Gathering Old-fashioned Axes

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

The handles took on many different shapes, some indicative or origin, others relating to function. Along the handle had more to do with the arc of the swing that was required. Felling axes took the full swing and therefore needed the longest handles. Early axes have their handles fitted through a person’s eye from the very best down and the handles stay in place by locking to the taper of a person’s eye, to allow them to be removed for sharpening.

Later axes, however, have their handles fit through a person’s 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 had been discarded as the handle was split or broken off. Generally they are available at a portion of the value and, with another handle, could be restored to their original condition. Most axe collectors have a share of older flea-market handles that they use because of this restoration. Like plane blades, axe handles could have been replaced two or three times throughout the life of the tool. As long as the handle is “proper,” meaning, the right shape and length because of its function, it won’t detract very much from its value.

Pricing of antique axes runs the entire gamut from a couple of dollars a number of hundred. Examples 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 built to a cost, and sold by the thousands. Exceptional examples might include handmade axes, possibly from the local blacksmith, or from a manufacturer that specialized in the handmade article, aside from price.

There are many kinds of axes out there such as for example:


This axe is known as the workhorse of the axe family. Viking axes for sale It is really a simple design, varying from a 2 ½ lb. head utilized by campers to the 4 ½ to 7 lb. head used for forest work. There are heads used in lumbermen’s competition which are up to 12lbs.. With the advent of the two-man crosscut saw, and later the ability chain saw, tree no longer are taken down by axes. The axe is more a utility tool for clearing branches off the downed tree, and splitting firewood.


Double bit axes always have straight handles, unlike any other modern axe. Nearly all axe handles are hickory. Hickory has both strength and spring, and was found very early to be the most effective for axe handles. Starting in the late 1800’s several axe manufactures adopted intricate logos that have been embossed or etched on the pinnacle of the axe. Almost 200 different styles have been identified up to now and these also have become an appealing collectible.


The broad axe is never as common as 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 many of these axes is the chisel edge, that allowed the rear side of the axe to be dead flat. Because of that, it posed a challenge 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 which should always be looked for when buying a broad axe. If the edge is chisel-sharpened, then the handle must be swayed. As with the felling axe, the broad axe heads have many different patterns, mostly a results of geographical preference.


The goose wing axe is one of the very most artistic looking tools out there, and it takes it’s name from its resemblance to the wing of a goose in flight. It functions exactly as the chisel-edged broad axe, except that the American version has 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 far more valuable. Also of importance is the difference in value between American and European axes, the American ones being worth considerably more. A few 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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