What Is A Broad Axe Used For (Structure, History & Uses)

What Is A Broad Axe Used For

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Broad axes have a vintage look. And nowadays, they are rarely seen anywhere. If you suddenly came across one and thought, “What is a broad axe used for?” This article is for you! Here, we will dive into all the information about a broad axe and give you all the insights.

Structure of a Broad Axe

The name of a broad axe gives away its structure. These axes essentially have a very broad and wide blades, and they can come in two designs. The most traditional design is a side axe with a flat surface on one side of the blade and a beveled surface on the other side.

A lot of technicality works in a side axe, as getting the hewing of your log right depends on what side you’re working on. Generally, if the beveled surface is on the right side of the axe, the beveled surface should face the right side of the wood viewed from above. Vice versa works for a beveled surface on the left.

On the other hand, a more upgraded design of a broad axe is a beveled surface on both sides. Here, the optical view doesn’t matter, and you can use both sides of the axe in hewing. Moreover, you can also use the double-beveled axe for more purposes like notching and chopping. 

A Broadaxe handle is shorter than a felling axe, and its blade is much broader.

Broadaxe History

The history of this tool goes a long way back. It is a traditional axe — considered one of humankind’s oldest hands made tools. The axe is assumed to be used since ancient times for various purposes for men, and it has been most popular in the Americas and Europe. 

Even though a broad axe has played a significant role in mankind’s history, with time, it lost its touch as more modern tools started coming in. By the 19th century, broad axes became less popular as an axe, and currently they are rarely seen in use. 

However, the broad axes created in older times are now valuable pieces. So now, antique broad axe identification is often made.

Uses of a Broad Axe

Broadaxe holds a long-lived history. Therefore, it is justified that its uses must’ve covered a wide range of areas. In fact, it still does. Some of the uses of a broad axe are:


The most ancient use of a broad axe is probably as a weapon. They were used in hunting, attack, or self-defense. Moreover, a broad axe came in handy for shoveling and meat cutting purposes.


A broad hewing ax was very prevalent when there weren’t all these kinds of axes. Subsequently, the use of timbers and logs was every day in almost everything, too- from making houses to rail tracks. Therefore, to chop all this wood, people used a broad axe. 


In old buildings and houses, you’ll often see pillars or beams made of timber. At first, these timbers were wood which was then processed into timbers to build various structures. But how do you get smooth timber from all the rough and bumpy logs? That’s right, with a broad axe!

Until the 19th century, the most common use of a broad axe was square timbers to make beams and walls. A broad axe was the perfect tool to smoothen the surface of a log, and it could be stroked both horizontally and vertically. The tool was convenient, and hence it had so many uses.

Anything wooden back then was made with broad axes to square the timbers.


You can rarely see the use of a broad axe now. But in some places, it is still needed and used. One such example is carpentry. With a carpenter broad axe, carpenters restore old constructions in places where modern architecture was not used.

Carpenters also use a broad axe in underdeveloped areas, where modern axes aren’t available. In these areas, wider axes are very common, and they are used in various cases, starting from construction to breaking.

Axe Tie

In the early times of the railway, authorities did not accept ties made with saws due to the soaking of moisture. As a result, ties produced with hands were implemented. These ties are generally called axe ties, as they are hewed with an axe. Back then, workers commonly used broad axes to make these ties.


How long should a broad axe handle be?

Broad axes have a handle shorter than felling axes. But they still come in various lengths — mostly ranging from 32 to 36 inches. The axes with long handles are used for heavy work like large timbering and splitting. On the other hand, short handles can cut through smaller lumbers.

Short-handled axes are also used for small chores like household errands and chopping.

What kind of broad axe should I purchase?

The kind you should get depends on your use. But for durable and robust use, you can try using the Gransfors Bruks broad axe. It is a solid product and does the job easily. Muller broad axe is also very handy.

Can I use a broad axe for hewing?

Definitely yes! If you do not have a hewing axe, the next best alternative you have is a broad axe. It will do the same job of hewing the timbers as perfectly as any other axe.

Where can I buy a broad axe?

Broad axes are readily available in all tool marketplaces.

Final Verdict

The history of axes begins with axes like a broad axe. They have paved the way for revolutionizing the modern axes that we use today. Before, it was a broad axe that was a hero among all other axes. You can still see these axes, but they are not as widely popular as they used to be.

So, if you saw an old broad axe and wondered what is a broad axe used for, we hope you now know the answer.

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