Terms of the Trade: What Is a Mattock?

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A mattock is a hand tool used for a variety of outdoor digging purposes. With a construction similar to a pickaxe, its long four-foot handle supports a double-ended tool that comes in either one of two ways. The first is two flat blades opposite each other with one rotated 90 degrees. This is commonly referred to as a cutter mattock. The other option is referred to as a pick mattock, with one end formed as a pick and the other as an adze (a cutting tool with an edge perpendicular to the handle). The pick mattock is preferred for cutting into rocky terrain and hard soil, while the cutter mattock is often used for cutting into roots embedded into the ground. Mattocks have a long history, existing in some form or other since the Bronze Age in Asia and Greece.