11 Types Of Axes – Woodworking Tools Guide

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As a woodworker, you need to know a great deal about various tools and the purpose they serve. We often tend to exclude axes from the category of woodworking tools. However, axes help us to chop wood to get the basic raw material for our woodworking products. Hence, you need to consider these tools as an essential part of woodworking.

Having an axe, you should know how to use it. There are countless types of woodworking axes. With a suitable axe for the job at hand, you can get it done well, instead of struggling and possibly getting into a dangerous situation. So, without further ado, let’s get into the different axes that you can get on the market today:

Woodworking Axe
Woodworking Axe. Image Credit: Sterling College

Different Types Of Woodworking Axes

We often associate an axe with the function of chopping wood. However, we can use an axe for performing many different tasks depending on the axe we use. Here is a list of the most prevalent types of axes in use:

Felling Axe

Hults Bruk Atran Felling Axe
Hults Bruk Felling Axe. See on Amazon.

We use this type of axe for felling trees and to chop large logs. The handle of the felling axe tends to be longer for better leverage and impact. The head has an aggressive angle. The design of this type of axe focuses on generating a powerful swing for maximum impact.

Splitting Maul

Fiskars 751110-1003 IsoCore Maul, 36-Inch
Fiskars Splitting Maul. See on Amazon.

It has a resemblance to the felling axe. However, unlike the felling axe, the axe head is slightly less aggressive. The blade has a more of a concave profile, and we use this axe for splitting logs into kindling for a fire. Rather than cutting into the grain, we split the wood across it.

Broad Axe

Biber Classic Swedish Carpenter's Hatchet or better known as The Broad Axe by Mueller (Right Bevel)
Mueller Broad Axe. See on Amazon.

This type of axe is like a double-bladed felling axe. While we use one blade for felling trees, the other side serves the purpose of cutting limbs from trees. A double bit axe is a handy tool because of its dual purpose, making it into a kind of multipurpose tool. However, it does not have the efficiency of a felling axe.


Estwing Sportsman's Axe - 14" Camping Hatchet with Forged Steel Construction & Genuine Leather Grip - E24A
Estwing Sportsman Hatchet. See on Amazon.

We can consider a hatchet as an all-purpose tool. Hence, you can expect to see a hatchet being used for non-woodwork activities as well. The main benefit of a hatchet is that it’s lightweight and easy to wield. It is also a single-handed tool, which gives you the advantage of having the other hand free. It enjoys a prominent role in chopping smaller logs into manageable pieces. This axe also helps you to make kindling and do general-purpose bush work in a garden. A hatchet helps you in cutting and trimming branches from trees.

Double Bit Axe

Estwing Double Bit Axe - 38 oz Wood Spitting Tool with Forged Steel Construction & Shock Reduction Grip - EBDBA
Estwing Double Bit Axe. See on Amazon.

Also known as the hewing axe, we use this type of axe for hewing logs to make square lumber. You get two types of cutting edges on a hewing axe. In the first type, there is a flat side, and the other side is beveled. Then, there is the other type with both sides beveled. We sometimes call the second type of axe as a double bevel axe. You get a scalloped cut from a double bevel axe. While we use a double bevel broad axe for rough hewing, the single bevel version is suitable for flattening surfaces.

Mortising Axe

Muller Carpenters Mortise Axe Made in Austria 2065,01
Muller Mortising Axe. See on Amazon.

As you may have already guessed, we use a mortising axe to create mortise and tenon joints. These unique but commonly-used joints play a prominent role in woodworking operations, especially in making furniture. Using a mortising axe gives you a quick fix solution to make mortises. The mortise axe has a head that is long and thin, with a small handle. The size of the head corresponds to the size of the mortise that you need to make.


CRKT Woods Chogan Tomahawk Axe: RMJ T-Hawk Lightweight Outdoor Camping Axe with Hammerhead, Forged Carbon Steel Blade, and Hickory Wooden Handle 2730
CRKT Tomahawk. See on Amazon.

The tomahawk is a highly-specialized type of axe which is native to North America. It is a single-handed axe. The original purpose of this axe was for combat, but today it serves to help in multipurpose work. The authentic tomahawks had a stone head, but they became more stable once metal blades started being used. Although this axe is commonly used for clearing bushes and collecting firewood, it is more suited to chopping and trimming branches small log and general chopping.


Tramontina Machete Wood
Tramontina Machete. See on Amazon.

Although more of a knife than an axe,  this tool does the work of an axe. The machete has a knife-like shape with different shapes and sizes of blades which varies from region to region across the world. We use a machete to clear bushes and for work in fields. The correct way to use a machete is a sweeping action. We also use specialized machetes for wood carving.

Splitting Axe

Fiskars 378841-1002 X27 Super (36") Splitting Axe, Inch, Black
Fiskars Splitting Axe. See on Amazon.

Although initially used for splitting logs, today we use these axes for chopping chunks of wood as well. The splitting axe, as the name suggests, splits the wood along the grain. The slightly curved handle provides a better grip and is thick, and relatively long. However, you do get different sizes of splitting axes. With the advent of electric log splitters nowadays, these tools are declining, somewhat.


Narex 890950 Hand Forged Adze 2" Blade with Outside Bevel, Overall Length 11-1/2", Comes Leather Sheath
Narex Adze. See on Amazon.

If you could imagine a tool that is a combination of a hammer, chisel and an axe, that would be an apt description of an adze. We use it to hollow out massive logs to make canoes. We also use them for other types of wood carving. Adzes vary according to the length of the handle and the blade design.

Carpenter’s Axe

Husqvarna 20 in. Wooden Curved Carpenter Axe, Orange/Gray - 596271201
Husqvarna Carpenter’s Axe. See on Amazon.

We sometimes call this axe a hatchet, but in reality, it is a specific type of axe. The carpenter’s axe finds many uses, some being traditional woodworking, log building and joinery. The beard and finger notch of this hatchet is pronounced. It allows a choked grip with more precise control. Sometimes, you will find a hole in its head, which enables you to pull nails. Hence, we can conclude that the carpenter’s axe has multipurpose functions.


By now, you should be acquainted with the different types of woodworking axes and what each one can do. Having a working knowledge of the purposes of every kind of axe will make your job easier. You can work more efficiently and safely by using the right type of axe for a specific task. As a woodworker, you can now select an axe to do your job best. We hope that you have been able to get some benefit from reading this article. And, now you can continue to work as a well-informed, experienced and capable woodworker.


Featured Image: Rebecca Siegel