12 Parts Of An Axe | Ax Anatomy To Stay Safe

Axes, hatchets, and tomahawks are similar in look and feel because the anatomy of an axe, hatchet, or tomahawk is basically the same. Each has its advantages, and each can help you accomplish different jobs. Let’s examine the parts of an axe to understand the makeup of this simple tool better.

parts of an axe
parts of an axe

What Is An Axe

An axe is for chopping down or cutting down large trees. An axe can also assist with splitting wood or shaping wood into smaller pieces. Axes also serve as a weapon for protection and have been in use in some form for centuries. An axe or broad axe typically requires two hands to wield.


Different Types of Axes

There are different types of axes on the market today. Broad axes, carpenter axes, modern axes, traditional axes, antique, bearded, hatchets, tomahawks, felling axe, miners axe, and many more. Each has their own unique features and are used in different ways. That is why there are many different type of axe in use today.

What Is A Hatchet

A hatchet is just a smaller size or miniature version of an axe. Hatchets are for splitting wood, protection, and hewing logs. A hatchet only needs a single hand to use and therefore referred to as a hand axe. There are small hatchets and medium sized hatchets. A hatchet could easily cut down small trees. Hatchets are great for backpacking and they are considered essential backpacking gear as they are lighter and can be carried in your back pack or secured to the outside of the pack. Review our article on the best backpacking axes.


What Is A Tomahawk

A tomahawk is similar in size and shape to a hatchet; however, the primary purpose of a tomahawk is as a throwing axe. Tomahawks historically play a part in hunting and protection. A tomahawk has a straight handle and a small metal head compared to a hatchet. A hatchet has a bit of a curve in the hickory handle.


Parts Of The Axe Head

The head of an axe anatomy is the metal portion of the tool. An head is a combo of the eye, poll, bit, toe, heel and beard. The head is sharp on one end for cutting and has an overall triangular or wedge shape for aiding in removing the cut wood.


The eye is one of the essential parts of this tool. The eye is where the handle of the axe passes through the metal head. The head is secured to the handle or wooden hafts using the eye of the axe. A wedge of wood or metal is pounded into the top of the handle. This wedge forces two sides of the top of the wood haft against the eye. This firmly wedges or holds the head in place.

Poll (or butt) Axe Part

A hard flat surface directly opposite of the axe bit is the poll or butt of an axe. This hard flat surface is for driving or pounding, similar to a hammer. For example, the poll is used to pound in wedges into a tree to aid in felling a tree and pushing it towards its landing zone. As the wedge is pounded further into the tree it slightly starts to tip the tree in a direction. Once the tree is tipped far enough, gravity will pull the lean of the tree further to the ground until the tree is on the ground.

Bit (or Blade)

The bit is the sharp blade of the axe and is then shaped and sharpened metal portion. The sharpened area is the cutting edge of the sharp bit. There are single bit as well as double bit axes. The difference between the two is how many sharp edges. A double-bit axe has two bit or blade areas. One on each side of the bit.


You can identify the toe as it is the top corner of the bit. Therefore, the toe will be the upper section part of the bit furthest away from the palm knob or handle.


The heel is the lower section or bottom corner of the bit closest to the handle or palm knob.

Beard Axe Part

A beard helps define the overall shape of the bit. The beard is the area that hangs down towards the handle. The beard can be minimal, or it can be a substantial pronounced beard, curving down towards the wooden handle.

Parts Of The Axe Handle (or Haft)

An axe handle combines the shoulder, shaft, belly, throat, and palm knob. This is the longest part of the spitting tool. A handle is generally either a wooden handle, synthetic handle or composite handle materials. Wood axe handles are often made from hickory wood or another resilient hardwood due to the strength, durability, and longevity. Use the grain of the wood direction to enhance the overall strength of the tool.


The shoulder of the handle helps secure the head to the handle and keeps the head securely in position. In addition, the shoulder widens just below the eye. This widening helps prevent the head from slipping or sliding down the handle towards your hands.


The belly sits towards the upper and middle portion of the handle. As a result, the belly of the axe juts out slightly from the handle, aiding in your ability to swing the chopping tool and slide your top hand down the handle while maintaining a better grip.

Throat Axe Part

The throat is the lower portion of the handle where your lower hand grips the cutting tool. This throat area is where your lower hand grips and stays put while swinging the cutting tool and building up kinetic energy. The throat juts slightly into the handle.

Palm Knob (Swell Knob or End Knob)

The palm knob aids in holding onto the handle of the hatchet. You will sense the palm knob close to your pinky finger as you grip the hatchet. The palm knob helps the tool from slipping out of your hand or your hand from slipping off the bottom of the haft handle.

Sometimes there is a hole in the bottom of the handle or near the end of the handle which allows you to hang up the hatchet, tomahawk or axe. This allows the splitting tool to hang vs stand. If the splitting tool stands for too long it has potential to warp the wooden handle due to the weight of the head.

Parts Of An Axe Conclusion

The head and the handle are the two main parts of an axe. These two components make up the primary anatomy of an axe. There are additional parts that make up these two main components. Knowing the parts of the axe will help you maintain your tool for years.

You will want to oil the wooden handle to help keep the wood healthy and protected from the elements. You should also lubricate and oil the metal or steel heads as well. This will keep the head from rusting and working in top form when felling a tree or splitting firewood.

Believe it or not, a dull axe or hatchet tool may contribute to a less safe work environment as it takes more effort to cut the wood. Therefore, keep a sharp edge on your axe. It will help you stay safe while using this tool for cutting, carving, or shaping wood. Also consider a protective sheath made of leather or synthetic materials. This will protect the head and your bit edge while transporting or while in storage.

A word on safety. These tools are sharp and can inflict serious damage to trees and other objects. Before getting to work, make sure your work area is safe by clearing brush. Make it safe for you as well as safe around you in case a tree falls somewhere unexpected. Keep an eye on the different parts of an axe. Proper axe maintenance also increase safety.

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