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21 Types of Axes

The axe has been around for an incredibly long time. Continue reading to find out all the details about axes and their different purposes.

blurred background, short wooden handled axe in stump

The axe has been around for an incredibly long time. So long, in fact, it is considered an ancient tool. It has a rich history that includes hunting, felling trees, and acting as a weapon. The axe is still used today. There are even modern carpenter’s axes.

The axe construction is fairly simple. In its most basic definition, it is a handle with a blade attached to it. They are intended to chop and cut. But, of course, axes are more complicated than that. They have handles and blades of varying shapes, designs, and intentions. 

Although, different types of axes are mainly used for chopping firewood, yard work, camping, and other outdoor activities. There has been an uptick in axe throwing competitions as a recreational activity in the past few years. 

Just like any other tool, there are various types of axes available. You should use the one that is appropriate for your activity. In addition, there are various blade patterns, mainly based on the area in which they were created. The most popular axe today are the large felling axes, which is also called the American axe. 

You want to ensure you are using the proper axe for the job. If you do not, it can make the task more difficult, and you may end up hurting yourself. Continue reading to find out all the details about axes and their different purposes. 

Types of Axes

The general design of an axe is the same in that it has a head attached to a handle. The head is most often made from metal. The handle may be made from plastic, rubber, metal, or wood. 

Tactical Axe

black tacticle axe laying on peice of wood

A tactical axe may also be referred to as a tactical tomahawk. The average everyday person does not typically use this type of axe. However, a tactical axe is becoming more popular among soldiers, law enforcement, security, and others that may be in a field where they have to battle or protect themselves. They are also used by survivalists. 

Tactical axes are a modern invention. It is an improvement on more traditional axes. This is considered a multi-tool option. They can shatter even the strongest glass, cut a car, and also pierce Kevlar. 

This type of axe is able to dig the ground, chop trees, a campaign tool, and a combat weapon. These axes are made from steel, making them strong and durable. 

Battle Axe

2 matching battle axes with brown handles criss crossing

Battle axes were designed with the superficial purpose of being used in combat. They were used all around the world. As time passed, there were many variations, styles, and shapes created of the battle axe. 

Some battles axes were intended to be used with one hand to allow the person to carry a shield in the other hand. However, some battle axes were bigger and needed both hands to hold them. 

The key was to find the balance between a battle axe that was big enough to be useful but small enough that the person using it could manage it well enough to injure the person with whom they were battling. 

Many battle axes were designed with a large head edge. This was often referred to as the bearded edge. In addition, the axe head had a large curve on the bottom side of it. This was intended to hook the enemy’s shield and pull it to knock them off balance. 

Battle axes were anywhere between 1 pound to 7 pounds. They ranged from 1 foot to 5 feet long. Once the battle axe extended longer than 5 feet, it was called a polearm. 

Grub Axe

Mans hand holding a grub axe, field of worked soil and dug up veggies in background

A grub axe is often referred to as a cutter mattock. A grub axe has an axe head on one side and an adze head on the other side. The axe blade is at a vertical angle, and the adze blade is horizontal. The adze blade is the longer of the two blades. 

This particular axe is called a grub axe because it is used for grubbing in the soil. It can break through rough terrain and compact soil. This tool is great for gardening as it can dig holes for new plants. They can also break up the roots of old plants


Wooden handled axe in tree stump, grass with fall leaves in the background

Hatchets are a small, all-purpose, general axe. This is the axe that most people use in the yard to handle light work. They can be used in one hand while the other hand is holding on to whatever you are chopping. 

A hatchet is small by comparison to other axes. They have chunky handles that are typically made from hickory wood. The head of the hatchet is weighted and has a flared shape with a blade that is sharp. They can make a rough cut in big and small logs. 

Hatchets are great to chop branches for firewood. You can use it to chop down a small tree, as long as it is no thicker than a few inches. A hatchet must have good balance to help you create accurate swings and cuts. This makes all jobs easier and faster to finish. Hatchets weigh about one pound, and the handle is about a foot long. 

A hatchet is ideal for hiking or camping. Hatchets can range in price from a nominal amount to well over $100. 

Broad Axe

Wooden handeled broad axe

Broad axes are often referred to as hewing axe. Its primary purpose is for hewing, which is when round edged lumber is turned into flat edged timber. This is a form of carpentry. It was most often used before there were sawmills. 

To move the hewing process along, one side of the axe is flat, which the broad and beveled edge is for chopping. A broad axe is a medium sized tool often used by carpenters. However, this tool is rarely used for general use. 

Carpenter’s Axe

Woodend handled carpenters axe

A carpenter’s axe is a tool for the craftsman that is intended for woodworking. This type of axe is not meant for chopping or felling. A carpenter’s axe is a little bigger than a standard size hatchet. 

The poll side of the axe, which is the opposite side of the cutting edge, can also be used as a hammer. It has a flat butt making it ideal for a hammer. In addition, the blade of the axe with a straighter edge shows that the blade is of better quality and creates a quality cut. 

The modern version of a carpenter axe has a groove in them. This is used to remove nails from wood. In addition, they often have a notch in the handle that allows you to have a better grip with more precise control over the axe. This axe is a favorite with outdoor people as it can be used for various chores. 

Miner’s Axe

Man wearing a long sleeved blue collar shirt and silver hard hat with a long handled miners axe across his shoulders

A miner’s axe was first used in the Middle Ages by miners. They used them to mine silver and copper ore in Europe. A miner’s axe has a long head and a short handle. This makes the miner’s axe perfect for small spaces. 

As the centuries moved on, the axe was used as a status symbol for miners. These axes have intricate details engraved on the head of the axe. 

Double Bit Axe

Close up of a double bit axe on a metal tool box

A double bit axe has two axe blades; one is on either side of the head. These blades are symmetrical on the front, but one blade is blunt while the other is sharp. This makes the axe cumbersome and heavy to carry. However, this one does have the advantage of being two axes in one. This saves you from having two separate axes.

The sharp edge of the blade is used for felling trees or chopping wood. The blunt side of the blade splits the wood into pieces small enough for fire kindling. These axes are not in production for mainstream use today. They are typically only used by lumberjacks. 

Double bit axes are not best for chopping trees or cutting against the grain. However, the side of the blade that is not sharp can be used to split wood with the grain.

Viking Axe

Two vikings axes laying on wood

The Viking Axe is also referred to as a Dane Axe, a hafted axe, or English long axe. Viking axes were used throughout the Viking Age as weapons of battle. Viking axes were large, but they were not cumbersome and bulky. When the Viking axes are well made, they have exceptional balance. 

A Viking axe may weigh as little as two pounds which makes them lightweight, easy to carry, and use during battle. Traditionally, the size of the axe changed greatly, and the heads could be different shapes. 

The shape of the blade allows it to be used for many battle stances, including hooking an opponent to trip them and hook their shield to pull it out of the way to make them defenseless. The tips of the blade are sharp to slash throats, and the blunt edge can hit someone in the head. 

The head of the axe is made of iron, and the handle is made from wood. These axes are not typically used today, but they are studied to learn about the civilizations that used them. 


Tomahawk axe with wooden handle laying on log, weeds and leaves under log

A tomahawk axe originated in North America and was first used by Native Americans. They were then used by European colonials during the Revolutionary War and during the Vietnam War. They look a lot like hatchets but have a handle that is straighter and lighter. 

The straight handle makes it easy to release the tomahawk to throw them at an opponent. The sharp blade makes them useful at prying, chopping, digging, and splitting. Tomahawks have always been popular with soldiers but more recently popular for camping. 

They are smaller and lighter than hatchets making them easy to carry. They have multiple uses and, more recently, have become popular in knife throwing. They have become so popular that they have their own category. 

Pick Axe

Old pick axe

A pick axe is known as a hand tool with a handle made of wood or fiberglass. Pick axes have a double metal heat at the top of the tool. The axe is in the shape of the letter T. The traditional construction of the axe has a pick on both sides of the head. 

Modern versions of the pick axe have a pointed pick on one side of the head and a chisel on the other side. Often, the pick side has a curve to it, but it can also be straight. This tool is useful in the garden and as a landscaping tool. 

It can break through rock, concrete, and hard soil. The chisel side of the axe can pry open gaps in rocks or split the earth. In addition, the chisel end acts as a weight for the axe. The addition of weight help speeds up momentum when you swing the pick. 

Roofing Axe

Man in work glove and jacket using a roofing axe on a roof

Roofing axes are also referred to as roofing hatchets. This is a high-quality tool that is typically used in roofing. However, this is no longer a popular tool because it has been replaced with modern tools. A roofing axe has two heads on either side of the handle. One of the heads is sharp, making it ideal for cutting roof shingles. 

The other end of the roofing axe is a hammer, ideal for pointing roofing nails into shingles. This side of the axe is typically magnetized, so you do not have to hold the nails in place. 

Roofing axes also have a node on the sharp side. This node helps gauge the shingles. You hook the node over the front of the shingle below the one that is being set. The hammer must point upwards to use this properly. The next shingle sits up against the head of the hammer, helping you place rows of shingles. 

Hunter’s Axe

Close up of a mans hand holding a hunters axe with a yellow handle, light reflectiong off the blade

A hunter’s axe is a necessary tool for hunters. It helps them chop wood and meat. In addition, a hunter’s axe has a grooved handle to help improve the grip of the hunter even if their hands are wet. 

This axe is ideal for skinning an animal because it does not have a straight poll with sharp corners like a standard axe. The straight poll can damage the hide. A hunter’s axe has a flay poll making it more useful for skinning. You can only find this axe at a specialty hunting store. 

Throwing Axe

Wood slab on wall with blue red and black circles to make targets, a throwing axe thrown into the center of the center circle

Throwing axes were originally used by soldiers in the middle ages. These axes were originally intended to be weapons for battle. They would throw their axes at components to inflict fatal damage. More recently, axe throwing has become a competitive sport. 

Throwing axes vary in design and type. However, they all are incredibly sturdy and durable. They can handle the pressure put on them after many throws. The handle of an axe must meet specific requirements set forth by the group that is hosting the axe throwing sport. 

Crash Axe

Crash axe hanging on a wall, red blade, yellow handle

Crash axes are used during emergencies, typically during a crash landing of an airplane. These are handheld tools that have short handles and sharp, smooth, or serrated blades. The blades must be able to cut through sheet metal.

The point of these axes is to cut a hole in an airplane to create an exit. They may be needed to pry gaps open and chop interior walls and overhead cabinets. Some crash axes have a notch on the blade to hook onto sheet metal. Other crash axes have a separate head with a pick. 

A crash axe is typically made from metal and is usually owned by emergency services. These axes must be carried in the cockpit of an aircraft that has more than 20 seats. This axe is intended to help passengers exit the plane after a crash. 

Fireman’s Axe

Firemans Axe, red and silver blade, long black and wood handle

A fireman’s axe is a great tool for firefighters to use when breaking down windows and doors during an emergency. It may be referred to as a fire axe, a pick head axe, or a firefighter’s axe.  

One side of the blade has a traditional sharp edge. The other side of the blade is pointed like a pick. They are usually painted in bright colors so they can stand out during an emergency. 

Adze Axe

Adze axe with oversold wooden handle sticking out of a tree stump

An adze is a hand tool with a sharp blade for cutting. However, the original adze goes back to the Stone Age. They are ancient tools ideal for woodworking. They can effectively carve and smooth wood. 

The Adze blade is set at a right angle and is incredibly sharp, perfect for carpentry work. There are two different types of adzes. There are hand adzes and foot adzes. A hand adze can be swung with one hand and has a short handle. 

A foot adze is swung with both hands. It has a longer handle. The name foot adze means the point where the head usually lands, around foot or shin height. 

You can find modern versions of adzes available today. They are manufactured from steel and have wooden handles. The use of adzes is limited, mainly by revivalists. However, they may also be used on occasion in semi-industrial areas.

Types of Axes For Splitting Wood 

Felling Axes

Felling axe with black and silver blade and wooden handle sticking out of a tree stump next to a green plant

A felling axe is designed with the specific purpose of felling trees and chopping wood into logs. The head of the felling axe often weighs between two to four pounds. The head sits at the end of a long handle. The handle is about two feet long. 

This long handle allows the user to have a more powerful swing with better leverage. This helps you make a better cut. 

A traditional felling axe is made from strong hickory wood. The grain of the wood follows the handle lengthwise and curves with it. This gives the handle incredible strength. The blade of felling axes have a flared shape with a sharp tip. 

These blades are intended to cut against the grain of the wood. They are ideal for small trees and branches. They chop well but are not the best at splitting wood because it will get stuck. Felling axes are often referred to as camp axes. These axes are big and heavy and not typically something you would carry around with you while hiking. However, they are great if you have a permanent campsite. 

Forest Axe

Forest Axe sticking out of a tree, sunny day, forest in the background

Forest axes are a robust axe that is specifically intended for the sole purpose of felling trees. These axes are heavy-duty and tool big to carry around during camping trips. They are great to store at a permanent cabin. 

A forest axe has an extra long handle that is great for cutting large trees. In addition, a forest axe has a sharp blade that is also flared with a slightly curved tip.

Hudson Bay Axe

Forest with lots of trees, sun shining through, fire going with large stainless steel pot, chopped peices of wood in a pile, Hudson Bay long handled axe leaning against wood pile

A Hudson Bay axe is a medium sized axe that was designed by Canadian fur trappers. This type of axe is used to chop firewood while on trips in the cold. This is an all-purpose axe that can be used for many things.  

A Hudson Bay axe is larger than a hatchet but smaller than a felling axe. This axe is used with one hand or with two. It is good for smaller splitting and chopping jobs. It is not a good idea to use a Hudson Bay axe on larger trees. However, its size allows it to be more manageable during camping trips.

Splitting Maul

Tree stump with chopped wood peices all around, axe with long pink handle and axe with wooden handle leaning against stump

A splitting maul axe is designed to split logs into smaller kindling pieces. These axes are similar to a felling axe. It has a long handle to provide a balanced and good swing. It is best to use a downward swing with this axe. 

Splitting mauls are intended to cut with the grain. This is what splits the wood instead of chopping it. As a result, the head of the splitting maul is heavier. It can be anywhere between eight pounds to twelve pounds. 

The head of the splitting maul is chunky with a sharp edge on one side and a blunt edge on the other side. The sharp end does not have to be extra sharp to function well. The shape and weight of the blade do all of the work. 

The best way to chop firewood with a splitting maul is to swing down at the log in the direction of the grain. The weight of the maul forces it through the wood. In addition, the head is thick, which prevents it from getting stuck in the wood while chopping. This tool is intended for brute force since the edge does not have to be that sharp.

Type of Axe Heads

There are many different axe heads. 

Dayton Axe Head

This axe head is named after Dayton, Ohio. This blade is curved and has a gentle flare. This pattern is popular and ideal for general jobs that are outdoor based. 

New England Axe Head

This axe head has a straight edge that runs across the top of the blade. It also has a bottom edge that has a slight beard. 

Michigan Axe Head

This is a common blade for a felling axe. It rose in popularity in the 1860s. The head is curved, making it perfect for chopping large trees. 

Connecticut Axe Heads

This is a popular axe head. Its shape has a wedge that is slightly flared. This makes it great for general chopping. 

What Are Uses of An Axe?

Axes are generally used with two hands to get the maximum amount of power from the strike or swing. Axes are used to split firewood, fell trees, or hew lumber. When lumber is hewn, it is flattened for construction. In the past, axes have been used for battle, protection, and fighting. Axes today are also used to bust through aircraft after an accident. They are also used for woodworking, gardening, and general tasks. 

How Many Types of Axes Are There? 

In this article, we discuss 21 different types of axes. There are many variations of axes, and there could be some debate if the slight variations are a different axe. For the purposes of this article, we are going to state that there are 21 types of axes. 

What Axes Are Good For Throwing? 

small hatchet is the main kind of axe used that is used for axe throwing. They are easier to throw than just about every other axe type. This makes axe throwing more enjoyable and accessible for beginners. The head of a hatchet is weighted and has a sharp blade. A high-quality hatchet has a balanced feel to help the inexperienced user swing accurately.

What To Look For in a Perfect Axe?

When you are trying to find the best axe for you, there are some features you should keep in mind. 

Handle – the highest quality axes have wood handles. You may find more axes today with rubber handles. However, wood is more ergonomic and lasts longer. You want to look for an ash or hickory handle. 

Weight – the weight of the axe impacts how effective the axe is. If it is too heavy, you will lose accuracy, but you will gain force. If it is too light, it will not cut deeply. If you are new to axes, you do not want the head of your axe to weigh more than three pounds. 

Size – the best size of an axe may depend on the user and their intended use. If it is a felling axe, you want a longer handle for a better swing and leverage. A shorter handle gives you more precision. The standard length of a felling axe is 36 inches. However, this is the maximum length you should consider. For someone that is six feet tall, it would be best to have a handle measuring around 32 inches. This size for this person will provide a good balance between accuracy and force.