We are all familiar with the axe on account of it being an ancient tool in all societies. It is a functional tool used in splitting wood either for firewood, construction and the like.
We might think of it as a generic tool that has a generic style and appearance so it might shock you to know that there are almost 20 different types of axes.
Depending on the head pattern and the function they do for you, one can differentiate different axe types and, in this post, we shall run these down for you. If you have an inkling on axes, read on.
In this article:
- Axe head patterns
- Types of axes for work
- Types of Axes for Survival
- Types of Axes for War
- Other types of axes
- Buying guide
- Axe care
Axe head patterns
One of the most important factors to consider when it comes to axe choice would be the head pattern. Not only does it identify how an axe is used but it also tells the swing weight of the axe relative to the handle. The following are the most common axe head patterns.
This axe head pattern originated by the time logs were made to run in the river where a cargo truck waits for them at the end of the stream. It has a forged, flat head, mounted perpendicularly on the long handle. This axe head pattern has been around since 1920.
They can come in single-bit or double-bit styles. The double-bit style features a flat blade on one side and a hammer on the other.
This type of head pattern has a slightly flared wedge head. It is best used for general chopping.
This type of head pattern has a curved head which is common for felling type of axes and is best used for chopping large trees and dense wood type.
Types of axes for work
Of all categories of axes, this one is perhaps the main reason as to why we are here. There are different activities that an axe is needed for but not all axes could be efficient in all these works.
Depending on your needs, and preferences, you can opt for any of these types of axes for work.
1. Adze axe
This one is considered as a stone age axe so, yes, it is very ancient but not very common. It is small, portable, with a cutting edge made of steel.
The blade is perpendicular to the handle and comes in short or long versions depending on your need. It is perfect for wood carving, general woodwork and landscaping.
2. Broad Axe
This type of axe has two types: single bevel and double bevel. The single bevel broad axe is basically used for hewing flat planes on wood while the double bevel broad axe is used for notching and general chopping. It is more identifiable because it is categorized as a large headed axe.
3. Carpenter’s Axe
As the name suggests, this type of axe is used for carpentry. It is the most common type among people who are involved in carpentry whether professional or not.
As such, this one is functional in woodworking and outdoor jobs such as shaving or dividing small logs with its sharp blade and hammer-like end. Its handle can be steel or wood and it is no longer that 20-inches.
4. Dayton Axe
This type of axe is a variation of felling axe and is considered unique because its head is red in color. The red coating helps to prevent this kind of axe to rust and prolongs its longevity.
This type has a single blade carved from long lasting steel. It also has a curved handle which is made from hickory wood. It is best used for those who need regular chopping of trees and firewood.
5. Double Bit Axe
This type of axe is likened to the felling axe because they have similar features. Both of them have two blades on their heads. One side has a sharp blade while the other is dull.
Both blades have dissimilar uses but comes from one tool which is the double bit axe. If you need just an extra axe to use, this one is the best choice.
6. Felling Axe
This type of axe is considered as the best axe for chopping wood and large logs. It is also known as the most useful type of axe as it can be used daily at home or outdoors, especially for campers and the like. It has a super sharp yet thin blade and a handle of about 2ft.
7. Fireman axe
As the name suggests, this is used by firefighters during emergencies. They use them to break down doors and windows in fire incidents.
Its features include having a long wooden or fiberglass handle and a red painted double bit axe head where one side is bladed and the other side has a pointed pick.
This one is also known as the all-purpose axe. As the name suggests, you would find it in most homes either as part of their outdoor tools or side by side with the fire extinguisher as emergency tools.
Its features include having a chunky handle made from hickory wood and comes with a sharp tip blade.
When planning to buy one, always remember that a well-balanced hatchet means faster and accurate output. This can be used for chopping and splitting logs.
9. Hewing Axe
This type of axe is best identified for the square pieces it produces. It is specifically designed to make round logs squared and is very useful among furniture makers.
It has multi-shaped, flattened blades that are in parallel with the handle. It also has a slight grip for controlling.
This type of axe is the landscaper’s choice. It is very useful to them as this tool helps them break through hard topsoil, chop bulky roots and plunge small shrubs.
Its features include having a double-sided axe head with pick and a flat blade on each side making it very ideal in gardening activities.
11. Miner’s Axe
This type of axe is similar to a Dayton axe as it has the same axe head pattern and color but has a shorter handle.
As the name suggests, it is used by miners in mining copper ore and other minerals and is also advisable to have one at home as it can be very helpful for projects that need to be finished in small spaces.
12. Shingling hatchet
This type of axe is the roofer’s choice. It comes with a hatchet-style head with an added notch. It is best for pulling out nails featuring a short handle with a shock absorbent grip suited for hours of work. This is best used to maintain roofs.
13. Splitting Maul
This type of axe is a heavy one. It has a hefty wedge-shaped head which is sharp on its ends and a blunt edge on the other.
It is primarily used in splitting woods along the grain. When using this tool, you have to remember to be sparing when it comes to side swinging as you might not control your balance as it is very heavy in nature.
Types of Axes for Survival
They are categorized as such because these axes here in this list are specifically designed for rescue and general survival in the outdoors. Aside from these functions, they can also be used for other purposes.
14. Crash Axe
This type of axe is primarily used by pilots in a rescue mission. It is designed to cut through walls, windows, and obstacles which hinders them to save victims of a crash.
It is in hatched size and comes with a hatchet style axe head which is likened to a hammerhead, short pick, nail claw or pry bar. It is very lightweight in nature but is long lasting made of a strong steel or titanium.
15. Forest Axe
This type of axe is specially used in tree projects. It has a very large and strong head which is made in solid carbon steel, and is heavy so use it sparingly when swinging it.
The main function of this axe, as the name implies, is best used for cutting down thick tree branches, fallen trees and all other heavy-duty splitting tasks.
16. Hudson Bay Axe
Contrary to its name, this one really originated in Spain and the south of France. However, when the New World program took place, it was one of the main trade products introduced to Native Americans living along the Hudson Bay, hence, the name.
In the events that followed, this axe became embedded in the Native American culture, using it primarily in chopping and in light splitting. Their main features include a heavy, forged head, a steel wedge, and wooden handle.
17. Tactical Axe
This one is nimbler compared to the axes on this list. As the name suggests, this one is more lightweight and compact since they are used for basic tactical training.
The style of tactical axes takes from the look of traditional tomahawks. They can come as double-bit with a sharp blade in either sickle, pick or hammerhead form. It also comes with a stable grip.
Types of Axes for War
Axes are very important vestiges of war. They were specifically forged for close range combat. They are usually lightweight and compact. Some are also very unique, with special features to be more efficient in battles.
18. Axe Pistol
This one is truly a sight to behold not only because of its wartime charm but also because you would not imagine an axe and a pistol in one. To be fair, it is more of a pistol than an axe.
It was invented by the Germans for close combat. The blade and pistol body are made of zinc cast metal and the handle is of European hardwood. This is definitely a collector’s item.
This was the most common close combat tool in Europe in the 1400. Before it became a wartime implement, it was first widely used as a sort of a butcher’s knife specifically in cleaving ox’s head. It is identifiable for its curved blade, extending up to the lower ends of the handle.
20. Battle Axe
As the name implies, this one was developed for close combat battles. They can come in various shapes and sizes but they usually come as small ones since they are made to be thrown using one hand.
And if you need to swing it with more power, you can easily hold it with two hands too. The blade can be single, double-bit or curved.
21. Dagger Axe
This one is greatly associated with Chinese warfare. They have been around even before the Great Wall was put up. It is identifiable for its dagger-shaped blades mounted perpendicularly to its handle.
This one is a memento from the 15-16th century. While they come in different shapes and sizes, the most common would be the spiked head. They are mostly associated with first range combat soldiers during battles.
They can come in customized heads. During wartime, they can come in the shape of the coat of arms of the kingdom the soldiers are fighting for.
23. Throwing Axe or Tomahawk
The tomahawk is actually used in axe throwing sports around Canada and the US. Such sports are regulated by different international organizations.
This type of axe is usually compact, lightweight for easy throwing, and comes with good balance. It is not, however, very much used in splitting functions.
24. Viking Axe
This one is a very popular war axe from the Vikings era up to the greater part of the Middle Ages. While they can still be used for simple axe throwing games, they are more decorative now than practical.
They are known for their pointy heads and a heavy, wooden shaft. In fairness to this war axe, it could be used for light splitting jobs.
Other types of axes
Of course, the list does not stop here. There are other special axes out there which we can usually see in movies and in different outdoor activities like landscaping and hiking, among others.
25. Executioner’s Axe
During the Middle Ages, this one was a formidable sight. It is specifically wielded by the designated executioner of a kingdom.
As the name suggests, it is used in beheading criminals, usurpers, and enemies. Its major function is to terrify and deter those who are thinking of committing crimes.
26. Ice Axe
This one is popular among mountaineers for hiking around snowy plains and mountains.
It is functional in walking through thick snows, or can even be used as a walking stick by holding the axe’s stainless-steel head by the center. They are very lightweight and easy to use although they truly come with a price.
27. Pick Head Axe
The most identifiable feature of this one is its T-shaped head. Its handle can either be made of wood or fiberglass featuring a double metal head.
More modern pick head axes have a pointy head and a chiseled side, which is slightly curved. This one is particularly used in landscaping and gardening as it is capable of breaking hard soils, concrete or rocky surfaces.
28. Shepherd’s Axe
This one is now more used as a decorative piece. It has a forged head, usually made out of silver or gold. Aside from being used as a walking stick among rural towns, it is also used in traditional dances for Native Americans.
One side of its blade is sharp but the other end is flat and can be used as a hammer. It also has a long shaft and features a metal butt.
Aside from everything that we have covered here, there is also essential information that one must know about the types of axes. In this section, we look at some FAQs about the types of axe.
Why are axe blades curved?
Curved blades are known to deliver better performance compared to flat blades especially when it comes to splitting hardwood. It is more advisable in biting objects and prevents incidences of being stuck in wood.
How are axe heads made?
Axes are made just as weapons were made during the stone age. They are made of solid steel, melted, and then shaped into a design of your preference.
The blade is then sharpened depending on the preferred function or cutting job. After that, it is mounted on the handle either in a parallel form or perpendicular form.
Is an axe considered a weapon?
As what we have covered here, there are specific types of axes that are made for weapons. As a matter of fact, axes in the battlefield have been around during the medieval times and were transformed into double-functioning weapons in the succeeding years. Some of the most popular weapon axes would be the halberd and the tomahawk.
Can we buy axes that are custom made?
Yes. You can choose from a wide range of head patterns, shapes and sizes. Some specialty stores can even reforge old axes and make them into decorative types. You can also make it more personalized, engraving symbols and statements in the blade or in the handle.
What are the best axes?
The best axes are not only limited among work axes. Some of the best axes in the market today would range from specialty or sport axes. If you are wondering about the best rated axes out there, you should check out the following:
- Fiskars chopping axe
- Tabor chopping hatchet
- Iunio camping axe
- Estwing double-bit axe
- Off Grid all-purpose survival axe
- SOG throwing hawk
- Gransfors Bruks outdoor axe
- Gerber Bear Grylls survival hatchet
- Husqvarna multipurpose axe
- Hults Bruk Kalix felling axe
Are old axes worth anything?
Yes, very. Antique axes have been making waves in the black market ever since. This is especially true for Black Raven axes which one can sell at a minimum of $500.
Local markets are also encouraging the buying and selling of old axes, especially those that are still in pristine conditions. With a little brush up and forging, they can be made into good as new.
Why are black raven axes so expensive?
As previously mentioned, black raven axes are gold standards in the black market and for a good reason. They are basically small hatchets with a distinct circular, etched raven.
It is considered as a vintage axe and only over a thousand are available, making them a venerated collector’s item axe. The pricing for black raven axes depends on the selling condition of the axe. Pristine conditions of black raven axes start at $1000 on auction price.
Are there still stone axes?
Stone axes are the prototype of the adze axe and they were existing throughout the stone age. Strikingly, these rudimentary stone axes are still present around nomadic tribes around the world. They are used for foraging, in cleaving hunted meat or game and are used for splitting wood and also as weapons.
Axes are ideal for chopping but they can also be ideal for other outdoor functions. It is imperative that you know what to look for when it comes to axes because they are only as good as their features, their blade and their handles. In making the right choice, here are some notable buying guides for you.
1. Type of Axe
The basic premise in your choice of axe would be for what purpose shall you use them for. If it is mainly for chopping and woodwork, narrow down your choice on the types of axes for work.
If it is about skiing, mountaineering or basic landscaping, a survival type of axe would do. If it is for decorative purposes, there are the war axes and more.
2. Type of Blade
When buying an axe, always make sure that you are acquainted with the type of blade of the axe you are buying. Know the uses and functions of each side and its features to avoid accidents when wielding it.
If you are a first-time axe shopper, there is a need for you to ask the seller or bring someone who knows the parts and uses of an axe.
3. Head Weight
The head weight can affect your wielding power whenever you are swinging the axe. So, if you are planning to buy an axe, make sure to buy one which is a perfect match for your height, type of body and of course the activity you will be using it for.
If you are unsure of what type of axe to buy, do research first or window shopping online, see reviews and comments of the customers or you can even reach the seller by sending a private message.
4. Handle Length
Just as the weight, when buying an axe, you always need to consider the ones that will be using the tool. Balance and strength are the core considerations when using an axe. The length of the handle also determines the strength you put into when using this kind of tool.
Handles can be parallel or perpendicular to the blade. Some are even curved. Others are long while others are shorter. Each of these features have an effect on how you wield your axe handle so make sure that you are basing your choice of handle length in these.
5. Axe Handle Materials
It is very important to know where your tools are made to know how you can take care of them. Traditional handles are, of course, made of wood.
Modern designs however, have improved the grip capacity of axe handles depending on what they are used for. Fiberglass, high-grade plastic, and even steel are now some of the better choices for axe handle materials.
Depending on the function of the axe, you can set $200 as the minimum price point of axes. When it comes to axes, prices are dependent on the material of the handle and the type of blade mounted.
Of course, double-bit axes are more expensive than single bit. Sports axes also have a certain price range of their own as well as the more vintage ones.
Overall, when it comes to axes, it is very important that you check first the range of choices and narrow down the use that you are projecting to use it for. It is also very important that you consider who will use it or wield it most of the time.
Like all other tools and equipment, making sure that the axe is well-maintained is equivalent to its longevity. The good news is that, axe care is super uncomplicated and here is how:
- After using the axe, clean the head for any sap or dirt. Use steel wool and acetone for this.
- Clean the handles using cloth. If possible, apply linseed oil on the handles twice a year.
- If it is not too dirty after work, you can clean the blade with steel wool or turpentine.
- Store in a dry and humid container or storage.
Axes are still popular up to this date as it is a very useful tool not only in chopping but in landscaping, wood carving, furniture and so much more. Depending on your need, there is a certain type of axe you can choose. Make sure that they are well-maintained and well-stored so that they can continue serving you with limitless functionality.