Yellowood, About Axes
This page is intented to help you better understand axe's there history and which axe will work best for you.
This page is intended to help you understand axe history and which axe will work best for you.
The axe, to say the least, was the tool that built America. It was versatile, strong, and if properly maintained, would last a life time. Unfortunately time hasn't been kind to this trusted tool. Little is known about the history of the modern axe. The history of these tools, and the knowledge and skill to handle them, is being lost.
There are three main types of axes, single bit (felling axe), double bit, and camp axe. All three serve the same purpose -- to cut through a material as quickly and as efficiently as possible. The most common and widely known axe type is the single bit axe. It is called a single bit because of its single blade. These are most commonly seen with a curved handle. Single bits range in style and size anywhere from 3-5lbs, with handles that are 30"-36" long. Camp axes tend to be smaller version of the single bit, with handles being about 28" long and the head weighing approx. 2-3lbs. The double bit also ranges in style and size weighing approx. 5-8lbs, typically with straight handles (curved handles on a double bit are very rare). The double bit axe is the work horse of the axe family, called the double bit for the two blades on the head. It is a versatile tool when in the field. Its two blades can be used for different tasks, thus eliminating the need for two different axes. The double bit is for the most experienced woodsmen. There is also a smaller version of the double bit known as a cruiser axe. It weighs around 3-5lbs, with a 28" handle. Below you can see a few of the most common single and double bit axe head types, as well as a size chart of these axe types. During the axe's height of popularity, there were over 200 different variations of axe heads.
the axe head
While there are several different types and styles of axe heads they all have the same basic parts. Here are some illustrations showing each part of the axe head.
The Axe Heft (Handle)
The axe handle is technically referred to as the heft. Just like the axe itself, it has many different parts (See the diagram below). Just like the axe head, hefts varied greatly. Some heft patterns would be handed down for generations, while others just made hefts that best fit them and their needs. Most axe hefts fall into one of the types shown in the illustration below.
Sizing your axe
When selecting your axe handle you want to choose a handle that better fits you. An axe that might feel comfortable in my hands (I am 6'-2") may not feel good to someone who is, say 5'-8" (Cori). Because of my size I prefer a longer handle 36" and it fits me well. I also prefer a straight handle on my felling axes and curved handles on my camp axes. Cori prefers curved handles for both. If you aren't sure what type of handle would fit you best we would be happy to help you decided what handle is best for you. We want to make sure that you are getting the right axe. If you want to feel the difference you can always come and visit us at the workshop.