5 Ways To Improve Your Axe

If you use your axe often, consider the following ways to make it more functional or attractive. If you are a collector, you may want to engrave your favorite pieces or have custom shrouds made for the axe heads. For a more durable and useful tool, practice good axe care and maintenance.

Tip #1: Engraving

Axe heads can be engraved with initials or words, designs, family crests or any other artwork. Engraving can be done using lasers or rotary engravers or performed entirely by hand using a hammer and an assortment of specially designed chisels. Of these types, laser engraving is the newest and most accurate.

Note that engraving the wooden handle weakens it, so only use that approach for axes that are purely decorative.

Tip #2: Axe Shrouds

An axe shroud is used to protect the axe head from wet or cold weather conditions. These covers may be generic or custom made, with custom versions often featuring designs or other artwork. The purpose of the shroud is to keep moisture away from the blade.

Typical axe shrouds are made from leather, but vinyl and cloth shrouds are available as well. Because the shroud is used to cover a sharp edge, greater care must be taken with cloth or vinyl to prevent splitting the material.

Tip #3: Axe Care

Treat your camp axe well, and it will serve you well. When you are done using the axe for an extended period, grease or oil the axe head, and then store it inside an axe shroud. This serves to protect the axe head against moisture that could cause rust, but has a secondary advantage as well. An axe that has been conditioned with oil is better able to bite into the wood, resulting in deeper cuts.

Tip #4: Axe Storage and Handling

Never leave your axe exposed to the elements. Because the best handles are untreated wood, they will rot if left at the mercies of nature. Unless the axe is used for decoration only, do not coat the handle with varnish or lacquer. This type of coating can make the axe hard to grip when your palms are sweaty and cause friction blisters.

Tip #5: Use a Cutting Block

Never chop your axe into the ground. This will quickly dull the edge, increase susceptibility to rust and even chip the blade—one of the worst things that could happen to an axe.

Always use a cutting block. When you are done chopping, impale the axe head in the wood of the block rather than in the earth itself.

Notes on Axe Safety

  • When chopping, make sure that you are at least 2 handle lengths away from other people or animals.
  • Before you begin, swing your axe around in simulate chopping motion to determine whether the swing is blocked by branches or other obstacles.
  • Don't try to work in spaces that are too confining.
  • Never straddle a piece of wood that is being chopped.