The 6 Best Carving Axes for Wood-Shaping Projects

If wood shaping is your next project, you definitely need the best carving axe. But how can you distinguish a good carving axe from the rest?

First, you need to consider the quality of steel used to make the head. Second, evaluate the material and design on the handle. Lastly, check the length and weight of the axe.

You may be overwhelmed by the numerous options available. For this reason, I have compiled a list of the six best carving axes to guide you.

Quick Overview

Here is a brief highlight of some of the best carving axes for wood-shaping in the market today:

My Recommendations

This buying guide features a list of six axes that are superior in design and performance. In addition, they are comfortable to use over long periods and durable.

I have explained the features available in each product in detail and the reasons for recommending it. Reading this detailed review will get you a step closer to finding the best carving axe.

Let’s roll…

Best Overall Carving Axe for Wood-Shaping – Gransfors Bruks, Large Swedish Carving Axe

The Gransfors Bruks large Swedish carving axe takes the best overall carving axe. It acquires its design from the traditional carving techniques of Swedish wood.

Two famous Swedish craftsmen, Onni Linnaheimo and Wille Sundqvist, collaborated in crafting this excellent carving axe.

They drew inspiration from their experience and old designs to produce this model.

Here are the reasons why I recommend the Gransfors Bruks Large Swedish axe as the best overall carving axe:

  • The broad beveled face makes it easier to make curved carvings.
  • The textured handle gives you a firm grip, especially when making precise cuts.
  • Its weighty head maximizes the carving power.
  • The curved design on the heft makes it great for carving shapes.
  • The cutting edge is long and curved.
  • Gransfors offers to make customized carving axes for left and right-handed users.
  • It can serve as a multi-purpose tool.
  • It has an ergonomic handle for added comfort.
  • The axe does not throw large chips.
  • Lightweight and portable as it weighs 2.2 lbs.
  • It features a double bevel.
  • The blade is made of proprietary steel.
  • It has excellent grain orientation.

What’s Included?

  • Axe book
  • Vegetable-tanned leather sheath

My Favorite Feature: “Curved Handle”

  • The curved handle makes it adaptable to your palm.

Since carving requires you to swing your arm extensively, the curved handle gives you a better grip, an easy time, maximum control, and precision.

Best Performance Carving Axe for Wood-Shaping – Mapsyst Bearded Hatchet

Just one look at the Mapsyst bearded hatchet, and you can tell the axe is a performer. The axe got its design from a skilled master in spoon and bowl making.

This sturdy model can cut through softwood and hardwood. For this reason, experienced carvers prefer the axe for its quality, design of the head, and handle.

I believe the Mapsyst Bearded Hatchet is the best performance carving axe based on these features:

  • It weighs 1.3 lbs.
  • The straight handle makes it versatile.
  • The two-blade designs are suitable for chopping, splitting, sports, and carving bowls and spoons.
  • The axe is lightweight due to the curved blade.
  • Its carbon magnesium blade is rustproof.
  • The razor-sharp blade is ready to curve right after purchase.
  • It features an ergonomic handle.

What’s Included?

  • Mapsyst bearded hatchet

My Favorite Feature: “Versatility”

  • The Mapsyst bearded hatchet/axe can work as a hatchet or a carving axe.

One edge is designed for chopping and splitting. The adze blade, on the other hand, is suitable for detailing spoons and bowls.

Besides, you can use this tool in your workshop or outdoors.

Best Runner-Up Carving Axe for Wood-Shaping – 1844 Helko Werk German Rheinland

Made in Wuppertal, Germany, the 1844 Helko Werk is excellent for cutting and carving. Besides, it is worth mentioning its outstanding design.

According to Rheinland’s smithing traditions, once the head is drop-forged, it is left unpolished. Doing so creates a unique and rustic look of the forging marks.

So, if you order two axes from Rheinland, be assured that each axe will have a distinctive look.

I recommend the 1844 Hello Werk German Rheinland as the best runner-up carving axe based on these features:

  • The head is drop-forged with German C50 carbon steel.
  • For maximum performance, the head is heat treated then hardened by oil.
  • The handle is made of grade A-American hickory.
  • It has a secure handle that is hung using wood and attached steel-ring wedges.
  • The 14” length is compact and portable.
  • The axe has excellent edge retention.
  • The 150-grit sanded handle is comfortable when carving, kindling, and cutting.
  • It can work as a survival axe, camping axe, or throwing axe.
  • The long, slim, flat head is specifically designed to cut across the grain.

What’s Included?

  • Axe guard bottle
  • Leather sheath

My Favorite Feature: “Dropforging”

  • Drop forging involves holding the hot steel with tongs while hammering it repeatedly.

The German C50 carbon steel is drop forged to obtain the correct shape, size, and quality. This process improves the axe’s ductility and mechanical properties.

Best Value Carving Axe for Wood-Shaping – Gransfors Bruks Carpenter’s Axe

The Gransfors Bruks makes it for the second time on this list. This premium carpenter’s axe is hand-forged to make it stronger and durable.

The model is perfect for hewing beams and shaping wood. With a 20-year warranty, the axe is built to last.

I believe that the Gransfors Bruks Carpenter’s Axe is the best in its category because of the following reasons:

  • It features a thin, low-angle bevel face blade that facilitates stability, control, and rigidity.
  • The small recess on the blade’s edge helps you control movement by applying minimal force with your finger.
  • The straight shape on the handle gives you maximum control, balance, and speed.
  • The blade is razor-sharp.
  • The durable hickory handle measures 18’’ long.
  • With its 3-1/2’’ broad face, you only take 1-2 strokes when operating on the hardwood.
  • It is effective as a hammer and knife.
  • The hickory handle is nicely oiled to reduce blisters.
  • It is lightweight.
  • It comes with a 20-year warranty.

What’s Included?

  • Leather sheath

My Favorite Feature: “Forged Inward Curve”

  • The inward curve that runs from the heel to the axe’s head gives users a better grip.

With this feature, your hand can grip the axe from close proximity to the edge. This improves precision when shaping.

Best Premium Carving Axe for Wood-Shaping – Hults Bruk Akka Forester’s Outdoor Axe

As the name suggests, Hults Bruk axe is perfect for the outdoors.

Since 1697, Hults Bruk has made it its mission to design and manufacture perfect premium axes. It makes sense that this model is multi-functional.

The outdoor axe is ideal for bush crafting, wilderness trips, backpacking, hunting, camping, and wood shaping.

Here are some of the reasons why I believe Hults Bruk Akka Forester’s Outdoor Axe stands out in its category:

  • The Swedish steel head delivers superior quality and durability.
  • The head is pre-sharpened.
  • It weighs 2.2 lbs., which is easy to carry around.
  • The head has a tempered zone that holds the razor-sharp edges despite continuous usage.
  • The axe head is hand grind to increase density and durability.
  • The finger notch and ground edge make it easy to shape wood.
  • The 24’’ handle and 1.5 lbs. head facilitate exceptional power and leverage.
  • Its handle is made of American hickory.
  • It has a strong grain.
  • The sheath has a welt that protects the edge.

What’s Included?

  • Leather sheath

My Favorite Feature: “Easy to Sharpen”

  • The axe is ready to use right after purchase. However, if the edges get blunt after use, you can sharpen the axe easily.

Since the blade is made of Swedish steel, it does not need to be sharpened frequently.

Best Budget Carving Axe for Wood-Shaping – Prandi German Style Hatchet

If you are not looking to spend a fortune on a quality carving axe, get the Prandi German hatchet.

The Prandi head is made in Italy then assembled in Germany. Unfortunately, the axe is not pre-sharpened for safety reasons. Therefore, you have to sharpen it upon arrival.

Here are the reasons why I believe Prandi German-style hatchet is the best budget carving axe:

  • It quickly digs in wood thanks to its flat, thin blade radius.
  • It is ideal for carving spoons and bowls.
  • It has a robust grain-oriented handle.
  • The head is made of C45 steel.
  • Its head is hung nicely.
  • The German-style design stands out.

What’s Included?

  • Leather sheath

My Favorite Feature: “Hickory Handle”

  • The hickory handle has a smooth grain orientation.

The finishing includes a smooth varnish coat that makes the axe appealing and durable. Should the coating come off, you can apply tinsel oil for a better grip.


A good carving axe needs to have a thin but strong cutting head. The above axes are made of high-quality steel and have thin edges for precise cuts.

After considering all features, I recommend the Gransfors Bruks Large Swedish Carving Axe, as the best overall carving axe.

Its weighty head, double bevel, and textured handle come in handy when shaping wood. Besides, you can use it for felling, chopping, and splitting.

I believe this review will help you find a suitable carving axe for your wood shaping project.

James Thomas

James Thomas

Tool Enthusiast

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