What is the Difference Between Hatchets and Tomahawks?

Hatchets look similar to tomahawks but they are not identical. Tomahawks have removable heads and are best for cutting wood. Hatchets are heavier, have shorter curved handles.

Hatchet and tomahawk have been used interchangeably for some time now as though they mean the same thing.



The Native American Indians traditionally used tomahawk. Tomahawk made it from a well-shaped stone with a wooden handle. It was used for cutting, hunting, chopping, or generally as a weapon. The current tomahawk is made from very dense metal on the head and a wooden handle. When used as a weapon, it better functions when thrown or used to block blows from an attacker. Their weight is generally low, and so it can easily be thrown to hit an attacker. They fly quickly, especially when thrown with a lot of force.

The present-day tomahawk is well defined. The head is well crafted to suit its purposes. Different blacksmiths have, however, come up with different head styles to fit different purposes. This has resulted in three different types of tomahawk as follows:

Single blade

This version looks like a thin hatchet whose blade is one-sided. You can only use a single side to do your cutting. This tells you that it is not so effective to be used as a weapon. It can, however, be depended upon for hunting and woodcutting.

Double blade

This version is relatively less common. It looks like a double-sided ax. Both sides of its blade are sharp. It can well be used for a weapon and hunting as well as other domestic purposes.

Single blade with a spike

This one looks more like a single-blade version. It has only one sharp side. However, it has an additional beard section that can be used to penetrate surfaces. Hunters prefer to use this version due to this penetrative end. It adds value to the tomahawk.

The head of the tomahawk is removable. This is made possible due to the long and slender handle, which can easily be removed and replaced whenever necessary. Additionally, in most cases, you will see an additional rope to the handle to keep the head from slipping.

Pros of tomahawk

For those who do not know the difference between tomahawk and hatchet, these are the common factors that make tomahawk to be more prioritized;

It is lightweight

It has three blade and two handle options

Its head is removable

Best for hunting and cutting wood


However, the tomahawk is too light, so it is not suitable for any form of heavy work.





Hatchet is known for harder work than just hunting. It is used as a weapon even though it can be used for other lighter work than the tomahawk can be used for. Its head is relatively heavier with a thick and bulky handle. When used for cutting wood, the heavy head exerts the needed weight to make the cutting easier. Its shorter handle gives significant power for the work and better control. Unlike the tomahawk, the head is permanent, and so you cannot keep changing the handles as you would wish.

Features of the hatchet

Heavier head than handle

If you keenly monitor the head and the handle, you will realize that more weight is coming from the head. This is regardless of whether the head is made up of stone or metal. This is what enables it to be used for very heavy work. It doesn’t matter the type of wood that the tool is made to break. It will break it as long as enough force is applied. This is not the case for the tomahawk, which can easily break when exposed to a lot of force.

Very short handle

If you compare it with the tomahawk, you will easily notice that it has a very short handle. Well, the short handle is for a purpose. It is easy to exert a lot of pressure when the handle is shorter than with a longer handle. The shorter handle, therefore, makes this hatchet to be more effective. The short handle is also thicker to sustain lots of force.

It has a curvy handle.

The handle of the hatchet is not also straight as that of the tomahawk. It is curvy, and so gives direction on the use. You can easily thrush the right force into the wood to cut it with a single hit.

Double and single blade versions

Like the tomahawk, this tool also comes with two blade versions. It can either be a single-blade version or a double-blade. It is, therefore, the user to choose the type of blade that can work best for your purpose. If you need a hatchet a weapon, the double blade version can be best for you.

The head is permanent.

This feature also differentiates the hatchet from the tomahawk. The head and the handle are well fused such that they cannot be separated. Even during sharpening, the two remain together. This means that if one of the parts gets destroyed, then the tool’s lifespan shall have been fully lived.

Pros of hatchet

The dense weight allows for a variety of heavy works

The handle is ergonomic hence prevents the hands from collecting sweat when being used

Its blade is very thick and so effective for splitting wood

The permanent connection guarantees safety to the user


It only has a single standard length of the handle