The 16 Types Of Axes (With Pictures)

Last Updated on September 5, 2023 by Barry Gray

Knowing which ax is suitable for a specific task can save you valuable time and effort! There are many types of axes, and they each carry unique characteristics.

Their designs and materials make them uniquely suited to specific tasks. Before you start chopping, become familiar with the types of axes and why they are helpful in a given situation. We’re going to have a look at 16 types of axes.

Types Of Axes

Pick Ax

A pickaxe, often known as a pick, is a T-shaped hand tool used for prying. Its head is usually made of metal and is joined perpendicularly to a longer handle, traditionally made of wood, but can also be made of metal or fiberglass.

A pickaxe is particularly useful when doing tasks in your yard or any form of landscaping that requires prying. It’s typically used to break up hard soil, rocks, or concrete, whereas a chisel is usually used to open rocks or ground cracks.

Furthermore, the chisel acts as a counterweight to the ax, and the additional weight boosts the pick’s velocity when swung.

Carpenter Ax

Carpenter's axe

Carpenter’s axes, also known as carpenter’s hatchets, are tiny axes used in traditional woodworking, joinery, and log-building. They have thick beards and finger notches for a “choked” grip that allows for precise control.

Carpentry axes are suitable for dry wood because they feature straight, long cutting edges and thin blades with a low bevel angle. They also feature straight handles because curved handles would interfere with the more minor, more accurate cuts that carpentry axes are used for.

These properties enable carpenters’ axes to perform delicate work such as angling the end of a board with a planed surface and even rudimentary woodcarving.

Felling Ax

Felling axes are designed to chop down trees, cut off tree limbs, and perform similar tasks. All of these jobs need cutting against the grain of the wood. In other words, you’re cutting perpendicular to the tree’s or branch’s growth direction.

The handle of a falling ax is often constructed of hickory wood, which is significantly stronger than other woods. The ax blade is flared and has a slender, pointed tip. These blades are designed to cut across the grain of the wood. 

Furthermore, you are more likely to swing in various directions with a felling ax (e.g., side-to-side, up-and-down, diagonal, etc.). As a result, felling axes must be comfortable to hold and use. A falling ax’s reduced weight head and bent handle aid in this capability.

Grub Ax

A grub ax, also known as a mattock, is a hand tool used to dig, pry, and cut. It features a long handle and a sturdy head, similar to the pickaxe, and may be used to make two sorts of tools:

  • A cutter mattock has an ax blade angled vertically and a longer adze horizontally, combining the functionality of an ax and an adze.
  • A pick mattock has a pointed end opposite an adze blade, giving it the potential of a pick and an adze. Both are used for grubbing in hard soils and rocky terrain, with the pick mattock being proficient as a penetrating tool and the cutter mattock excelling at cutting roots.

Hunter’s Ax

As the name implies, this ax style is widely employed by hunters since it can hack wood, flesh, and bone. A traditional hunter’s ax’s grooved handle gives a firmer grip even when the user’s hand is wet or sticky.

This sort of ax is not generally accessible because of its hunting features, and you would need to find a skilled forger to get one.

Survival Ax

Survival Axe

A survival ax is a highly valuable and adaptable implement used in survival circumstances and regular camping and outdoor activities. Chopping wood, building a shelter, hunting, self-defense, and even shaving are chores suited to survival axes. 

From the ax’s head to the ax’s body tip, the entire ax comprises carbon steel. Furthermore, you may use the survival ax to cut branches, chop wood, and chop leaves to make a shelter.

You may also make firewood to start and maintain a fire. In addition, you can use the ax to hunt small animals for food.

Tactical Ax

The tactical ax, sometimes known as the tactical tomahawk, is a contemporary form of an ax. Law enforcement agents, military and security workers, and survivalists have all been known to use this ax.

Tactical axes are generally built of steel to ensure that they can handle various duties. Chopping axes can also be used as a close weapon, shovel, pry bar, and hammer.

Its glass fiber construction makes it portable for lengthy camping excursions and adventures, and its shape prevents thigh pricking, making it excellent for steep and rocky terrain. The blade is razor-sharp and can cut through wood and metal with ease.

 The tomahawk ax is made of stainless steel, which has a spike and makes it incredibly strong and resistant, as well as providing superb balance with optimal weight and length qualities.

Broad Ax

Broadaxes have two types of cutting edges, both of which are used for hewing or the process of changing round-edged timber into flat-edged lumber.

When individuals need to prepare boards or beams out of logs, this instrument comes in help. It’s a tool that’ll come in handy in a variety of situations during the woodworking process. There are, of course, alternative ways to do these jobs. 

Although some individuals prefer to utilize power tools, a broad ax is the instrument of choice when doing tasks by hand. This sort of ax is constructed a little differently than other axes, particularly the shape of the head. It isn’t as symmetrical as other axes and is often created with either a left-handed or right-handed person in mind.


A hatchet is a single-handed striking implement with a sharp blade on one side and a hammerhead on the other used to chop and split wood. They’re an excellent all-around ax for chopping wood for campfires or other little cutting jobs.

Hatchets may also be used to hew flattened surfaces on logs; a hewing hatchet has a head designed specifically for this function.

Compared to other axes, they are compact and have robust hickory wood handles. A good hatchet’s balance is also vital, as it aids in producing a more precise swing and cut.

Ice Ax

Ice Axe

Mountaineers utilize an ice ax as multi-purpose hiking and climbing equipment for ascending and descending routes that entail snow, ice, or frozen conditions.

Its application is dependent on the terrain: in its most basic form, it is used as a walking stick, with the mountaineer’s head held in the middle of their uphill hand.

It is swung by its handle and embedded in snow or ice for security and traction over steep terrain. It can also be dug vertically to construct a stomp belay, with the rope looped around the shaft to form a strong anchor on which to haul up a second climber.

It’s also used to carve footholds and scoop snow out of compacted areas to bury the ax as a belay anchor or as a self-arrest device in the case of a downhill slip.

Pulaski Ax

The Pulaski is a unique hand tool that combines an ax and an adze in one head and combat flames, particularly wildfires. It features a stiff wood, plastic, or fiberglass handle, similar to a cutter mattock.

The Pulaski is used to build firebreaks since it can excavate dirt as well as cut wood. It’s also well-suited to trail building and may be used for general excavation and boring holes in root-bound or hard soil for gardening and other outdoor chores. 

The Pulaski’s ax blade serves as the primary cutting edge, while the adze blade serves its secondary function. 

Crash Ax

A crash ax must be mounted on any plane with more than 19 passengers as firefighting equipment, allowing the crew to cut away cockpit or other panels in the case of an electrical fire. 

A crash ax is a life-saving tool meant for use in the event of a plane accident. A small grip and a razor-sharp smooth or serrated blade characterize this ax. If alternative exits are blocked, the blade must be cut through sheet metal to access the aircraft from the outside. 

In addition, it must be able to make holes in the plane from the inside for rescue authorities to gain entry. A crash ax may also be used to break internal walls and higher cabinets, as well as open gaps.

Adze Ax

Adze Axe

An adze is a multifunctional cutting instrument that looks like an ax but has the cutting edge perpendicular to the handle rather than parallel to it. It is used in hand carpentry for smoothing and carving wood and in agriculture and horticulture as a hoe.

Modern adzes are steel with wooden handles and are only used in a few places, like semi-industrial regions but primarily by “revivalists” like those in the Colonial Williamsburg cultural center in Virginia, USA.

Shipbuilders and carpenter’s adzes are the most prevalent names for foot adzes. The cutting edge of a contemporary steel adze can range from flat for smoothing work to incredibly rounded for hollowing work like bowls, gutters, and boats. 

Coopers, wainwrights, chair builders, and bowl and trough makers utilize a variety of specialty, short-handled adzes. Many feature shorter handles for greater control and a more curved head for better clearance for shorter cuts.

Splitting Maul

A splitting maul, also known as a blockbuster or block splitter, is a large, long-handled ax used to split a piece of wood along its grain. Its head is shaped like a sledgehammer on one side and an ax on the other.

This instrument is far superior to a traditional ax for splitting wood due to its weight and breadth, making it less prone to become stuck in the wood.

To avoid jamming, the wedge section of a maul head is somewhat convex, and it cannot have the extended “hollow ground” concave section used by a cutting ax.

Its maul handles, unlike ax handles, are usually straight and circular, as opposed to the extended oval ax handles. Unlike an ax, the grip of a maul is designed to be used for both levering and swinging.

Hickory handles are the most frequent, but synthetic fiberglass handles have also become popular. Plastic handles are more difficult to break, and factory-attached heads are less prone to loosen when a maul is used.

Double-Bit Ax

A double-bit ax usually has two blades on each side. These blades must be symmetrical in the front, but one will be rough and the other sharp.

The sharp side is used to chop wood or fallen trees into small pieces, while the rough side is used to split wood into small pieces.

Because it has two sides and is thus heavier to swing, some individuals will find this ax excessively awkward and impractical to wield. As a result, only individuals with sufficient upper-body strength may profit from utilizing a double-bit ax.

Steelheads and hardwood shafts are the standard features of double-bit axes. Modern variants of this style, which are still popular, incorporate axes with steel heads and handles made of composite materials like fiberglass.

Some axes are composed entirely of forged steel; however, the shaft is wrapped with material for gripping.


Tomahawk Axe

A tomahawk is a single-handed ax used by numerous Indigenous peoples and nations in North America, and it resembles a hatchet with a straight shaft.

Although their historic roots reveal they were employed as hand-to-hand weapons, tomahawks are general-purpose instruments. These axes look like ordinary axes, except they feature a straight grip and are substantially lighter. This straight handle makes it simple to toss at opponents in combat.

Thanks to the sharp blade, it may be used for several activities, including digging, prying, cutting, and splitting. Tomahawks are smaller and lighter than hatchets, making them easy to carry.

Furthermore, they’re adaptable and may be utilized for a wide range of bushcraft tasks.


Here’s hoping you have found these 16 types of axes interesting, and you have your eye on at least one that will suit your needs.

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.

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