It’s easy to turn into an axe junkie. Honestly, it is. What starts out as a single purchase for the purpose of limbing a couple of trees soon turns into a passion and before you know it, you’re looking for the best hewing axe you can find.
And yet, you never knew such a thing existed. In fact, like most people, you probably thought all axes were the same. Welcome to the club, my friend. We’ve all been down this path. Now, about that hewing axe of yours. As with most things, choosing an axe is never easy. Especially one that you may not be too familiar with.
What is a Hewing Axe?
Like most types of axes, a hewing axe is designed for a particular purpose. While many people are familiar with wood axes, very few know what a hewing axe is.
Hewing axes feature a different design from other types of axes because they, unlike most axes that are designed for chopping, they are designed more for cutting and shaping wood. They were most commonly used for and are still used for cutting logs into timber beams. They are also used for carving and carefully shaving wood in order to sculpt the wood into something useful.
Hewing Axe – Design Features
While there are different types of hewing axes, they all have similar design features, and the most notable one being the bevel. The cutting edge of a hewing axe usually has a shallow bevel on one side while the other side is kept flat. This gives the axe a chisel-like look. And like a chisel, this design allows for shallow cutting that is necessary for ensuring that the wood is cut carefully and precisely.
The one big disadvantage of this type of axe is that they can only be used as dedicated left or right-handed tools, depending on the side on which the bevel lies. Other types of hewing axes may also feature a double bevel and are used for projects that require a scalloped cut. Because of the design of the head, hewing axes are excellent for creating a flat wood face.
As you can well see from the design and main use of a hewing axe, this is not a type of axe everyone will find a use for, let alone love. But then again, you are not everyone. You are an artist with a love for working with wood. Now that you have a general idea of what a hewing axe is and its main purpose, let’s go ahead and look at the different types of hewing
The Hewing Axe - Understanding the Different Types
There are several types of hewing axes that you need to know. Each has its own specific purposes and excels in certain areas.
This is probably one of the most common types of hewing axe as it was the one used to sharp logs into beams before machines took over. You could actually say this is the axe that built America.
A broad axe usually features a wide blade of up to 13 inches or more. In order to turn logs into beams the axeman usually laid the log on the ground. He would then make short sweeping strikes to carefully slice the log into a flat faced beam. While modern technology has just but replaced the broad axe with mechanized saws, the broad axe is still sought after by enthusiasts and those who build log cabins off-grid. As for the handle, it is offset to keep the user’s hands safely away from the log being hewn.
A broad hatchet is a smaller version of a broad axe. Besides the difference in size, they also differ in that the broad hatchet has a straight handle as opposed to an offset one. Because of its design, it is mostly used for smaller projects, most of them one handed.
These are probably the most common hewing axes still in use today. As the name suggests, carving axes are used for carving, or shaping, wood into utensils, ornaments, or any other kind of woodware. Because they are smaller than their hatchet counterparts, they are capable of making more precise and controlled cuts. Carving axes can be used for many different-sized projects.
The way you position your hands on the handle determines the kind of cuts you make. For example, for hewing out bigger chunks of wood, you’ll have to hold the handle towards the end. For more precise and shallow cuts, the hand is placed closer to the axe head. A unique feature of a carving axe is its curved handle. This facilitates easier arcing strokes that are needed to make delicate slices.
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.
Awesome! Now that you are a pro on hewing axes, let’s go ahead and look at some of the best hewing axe brands you definitely need to consider as you look for the best axe for your growing collection.
The Top 3 Hewing Axe Brands You Need to Consider
One of the best things about axes is that they are durable pieces of equipment that will forever be relevant. Well, as long as there’s wood that is. Getting the right hewing axe is important as you will have to live with your purchase for a very long time. Get the wrong one and you’ll never hear the end of it from your wife. So let’s make sure to get the right one.
Gransfors Bruks is a small company that was established in the village of Gransfors, Sweden in 1906. With 110 years of skilled craftsmanship under its belt, the company has perfected the art and science of making some of the best axes on the planet. Although it’s a small company with about 32 members of staff, they make superb handcrafted axes. Quality is the company’s pillar and every axe comes with the smith’s signature as a means and a sign of quality control. When it comes to getting the best hewing axe, you can trust Gransfors to give the best - the Gransfors Broad Axe, model 1900. The Gransfors Broad Axe 1900 features a traditional hewing axe design, making it an excellent choice for squaring logs and planks. If ever you plan on building a log cabin and want to enjoy an authentic experience, then this hewing axe is the way to go. It will afford you nice straight timber surfaces with ease.
The Gransfors Bruks Broad Axe has 3 grind options for you to choose from. The first features a knife grind, where the axe is ground on both sides of the edge. This iteration of the broad axe is often used for making joints. However, it can still be used for all kinds of hewing too. The second option is a special order grind where only one side of the edge is ground. This is called a scissor grind. On this type of grind, the side of the head that does not have a ground bevel face is flat and is on the right-hand side of the edge. The flat side of the axe is sharper and is thus used when you require the log to be really smooth. A great example is when you are hewing structural timber. The other side is used for those times you don’t need a smooth surface. The third iteration of the Broad Axe is the reverse scissor grind, which is the exact opposite of the scissor grind.
The Gransfors Bruks Broad Axe also has 3 options when it comes to the angle of the handle. You can order it with the standard straight handle where the blade is parallel to the handle, or you can choose one with the handle angled to the left or right. Angled handles are simply a way of mitigating injury that may result from your hands hitting onto the log as you hew it. A simple way of determining the orientation of the handle is to hold the axe with the head up, handle down, and with the poll facing you. If the edge leans to the right, the axe is right-angled and a left-leaning edge means the hewing axe is left-angled. One of the best iterations you can find of this is the 5-star rated Gransfors Bruks Carpenter’s Axe. It may be a bit pricey at $229.95, but it certainly is worth every penny.
Council Tool is an American Tool company that has been building tools since 1886 and is headquartered in Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina. One of the main reasons Council Tools is renowned when it comes to axes is that they have mastered the art of creating well-balanced axes. When it comes to Hudson Bay axes, Council Tool has a few that are definitely worth adding to your collection. Let’s take a look at some of them.
The Council Tool 275Brd28c is a great example of one of their hewing axes. This one features bevels on both sides of the edge and has a gently curved handle American hewing axe. To protect your purchase from damage, Council Tools includes a leather sheath with your purchase. This will keep the edge from causing injury or harm while protecting it from being damaged as well. Like most hewing axes, this 3 out of 5 stars rated hewing axe was unavailable at the time this article was written. When you come across one, make sure to snap it up quickly before it disappears.
Husqvarna is one of the oldest tool and equipment company in the world. Founded in 1689 Sweden, the company features tools and equipment in every industry vertical from domestic appliances and power tools, to construction and mining equipment to everything in between, they have products there. What does that have to do with your hewing axe? It shows that Husqvarna is a brand to trust in equipping you with the best tool. One such axe is the Husqvarna 19–Inch Carpenter’s Axe.
Like the Council Tools hewing axe, this one features a symmetrical bevel, making it easier to use for different purposes. However, it still excels in what it was created to do – hewing. Because of its knife edge, many people have opted to make it their camping axe of choice as t is well-balanced and can be used with one or both hands easily. The curved handle only adds to its ease of use, making this a very good hewing axe – for woodworking or bushcrafting. Fortunately, this one is available from Amazon for $54.95 and has an impressive 4.5 out of 5 stars rating.
The Best Hewing Axe Brands – For the Love of Wood
A hewing axe is definitely for everyone. To appreciate its beauty and power, you have to use it for its intended purpose. While this type of axe is fast disappearing, you can still bump into a few, and when you do, be sure to pick them before someone beats you to it. And that’s especially if you find the ones made by our top 3 hewing axe brands reviewed above.