15 Different Types of Axes Explained

16 Different Types of Axes
16 Different Types of Axes

Are you in the market for a new axe head? If so, you have arrived at the right place. There are various types of axe heads, all of which are utilized for specific tasks. The type you purchase will depend on what type of project you are planning on doing.

Many people are under the impression that every axe head is diverse. Well, that theory could not be farther than the truth. Base your needs on the type of projects that you will be working on in the future. With such a large selection on the market, it is best to know what each type of axe head is capable of doing.

The different types of axe heads include the Hudson Bay Axe, Felling Axe, Splitting Axe, Camping Axe, Broad Axe, Double Bit Axe, Carpenter’s Axe and many more. To help you determine which of these axes is suitable for your working needs, a list including each type and purpose is provided in the article below.

Why Does The Head Matter?

An axe would not be an axe without a head. The head is the most important component of the axe. With that in mind, you must take care to choose the right type of axe head. Each design is unique, so it can perform different actions.

If you are looking for straight precision cuts in dry wood, you should consider the carpenter’s axe. If you are looking for an outdoor axe for chopping firewood, the camping axe head is the answer.

How To Choose An Axe Head

If you want the best experience, you really need to make sure that you get the best axe head. So, which axe head is going to be best? The truth of the matter is that it depends on the application at hand. If you’re going to be camping, you should go with a certain type.

If you’re going to be chopping through logs, you’ll need a different type. Simultaneously, you need to focus on the other aspects of the axe too. You have to consider the length and weight of the handle.

Here are some axe functions that you should consider before you purchase an axe.

Everything needs to be perfect. One thing that is going to make a big difference is the material. Going with a harden forged steel head is definitely recommended. This type of metal is going to remain sharper for a much longer period of time.

It’ll ensure that you won’t have to worry about sharpening your blade too often. You should also look for blades that feature a special coating. This ensures that the blade is going to slide deep into the wood without too much difficulty.

In return, this will make chopping up the wood easier. The size and weight are both important. If you’re just going hunting, you do not want a huge axe that is going to be cumbersome. This would make it difficult to carry the axe around.

Here Are the Different Types of Axes and Axe Heads

Hudson Bay Axe

The Hudson Bay Axe Head roughly measures 6-3/4” in length by 4 inches in height. The axe’ name derives from its history with the French fur traders. During the 17th century, the fur traders working in the Hudson Bay area needed a reliable ax to chop firewood. The axe proved to be very efficient, lightweight and durable. So, it was later deemed the Hudson Bay Axe.

Along with chopping firewood, the Hudson Bay Axe can be utilized for chopping kindling. The axe design is what makes it ideal for these tasks. It is lighter in weight and shorter than most of its competitors. Many women prefer this axe for that very reason.

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Felling Axe

The average weight of a felling axe, also known as a single bit, is 2-1/4 pounds. When you incorporate a wooden handle into the equation, the overall weight is approximately 3.6 pounds. The main purpose of the felling is chopping down small- and medium-sized trees. It can also be utilized to cut up the trees once they are on the ground.

Many woodsmen prefer the felling axe to its competitors because of its diversity. It can be utilized for most wood cutting and chopping tasks. The only downside is it is not suitable for bringing down or chopping up larger trees.

The blade is thin enough so that the axe can be utilized for cutting limbs off of standing or downed trees. If you are looking for a diverse axe head, you should definitely consider the felling axe.

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Carpenter’s Axe

Contrary to belief, the carpenter’s axe head is not limited to the carpentry industry. This axe head can be utilized for a variety of dry wood applications. The thin blade and straight edge ensure precision straight cuts with every swing. And, even better, the carpenter’s axe head can take the place of a hammer, thanks to its large, ground axe poll.

Whether you are building furniture or a cabin, the carpenter’s axe is a necessity. Utilize it to create precision straight cuts and hammering in nails and spikes. There is no end to the possibilities with the carpenter’s axe head.

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Splitting Axe

The purpose of the splitting axe is just as its name entails. It is utilized for splitting logs of all sizes. Depending on what size logs you are planning on splitting, you may need a splitting axe with a short, medium or long handle. For example, a splitting axe with a 17-inch handle will work better for splitting small longs. A splitting axe with at least a 36-inch handle is ideal for splitting large logs.

To get the most from your splitting axe, it is crucial to only consider brands that offer heads that are perfectly balanced. Also, take the power-to-weight because it can play a major role in the swing speed. To ensure high productivity when utilizing a splitting axe, the power-to-weight ratio must be perfected to a tee. This, in turn, will allow the splitting axe to swing perfectly like a baseball bat constructed of aluminum.

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If you are looking for a one-handed axe for splitting small logs, look no further than a 17-inch splitting axe. The design of the splitting axe head ensures maximum efficiency, so you achieve more splits with a single strike. For this, I would recommenced the 17 inch version of the axe seen above. You can check this version out here.

If you are constantly working to fill your wood box for the winter, you may need to invest in several splitting axes, one with a short handle and another with a longer handle. This will allow you to tackle small-, medium- and large-sized logs.

Axe Head’s Impact On Portability

If you are shopping for a new axe head, it is likely that you are planning a woodworking project in the near future. The axe head design can determine the level of portability. Of course, you must incorporate the size and weight of the handle into the equation.

There are many factors to take into consideration when buying an axe head. The factors into intended purposes, portability, functionality and precision. With so many options on the market, the only way to get your decision right the first time is to conduct thorough research.

Fortunately, axe heads are not too terribly expensive. So, you should be able to afford more than just one. And, it never hurts to have as many axes as you can fit into your toolbox.

Tactical Axe

You probably guessed by the name that the tactical axe is used for tactical situations. These axes are also sometimes referred to as tactical tomahawks and they are not generally used by the average urban dweller. This doesn’t mean that they can’t be used by the urban dweller.

It just means that they are becoming more and more popular amongst soldiers, mercenaries, law enforcement officials, security personnel, survivalists, and others who need tactical support in the field. Modern tactical axes come equipped with heads that are so durable they can shatter the toughest glass, cut into cars, and even piece Kevlar.

These axes might sound like all tactical business, but they can be utilized for a number of other useful things. They can dig in the ground, chop trees, and can serve as a camping and cooking tool. Despite this, the most suitable use for an axe like this is close-quarters combat.

One of the most notable features of the tactical axe is the head. The head is not exactly solid like other axes. It has a hollow spot cut out in the middle of the head so that users can wield the axe from the head while utilizing the handle or butt.

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Battle Axe

Many people probably already know what the battle axe was used for, but they might not understand its true origins or usefulness. Due to their usefulness in combat, these axes were created in a variety of shapes, types, and sizes. They were then shipped all across the world to be employed in combat.

Like the viking axe, these axes were also available in one or two-handed options. Some warriors opted for the one-handed version so that they could employ a shield in the free hand. The battle axes are probably most notable for their massive head edge.

The head edge of the axes was designed so prominently because they had to be both manageable while possessing the ability to inflict a massive amount of damage. At the time, axes that were designed with massive head edges like this become commonly known as bearded axes.

The elongated curve at the bottom of the head was specifically designed to give the warrior the ability to hook onto their opponent and pull them off balance. Warriors oftentimes used elongated part of the axe to their strip away opponent’s shields or pull them off horses.

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Shingling Axe

If you have a roofing job planned for the near future, you may want to consider investing in a shingling axe head. This axe is specifically designed for sizing and installing wood shingles. The sharp beveled blade will chop through wood singles with ease.

The shingling axe is smaller compared to some of its competitors. For this reason, carpenters can tote it around with ease. Carry the shingling axe up and down ladders without being burdened by its weight. Whether you are a female or male, you will definitely appreciate the lightness of the shingling axe.

The best part is the shingling axe can be utilized as a hammer. Drive roofing nails into the shingles with a single blow when utilizing this axe head. And, you encounter a problem with a broken or bent roofing nail don’t worry because the shingling axe has you covered. Utilize the nail slot to pull the damaged nails out of wooden roofing structures.

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When it comes to all-purpose tools, you won’t find much better than the tomahawk. This handy little tool might have originated in North American, but it could be easily mistaken for a hatchet. In fact, the only real major noticeable difference between the two is the weight.

Tomahawks are much lighter is weight as you might have guessed. European colonials began using the axe after the Native Americans adopted it, but its most revered application was combat. Due to their compact stature and lighter weight, these tools made perfect hand-to-hand or throwing weapons.

It is also their slim and light profile that makes them more popular options for avid campers. Tomahawks can include a variety of axe heads, including spikes and hammers, which could both be suitable for combat and handyman tasks.

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Broad Axe

The broad axe has a very unique design. This design is specially intended for the purpose of making furniture. This is an extremely heavy axe blade with sharp beveled edges on both the right and left sides. The purpose of the double-beveled blade edge is to ensure precision cutting. With a single strike, you can create a precision cut in medium- and large-sized logs with ease.

If you have struggled in the past to flatten the surfaces of large, round logs, you definitely need to consider adding the broad axe head to your arsenal. This head has been the preferred axe for creating wood beams, log cabins and furniture.

Another benefit of the broad axe head is it is designed for both left- and right-handed uses. This benefit is only offered by a select few axe heads. Whether you are right-handed, left-handed or just like to switch up your swings by changing hands when chopping logs, you cannot go wrong with the broad axe head.

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Camping Axe

Every camping enthusiast needs to have a camping axe in their arsenal. This axe is designed specifically for felling small trees. It can also be utilized to chop up downed trees for firewood and as a hammer to drive in tent stakes. With the camping axe on your side, you will be able to produce ample firewood for your camping trip and maybe the next one as well.

The camping axe’ popularity is related to its high level of diversity. As mentioned above, it is great for felling small trees and chopping small logs. The large flat edge of the blade makes the camping axe suitable for hammering in tent stakes. The sharp blade will power through small branches and logs.

It is extremely difficult if not almost impossible to survive in the woods without a good camping axe. This is especially true if your only source of heating and lighting is firewood. Contrary to belief, the many availabilities on the market are not created the same. The outdoor versatility of the camping axe cannot be beaten.

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Double Bladed Axe

Are you looking for an axe that will be much more functional than the alternatives? If so, you should definitely think about going with a double bladed head. This type of axe can be very beneficial for many purposes.

Generally, both blades will be designed for specific purposes. One of the blades will be best for cutting through wood. The other blade will be suitable for splitting wood.

With that being said, the double-bladed head is really one of the most versatile out there. Whether you’re hunting, camping or just cutting through wood, the double bladed axe is definitely a good investment.

The only downside with this type of axe is that some people may consider it a little more dangerous. You might not want to leave this axe sitting around if you have kids. It looks cool and they might feel the urge to pick it up and play with it.

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Hewing Axe

The hewing axe gets its name from the fact that it was once used to hew wood. This was way back before the Industrial Revolution when sawmills only seemed like a thing of the future. Before the Revolution, wood was still utilized for framing.

These wooden beams would have to eventually be squared up and this is where the hewing axe would come into play. These axes could literally convert a round log into a flat piece of timber that could be used for framing. Sure, this would take an immense amount of time, but it was a revolutionary tool for its time.

One side of the head of the hewing axe was specifically designed to be flat so that it could accomplish this very task. You might even be surprised to learn that some of these models of axes are still utilized today in both small and large projects.

Most people that like to work with their hands or make their own furniture really prefer these ancient axes over the modern day tools.

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Adze Axe

The adze can be dated back to the Stone Age and somewhat resembles an axe. Some experts might not classify the adze as an axe. Most people will say that any tool with a sharp cutting edge can be classified as and adze.

Adzes are extremely similar to an axe. In fact, the only real difference is that the cutting edge of the adze is perpendicular to the handle. These tools are commonly used when smoothing or carving wood by hand.

Just like Viking axes, the adze also comes available in long and short handles. The short handle is swung with one hand, while the foot adze is swung with both hands. The foot adze gets its name because when it strikes it usually strikes at shin or foot level.

The head of the adze is a bit odd looking because it is set at a right angle to the shaft, whereas the heads of axes are usually on the same plane as the shaft. Imagine a plane or a hoe and this is exactly what an adze would look like. A mattock is also somewhat similar, but these tools are only used for digging in hard ground.

Modern adzes are still utilized today because they can serve the same purpose at the hewing axe. They can be used to create flat beams from rounded logs. That being said, most modern day adzes will come will steel heads and wooden handles.

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The Fireman’s Axe

If you need to break down a door or window in a hurry, you simply cannot go wrong with the fireman’s axe. And, this is probably why they are called fireman’s axes and why mostly firemen use them. These axes can sometimes be referred to as pick head axes, fire axes, or firefighter’s axes, but they are all going to have a similar design.

The sharp-edged blade is designed in a traditional axe manner, but the poll or the area oppose of the cutting edge is pointed like a pick-shape. The heads of these axes are also usually decorated in bright colors so that they can be located quickly during emergencies.

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Crash Axe

Aircraft that hosts twenty seats or more are legally required to carry a crash axe in the cockpit. This is because the heads of the axes are specifically designed to chop and pry walls in the event of an emergency.

The head is also serrated so that it can easily cut into a variety of materials. This in combination with the lightweight design and you are looking at one emergency tool that could free you from disaster.

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Check The Head Alignment

Remember that the axe head itself is very important. However, everything else needs to be right too. The head alignment is definitely one thing to take into account. Even with the sharpest blade, you’re going to get poor results if the alignment is off.

It is important for the haft and head to be in perfect alignment. To ensure that the alignment is good, you should perform a visual test. Place the haft close to your eyes and look towards it.

This will give you a good idea whether or not the alignment is in good shape. If it is not, you should switch to a different axe.


Truly, there are many different types of axe heads. They’re all different in one way or another. It is true that all of them will chop through wood. Still, some types are better for certain purposes than others.

The weight and shape of the head can make a big difference in the long run. If you’re going to be out camping, you should stick with an axe that is lightweight and smaller.

If you’re going to be chopping up logs at home, you’ll need a much bigger and heavier axe. Therefore, there is no axe head that is universally the best.

Instead, you have to choose the axe that is going to serve the job at hand. Do that and your job will get much easier.

Just remember that every job is different and calls for different setups. Getting the right axe from the very beginning will ensure everything goes smoothly.


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