Introduction: The Real Axe for Men

Picture of The Real Axe for Men

Survival is always been one of my favorite topics on this site - besides paper, flowers, jewelry, pets & how-to-ease-hard-hangovers. One of those personal thoughts that is always coming back is 'If I had only one tool to choose, what would it be?'.

The question has been answered a long time ago. It's a beer bottle opener, of course.
KIDDING! - of course it's a decent pocket knife. Put that tool in the hands of a skilled woodsman and you've got the receipt of a long and happy life.

But then a second question came: 'What if I could take just one 'gadget' with me?'. So we're talking about the second place in the top chart of stuff you're happy to have when left alone in mother nature's eden.
A nightmare to many, a wet dream for me.
This could be a fire starter, a handkerchief to whip the tears or the 'Suicide For Dummies' bestseller.

Let's go on, while we're havin' fun. Third place! A length of paracord? Fishing gear? Or an alphorn?

To me, it's definitely an axe. Or - let's keep it minimalistic - just an axe head.

I love axes. But before I continue with this I'd like to unload a few thoughts about survival in general.

Where I live, survival is often seen as something for well-trained testosteron-trickling guys, armed with pointy weapons. It's maybe weird and also a bit sad, but that's just the way most people see it over here. Weird, because every survivalist knows that The Survivalist is completely opposite to this image. It's not the strongest who'll make it to the end. It's the smartest.

I believe - but who am I - that survival is all about knowledge & creativity. Knowing which root you can eat and where & when to find it. Being capable to adapt in function of given circumstances. Dealing with the tools you have instead of searching the impossible. Being able to do everything with nothing. Having learned how to use nature instead of fearing it. Survival is all in the head. Survival is about opportunism. Survival is about experience and taking your time to explore your environment. Dissolving in nature. Learning to see, rather than running around as some constipated ostrich with a poor made spear in your hand.

Survival can be a perfect family-activity. Gathering & passive hunting instead of wasting energy chasing an occasional rabbit - or waiting for hours by the river to spear a fish. The only things that count is protecting yourself (from whatever danger) & assuring your daily dose of calories - which is also a way to protect yourself, in this case the loss of strength. There's no reason why you shouldn't be able to do this in family-style. The kids will learn more life skills in one 'survival' day than during one week at school, but that's another discussion...

One last statement: I don't like the kind of high-tech-style survival. If you think you need all those nice gadgets to live, I bet you'll be crying for your mom after a few days. Thrust in yourself, not in your equipment.

All that to say that you don't need a lot of gear to survive 'in the wild'. A good knife can be enough, in fact.

Or an axe.

I love axes, like I said.

I experienced that it's better to have a pocket knife & an axe than one nice big outdoor knife. With a small knife you can do a lot of food- and gear-related precision work. With an axe you can gather supplies to build a shelter, build a boat or dig a grave for that hich-tech-survalist that didn't make it.

In fact, I love axes that much that I always would have one with me. But, in our urban jungle walking with an axe is not (yet) really accepted. People look strange. Children start to cry. Policemen point guns at you - or throw tear gass. And most women refuse a second date.

This world has become cruel.

So a while ago I searched a way to save the goat AND the cabbage.

'Why not integrating an axe blade in a buckle?' I thought.

I googled 'Axe Buckle'. I got everything, except a buckle that also was an axe.

I felt lonely, suddenly. It seemed that I was the only person in the world who would feel the need to marry both. And though, it's simple, easy & useful. Most women won't even see, most policemen won't even remark - just wave boyz - and if the need's there the only thing you have to do is organising a stick, which can't be a big deal with that pocket knife.

One idea led to another and a few weeks ago I came up with this project.

Hope you like it. And if you don't - I really don't care, anyway.

Step 1: Gettin' Supplies

Picture of Gettin' Supplies

For this project you'll need a cheap, lightweight axe and one metal profile. That's it.
Note: the width of this profile has to be the same as the width of the axe.

The concept:
With the profile you'll make a kind of 'slot' for the axe head.
This slot will be fixed to a leather belt.
Both pieces together will act as a buckle.

Step 2: Clean It Up

Picture of Clean It Up

The idea is that if you ever need to use this tool you surely will find a way to sharpen it.
So, safety first, grind the cutting edge.
Exit handle.
Great chance you'll have to do some symmetry adjustments: grind!
Exit paint.

You can decorate it, or not. I experimented with some 'dirty grinder etching'...
You can also try it this way - but I'm far too impatient for that...

Step 3: Preparing the 'kork'

Picture of Preparing the 'kork'

Make a piece of wood that fits exactly in the core of the axe.
In this piece you'll insert a love-less bolt later that will hold the screws from the slot in place.

Step 4: Shaping the Slot

Picture of Shaping the Slot

The idea is that you barely may remark the housing of the axe.
So, place the axe in the profile, don't forget to count the thickness of the belt & grind away what doesn't look like a slot.
At the end, it'll look like the first picture.

Step 5: The Lucky Lip

Picture of The Lucky Lip

This is not a buckle like others.
This one works with a spring, instead of just a small hook.
Easy as Hotel California - I used a piece of aluminium, riveted to the slot.
A lonesome rivet acts as lock.
To activate the slot: pull the lip backwards.

Dirty, but functional.

Step 6: Assembling

Picture of Assembling

Find a nice leather belt - or recycle a bicycle-tire - and rivet it to the slot.
You might be forced to enlarge the holes.

Step 7: The AXE Effect

Picture of The AXE Effect

Put the kork of the axe in place.
Put the axe in the slot.
Drill a hole through the sides of the slot, through the kork.
Take the axe out, enlarge the hole & put a love-less bolt inside.
Put the axe back in the slot
Screw those screws though the sides, right into the bolt.

You're done!

Step 8: The Real Axe

Picture of The Real Axe

To make the axe: release the screws.
Cut down a nice piece of hazel.
Flatten the DOWNSIDE (the thickest). So NOT like the first one ;)
Insert the axe head.
Split the top with a pocket knife.
Insert a wedge of harder wood (or recycle the original iron nut).
Smash with a boulder.

Congrats, I bet you're the only one with an axe when that plane crashes. Or if you don't survive, at least you made some people happy...

Enjoy & use it well!


Lugfg001 (author)2015-09-22

This is probably too late but how long, wide, and thick is the axe? I'll understand if i asked this question too late.

wobbler (author)2015-07-16

Nice result, but doesn't it make it difficult to walk with an axe handle down your trouser leg?

bricobart (author)wobbler2015-07-16

Having already balls of steel made it a lot easier, though...

jackowens (author)2015-07-15

Your creativity is amazing!

WilliamB6 (author)2014-11-23

I need one.Beautiful work and ingenious.

Jake_Makes (author)2014-09-25

just thinkin, but if you are going to use it as a belt it can't be sharp, but if you want to use it as an axe it has to be. Sharpening stone belt buckle anyone? hahaha

Jake_Makes (author)2014-09-25

nice and heavy, intstead of holding your pants up, your belt will pull them down! ;)

Tarun Upadhyaya (author)2014-05-30

Congratulations !! Mate on your winning . I knew that you gonna win :).

Thanx friend, it was one of the funniest projects I ever worked on! But still my wife doesn't want me to wear it outside our garden ;)

jjdebenedictis (author)bricobart2014-08-20

All manly practicality and survivalist wiles aside, this is actually a really beautiful belt buckle. She SHOULD let you wear it around! :D

Ha will survive your garden without this for sure :)

bricobart (author)2014-05-28

To everyone who voted for this project in the first Survival Contest ever: thanx a lot, your appreciation, support & comments meant a lot. Have a great summer everyone & don't forget that axe wherever you go. Zombieproof, also.

heathbar64 (author)2014-05-24

Well I don't love axes as much as you, but I do totally agree with you that it is the smart who survive! Survival is not a game you play in the woods, it's life. It's a mindset.

bricobart (author)heathbar642014-05-28

Thàt's exactly what I try to explain to those non-believers over here! ;)

tjones74 (author)2014-05-22

great instructable looks great and functional cant ask for more lol i think im going to make one of these thanks for posting you got my vote best of luck

bricobart (author)tjones742014-05-23

Thanx my friend! It would be an even bigger pleasure to see your result! Good luck, and let me know!

precision (author)2014-05-16

I think this is a
great idea, you've put a lot of work and thought into it. This is the
kind of ible that even if you don't make the exact thing yourself, it
inspires other ideas. Keep it up!

bricobart (author)precision2014-05-19

Thanx, it was just pure fun to build it ;)

gravityisweak (author)2014-04-24

I imagine a belt with more than 1 buckle, that comes apart into multiple smaller belts. Each buckle is a different piece of survival gear!

Madrigorne (author)gravityisweak2014-05-07

sounds very Batman. I like it.

bricobart (author)gravityisweak2014-04-24

Feel free to customise it your way, I'm lookin' forward to see your versions! ;)

plecat (author)2014-05-01

Great 'ible!! I love tomahawks, because they are lighter weight. The belt buckle idea is super! Remember because of the lightness to make a longer handle...about 24 inches. It won't take down a tree without a lot of time, but most of what we need can be done with sticks less than 2" diameter. It's perfect for these and weighs about a third as much. Can be sharpened to 15 degrees too! Pawlie

bricobart (author)plecat2014-05-02

Thanx pawlie! I experimented with a handle of two feet (you see it on the pics) and it took me less then 10 minutes to fell a tree of 7 inches - with a razorsharp blade, wellunderstood. More then approved for any outdoor situation ;)

jvaupel (author)2014-04-27

very creative!! Thanks for sharing! This is a great way to carry an indispensable tool.

bricobart (author)jvaupel2014-05-02

Thank you!

AllenInks (author)2014-04-30

So.... wouldn't it be better to carry a battery operated, metal depositing 3-D printer, and laptop computer.....and supplies. Then you could make the perfect tool for whatever task is at hand: big knife, small knife, axe, fishhook, firearm (though I understand gunpowder is kind of hard to print....), or termite-proof tent stake. I think you can even take it through airport security....though maybe not if you have "bad" files on your computer.


It's a pretty design on your belt buckle. Thanks for the 'ible.

bricobart (author)AllenInks2014-05-01

You forgot the bacon! A bacon-printer, thàt's what we need!! ;) Thanx to put me on the way, I'm rushin' to get the supplies!

dropkick (author)2014-04-28

I carry a hatchet when I'm in the woods. I usually carry a pocket knife also, but for some reason I keep losing them. So I got in the habit of using the hatchet in place of a knife for most things. I clean fish with it. Chop up veggies for dinner. Plus I chop and split wood for the cook fire.

I have a 2-sided round stone designed for axe sharpening that I use to keep it sharp (though I have occasionally used a river rock). I have the hatchet sharpened closer to a 15 degree angle than a 25 or 30 you'd normally have on an axe because of how I use it. I try to sharpen it every night when using it to keep a good edge on it (It's actually kind of relaxing sitting around sharpening in the evening).

bricobart (author)dropkick2014-04-28

I know that feeling - it's even better with a machete! Enjoy the onion chips & the long camp fires... ;)

kidharris (author)2014-04-27

I don't get it. If you are going to make another piece of wood to put in the axe, why not just cut the handle off and leave the wood in?

Better yet, just take an old axe head from a broken axe for free, sharpen it. make a sheath (with a holder for a sharpening stone or small file) to fit on your belt, fill the handle hole with matches, fishing line & hooks, water purification tablets, tiny compass, & whatever first aid stuff you can cram in there. Too practical?

bricobart (author)kidharris2014-04-27

I'm sure you never tried to separate an axe blade from it's handle ;) It just fits like hell! Instead of being confronted with the problem of getting that stucked piece of wood out of its iron home - after the plane crash, wellunderstood - I prefered to do this job safely in a controlled environment. The 'kork' I made goes easily in & out - in contrast with its predecessor...

kidharris (author)bricobart2014-04-28

I'm 63 yo and grew up using axes to clear woods for pasture on a farm and I have replaced many axe, pics, sledge hammer, etc... handles. On axes & hammers, the hole for the handle is slightly tapered with the handle side being the small side and the side with the wedge being the large side. Once the handle is cut off you simply drive it out from the handle (small) side, actually rather quick & easy (you must have tried to drive it the wrong way). If it has an iron wedge, you can usually reuse the iron wedge on the new handle or make a new one from a piece of hardwood. My grandpa taught me to use a piece of broken glass to scrape off very thin shavings off of the handle to achieve a perfect fit of the handle to the implements head. You drag the glass backwards at roughly 90 degrees to the wood. If you hand carve a new handle you would be wise to cut a thin notch for the wedge, with a saw, to help prevent the handle from splitting.

I think that, maybe, this is your first axe and you probably haven't even used it, before you ruined it. Oh well, it didn't look like an axe that I would want, anyway. Cut down a few thousand small branches and then tell me I'm wrong. You are going to want a bigger axe if you want to cut trees. BTW, make sure to carry a small file in your back pocket, because you will want to touch up the edge several times a day, the metal on most axe blades is pretty soft.

bricobart (author)kidharris2014-04-28

Actually I choose to remove the handle by just removing the iron nut, liberating the pressure in the axe blade. Like you said, a few smashes on the long side were enough to drive the handle out of the blade. Advantage of this method: the handle is reusable.

About the axe itself: it IS a horrible wood axe, I agree. But for this project it just had the perfect design - I also didn't want to ruin one of my 'good' axes I daily use (see pics).

Thanx for your comment, and enjoy the axing friend!

kidharris (author)kidharris2014-04-27

PS. If you go any where that there is any decent security, they will probably take your belt (you have a heavy sharp cornered weight attached to a strap that would make a dangerous slinging type weapon), so make sure you wear tight pants so they don't fall down.

Zergling_pack (author)kidharris2014-04-27

I thought that same part about just cutting off the existing handle, I couldn't see why he couldn't have done it. Also that's a great point you bring up about the security, I once had to throw out a belt when I went through an airport, because the points of the stars on the buckle, "could cause someone harm."

bricobart (author)Zergling_pack2014-04-27

I had that prob with a boomerang, once...

bricobart (author)kidharris2014-04-27

I'll keep that in mind! ;)

jvaupel (author)2014-04-27

it could just be that some axe handle are heat-set and aren't really removable. Of course, if the axe handle doesn't survive the removal process in reasonable/reusable condition, it never hurts to have a back-up.

fixfireleo (author)2014-04-27

really cool idea. i have one word of caution. dont make the mistake of wearing it anywhere you have to go through security because you will NOT be allowed through. a few years ago i had a keychain that i got from work who's design was similar to a star. it was about 4mm thick and the "points" were slightly rounded so you dont poke yourself. when i went to visit the governor's office, they made me leave my keys behind because the security guard thought it looked too much like a chinese star, even though i took it and poked my hand with some force, showing it was blunt and not capable of puncturing the skin, they didnt care. otherwise, great idea.

bricobart (author)fixfireleo2014-04-27

Damn, I wanted to wear it during my visit to my friend in jail! He tried to smuggle explosives from Russia in migrating geese. The police discovered it when one of those birds got hit by lightning...

fixfireleo (author)bricobart2014-04-27


geraldpaxton (author)2014-04-27

In the '70's I spent 2 years about 50 miles NE of Mt McKinley and one of the most valued things I had was an axe. Good Instructable.

bricobart (author)geraldpaxton2014-04-27

Thanx gerald! I'm pretty sure you must have had a rough, but great, time over there...

josmeijer (author)2014-04-27

There is a fair chance you won't Get in that plane with your axe ;-)

bricobart (author)josmeijer2014-04-27

Let's go ceramic! ;)

antioch (author)2014-04-25

"Because he was ready to be hunted", eh? You and your cowboy hat are disrespectful to nature and wild animals because you hunt the cowards way and without any real need. Go SAR yourself, my friend!

Sometimes it's better to take a second and re read the post you comment on before jumping to a conclusion. What I saw was "My last bear that I hunted because he was ready to hunt me". Nothing disrespectful about that unless you believe he should have not denied the poor bear a meal at his expense.

I like your writing bricobart and think that if you are not a writer in some form you should be. While I would prefer to sit out the upcoming (insert preferred disaster here) in the comfort of a well supplied, and armed, holdout with gadgets and conveniences, I plan on being ready for anything. Unfortunately nobody ever is but that's life. I like your submission and hope you discover another absolute necessity and write it up also. Gotta go now and check my Zombie traps.

Well thank you for that compliment my friend! I was a kind of free-lance columnist a while ago but nowadays I just write occasionally on a - dutch - blog - fun, anyway! Hope your zombies are doing fine - mine are relatively quiet last weeks. Effective, those mine-fields...

fixfireleo (author)2014-04-27

too bad you cant use the space to store matches, a sharpener and some twine. just in case of the zombie apocolypse. :)

bricobart (author)fixfireleo2014-04-27

With a bit of effort you should be able to integrate a small canister in the kork. Nice idea!

About This Instructable




Bio: I made a beer mug with only a knife & a hatchet. I think that says a lot about me.
More by bricobart:Bow Stories - My Experiences With Cross Country Ski Bows'Shave Mouse' Aka Revisited Shave Horse IKEAK - soft floor survival kayak
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