Carpenter's axes are small axes or hatchets with a very specific usage. Unlike felling trees or splitting logs, a carpenter's axe is designed for woodworking.
At first glance you can see it's noticeably different in appearance. This is mostly due to the shape of the axe head.
As this type of axe is a tool designed for more fine work as opposed to something that relies more on brut force like a maul, in more circumstances than not, the saying you get what you pay for usually holds true.
For a quick reference chart of carpenter's axes, scroll to just below the Quick Navigation section to the Carpenter's Axe Review Chart or keep reading for more detailed information and reviews.
Carpenter's Axe Review Chart
Here are five of the top carpenter's axes and hatchets.
Weight (lbs): 2.75
Length (in): 20
Weight (lbs): 2.2
Length (in): 20
Weight (lbs): 1
Length (in): 13
Weight (lbs): 2.5
Length (in): 18
Weight (lbs): 1.6
Length (in): 16
*Clicking on links in the comparison chart about will take you to individual product pages on Amazon.com
What to Look for in a Quality Carpenter's Axe
Woodworking requires both skill and the proper tools. A highly skilled individual will be limited with what the can do by poor tools, no matter how good or experienced they are. Skimping on a carpenter's axe means putting a hard cap on your quality of work.
There are a few things you can look for when deciding which axe is right for you.
The most distinct feature of a woodworking axe in the shape of the head. It should have a very deep beard. The beard is deep groove on the underside of the axe head that allows you to really choke up your grip. The purpose for the extreme axe beard is that the choked up grip gives you a lot more control and precision when working with the axe.
On the opposite side, you should consider if the poll is designed for your particular needs. Most carpenter's axes have a fairly wide and flat poll so you can use it as hammer, but some are more defined than others.
Additionally, some axes and hatchets even have a nail pulling notch crafted right into the bit. If you find yourself constantly removing nails, this is a great feature, but it's often times much less important than the overall quality of the axe itself.
Aside from all of the specific features of the axe or hatchet, you have to consider it as a whole. Is it comfortable in your grip? Are the materials of a high enough quality to sustain your level of work? Is it affordable?
As this type of axe is a precision instrument when compared to blunt force mauls and slicing felling axes, choosing one that you're comfortable with is very important.
Example of a Carpenter's Axe
This Husqvarna carpenter's axe is a great example of a high quality design that won't break the bank.
- bearded bit allowing for choked grip
- hand forged steel axe head
- high-quality curved hickory handle
Popular Axe Brands
Every type of axe has popular brands and manufacturers. Woodworking axes are no different. There are the major manufacturers and well as some lesser known ones.
With this type of axe, it's more important to find one you are comfortable with than to get stuck on focusing too much on the brand name. That doesn't mean the bigger brands make poor axes though. In fact, they make some amazing great models.
Some popular manufacturers you might find while searching are:
- Hults Bruk
- Condor Tool & Knife
- Council Tool
There is no best brand when it comes to this style of axe. They each have a different feel. You might even discover you like more than one particular brand and model depending on what specific type of wood you're working with.
Additional Useful Tips & Info
When using an axe to work with wood, having a clean and sharp bit is extremely important. While many axes come right from the manufacturer with a very sharp bit, spending a little time to sharpen it even more is a good idea.
You can use a multi-purpose knife sharpening stone or a specialized axe sharpening tool or anything else you're comfortable with. The sharpener is much less important than making sure your bit is prepared for the fine detailed work you plan on doing.
Also, if this is your first carpenter's axe purpose, consider trying more than one model out. While you may be able to work with whatever you get your hands on, one might fit like a glove while the others get the job done and nothing more.
When working with wood, not any axe will do. Unlike other axes designed to take down trees or splinter log, a carpenter's axe is more like a paintbrush or a violin. It's a tool made to create and not to break down or destroy.
They tend to have shorter handles than those for doing heavy work as these are not meant for taking heavy swings. They are also generally lighter and their heads have extreme beards.
Are you ready to start your next woodworking project?