8 Best Carving Axes (For Wood-Shaping Projects)

Last Updated on October 23, 2022 by Barry Gray

Axes are versatile tools. Not only do they help you chop down trees and split firewood, they also help you with carving! So, if shaping wood is on your agenda, one of the first things you need is a carving axe. 

But all axes are not suitable for carving, and if you are a beginner, you might have trouble distinguishing between a general-purpose axe and a carving axe. This is why I have put together this list of 8 best carving axes. Let’s dig in! (Pun intended.)

wooden spoons made with carving axe

Best Premium Carving AxeGransfors Bruks Large Swedish Carving Axe

  • Length: 14.5 inches
  • Handle type: Wood
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs

Developed in collaboration with two Swedish master craftsmen based on old Swedish carving techniques, the Gransfors Bruks is the premium choice when it comes to carving axes. It has a long and curved cutting edge which is double-sided and a broad beveled face that makes it easy to carve wood. You can also customize the axe according to whether you are left-handed or right-handed. 

The curved design on the heft as well as the weighty head of the axe maximize its carving power. The handle has an excellent grain orientation and provides a good amount of friction, making it easier for you to hold. You can also place a special order with a carved handle for a better grip and precise cuts. This ergonomic handle will aid you in making precise cuts. 

The blade of the carving axe is made out of proprietary steel. It is also lightweight and portable. You can use it as a multi-purpose tool. Each order comes with an axe book and a vegetable-tanned leather sheath to store your tool safely. The handle is made rugged and uneven to give you a better grip, but if you want a smoother handle, you can sand it. 


  • Premium quality
  • Long and curved cutting edge
  • Double beveled
  • Blade made out of proprietary steel
  • Broad beveled face
  • Can be customized based on which hand you use to swing the axe
  • The handle has an excellent grain orientation
  • Easy to hold and swing
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Multi-purpose tool


  • Very expensive
  • Complaints about the handle having a poor finish
  • Not suitable for beginners

My Thoughts: If you are serious about wood carving, I definitely recommend this carving axe. It is one of the best carving axes in the market and is definitely well worth the price.

Best Carving Axe for Wood ShapingHults Bruk Jonaker Hatchet

  • Length: 9.4 inches
  • Handle type: Wood
  • Head weight: 1 lbs

The Hults Bruk Jonaker Hatchet is the company’s most compact axe, making it ideal for carving. This small and lightweight axe is designed to be precise and can be carried around in your backpack or even worn on your belt. 

The blade of the axe is made out of Swedish steel and is hand forged. The steel is repeatedly struck to increase its density, making it very durable. The blade also holds a very sharp edge even after multiple sharpenings. The handle of the axe is made out of American hickory and is treated with linseed oil. It is curved, making it easy to grip. There have been some complaints about fine splinters on the handle, but a bit of sanding should take care of that. 

The bevel is perfect for refined work. Each axe comes with a leather sheath, a storage box, and a detailed manual. The leather sheath has a loop which you can use to hook the carving axe to your belt. Overall, a sturdy and razor-sharp tool that will last you for years to come!


  • Very sharp
  • Very highly rated
  • Compact and lightweight, making it ideal for carving
  • Hand forged with Swedish steel
  • Durable
  • The curved handle makes it easy to grip
  • Bevel is ideal for refined work
  • Can be hooked to your belt or carried in your backpack


  • Complaints of splinters on the handle
  • Expensive

My Thoughts: This little carving axe is ideal for carving, especially if you tend to travel around a lot and are looking for a small tool. It is an expensive tool, but it more than makes up for it!

Best Carving Axe for Experienced CarversMapsyst Bearded Hatchet

  • Length: 14 inches
  • Handle type: Wood
  • Weight: 1.8 lbs

One look at the Mapsyst bearded hatchet and you can tell that it is a performer. The axe got its design from a skilled carver and is sturdy enough to cut through softwood as well as hardwood. A lot of experienced carvers prefer this tool. This carving axe has been made with great attention to detail and is very sharp! It is lightweight and feels solid in your hands. 

The blade is made out of carbon-magnesium and won’t rust. It is also sharp enough to start carving as soon as you take it out of the box. My favorite feature is the two-blade design. One edge can be used for carpenting work, and the adze blade can be used to carve bowls and spoons. The tool has a straight handle that makes it versatile. It is easy to grip and is durable. Overall, it is a solid carving axe. Shipping does take time since it is handmade and being shipped from outside the U.S, so be prepared to wait for your order to arrive. 


  • Sturdy
  • Double-blade design
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Very sharp
  • Lightweight
  • Carbon-magnesium blade won’t rust
  • Handmade


  • Shipping takes time
  • Complaints of the axe being delivered with a twisted handle 

My Thoughts: A perfect carving axe for experienced carvers! I especially love the blade design and the fact that this tool is versatile. It will be your trusted carving companion for years to come. 

Best Value for The Money1844 Helko Werk Germany Traditional Rheinland Pack Axe

  • Length: 20 inches
  • Handle type: Wood
  • Head weight: 1.5 lbs

Hand forged in Germany, the 1844 Helko Werk is an excellent cutting and carving axe. Lightweight and compact, this tool is easy to use. You can also carry it around in your backpack. As per the smithing traditions of Rheinland, the head is left unpolished after being drop-forged to create a unique and rustic look. This means that no two Helko Werk axes will ever look the same. 

The Helko Werk has a grade A American hickory handle that is treated with linseed oil and sanded sustainably using 150 grit for a smooth finish. The handle is individually selected for grain orientation and density. It is easy to hold and comfortable to use. 

The axe head is drop forged by hand with German C50 carbon steel, which improves the tool’s ductility and mechanical properties. Following this, it is heat treated and hardened by oil for maximum performance. The blade has excellent edge retention and the long, slim flat head is designed specifically to cut across the grain. Apart from carving, it can be used for various other purposes as well. The carving axe comes with a leather sheath as well as an axe guard bottle. 


  • Highly rated
  • Hand forged
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Easy to hold and use
  • Drop forged with German C50 carbon steel
  • Heat treated and hardened
  • Great edge retention
  • The long, slim flat head is designed specifically to cut across the grain
  • Comes with a leather sheath and an axe guard bottle 


  • Expensive
  • Some pieces might have slight misshapenness due to hand forging
  • Complaints of axe head coming loose

My Thoughts: Need a versatile carving axe that can also be used as a camping axe and throwing axe? Get the 1844 Helko Werk. It is a great carving axe that is well worth the money and will not let you down!

Best Carving Axe for BeginnersBeaverCraft Carving Axe

  • Length: 12 inches
  • Handle type: Wood
  • Head weight: 1.76 lbs

Made by BeaverCraft, the hatchet is the perfect carving axe – especially for beginners. This is a beautiful tool with the perfect amount of heaviness; it is neither too heavy, nor too light.

The handle is small to help you carve faster. It is treated with linseed oil and has a knurled finish for a better grip. The blade is razor sharp with flat bevels to give you more control over your cuts. It is made using carbon steel with silicone and manganese to increase its toughness. The axe itself is lightweight, so you won’t be tired from using it. 

The blade is also induction hardened and tempered. A sheath made out of leather is also included. Apart from carving, you can use the BeaverCraft hatchet for splitting, kindling, and camping as well. My favorite part about this carving axe is that it is super affordable!


  • Perfect carving axe for beginners
  • Very affordable
  • Ideal weight
  • The small handle helps you carve faster
  • Razor sharp blade with flat bevels
  • Tough and durable
  • The handle has a knurled finish, giving you a better grip


  • Limited stock
  • Shipping will take time

My Thoughts: If you need an axe for carving, then you should buy one specifically designed for it! I personally love the Robin Wood – it is a great tool for a very affordable price. It is also a favorite among carvers and has been described as a “chisel on steroids.”

Best Carving Axe With a Long HandleHults Bruk Akka Foresters Premium Outdoor Axe

  • Length: 24 inches
  • Handle type: Wood
  • Head weight: 1.5 lbs

When it comes to carving, axes with short handles are preferred as they don’t slow you down. But axes with long handles can also make great carving tools, and the Hults Bruk Akka is a great example of this! The axe head is hand forged out of Swedish axe steel and delivers superior quality as well as durability. The steel is struck multiple times to increase the density, so you can be sure that it will last you a long time. 

The axe head is pre-sharpened, so it is ready to use right out of the box. Even if the edges start losing their sharpness, you can easily use an axe sharpener to get the razor-sharpness back! The head also has a tempered zone that holds the sharp edge even after continuous usage. The finger notch as well as the ground edge make it very easy to shape wood

The handle is 24 inches long, made out of American hickory, and treated with linseed oil. It has a strong grain and a curve to increase strike surety. There have been complaints about the handle being too rough, but it is nothing a little sanding cannot fix. The carving axe comes with a leather sheath for safe storage. The sheath even has a welt that protects the edge. 


  • Hand forged
  • Very sharp
  • Durable
  • The axe head is pre-sharpened
  • The tempered zone holds the sharpness even after continuous usage
  • The handle has a strong grain and a curve
  • Finger notch and ground edge
  • Lightweight
  • Comes with a leather sheath


  • Complaints about the handle being too rough
  • Expensive

My Thoughts: Despite the long handle, this tool performs great as a carving axe. It is comfortable to hold and use as well. 

Best Budget Carving AxePrandi German Style Hatchet (PRA0306TH)

  • Length: 15.28 inches
  • Handle type: Wood
  • Head weight: 1.3 lbs

This one is for those of you who don’t want to spend a fortune on a carving axe. Not only is the Prandi German-style hatchet affordable, it is also great for carving. The axe head is made in Italy and then assembled in Germany. Unfortunately, it is not pre-sharpened, so you will have to sharpen it after it arrives. 

The German-style design on this axe really stands out! The head is hung well and is made of C45 steel. The flat, thin blade radius allows you to dig it into the wood easily. The handle is made out of hickory and has a smooth grain orientation. It is well-aligned, but there have been some issues with the axe head coming off. 


  • Affordable
  • The blade is made of C45 steel
  • The blade digs into the wood easily
  • Hickory handle with smooth grain orientation


  • Complaints of axe head coming off

My Thoughts: If you plan to do only some occasional carving, this is a great budget carving axe that will get the job done. However, if you need something for frequent use, you would be better off with a premium carving axe. 

Best Limited Edition Carving AxeSvante Djarv Little Viking Axe

  • Length: 13.5 inches
  • Handle type: Wood
  • Head weight: 1.7 lbs

Made by Svante Djarv, a respected Swedish tool maker, this premium carving axe can be used for everyday carving work. This axe is available only in limited quantities and is priced accordingly, meaning that it is very expensive. But it is an excellent tool that is well worth the money. This would be ideal for professional carvers.

The blade is made out of SS 1672 steel and has a cutting edge of 5.5 inches. The bit has two flat bevels which make it ideal for carving. The position of the cutting edge in relation to the handle makes for a natural slicing action. The long beard makes it perfect for close-up work. The handle is made using Swedish elm or ash and is curved and ribbed. It is very comfortable to grip. The tool comes with a split leather sheath to protect the edge. 


  • Premium quality carving axe for everyday carving
  • Blade made out of SS 1672 steel
  • Two flat bevels
  • Long beard
  • Curved and ribbed handle


  • Available only in limited quantities
  • Very expensive

My Thoughts: If you are a professional carver or a serious hobbyist, this carving axe would be great for you. It is very expensive, but it can be a great investment for those who are serious about carving. 

Now that we have looked at 8 of the best carving axes hand forged by people from around the world, it is time for a little guide so that you know what to look for when choosing a carving axe. 

What To Look for in a Carving Axe

starting wood carving project

Carving axes are a bit different from other axes (example: throwing axes), so it is important to choose the correct one. Here are some things that you should look for!


When it comes to carving, you need an axe that allows you to hold it firmly, but comfortably. This means that the axe should not slip out of your hands easily. Most carving axes have a wooden handle. In such handles, the grain should run parallel to the length of the handle. This makes for a better grip and also ensures that the wood doesn’t splinter. 

Another thing to look out for when it comes to the handle is that it is wider towards the end. This acts like a grip stop, making it harder for the tool to slip out of your hands. Shorter handles and handles that have a slight curve also tend to make carving easier, but this depends on the preferences and comfort of the user. 

Blade Head

The blade head should be thin but strong. For the blade material, I recommend high-quality carbon steel that has been hardened. This will ensure that the axe head can take a beating and still retain a sharp edge. 

Apart from this, a curved and thin cutting edge is ideal for making precise cuts.


When it comes to weight, an axe which has light to moderate weight would be the best. Carving axes are meant to be used with one hand, so it is important to choose one with the perfect weight. It should not be too heavy so as to tire you out. But, at the same time, it should not be too light either. Then it won’t have enough power to make the cuts. The ideal weight would be somewhere around 1 to 1.5 pounds

That’s it for today, woodworkers! I hope this article helped you choose the perfect carving axe for your needs. Happy carving!

Photo of author

Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.

Leave a Comment