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While throwing an axe is great and when it comes to chopping wood manually, there is no better object, there are also axes that serve a more artistic purpose.
I would like to give an overview of carving axes, their history, what we need to be looking for and what I would recommend for a carving axe. To me I genuinely believe there is only one right answer
Best Carving Axe
For my recommendation I can easily suggest the Gransfors Bruks Carving Axe(found here).
Gransfors Bruks has been known to have great wooden handle axes and when the term ‘you get what you pay for’ is used this is a great example for it!
The axes always have quality workmanship, being handcrafted and seared with their own mark to ensure it was made with every detail in mind. The blade head itself is of a refined steel, being worked over several times to ensure that the blade itself will not go dull for a long period of time.
Wood Carving Axe vs Every other Axe
You would think that with wood carving you could get away with using any other wood carving tool or even a knife! However that is not the case. Wood carving axes have their own specific qualities that make sure they are precisely the right tool that you need.
Most Axes have their own handle, capable of withstanding even the strongest of grips. But wood carving axes are going to be a bit different when compared to a throwing axe.
The most important detail is that these grips are specifically made so that you cannot drop them, or have difficulty in doing so.
Most wood carving hatchet will have vertical fibers, this is to ensure that you do not get splinters if the axe has been used repeatedly. Another thing to not is that most of these axe handles have a bit of a lighter or more subtle sheen to them.
That is because they use their own oil’s for handling. Throwing axes have a bit more shine to them, this allows you to let go of an axe much more easily so that you can release your axe whenever you want. Wood carving axes know that you will not be trying to let go of your axe mid swing.
This is one of the more important traits to have as a weak or somewhat slippery handle can cause issues with wood carving. One mistake and you will not be able to redo it!
Another thing that you will see when comparing handles is that the base is often custom made so that it increases in width at the bottom. This is not just so that the blade head will not fall to the bottom, this is something to decrease the odds that you slip when holding on to the axe, like a brush axe.
Most carving axes have these custom handles and if you notice that the handle is custom built to specifically hold one blade head. This is made to ensure that the head will not wobble even after consistent use.
The blade head of a carving axe is going to be a bit different than other axes. For one thing most carving axes are not double bit. In Fact I would tell you right now to avoid all double bit axe heads.
That is because you do not want to try to add a small detail and have to worry about the opposite side of your axe grinding away at what little details you worked so tirelessly on! Because of this, the second bit is usually incredibly small or even in some cases non-existent. It’s core purpose is so that the blade head itself will not rattle when being used.
If you look up carving axes and see the price you will notice a large, if not momentous difference between the prices of them when compared to throwing axes. This is not uncommon as they typically are sold as sets of one.
Carving axes are made for a specific purpose and treated as a tool, just like how your parents might have tools that lasted decades since they were made for that purpose.
Because of the price difference you will notice that most carving axes have more intent in their design and are often handmade, whereas throwing axes are more focused on quantity. Rule of thumb: if a carving axe is the same price of a throwing axe, avoid it at all costs.
While the large is great for big projects it might be a good idea to consider the smaller one if you want to do more intricate work or if you feel more experienced.
The larger axe will allow you to make more mistakes and plan out more generic ideas instead of trying to figure out how to give out millimeter details on things.
When you look up this axe you will notice that it is a much higher price than any throwing axe I have listed, this is for good reason. Carving axes are durable, made to be taken care of since they should never leave your hands mid toss.
The makers will guarantee that this axe will not be damaged so easily and can take quite a beating.
Carving axes might still be considered axes but they are a different animal all together. It should be noted that if you have a throwing axe and want to give wood carving a try, you should check out a local rental shop or find a class.
Wood carving can be lots of great fun but it does have a higher financial barrier of entry. Check out the current price on Amazon here.
History of Carving Axes
Wood carving is almost a universal form of artwork. Every civilization that you know has had word and used it for multiple purposes, in this case, wood carving.
Wood itself is a great resource for artistry and tools as it is easy to carve, plentiful and easily replaceable. History sorts woodworking back to egypt, mainly because of it’s dry landscape it was much easier to keep wood in check.
Lots of works were used there but wood itself was a bit more scarce. To compensate a lot of egyptian artwork that used wood had bits of other materials used with it. Including, clay, stone and even animal parts.
In other locations where wood was more plentiful and trees grew large, works of art were more common. Walls were carved with people artistry, utensils were used commonly as they were cheaper than the metal counterparts that they had.
A Lot of artistic wood carving can be seen in europe. Their robust renaissance age combined with plenty of resources amounted to various works of art that can be seen all over the entire world.
Another thing that people think of when it comes to artistic woodworking is the art of Native Americans that lived across the pond from Europe. To this day large totem poles are still standing tall, with intricate and symmetrical design, capable of towering over even the largest of men.
Even in Asia wood carving is seen as an artistry form, creating beautiful sculptures for all to see. If you are interested in learning more about woodworking in general, my favorite resource is this Woodworking Class. Check it out!