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Axe Culture

for Timber Framing Journal, Issue 115 [March 2015]
Edited by: Kenneth Rower

Pdf sent upon request


In its simplicity the axe is an ingenious tool. An extension of the woodworker’s arm, it serves multiple purposes, and provides the user’s soft hand with the ability to cut and shape harder materials. The axe, the first woodworking implement and for a long time the only one, continues as a highly appreciated and purposeful tool in handwork, and demonstrates its close connection with the person as a potent maker, able to transform one’s immediate surroundings with just two actions: cutting and hitting.

Though the form of the axe has undergone modifications since its initial appearance in the prehistoric era, its construction is still straightforward. The predecessor of the metal axe with wooden handle as we know it today was a heavy sharpened stone held in the hand. The more efficient arrangement of mounting the blade to a handle was followed by the arrival of metallurgy and the discovery that stone (ore) can be turned into metal and then into tools.