Straight outa Bulgaria comes this excellent Smith forged bearded hatchet. The advantage of this hatchet design is apparent as soon as it’s handled. The space between the head and the handle allows the hacheteer to carve, or cut, like an extension of the hand.
The company that sells these gems is Thracian Forge, which is a top seller on Etsy. They come un-handled, to save shipping and labor, so I had a Sourwood handle ready made waiting for it. Unfortunately, never having seen a Bulgaria/eastern European hatchet before, I made it according to Western style hatchet head dimensions. It turned out to be three inches too long and an inch too wide at the head. A back saw and a little time on the shaving horse solved that problem.
Eastern Europe has become a treasure for traditional woodworkers, as skills lost to industrialization in the West survived in the East and North. Grab a copy of Woodworking in Estonia, which is actually a Ph D dissertation, and look through the Bulgarian and Ukranian forges who sell on Etsy. I tried to identify the smith’s initials on my hatchet, and finally concluded that they are in the eighth century Bulgarian alphabet, which is still in use. For anyone who wants to know, that is the original source of the Russian alphabet. As the people in Ukraine like to point out, Kyiv was already a capital, at the time when Moscow was still a cow pasture.