig in to your side will getting to the campsite. There’s got to be a reason all the hatchets I’ve collected over the years have square heads.

  6. I’m with Jerry – at least if, by crazy accident, you hit yourself with a hammer claw, you’d still be around to feel stupid about it!

    • D. burns says:

      Any person that has ever framed professionally knows the danger issue with the axe is absurd if handled with respect. If you have to question this, you probably shouldn’t be using this tool or even a hammer for that matter.

  7. Dave P says:

    @ David Bryan:

    Pal, you drive enough nails and eventually it’ll happen to you. I’ve bopped myself pretty–a hatchet would leave a mark.

    More likely is I’d leave this thing on top of a ladder and end up dropping it on my head or foot.

  8. David Bryan says:

    I’m with you on that, Dave, but there’s a difference between “eventually it’ll happen” and “a huge potential for injury”. You’ve got to be careful with any tool.

  9. Jim says:

    I knew a guy once who hit himself square between the eye with one of these. Even since he has had a split personality!

  10. paganwonder says:

    Having driven tons of nails by hand I would say I never once came close to hitting my face/head with a claw or a hatchet. (kind of under the heading of cutting miles of lumber with saws and never cut myself, + shooting thousands of rounds and never shot myself)

    Years ago the only well balanced hammer framers could get were Rigging Axes so that was what we used- when balanced claw hammers became available most of us threw the Rigging Axe into the camping box because they drive tent stakes and split kindling.

    • Dan says:

      I have been framing for 4 years now and I use a stiletto but Im looking at theses rigging hammers and thinking it may be an awesome addition to the pouch for making quick notches and rough cuts when you don’t want to run and grab the saw… I kinda want to hear what somebody who has actually framed with one thinks about this. What are your thoughts ?

  11. Jerry says:

    Okay – now you make me feel stupid at best. How often do I hit myself with the claw on my hammer? you ask. Well, More than once for sure as I have a strange tendency to hammer in some odd places – under things, etc. I recall the pain I suffered swinging the hammer from up between my legs to hammer something under a ledge. The hammer “bounced” back and the claw hit my knee with some heavy force. I was on crutches for about 2 months. Maybe that memory is why I feel this way about the hatchet – I can visualize how much more damage a hatchet would have done – considering only the curved edge of the claw actually hit me. Believe me, I used some words that would make the toughest “toolmonger fan” blush!

  12. Dave P. says:

    I was looking at the face of my framing hammer one time, just hanging out after work. My wrist twitched real bad and whacked myself rightin the kisser–I broke my left incisor in HALF. My buddies were amazed, they thought I had done it on purpose.

    I still get crap about that and it’s been almost 8 years.

  13. David Bryan says:

    Shoot, Jerry, I should’ve said that different. With all the stupid things I’ve done to myself over the years you can’t be any stupider than I am. I think I might have even hit myself with my hammer claw somewhere in there– I guess my point was it just doesn’t happen real often, and same as you, I really would’ve had to work at it.

  14. Jim says:

    I do know? I may have to check snopes.com for some of these stories. If they are not on there, maybe they are destine to be…..

  15. Stan says:

    T one time when wood shakes were THE shingling product they used hammer backed axes for trimming the shingles as needed but those had knotches in the top for measuring the setback of each layer of shingles. I am not sure what you would use this for.

  16. Gough says:

    I think LarrY Haun writes about these in one of his books. About how they really became widely used in the building boom after WWII.

  17. browndog77 says:

    Rigger’s axes were the go to tool during the post-war tool building boom Gough speaks of, and they remained popular in areas where a lot of rough-sawn lumber was (is) used. The axe is used more as a hewing tool or chisel than as a cutting axe. A high spot on a beam or rafter could be dealt with “up in the sticks”, rather than sending something back down to the sawyer. NOT the tool to use in tight spaces or close company!

  18. Josh says:

    I have an old one that I use for camping; great for pounding in tent stakes (as well as pulling them out) as well as chopping fire wood etc. A tip though is to wrap some reflective tape around the handle so you can easily find it around the campfire at night.

  19. k says:

    Jerry, maybe you should stick to accounting then. 🙂

  20. Terry says:

    When I started framing in the early 1980’s quite a few carpenters still used rigging axes out west. Some of the older guys had hammers(rigging axes) with the ax head cut off and the straight claws of a less balanced hammer welded on. They called them California Specials. Later, these modified profile hammers were produced by makers like Vaughan, Hart, Dalluge and Stiletto. The framing rigging ax is not seen much anymore. I have one and it is still quite useful framing trusses or rafters. Mine is an old post war Plumb Victory octagon hatchet head (24oz) that I re-handled. It had a smooth face so I used a dremel tool to cut in serrations. I keep the ax sharp so I can trim high spots etc. It has awesome balance and is great for hand-nailing facia….the blade makes a quick straight edge! I’ve used it for 22 years. It makes me smile each time I use it. No 20 something kid with a $125 titanium hammer can out drive my old rigging ax & me!

  21. matthew says:

    I think I would fire someone for buying a 125 dollar hammer as it would show they had zero sense!

    • christian says:

      So what you are saying is that you would fire someone for buying something that will increase there comfort at work which will then minimize fatigue. My framing setup is worth about 700 dollars and that includes a stiletto and that makes me a lesser carpenter? Give your head a shake.

  22. David Johnston says:

    I started framing with my cousin in 1981. we framed customs and tracks in Thousand oaks & westlake village,back in the best of days. a rigging axe was a sign of pride in quality, craftsmanship, & knowledge of our trade. only the studs of framing had them. A rigging axe, your bags which were all leather,a skill saw and the heavy cords that looked so cool in our trucks spread over our tools and the longest level you could buy. tool shack & t.o.tools was the place to be. Ah yes the days of the rigging axe brings back fond memories. Thank guys, for this moment of reflection.

    • John Lewis says:

      Riggers axe is the way to go. Like my uncle told me “it’s all in the wrist set it then sink it next. If I draw back over my shoulder the sharp end will be facing forward & you better run.

    • Terry says:

      David I like your comment that the use of a rigging ax was a sign of pride in quality etc. I started summer of ’82 framing a tract of FHA apartments in Utah. I started with a Plumb ax until I tried a Vaughn. We had this “old guy” then who had heavy custom bags, a pony tail, John Lennon glasses and a 6 1/2″ wormdrive with a 12 gauge 100′ cord. He was bad ass and funny. Good memories!

      • Larry Grubbs says:

        Yep. So sad almost all those guys are gone now. They made this country great. I really miss the good ole days.

  23. A.D. Hopkins says:

    That isn’t a carpenter’s hatchet. A carpenter’s hatchet is ground on one side of the blade only, so the other side has no bevel and can be used to hew something perfectly flat, like a plank. Some look somewhat like this with a hammer head but some are shaped more like a felling ax or camping hatchet, with a broader, square surface on the poll opposite the cutting edge, and this flat surface is used for hammering.

    • JoeP says:

      What’s amusing is that – although the item is discontinued – Stanley themselves explicitly identified this as a carpenter’s hatchet lol (Stanley 54-023 FatMax AntiVibe Carpenters Hatchet).

      It’s just a standard half-hatchet with a round neck and a round poll. No mystery there. But what you’re describing sounds like a single-bevel flooring hatchet.

  24. A.D. Hopkins says:

    I believe tool collectors call the hatchet shown a “lathing hatchet.” What made it such was the top of the cutting edge extending no higher than the hammer head. When hammering nails to attach lathing to support the plaster that came later, this design allowed one to drive the nails up close to the ceiling beams without interference. There was little likelihood of striking one’s own face with the blade because this was not a job that required mighty blows, but a light, sure touch. What used to be called a “common hatchet” had a blade that flared upward higher than the hammer head, but because it had the advantage of being a handier hammer, and no disadvantage I can think of, the lathing hatchet became the most common hatchet in most tool chests, and the so-called “common hatchet” is uncommon. Since plaster has been replaced by wallboard I doubt anybody uses a lathing hatchet for lathing anymore, but it’s a real handy general purpose light axe.

  25. David Johnston says:

    Thanks Terry, The mention of a 6 1/2″ wormdrive. Didnt carpenters use the lighter 6 1/2 saw with a 7 1/4″ blade ?

    • Terry says:

      David it sounds like we both had similar backgrounds. Pro Framers used 6 1/2″ skil wormdrives because they were lighter. They cut 2x material fine but would not cut 2x material on a 45º. So guys put a 7 1/4″ blade in their saw. Problem: the bigger blade cleared the saw housing by 1/8″ but would hit the guard. So as I remember guys removed the saw guard. Even back then a big OSHA no no. We used to “pin back” our guards and learned to roll the blade away from yourself as we laid the saw sideways on the ground. It was and still is a pain to cut 45º Bevels with the guard in place. With advances in wormdrives being lighter and having improved guards its just the way we did things back in the day. Btw I still have the same Skil 77 wormdrive from 1982. Its been rebuilt and still work great! Don’t get me started on the new 77s made in China.

      • David Johnston says:

        Terry, you nailed it !
        Does anyone remember fingering nails ?
        A handfull of 16’s in one hand & carefully rolling one by one down your fingers to be set & one hit driven into lumber by your rigging axe ?

  26. kev says:

    Been framing with the crib axe for 25 yrs. when we where building houses without air tools,would ne lost without it. once you learn all its uses it’ll be the best tool you have, have only used the plumb and vaughan crib axe, not sure about the steel handle for lots of hammering

  27. Terry says:

    Hand driving 16d GVS nails to frame houses etc. was once a necessity. When I started Duofast, Bostich, Paslode and Senco made framing nailers BUT they were damn heavy and had lousy safeties. A carpenter with skill, good bags and a rigging ax could keep up with a guy with a nailer. He was less tired at days end too. I liked to index my sinkers heads forward in my left bag. I nailed with a easy three swing rhythm. Set,one two. I found a light set and a heavy blow was not very smooth. A set and two medium swings was better. By the late 80s, Hitachi brought there excellent nailer and axes started disappearing. I bought a 24oz Dalluge hammer and framed dozens of houses. Now I use a Hardcore 19oz hammer. I break the ax out for facia, rafters and floor joists.

  28. Fishman says:

    Back in my framing days I used a 28 oz Rigging axe for years. The hachet was used to cut off floor joist and rafter ends after you set your rafters. The hammer had a big serrated head and I could set then drive a 16 C nail in one swing, did it all day long, this was before air nailers, we were making 10 cents a square ft framing walls including building your own corners, t’s, headers, and cripples, Worked our arses off and made good money for that place and time. I did bust my thumb from time to time but never hit my self in the head.

  29. Chris Jaeger says:

    You could tell the guys who came up from California by their shorts and framing axes (not to mention they would start packing up at the first sign of rain), they were sent home for “long pants” and a proper hammer with a smooth face that would not damage the material…most the older guys wore overalls and made fun of the aprons the younger guys wore, early 1980’s

  30. Gina says:

    Best Garden Tool ever!

  31. Brad says:

    Interesting read. Carpenter for nearly 50 years. My dad and brother also. My father used a Plumb rig his entire life. He started in NM right after the war. My brother too used one for years. I never got used to the handle, always a Vaughan guy. Started hand nailing spaced roof sheeting with 28oz as an apprentice.
    My dad would use the axe to chop nails instead of pulling them. He was a stacker, back when every roof was conventional. Great tool for clipping corners off ceiling joist. Ran into one guy, a joister, who would buy axes by the dozen. He would always have extras in his truck in case he broke a handle. My dad bought 6 or 8 heads from him and handled them. Some were like new, Very little wear on the waffle. Good steel.
    Ahh the memories. Did the 6.5 with the 7.5 blade. Removed the guard. Skyhooks. Roof cutters with chippers, swing tables, sidewinder and 20 inch skilsaws. Gas and wax for box nails. The PU loaded with cords, ladders and levels.
    Still have an American Skil, Vaughan and can finger nails. Still use a 24 oz to pound walls together. I am 64 and started in construction when I was 15.
    Found this site looking for a Plumb.

  32. Jeff says:

    I used a Plumb that a California frammer had and suggested for me in 1978 Kansas. Moved to Houston in 1982 and the nail gun took over. Broke the handle on my Plumb when I broke it out on the job one day. Wish I still had it. Loved the rig & axe!

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