The Ultimate Guide to the 8 Most Common Types of Axes You Need to Know


You don’t have to be a modern-day Daniel Boone to know the different types of axes and their uses. While many people think that axes are only for big burly men with bushy chest hairs, axe use is actually for everyone. And once you taste one, you definitely won’t want to stop.

Having knowledge of the different types of axes and their uses is an invaluable asset, especially if you put it to use. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you’ll find some useful information in this guide. The world of axes is an exciting world that offers more than meets the eye. Unfortunately, most people consider axes as rugged tools that are just meant for brute force. That is certainly not true as you will find out. Axes are beautiful, graceful, and definitely useful. So let’s cut to the chase and get started.

Comparison Table

8 Common Types of Axes Available Today


Image source: Pixabay

Let’s get down to the types of axes that are available for us today. While some of them serve specific purposes, there are a number that are multipurpose tools. And others still are collectibles or simply serve a recreational purpose. So why is it important for you to know and understand the different types of axes?

It’s simple. So that you become more effective as you wield your axe. Many people wrongly assume that the only difference between axes is the size. But the differences go deeper than that. Understanding an axe
and its purpose will help you use it in the right way, thus increasing your effectiveness and productivity.

Let’s get to it then, shall we?

1. Felling Axes


We’ll start by taking a look at the axe that usually begins the woodworking process – the felling axe. A felling axe, as its name suggests serves the main purpose of cutting down trees. It “fells” them. Felling axes are among the most powerful axes due to their design, which is, of course, dictated by their purpose. A good felling axe in the right hands is even able to bring down even the thickest of trees.

When it comes to felling axes, you’ll find that there are various types too. They will come in different sizes for different people and different trees. For example, you’ll find that there are felling hatchets for smaller trees. When you are looking for a felling axe, or any axe for that matter, make sure you choose a size that you are comfortable with and capable of handling.

An axe is a powerful tool that can cause great damage and harm if not used properly. The general design of felling axes usually features an extremely sharp, thin bit (cutting edge) and a slowly tapered head. This design makes it easy to cut across the wood grain as deeply as possible with each stroke. The axe head usually weighs about 2.5 to 3.5 pounds, while the handles run between 28 to 36-inches handle.

2. Splitting Axes

TABOR TOOLS Chopping Axe, Hand Axe, Camp Hatchet for Splitting Kindling and Chopping Branches, with Strong Fiberglass Handle and Anti-Slip Grip. J57A. (Chopping Axe, 24" Handle)
  • FIRE WOOD AXE. Hatchet for chopping fire wood or preparing kindling from small- to medium-sized logs. The over-all length is 27", the handle is 24". Perfect for campers, hikers, outdoor activities. Practical item to keep in the car or the boat. Good balance between head and shaft for safe, comfortable and efficient use.
  • EASY STORAGE. The blade comes with a rubber protective band for safe storage and transport. After use, simply apply the rubber protective sleeve and hang the hatchet from the handle after use! Can fit into ATV baskets.
  • RESHARPENABLE BLADE. The head of the steel head has a protective coating and the cutting blade features a fully polished finished edge. The blade can be easily resharpened with a file.
  • FIBERGLASS HANDLE WITH COMFORT GRIP. The sturdy yet light-weight fiberglass handle provides you with all the strength you need. The handle has a bright orange color which increases visibility, so the tool is easily located in the garage, garden or in the woods. The handle has and has a cushioned rubber non-slip handle grip, which is shock absorbent, reducing hand strain. Optimal anti shock surface structure ensures a comfortable, firm grip.
  • ORDER WITH CONFIDENCE. The TABOR TOOLS customer satisfaction guarantee means exactly that. We will fix any problems quickly and answer to your need every time. We are always available to help our customers; our service record is unmatched!


After you have felled your tree, you may want to grab a splitting axe if you want to convert your logs into firewood. I know you love the sharp edge and lightweight feel of your felling axe, but those are the very qualities that make it difficult to use for splitting wood. A splitting axe, sometimes called a splitting maul, has a dull edge compared to a felling axe and features a heavier axe head. These design features make it able to do what it was designed to do – split wood. Unlike a felling axe that thrives on deep cuts, a splitting cut is meant to cut against the grain. The force of the axe and its dull head force the log to split, hence the name.

While splitting logs is a simple skill that anyone can learn in a short space of time, it’s still important to practice safety whenever you are splitting wood. One of those safety measures is to wear closed shoes when splitting logs. Another safety measure is your stance. Stand in a comfortable position with feet slightly apart and the log position in your front center. Yes, it gives you the balance you need to land the perfect blow, but it is meant to protect your feet as well in the event that a log or the axe itself comes down for your precious feet.


Splitting axes, like felling axes and every other type of axe, also come in many different sizes. However, one of the biggest differences between a splitting axe and the other types of axes is that it features a heavier axe head that is wedge-shaped and weighs between 6 to 8 pounds. They also have a broad, flat poll (the rear of the head) that works like a hammer to either drive a wedge into the log or to hit a second blow that will split the wood completely.

3. Hatchet

Estwing Camper's Axe - 14" Hatchet with Forged Steel Construction & Shock Reduction Grip - EO-25A
  • FORGED IN ONE PIECE – The most durable, longest lasting striking tools available
  • OUTDOOR VERSITILITY - Perfect for chopping logs, small trees & branches or splitting firewood & kindling
  • HEAVY DUTY SHEATH - Includes ballistic nylon sheath to protect hand sharpened cutting edge
  • PATENTED SHOCK REDUCTION GRIP – Comfortable, durable & reduces impact vibration by 70%
  • MADE IN THE USA – Our tools are proudly crafted in Rockford, IL using the finest American steel


A hatchet is a small axe usually serves many purposes. This is also the most common type of axe for that very reason. Most of the times, people buy hatchets to use as a camping axe. That is, an axe they use to fell small trees, chop wood, fashion a walking stick or poles, and many other purposes.

Because of their compact nature, hatchets are easier to carry around. They are also easier to use and control, making them a better axe option for people who are smaller. Even large people tend to appreciate hatchets as they can use them in a one-handed fashion, increasing the versatility of use. Don’t underestimate the power of a hatchet though. Just because it looks small doesn’t mean it’s not powerful. Used correctly, a hatchet can work wonders in many situations.

4. Hudson Bay Axes


The Hudson Bay axe is an interesting axe that was introduced to the Americas by French fur traders who were plying the Hudson Bay route. That is why the axe is called the Hudson Bay axe. A Hudson Bay axe is more like a smaller version of the felling axe. In fact, they are usually three quarters the size, and hence they are sometimes referred to as a three-quarter axe. They also feature a smaller lighter head which is usually around 2 pounds in weight.

This makes the Hudson Bay axe easier to carry and wield. Especially for the French traders who introduced them, they were very handy as they did not add much weight to their already heavy luggage. They were also helpful in clearing trees in their path or to cut down small trees when setting up camp. And that is the very reason this type of axe is very popular among campers and everyone who loves spending time outdoors.

Don’t be too ambitious with your Hudson Bay axe though. It may be a smaller version of the felling axe, but it is not suited for felling big trees due to its thinner blade. Design-wise, it features a 2-pound axe head and handles that are between 22 to 28-inches long. If you are looking for a great multipurpose axe, the Hudson Bay axe is it. Of all the many types of axes, this is probably the one with the perfect balance between practicality and portability.

5. The Hewing Axes


This is a type of axe that is losing its function as it is  being fast replaced by mechanized axes and saws. Hewing axes, also called broad axes, are a type of axe that is most commonly used for woodworking purposes. They are designed for precision cutting, slicing, and shaping. This type of axe is popular with people who build log cabins and carpenters as they are excellent when it comes to preparing timber or planks for beams or panels.

Primarily, a hewing axe is used to carve flat surfaces out of rounded logs. To do this, it is designed differently from the other types of axes. The main design difference is found in the shape of the head and the styling of the cutting edge. The head of a hewing axe is designed to be left or right handed as opposed to being symmetrical, of which all other axe heads are. As mentioned, Hewing axe refers to a category of axes, particularly those used in woodworking. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular types of Hewing axes.

Broad Axe

Muller, Biber Broad-Axe Classic S Style Left 7045,01 Hand Forged in Austria
  • Hand Forged in Austria for true quality
  • Left-bevel broad axe is sharpened with the bevel on the left side of the blade. The right side of the blade is flat
  • 35" long Hickory handle, is non offset for better control. The longer length keeps your hand clear of the workpiece instead of being offset
  • 12 inch blade for serious hewing work
  • Biber Classic is Muller's premium line, featuring quality hickory handles and classic forged finish.

This is probably one of the most common types of hewing axe as it is the one commonly used to sharp logs into beams. Broad axes usually feature a wide blade of up to 13 inches and a handle that is a bit offset to help mitigate injuries.

Broad Hatchet

SEPTLS18411554 - Broad Hatchets
  • Head Material - Forged Steel
  • Cutting Length - 4 1/2 in
  • Handle Material - Hickory
  • Head Weight - 36 oz
  • Type - Broad Hatchet

A broad hatchet is a smaller version of a broad axe and is used for one-handed projects. Unlike its bigger brother, it has a straight handle.

Carving Axe

As the name suggests, carving axes are used for carving, or shaping, wood. They are also smaller than broad hatchets and offer more precision. This makes them perfect for delicate parts of woodworking. Carving axes feature a curved handle that facilitates easier arcing strokes that are needed to make delicate cuts.

Carpenter’s Axe

Husqvarna 20 in. Wooden Curved Carpenter Axe, Orange/Gray - 596271201
  • Axe is designed for fine control during carpentry projects
  • Premium hand-forged carpenter’s axe head
  • Made with hickory and Swedish steel
  • Comes with a leather edge cover
  • Made in Sweden

A carpenter’s axe, like the carving axe, is also designed to be used with one hand. It is lighter than a carving axe and differs in the technique used and the results it produces. Because it features a straight edge and handle, it is used more for chopping as opposed to slicing as is the case with a carving axe. As you can see, Hewing axes are a big family of axes. These are just a few examples, there are many other types you will encounter on your journey to woodworking.

6. Double Bit Axes

Estwing Double Bit Axe - 38 oz Wood Spitting Tool with Forged Steel Construction & Shock Reduction Grip - EBDBA,Black
  • FORGED STEEL CONSTRUCTION – Maximum strength and durability for a lifetime of hard work
  • OUTDOOR VERSITILITY - Perfect for chopping logs, small trees & branches or splitting firewood & kindling
  • HEAVY DUTY SHEATH - Includes ballistic nylon sheath to protect hand sharpened cutting edge
  • PATENTED SHOCK REDUCTION GRIP – Comfortable, durable & reduces impact vibration by 70%
  • MADE IN THE USA – Our tools are proudly crafted in Rockford, IL using the finest American steel


Double bit axes are an interesting type of axes. They look savage. That is probably why they are featured in many movies and games as the weapon of choice for barbarians and Viking warlords. But that isn’t that far from the truth as they, at one time, were used as weapons.

Double bit axes, as the name implies, have 2 cutting edges on the 2 opposite sides of the axe head. The advantage of a double bit axe is that you have 2 axes in one as the 2 bits have different types of blades or cutting edges. One is usually sharper than the other. The reason for this is that each bit has its own purpose. For example, one side can be used for felling trees while the other can be used as a splitting axe.

Because of the nature of their design, double bit axes take a bit of a learning curve to master. They are heavier and not as well balanced as other types of axes and this will affect the way you swing. While they may feel a bit awkward at first, once you get used to them, they are just a pleasure to swing. Besides, they are definitely attention grabbers (and the ladies will swoon over you).

7. Tactical Axes

iunio Camping Axe, Hatchet with Sheath, Multi-Tool, Camp Ax, Survival Gear, Folding Portable Tools, for Hiking, Backpacking, Emergency, Hunting, Outdoor (Black)
  • A Survival Multi-Tool! Several uses in one survival axe that can be used for splitting small logs, preparing kindling as well as extracting yourself or others from vehicles, breaking glass/windows, wilderness navigation, building shelters, starting fires and engraving, Boy Scout and wilderness survival training and more. The usefulness is limited only by your imagination! You do not need to be an expert survivalist to benefit from the multiple uses of this survival axe.
  • Hatchet with Ingenious Tubular Engineering! This survival axe assembles or disassembles smoothly. Partially assembled, it can be a short axe if you are in a close and compact situation or fully assembled for regular use. This axe can be different sizes for different trips. Furthermore, the tube sections each have available space for small first aid kits, fishing gear and tackle, survival gear or anything else you can imagine. This is a good "back up" hatchet to have for "just in case" needs!
  • Camping Axe with Protective Sheath/Camo Wrap! Comes with protective sheath, which protects the blade for extra safety! Easy to attach to your belt like a really cool bushcraft warrior! Camo wrap is also included not only for visual enhancement but the wrap also provides the user both a better grip and cushioning for the hands.
  • Great Gift Idea: It has many features a stand alone ax doesn't have. Fantastic tool for a long term "bug out bag" or a camping, fishing, off road or hunting trip. Best gift for Campers, Hikers, Hunters, Fishermen, Survivalists, Preppers, Outdoor Enthusiasts, Backpackers, Boy Scouts, or anyone needing tactical and practical tools for your car, SUV, truck, van or RV.
  • Iunio camping hatchet lasts for life: Our hatchets are built to last! You take care of our hatchet and we'll take care of you! All replacement requests are supported by our awesome customer service team anytime!!!


Tactical axes, also called combat axes or Tomahawks, are a modern take on the native Indian Tomahawk. These are different from other types of axes in that they do more than chopping and splitting. Tactical axes are used for anything from breaching to digging to throwing at targets to cutting through iron sheets.

Heck, tactical axes basically do it all. Some even have built-in tools like wrenches. While tactical axes are more common with uniformed services, they are also popular with survivalists as they are a very versatile tool. While traditional axes feature steel and wood as their materials of choice, tactical axes mainly feature composite materials that are tough yet light. The handles are also always straight and ergonomic to allow the axe to be used in different situations. The straight handle also makes it easier to throw.

8. Recreational


There are certain types of axes that were very relevant in the past but sadly have lost their use in modern times. Unless of course you simply want to collect them or play with them. An axe is a beautiful thing that can make a perfect ornament as it hangs on your wall – a piece of art if I may. Let’s take a look at 2 such types.

The Battle Axe

Battle axes, like their name suggests, were mainly weapons of war and nothing else. This legendary weapon was held in one hand and was usually used in conjunction with a shield. Because of the sharp blade and short handle, they made the perfect weapon for piercing through armor. While you can still buy a battle axe, you obviously won’t be using it for its intended purpose. Unless the rumored zombie apocalypse turns out to be true, that is. In which case, you’ll definitely be well equipped. However, the main reason people buy battle axes is simply for the sake of dressing up or just having fun with them.

Viking Axes

If you enjoy Viking movies and culture, you’ll certainly love the Viking axe. Even if you don’t particularly have an interest in Viking culture, the beauty of this type of axe will definitely impress you. A Viking ax is different from a battle axe, mainly in the design department, but like the battle axe, it was designed to cause grievous bodily harm on the battlefield. There are other types of axes that are now no longer in use but do make for beautiful specimens to add to your collection. Even if it’s just for the purpose of admiring the craftsmanship.

The Different Types of Axes - Now You’re in the Know

There you have it. With this ultimate guide to the different types of axes, you are now more knowledgeable than the average person. Axes are not as simple as they appear to be. There’s more to them than meets the eye. And once you go beyond the surface into the real world of axes, you definitely won’t want to come back.   So which type of axe strongly resonates with you? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.


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