Accumulating Vintage Axes

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 a questionnaire, yielding a person’s eye of the axe. The steel bit, introduced in the 18th century, was laid to the fold at the front and hammered into an edge. The medial side opposite the bit was later extended in to a poll, for better balance and to provide a hammering surface.

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

Later axes, however, have their handles fit through a person’s eye from the bottom 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 since the handle was split or broken off. Typically they can be bought at a portion of the value and, with another handle, can be restored to their original condition. Most axe collectors have an inventory of older flea-market handles which they use for this restoration. Like plane blades, axe handles might have been replaced several times throughout the life of the tool. Provided that 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 a few dollars to many hundred. Samples of well-made axes would are the Plumb, White, Kelly, Miller Norse axes for sale and numerous others. Beyond these were axes of sometimes lesser quality, but developed to a price, 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, no matter price.

There are many forms of axes on the market such as for instance:


This axe is recognized as the workhorse of the axe family. It is really a simple design, varying from the 2 ½ lb. head used by campers to the 4 ½ to 7 lb. head employed for forest work. You can find heads found in lumbermen’s competition that 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 an energy tool for clearing branches off the downed tree, and splitting firewood.


Double bit axes always have straight handles, unlike every other modern axe. Virtually all axe handles are hickory. Hickory has both strength and spring, and was found very early to be the very best for axe handles. Starting in the late 1800’s a number of axe manufactures adopted intricate logos which were embossed or etched on the top of the axe. Almost 200 different styles have now been identified currently 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 is the chisel edge, that allowed the rear side of the axe to be dead flat. Because of the, it posed an issue of clearance for the hands. To keep the hands from being scraped, the handle was canted or swayed far from the flat plane of the axe. This is the feature which should always be looked for when buying a broad axe. If the edge is chisel-sharpened, then the handle ought to be swayed. Much like the felling axe, the broad axe heads have a variety of patterns, mostly a result of geographical preference.


The goose wing axe is one of the most artistic looking tools on the market, and it will take 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 has got 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 an authentic handle is rare. Signed pieces, particularly by American makers, mostly Pennsylvania Dutch, are significantly 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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