Axe Types Styles And Best Uses


This axe and hatchet information will help you choose the best type for your job at hand.

Axes & Hatchets Safety Tips

  • Single-bit axes should never be struck by another striking tool.
  • Axe heads for single bit axes should never be used to strike splitting wedges, steel posts, stone or any hard object.
  • Safety glasses should be worn when using these tools. In addition to possible chipping of the tool, flying wood chips could strike the eye of the user or someone nearby.
  • Never use an axe or a hatchet with a handle that is loose or damaged.
  • Discard any axe or hatchet if the head is cracked or chipped.
  • If the handle is damaged, it most likely can be replaced.
  • When redressing the cutting edge, always restore to its original shape.
  • Single-Bit Axe

  • Most popular style of axe, the single-bit axe is used to fell, trim or prune trees, to split or cut wood.
  • The easiest and safest axe for inexperienced woodcutters to use because it only has one cutting edge.
  • The other end of the head, the poll, forms a hammer for driving wooden or plastic stakes. It should never be used to strike splitting wedges, steel posts, stone or any hard object.
  • Handles for single-bit axes are curved to help increase leverage. Axe handles are made of hickory and range from 20″ to 36″ long. The most common is 36″.
  • Common head patterns include Michigan, Dayton, Kentucky, Connecticut and New Jersey.
  • Double-Bit Axe

  • Performs the same function as single-bit axe, but has two cutting edges—one on each end of the head.
  • Generally used by professional lumbermen.
  • Double-bit axes have straight handles because the handle must be symmetrical with the double-edge head.
  • Common head patterns include Western, Michigan, Swamping and Reversible.
  • Shingling Hatchet

  • Generally used for installing wood shakes and shingles made of wood, fiberglass and composition.
  • Some models have a replaceable adjustable gauge that helps installer determine the exposed length of a shingle.
  • Many models also include nail slots and draw knives built into the head.
  • Handles can be made of hickory, fiberglass, tubular steel or solid steel.
  • Splitting Maul

  • Similar to a sledgehammer, but one end of the head is wedge-shaped.
  • Used to make a starting notch in wood.
  • A wedge is then inserted and struck with the hammer end of the maul head to finish splitting the wood
  • Splitting Wedge

  • Tool used to finish splitting wood when struck with splitting maul after a starting notch is made.
  • Made of steel, aluminum and plastic.
  • Steel wedges are forged from a solid piece of high-carbon steel and may be heat-treated.
  • Aluminum and plastic wedges are designed primarily for use with chain saws and crosscut saws to hold the kerf apart to prevent binding.
  • Wedges should be struck with a sledge or woodchopper’s maul having a larger striking face than the head of the wedge.
  • Never strike the steel wedge with the cutting edge of the maul
  • Carpenter’s Hatchet

  • Also called a half hatchet.
  • For general use of felling and trimming trees or notching wood.
  • Other popular hatchet models include Hunter’s Hatchets, Broad Hatchets, and Camping Hatchets.

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