The right ax for you is the one suited to your particular needs. But how do you know which one to pick? Once you start looking for axes on the market, you quickly realize that there’s a seemingly infinite variety to choose from, and a whole lot of opinions as to which is best.
Antique or New
The most important part of an ax is the head. To function efficiently, its bit must be sharpened to a keen cutting edge — thin enough to bite into the wood, but thick enough to resist chipping and breaking. And the ability to achieve this keen cutting edge is dependent on the quality of steel the ax head is made from. You can replace handles rather cheaply if they’re crappy and break, but if your ax head is made of shoddy steel, there’s not much you can do with it except sell it for scrap.
It’s for this reason is best rummaging through antique stores or barn sales to find an ax, rather than buying one new. To make a good ax, the head needs to be made from steel that has the right amount of carbon in it. In the old days they were using high carbon steel.
Nowadays, most of the new axes that you’ll find at the hardware store are made in China with metal that comes from melted down cars, or industrial equipment, or whatever is going through …