Different Types of Axes and How to Use Them

Axes are a tool that humans have relied on for centuries. Today, the axe is most commonly used in the yard or outdoor activities, such as camping, however, the type of axe you need will depend on what you need it for. Whatever the case is, axes are important tools that have two main components, a handle, and a head. There are a variety of axes available to purchase today, and you may find that those two main components stated previously may be different depending on the axe you’re looking at. The typical axe handle is made from a variety of materials like wood, steel, fiberglass, or plastic, however, most quality axe heads are made from steel.

Now that you know the basics let’s jump in. We put together a list of different types of axes and their uses that will help you get a better understanding of how to use them. Keep reading to find Different Types of Axes and Their Uses

Felling Axe

A felling axe is one of the most useful axes you can buy today. This is probably what comes to mind when you think of axes, these axes are specifically designed for felling trees and chopping wood. These axes have a long handle that allows the user to have more leverage and a more powerful swing. The axe blade is thin with a flared end. Keep in mind this axe was made to cut against the grain of the wood.


  • A sharp and thin blade.
  • A long handle, usually about two feet long


A hatchet is generally bought by people who are looking for an all-purpose axe. Hatchets are small in comparison to other axes. They have chunky handles most commonly made from hickory and the head is weighted. Due to their lightweight and small size, hatchets are ideal for someone who needs to carry an axe while they’re camping or hiking. A hatchet is especially great for those activities because hatchets make chopping wood a lot easier than if you were using something like a machete.


  • Smaller version of a felling axe
  • Weigh about 1 pound
  • Sharp thin blade
  • 12″ handle


Tomahawks originate from North America, They were first used by Native Americans. Tomahawk axes closely resemble hatchets, however, they have a straight handle and weigh less. The straight handle makes Tomahawks easier to throw and their sharp blade makes them useful for a range of jobs. Tomahawks have become very popular for camping and for good reason. They are smaller than hatchets and are multifunctional, you are able to use them for a variety of bushcraft activities.


  • A small blade with a straight edge
  • The handle’s length varies. Longer handles are for chopping (13″ – 19″) and shorter handles are for throwing (10″ – 13″)

Splitting Maul

Splitting maul axes are a heavy type of axe that is used specifically for splitting wood along the grain. These axes usually have a heavy wedge-shaped head weighing about eight pounds, and it has a sharp edge on one end and a blunt edge on the other. However, a good thing to keep in mind is the sharp edge doesn’t need to be extremely sharp in order to be functional. The shape and weight of the blade are what’s most important because that does most of the work. Because of this, splitting mauls need to be sharpened much less frequently than other axes.


  • Heavy axe head, usually weighs 5+ pounds.
  • Long handle usually longer than 30”.

Broad Axe

A broad axe, also known as a hewing axe, is commonly used for hewing. Hewing is the process of turning round-edged lumber into flat-edged timber. Hewing is a type of carpentry that was done before industrial sawmills came into existence. Today, most people rely on sawmills but a broad axe can still be useful for smaller jobs. This is a medium-sized axe that is really only used by carpenters.


  • Flattened blade in a variety of shapes that’s parallel with the handle rather than perpendicular.
  • Traditionally a slightly curved grip for fine control.

Double Bit Axe

Double bit axes have a double-sided blade, which really opens up the possibilities of what you can do with them. The sides are symmetrical from the front, but usually, one blade is blunt and the other is sharp. The sharp side is used to chop wood or fell trees, and the blunt side used to split the wood into small pieces. 


  • Double-sided axe head, many options for material, style, and shape.
  • Can have various handles, most are usually long and designed to be comfortable for heavy use.


A pickaxe is an axe that has a T-shape. They usually have a fiberglass or wooden handle with a double-sided metal head. A pickaxe is really good for gardening and landscaping. It is useful for breaking up rocks, hard soil, or concrete. Some pickaxes have a chisel end, usually, this end is commonly used to pry open gaps between rocks.


  • Doubles sided, T-shaped axe
  • Usually, weigh between 2 – 5 pounds

Ice Axe

Different Types of Axes and Their Uses: Ice Axe

Ice axes are an extremely important tool for ice climbers, backpackers, and hikers that climb and travel on icy terrain. The blade on these axes have curves and serrated edges with sharp points that dig into the ground drip the ice.


  • Axe head made of stainless steel
  • Shaped like a pickaxe with a serrated edge
  • Stainless steel handle that allows a sturdy and comfortable grip

There are Different Types of Axes and Their Uses! We hope this helped you get a better understanding of different types of axes and their uses! Have you seen all of these axe types before? Please feel free to leave a comment, we would love to hear from you! 

Are you looking for more tool guides? If so check out some of our other articles, Kobalt vs DeWalt: Can the New Kid Challenge the Powerhouse?, Radial Arm Saw vs Table Saw: Which is More Useful for Your Shop?, How to Find the Best Manual Log Splitter, and Best Reel Mower – The Complete Buyer’s Guide!

About Brianna Goulet

Brianna is a freelance writer who covers home decor, DIY projects, and tool reviews. She’s written for a variety of sites on these topics. She's originally from Massachusetts but she's currently living in Florida.

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