10 Popular Types of Axes – What You Need to Know

The axe is one of the oldest chopping tools known to man. Throughout history, the axe has been used to fell entire forests, win countless battles or help the average person chop fire logs and survive the cold.

If you are interested in axes, it can be difficult to know what type of axe fits your need. After all, there are so many types out there each made for a purpose. Understanding the different types of axes and their intention will help you make a more informed purchase decision.

In short, here are 10 axes you need to know about:

1. Hatchet


Photo: Hults Bruk

Hatchets are the smallest axes money can buy. They are also the most popular form of axes in the world. Their blade is typically between 12 inches to 14 inches in length. Moreover, this small axe has a wide range of applications, from hunting to cutting small wood logs.

The main advantage of the hatchet is that it is lightweight and can easily be operated with one hand. The blade weighs no more than a pound and the handle rarely exceed 1 foot in length, making it very maneuverable.

This type of axe can easily cut along or across the wood grain. However, for larger pieces of wood, the hatchet simply lacks the chopping power.

Use: Cutting small logs for firewood. Excellent for hunters, hikers and wilderness explorers who need a small and portable axe.

2. Carpenter’s Axe

Carpenter’s Axe

The Carpenter’s Axe used to be the most popular axe in the world during the shipbuilding years. It is still used today by many woodworkers, although not to the same extent it used to.

This is a fine and small axe that is used to make precise cuts in wood. The blade head is large and very sharp, while the handle is short to promote precision with one hand.

It is a lightweight axe that can be operated with one hand for an extended time without fatigue. Additionally, this axe has a finger notch at the end of the handle. This has two purposes:

Storage: The finger notch can easily be used to hang the axe

Fulcrum: A finger or object can be inserted in the finger notch to make it work as a pivot. This gives it the ability to cut in a very precise manner on the same location over and over again.

Use: For making intricate and fine cuts in wood.

3. Splitting Axe

Splitting Axe

Photo: Helko Werk

The splitting axe is a brute force axe for splitting logs into firewood. This axe is also known as the splitting maul because of its power and heavyweight.

The blade head is quite big, with some models having a head of 36 inches. It is also dense and heavy to maximize downward impact when this axe is swung.

Further, the blade edge doesn’t even have to be sharp in a splitting axe. The sheer downward force exerted during a swing is enough for this axe to cut through the wood grain with ease. Most of the time, the biggest effort is to lift the splitting axe in the air. Gravity does the work of chopping the wood.

Additionally, one noteworthy feature of this axe is the end of the handle is elevated to prevent the axe from slipping off. Therefore, it can safely be used bare hands and in wet conditions.

Use: Cutting logs along the grain for firewood.

4. Felling Axe

Felling Axe

Also known as the camp axe, the felling axe is the default tool for cutting down trees, big or small. It is designed in an ergonomic way to provide maximum comfort when cutting trees. This axe works best when chopping a tree sideways as the blade is specifically designed to cut across the wood grain and not along it.

Moreover, the blade is short, weighs no more than 2 lbs and measures around 23 inches to 26 inches. The handle is slightly slanted and measures 2 feet in length. This optimizes the power delivered to the blade after each swing and limit handling discomfort.

Indeed, this combination of a long handle and chubby blade make it very comfortable to work with for an extended period.

Use: For cutting down trees across the grain.

5. Tactical Axe

Tactical Axe

Photo: Gerber

The tactical axe is the lightest axe in the world. It does many things you wouldn’t expect an axe to do. Most of all, it is a survivalist axe that is meant to be used in survival situations.

This axe is also referred to as the tactical tomahawk in the military. The hawk in the name refers to the axe’s weight, which is very light, similar to a hawk.

Additionally, it has an atypical blade with a large empty space inside. This space makes the axe very light while providing it with excellent aerodynamics when swung. Then handles are also short and stubby, to maximize handling.

In terms of real work, the tactical axe is not particularly suited for cutting wood. Although, it can still manage to cut small branches and logs with relative ease.

Use: Military weapon. Also popular among woodmen as a survival axe in the wild.

6. Fireman’s Axe

Fireman’s Axe

The fireman’s axe, as its name suggests is an axe made exclusively for firefighters. This is a survival and emergency axe that has a sharp blade on one end and a pointy picket on the other.

This makes it a versatile axe in case of emergencies, like breaking down doors and ability to make a fulcrum-pivot for lifting heavy material. One distinctive characteristic of the fireman’s axe is that it is colors in vivid red and yellow to make it visible.

This axe is also sometimes present near the emergency exit doors of buildings.

Use: To break down doors and other obstacles during a fire emergency.

7. Double Bit Axe

Double Bit Axe

The double bit axe has 2 heads for cutting wood. One edge is sharper than the others and is used for felling trees. The other head is much duller and used for chopping wood logs.

The double bit axe used to be a popular war axe, used by Scandinavian warriors for centuries. However, today this axe is mostly a novelty axe and used in sports competitions and games rather than to perform actual cutting work.

Furthermore, since the axe is a double head, the risk of injuries is high in a real-world scenario.

Use: Mostly for sports competition and games. In a double bit axe game, players raise it over their head and see which side of the blade hits the target.

8. Dane Axe

Dane Axe

The true name of the Dane axe is the Viking axe.

As its name suggests, this is a big and heavy axe that only well-built and strong warriors can yield. A typical Dane axe can measure 52 inches but many of those axes were custom made to have the same length of the yielder.

It is also very heavy with a large diverging head. Due to the weight, it was best used with both hands on the handle. The blades of the Dane axe are exceptionally sharp since this axe is mainly used for cutting through bones and flesh.

Other than being a true killing machine, there is no real work application for such an axe.

Use: The Vikings used this axe with both hands for both killing and terrorizing their enemies.

9. Battle Axe

Battle Axe

Photo: SZCO Supplies

A telling name for an axe. Similar to the Dane axe, the battle axe is an offensive weapon used for killing. It is an old model that has been used for centuries in the same form.

The battle axe is smaller, measure at most 30-inches and also lighter. Those were so that the user could also yield a shield along with the axe.

The large head of the battle axe is razor sharp and can chop bones with one strike. Despite its fairly big size, it remains fairly maneuverable in battle.

Use: Operated along with a shield in battle

10. Hewing Axe

Hewing Axe

The hewing axe has a unique blade head. This axe is designed specifically for turning round logs into square pieces of wood with flat surfaces. One side of the head is semi-round while the other side of the axe is perfectly flat.

The Hewing axe is mostly used in lumberjack yards and its use amongst the general public is limited. Furthermore, the user needs special skills to operate the hewing axe as this is not a chopping or cutting axe, but rather a specialty axe made for professionals.

Use: By using a combination of the round and flat head, a skilled user can transform a round log into a flat plank in a matter of minutes.


Choosing the right axe for the job is not very difficult. After all, people have been choosing their axes for centuries to get the job done. Some axes are heavy with great chopping power while others are smaller and more portable.

Get a model depending on your need and remember that axes are generally long-lasting tools that are always handy to have in the shed.

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