Axes Helpful Tips

Parts of an Axe

Axe stuck in the stump Parts of an Axe

While the axe may look like a simple tool, it actually consists of eleven parts. The parts of an axe make up a powerful tool that’s versatile and durable. But not all axes are created equal and the quality of these parts do and will have an impact on each particular model’s performance. In this guide, I’ll go over these different parts, how they work, and the differences that come with each style of axe, including head style, eye, and even the handles.

Different Designs of Parts of an Axe

As you learn more about axes and the parts they contain, you may realize that each type or style of axe consists of many different parts. Not all axes will come with the same parts, or as many parts. As an example, if you purchase an axe that has a composite handle, you’ll notice that it doesn’t have an eye in the head. This is because many types of composite handles are designed to wrap around the head of the axe instead of passing through it. An axe called a double-bit will not have a butt or a poll. Additionally, not all axe handles will have a flared knob.

The parts of an axe are designed differently depending on the style of the axe. As an example, a felling axe is used to chop and it’s made much differently than a splitting maul. This is because each type of axe has a different job to do, from hewing lumber to splitting firewood or felling small trees, each type of axe will excel at its job, but it can have its limits in terms of the jobs it can handle, depending on the type. Some axes are more versatile than others, so when you purchase one, you’ll need to consider what you need it for and use that information to determine which type will best suit your needs.

Axe Types

Below, I’ll go a little more in-depth regarding the different types of axes to choose from, so you can see why you’ll often come across many of the same components, yet there may be some axe parts missing.

Each type offers unique features that make it suited for the job. There are many axes to choose from that come with other types of utilitarian features including:

  • Hatchet
  • Felling
  • Splitting maul
  • Tomahawk
  • Double bit
  • Tactical


When most people think of an axe, they often visualize a hatchet. This type of axe is very affordable and versatile and does a great job of making short work of small trees and can be used to chop up kindling and it’s a good choice for other types of small jobs around the yard.

Felling Axe

This type of axe is designed to chop larger logs or fell trees. For this particular kind of axe, you’ll notice that the head has a more aggressive angle and a longer handle. The handle has more length to promote a more powerful swing.

Splitting Maul

The splitting maul features a size that’s similar to a felling axe, however, it’s designed to split logs into kindling. The head doesn’t have a very aggressive angle and the blade is more concave.


These are the go-to axes of choice if you’re looking for a versatile tool to take with you on your next camping trip. They’re a great choice for clearing brush and collecting firewood.

Double Bit Axe

This cumbersome axe features a dual head. One side is very sharp, while the opposite side features a blunt, concave design. The axe itself is very heavy, so you can expect to be very tired after just a few swings.

Tactical Axe

If you’re a survival enthusiast, then this type is a must-have. It’s basically a jack of all trades, so its versatile design can come in handy for a wide variety of tasks.

Most types are made out of forged steel with serrated edges and notches that will help with specific jobs.

Axe Anatomy

As I mentioned above, not all axes will contain the same parts. Some may have more or less, depending on the style of the axe. However, most models will contain the same basic parts that will have an impact of cutting accuracy, power, and durability.

The axe consists of eleven parts, including:

  • Knob
  • Eye
  • Throat
  • Belly
  • Shoulder
  • Beard
  • Cheek
  • Heel
  • Toe
  • Poll or butt
  • Bit

An axe head has two ends; the blade or bit is on one side, with the butt or poll found on the other side. The head of the axe works as a mechanical wedge. With some kinetic energy and the sharp bit, this tool is very effective, despite its simple design.

The axe really is one of the most versatile tools ever created. However, there are several different types to choose from. If you’re looking for a model that specializes in woodworking or chopping, you would choose from the following types:


  • Mortising
  • Carpenter
  • Hatchet
  • Adzes
  • Broad
  • Splitting
  • Felling

Man holding heavy ax

Now, below, I’ll get started going over the different parts that you’ll commonly find on most styles, so you can become familiar with basic axe anatomy. This will help you choose the right axe for the job.


the edge or the blade is the cutting portion of the head of the axe. The bit is the most important area. Maintaining the bit’s sharpness is very important to the durability and efficiency of an axe. The bit area also encompasses the heel at the bottom of the cutting edge and the toe at the top of the edge. If an axe has a beard, it’s also part of the bit.


The toe of an axe refers to the upper corner of the bit. This is where the cutting edge will begin. If you throw an axe, this is the section you want to hit the target with. In order to allow for a smooth clean chop, the top must always be kept sharpened.


The heel is the bottom corner of the bit. If the heel extends much lower than the other parts of the axe head, it’s called the beard. The heel can be used for more detail-oriented work, such as carving or woodworking projects. In some cases, it can also be used to puncture.


This is the part of the bit that falls below the rest of the head. If present, the beard encompasses the heel section. An axe will have a beard if the bit curves down below the joining point of the handle and head.


The smooth sides of the axe head are called the cheeks. The cheeks are not sharp, but they do have many uses. They can also come in a variety of inclines. An axe that comes equipped with a sharper wedge may make chopping easier, but it also has a negative impact on durability. The cheeks can be used for other tasks such as removing bark from limbs, if they don’t have a sharp incline.

Poll or Butt

The poll or butt refers to the blunt end of the axe. The butt of an axe head will help improve control and balance. The butt is also very versatile and can be used to maul or hammer.

Handle Parts

The handle is an important component since it will impact user comfort, the weight of the axe, and how durable it is. The handles are usually made out of tough hardwoods such as hickory, however, they can also be made out of synthetic materials that are very durable. The handle is the part of the tool that you’ll hold onto. For throwing axes, it’s also the most recommended material. This type of wood will provide exceptional durability and a great feel.

When you’re shopping for a new model, you should always pay close attention to the type of handle it has. If you’re looking at the quality of wood make sure that there are no knots and the grain looks straight. If you’re looking for a model that has a synthetic handle, then you’ll want to go with one that has a reputation for durability. A handle that’s not comfortable can cause an injury or it can lead to user fatigue.


The hole where the haft has been mounted onto the axe head is called the eye. While it’s referred to as an eye, you will not be able to see most of it. The part of the eye that is visible can be seen above the bit. This part of the ax works to secure the head to the handle. Unfortunately, the eye is also the most likely part to break. Fortunately, there are many ways you can go about eye repair or rejoining or repairing the handle and head.


The spot where the head is mounted onto the haft is called the shoulder. This is the joining area between the handle and head material. Decoupling can be an issue at times, so you’ll want to pay close attention to this area.


The longest part of the haft is called the belly. Most models will have a belly that has a slight bow to it. It’s also located opposite of the blade or bit. How the belly is positioned combined with the throat are what dictates the best spot on an axe to hold. The wood grain in this area is often an issue with low quality axes. You’ll want to ensure that the axe you buy comes with a belly that features no signs of wood degradation or knots. Additionally, it should also have straight grain.


The area where the haft curves into the short grip is known as the throat. The throat is important because it has an impact on user comfort and axe durability. A throat that’s not comfortable on a throwing axe will cause pain and fatigue. Make sure you check out the belly and throat closely when you’re shopping for a new axe. A throat that’s high-quality will make all the difference in chopping and throwing accuracy.


At the end of the handle, located on the opposite side of the head you’ll find the knob. While the knob is usually overlooked, it’s often a great indicator of the quality of wood used. Some models will come with a knob that’s lacquered or painted.

Final Thoughts

While the axe may seem like it’s a very simple tool, the parts of an axe will show you how each of these components can work together to create a tool that’s durable, versatile, and very powerful. Each of these parts will impact the tool’s durability, longevity, quality, and accuracy. Whether you’re looking for an axe for woodworking tasks, wood chopping, felling trees, or a throwing axe, pay close attention to these very important components in order to end up with an axe that’s built tough and designed to last.