Edge tools are among the earliest tool forms, with surviving primitive axes dated to 8000 B.C.. Early axes were produced by “wrapping” the red hot iron around an application, yielding the eye of the axe. The steel bit, introduced in the 18th century, was laid in to the fold in front and hammered into an edge. The medial side opposite the bit was later extended into a poll, for better balance and to provide a hammering surface.

The handles took on a number of shapes, some indicative or origin, others associated with function. The length of the handle had more to do with the arc of the swing that has been required. Felling axes took a complete swing and therefore needed the longest handles. Viking axe for sale  Early axes have their handles fitted through the eye from the very best down and the handles stay static in place by locking in to the taper of the eye, so they can be removed for sharpening.

Later axes, however, have their handles fit through the eye from the underside up, and have a wedge driven in from the top. This permanently locks the handle to the axe and was much preferred by American woodsmen. Many axes found today have been discarded because the handle was split or broken off. Generally they can be purchased at a portion of their value and, with another handle, may be restored for their original condition. Most axe collectors have a share of older flea-market handles they use because of this restoration. Like plane blades, axe handles might have been replaced 2 or 3 times throughout the life of the tool. So long as the handle is “proper,” meaning, the right shape and length for its function, it won’t detract very much from its value.

Pricing of antique axes runs the whole gamut from several dollars a number of hundred. Samples of well-made axes would range from the Plumb, White, Kelly, Miller and numerous others. Beyond we were holding axes of sometimes lesser quality, but developed to a cost, and sold by the thousands. Exceptional examples might include handmade axes, possibly from the area blacksmith, or from a manufacturer that specialized in the handmade article, no matter price.

There are numerous kinds of axes out there such as:


This axe is recognized as the workhorse of the axe family. It is just a simple design, varying from a 2 ½ lb. head employed by campers to the 4 ½ to 7 lb. head employed for forest work. There are heads found in lumbermen’s competition which can be around 12lbs.. With the advent of the two-man crosscut saw, and later the power chain saw, tree no more are taken down by axes. The axe is more an energy tool for clearing branches off the downed tree, and splitting firewood.


Double bit axes also have straight handles, unlike any modern axe. Almost all axe handles are hickory. Hickory has both strength and spring, and was found very early to be the best for axe handles. Starting in the late 1800’s several axe manufactures adopted intricate logos which were embossed or etched on the top of the axe. Almost 200 different styles have already been identified to date and these also have become an appealing collectible.


The broad axe is not as common while the felling axe, and is a lot larger. It’s purpose was to square up logs into beams. It used a much shorter swing that the felling axe, therefore required a much shorter handle. The identifying feature of a number of these axes may be the chisel edge, that allowed the trunk side of the axe to be dead flat. Because of this, it posed an issue of clearance for the hands. To help keep the hands from being scraped, the handle was canted or swayed from the flat plane of the axe. This is actually the feature that should continually be looked for when buying a broad axe. If the edge is chisel-sharpened, then your handle must be swayed. Just like the felling axe, the broad axe heads have a number of patterns, mostly a consequence of geographical preference.


The goose wing axe is one of the very most artistic looking tools out there, and it requires it’s name from its resemblance to the wing of a goose in flight. It functions exactly while the chisel-edged broad axe, except that the American version gets the handle socket more heavily bent or canted up from the plane of the blade. These axes are large and difficult to forge. Many show cracks and repairs and a genuine handle is rare. Signed pieces, particularly by American makers, mostly Pennsylvania Dutch, are significantly more valuable. Also worth focusing on may be the difference in value between American and European axes, the American ones being worth considerably more. A couple of well-known 19th century American makers whose names appear imprinted on axes are Stohler, Stahler, Sener, Rohrbach, Addams, and L.& I.J. White.

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