Easy Ways: How To Tell The Top Of An Axe Head?

How To Tell The Top Of An Axe Head

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There are tons of different ax designs that people confuse one for another when it comes to axes. I’ve seen a lot of axe heads that people, knowingly or unknowingly, have installed wrong.

Luckily, there are some ways of telling the correct orientation of an ax head. Therefore, I wrote a detailed guide that explains how to tell the top of an ax head with some easy tips and tricks.

The Ways of Telling the Top

From what I’ve seen and witnessed, there are six ways that you can tell the top of the head of an ax. However, these are not conclusive ways of telling the top as not all axes are the same. 

However, it is a good starting point that requires no effort.


Trademark on Axe Head

Ax manufacturers usually stamp their logo and trademark all over the ax head. They do this in order to promote their product and differentiate it from the rest of the competitors.

Most axes you will see on the market will have their logos and labels on the left side of the head. They always stamp these labels with strong adhesive so that it doesn’t come off. 

The numbers and branding will always be on the top of the axe head if you find them on the left side of the ax.

Difference Between the Holes

Image Credit: catawiki

When you install the ax head to a handle, you need additional room to wedge the head in place. If there is a small hole on the bottom of the head, you will find a larger hole on the top of the head. 

This ensures that the handle doesn’t slip through the ax head easily. In addition, if you can identify the size difference between the holes, you can easily find out which side is the top and which is the bottom.

The angle of Axe Blade

Image: Kentofinglewood

This trick is a bit more advanced since it requires examining the angles of the blade. The blade may look uniform to the untrained eye, but it has slight angles that give away its correct orientation.

If you can find the slight angle and determine the longer corner, you can accurately find the top of the head.

To make things easier for you, the general rule of thumb is that the angle should be inwards from top to bottom. People like to call this angle a closed design.


Axes are versatile tools of utility that allow for many uses. Generally, you will find notches on the ax head that serve their own purposes. 

Manufacturers include three types of notches on axe heads. Nail-pulling notches are great for pulling out nails, and they’re found on hatchets.

V-shaped notches evenly distributed the impact along with the handle, making it easier for you to hold the handle.

Finally, U-shaped spaces allow you to hold the ax better and make precise cuts.

All of these notches are usually located at the bottom of the ax head, making it easier to identify the top.

Rounded Corners

Rounded Corners: conrad.blacksmithing | Instagram

This trick does not work on all axes since it is a niche feature. 

When examining an axe head, see if you can spot a rounded corner. You can spot this corner on the ax blade as years of accidental digging can cause the bit to chip.

This corner increases in roundness every time the blade gets chipped or damaged.

If you can find this corner, it means you’ve found the top of the ax head.


Is there an ax eye size chart that I can use for the second trick?

There is an eye size chart that you can use to easily compare the circumference of the eye.

How do I compare the eye sizes on the head of an ax?

You can quickly find the difference between the top and bottom holes by hanging an ax head.

I can’t find a rounded corner on my ax; what do I do?

If you can’t find a rounded corner, don’t worry, as this trick only works with worn-out axes and not brand new ones.

The angle on my axe head isn’t closed; what do I do?

Like a carving ax, some axes feature an open angle where the bottom protrudes more than the top. All you have to do is reverse the ax head and then install it.

Final Verdict

I understand people when they come to me and tell me that they installed their ax wrong. However, without knowing the specific details and designs of an ax, telling the top of an ax head becomes really hard.

Hopefully, my tips and tricks have helped you answer the question of how to tell the top of an axe head with no loose ends!

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