Double bit axes are characterized by the presence of two blades on either side of the head of the axe. This provides the user ultimate flexibility while felling trees and splitting logs and rounds of wood.
Double bit axes are heavy tools and are most commonly used by professionals and lumberjacks. However, even if you are not familiar with handling double bit axes, a bit of practice will enable you to make use of this versatile axe to make your operations easier.
Buying a double bit axe will give you the use of two axes for the price of one. Also, it removes the hassle of carrying separate axes for two different jobs.
If you are interested in adding this versatile and long-lasting tool to your arsenal, you will probably want to choose the best and the right axe for you. This article will guide you through the points that you need to consider for choosing the best double bit axe and will provide you with detailed reviews of some of the best double-bit axes available on the market today.
Why Do You Need a Double Bit Axe?
The simplest answer to this question is that you need a double bit axe for the two bits (edges) available on the design of the double bit axe. These double blades offer a wide range of advantages and applications for a variety of woodworking operations like felling trees, splitting firewood, and chopping.
You can make use of the double bit axe as a multi-purpose tool if you have two different types of bits on the axe. When you have a double bit axe with one edge that is kept sharp and thin while the other is made slightly tapering and dull, you can use the sharper edge for felling and chopping trees while the dull edge will be effective in splitting firewood.
Furthermore, you can make use of the double bit axe as a long-lasting tool if you have both the cutting edges made sharp. This will allow you to make use of the other side when one gets dull from regular usage.
Similarly, for double bit axes with similar cutting edges on both sides, you can designate one cutting edge for rough and dirty tasks like debarking, cutting roots, etc., while the other is kept very sharp for maximum efficiency. Finally, double bit axes are also used for axe throwing because of the symmetrical design and heavy heads. Some separate models are built specifically for the sport of axe throwing.
As a result, the intended usage of the double bit axe should guide your buying decision.
What are the Things to Consider for Choosing the Best Double Bit Axe?
As mentioned earlier, the first thing you need to consider for choosing the right double bit axe for you will depend on your intended use as well as your budget. Once you have decided on that, you can now look into the characteristics of the axe like the length, weight, materials, and so on that are discussed below:
1.Length of the Handle
The perfect length of a double bit axe is the one that perfectly fits your height and power. However, it is important to understand that a longer handle will generate more impact on the wood but it also requires greater power to swing and there are higher chances of missing the target.
On the contrary, axes with shorter handles are more accurate and easy to use but are limited for smaller projects like chopping, limbing, and clearing.
With this in mind, you need to choose the length that fits your needs and is comfortable on your body.
The handles for double bit axes are made with either wood or composite materials like fiberglass. Wooden handles have been used for centuries in double bit axes and are generally considered better in quality and effectiveness than composite materials. However, some axes with composite handles are better than many wooden-handled axes.
The choice of the handle material for your double bit axe is an important decision to make while choosing the axe. It is because the handle material determines the longevity of the axe since wooden handles are easily replaced when broken but composite handles are rarely repaired or replaced.
Hickory is widely used in most of the best double bit axes with wooden handles.
3. Head of the Axe
The head containing two bits or edges is the essence of the double bit axe. Like mentioned earlier, a handle can be replaced, but the head is what the axe is. So, it is important to consider the axe head properties in more detail.
- Head Material: The material used to make the head of the double bit axe is steel. For best quality, you need to ensure that the axe head is made of high-density carbon steel and avoid cheap models as far as possible.
- Weight of the head: The weight of the head determines the overall weight of the tool. So, it is necessary to balance the power required from heavier heads with the ease of use and handling offered by lighter heads.
Generally, double bit heads are between 3 to 5 pounds which is heavier than single bit axes. This makes the double-bit axes heavier on the head. If necessary, this difference must be balanced by the weight of the handle.
- Shape of the head: Double bit axe heads come in different shapes which are built for different applications. Since more force is necessary to cut across the grain of the wood, some heads have a narrow, thin, and sharp edge to easily cut across the grain and fell trees.
Similarly, for splitting, you need to cut along the grain of the wood and separate it. To do so, double bit axes have heads that have broad and tapering heads that cut along the grain and split the wood.
4. Hand-made vs. Machine-made double bit axes.
Double bit axes are made either by hand forging or by using manufacturing machines. As making axes using machines is much easier and economic, they are more commonly used and are more reliable and durable.
On the contrary, it takes a lot of time and effort to make hand-forged axes which are today made by repeatedly dropping a powered hammer on the head material and are also called drop-forged axes. Hand-forged axes are more perfected, well-built, and last significantly longer than machine-made axes.
Best Double Bit Axes Options – Our Top Picks
With the understanding of the things to consider for choosing the best double bit axe, we will now go through the best double bit axe options available today which we have shortlisted from numerous models after intensive product research, hands-on-experience, and product reviews.
1. 1844 Helko Werk Germany Traditional Hinterland Double Bit Axe
The German-made Helko Werk Double bit axe is the number one choice for double bit axes among most lumberjacks and professionals. Helko Werk is a high-quality axe manufacturing brand which has done an exceptional job in matching the sleek good-looking design of this double bit axe with the work that it can deliver.
With a handle length of 30 inches and a head weight of 3.5 lbs., the total length of this medieval-looking axe is 34.5 inches and the total weight is 4.75 lbs. after adding the 3.5-inch head length and 1.25 lbs handle weight.
This axe features a premium grade C50 high carbon steel as head material which is hand-forged on open dies using a drop hammer. This adds great mechanical strength and durability to the axe. The head is finally buffed and polished, which increases its resistance against the elements, gives a shiny finish and reduces friction while cutting across the grain.
The head is supported on an A-grade Hickory handle which is just as impressive as the head. It is sustainably sourced and selected individually by experienced axe makers for grain orientation and density. The handle is further sanded with 150-grit and finished with boiled linseed oil.
A standard leather sheath and an axe-guard solution, which further protect the head during storage are also a valuable addition to the purchase. All these features make the Helko Werk double bit axe the best double axe available, which justifies the somewhat high price you need to pay to add this strong tool to your arsenal.
- Head Material: C50 high carbon steel
- Handle Material: American Grade A Hickory
- Handle Length: 30 inches
- Head weight: 3.5 lbs.
- Total weight: 4.75 lbs.
2. Council Tool Velvicut Premium Saddle Axe
Double bit axes come in a variety of sizes from large heavy axes to small and versatile axes. Measuring at just 16 inches in handle length, the Council Tool Velvicut is one of the best double bit axes of the latter category of double bit axes.
Although belonging to the small category, it performs exceptionally well in several woodworking tasks with an axe head made up of drop-forged 5160 steel. The head is crafted with a distinct flat grind made by heat treatment and tempering. The flat grind on the extremely sharp left blade is 25 degrees and is used for cutting, shaving, and carving purposes. On the other hand, the right blade has a 32 degree flat grind and is used for splitting jobs.
The American Pattern sports phantom bevels, featured on this axe serve for easy removal of the axe after deep cuts and also reduces the friction, allowing it to make those deep cuts in the first place.
Along with the versatility it offers, the portability of this axe also ensures that you will get to use these tools in most places and for most operations. In fact, the name saddle axe comes from the smaller axes being able to fit into the saddlebags while on horses.
This axe is recommended for someone who needs either a portable powerful axe or a versatile and easy-to-use axe to perform normal woodworking operations. It also comes with a double bit blade cover which protects the axe. The double bit blade cover especially is of greater importance for this axe since you will most likely carry this axe around more.
- Head Material: 5160 steel
- Handle Material: American Hickory
- Handle Length: 16 inches
- Total weight: 2 lbs.
3. Estwing Double Bit Axe
The Estwing Double Bit Axe is one of the most popular double bit axes among users because of several reasons. First of all, Estwing has a patented shock reduction grip which reduces the impact vibration by 70%. It also makes the axe comfortable on the hands and avoids slipping.
Secondly, it is one of the few axes with a modern look that compete with traditional axes in terms of strength and durability.
The axe is made by forging the finest American steel and the head is very well balanced. The balanced head is also made sharp which makes it ideal for throwing. But the lack of weight might mean a lack of power. This axe is famous for its outdoor versatility like chopping logs and small trees as well as splitting firewood and kindling.
However, this axe is not suitable for felling large trees and other heavy operations. At just 2.54 pounds in weight and a handle length of 17 inches, this axe is very easy to yield and swing.
The sheath provided is made from ballistic nylon which is found to be better than traditional leather sheaths. Finally, if you want a strong, comfortable, versatile, and portable double bit axe with a modern look and feel, this Estwing double bit axe will be the perfect choice for you which will even last you a long time.
- Head Material: American Steel
- Handle Material: Fiberglass with Shock reduction grip
- Handle Length: 17 inches
- Total weight: 2.54 lbs.
4. Hults Bruk Motala Double Bit Axe
The Motala by Hults Bruk is a fine piece of Swedish craftsmanship that looks and feels like it belongs to a museum. This is a hand-forged axe made from Swedish steel in a foundry that has been in operation since 1697. The density of the steel is increased by striking it multiple times to increase its durability.
Also, the head is provided with a tempered zone that helps to hold a very sharp edge even after many sharpening. People who use the Hults Bruk Motala describe the sharpness of this axe as being able to cut your beard.
The handle is made from American Hickory which is treated with linseed oil. The length of the handle is 30 inches which support the 4-pound head. This combines results in a lot of balanced power which makes it one of the best double bit axes for throwing.
The Hults Bruk Motala is used in many axe throwing competitions. However, its efficiency in woodworking operations and especially tree felling is equally impressive with clean cuts requiring less effort.
Finally, it is an expensive axe and is priced at around 400 dollars. It is among the best double bit axes on the market today that can be used for both throwing and felling trees. The price is justified also by the fact that it truly is well built and, looks/feels like a piece of Scandinavian history.
- Head Material: Solid Swedish Steel
- Handle Material: American Hickory
- Handle Length: 30 inches
- Head Weight: 3.75 lbs.
- Total weight: 4.625 lbs.
5. Truper Double Bit Michigan Axe
The Truper Double Bit Michigan Axe is a simple classic looking double bit axe with a hickory handle and a heat-treated blade. The length of this 3.5-pound heavy axe is longer than others on this list with a handle length of 35 inches. This balance in the longer length and a heavy weight has made this axe a reputed throwing axe.
However, this axe is made to be used as a handy axe for home, garden, farm as well as recreation. The steel and wood wedge assembly make it a powerful axe, capable of making neat cuts across the grain. This Michigan styles axe is ideally balanced for splitting purposes. The comfortable grip of the hickory handle along with the contour provided makes it an ergonomic tool as well.
However, this axe lacks in the field of durability since the material quality is low and the edges dull rather quickly when used for heavy chopping work. There are also problems reported on the build of the axe, handle shape, and overall workmanship.
Nevertheless, it is a powerful axe and even if the axe breaks, replacements handles are provided by the brand. If you are looking for an inexpensive option, that does not necessarily last long but gets the job done efficiently, this might be an axe to consider buying.
- Head Material: Steel
- Handle Material: Hickory
- Handle Length: 35 inches
- Head Weight: 3.5 lbs.
- Total weight: 4.4 lbs.
6. Council Tool Michigan Pattern Double Bit Axe
The Council Tool Michigan Pattern double bit axe is unique and easily identified by the red enamel coating present on the head along with the long 36 inches straight handle.
The head is made by forging 1060 steel which has a 0.6 carbon proportion, making it effectively hard for cutting most wood. The distinctive red coating is present to make this axe extremely rust resisting which is aided by the layer of clear lacquer present.
The head is built in a Michigan pattern which makes it suitable for making deep cuts across the grain since Michigan pattern axe heads have a long and thin profile.
The American Hickory handle of this Council Tool double bit axe is 36 inches long which provides excellent swinging power. However, this also might account for lower accuracy. As a result, professional lumberjacks love this axe for its swinging power since they have precision and accuracy in their swings.
Besides the accuracy issue, another important issue of this axe is that the blade loses its sharpness rather quickly than other axes. The property of the head material, 1060 steel to lose its sharpness is a tradeoff for the incredible strength and hardness it offers. As a result, this axe might need more regular sharpening than other axes.
If you need a reliable, capable, and budget-friendly axe for some heavy operations and would prefer an axe that offers great swinging power, the Council Tool Michigan Pattern double bit axe might be the perfect fit for you if you don’t mind the need for constant sharpening and the long length of the axe.
- Head Material: 1060 Steel
- Handle Material: American Hickory
- Handle Length: 36 inches
- Head Weight: 3.5 lbs.
- Total weight: 5.25 lbs.
Question: What is the difference between a double bit axe and a single bit axe?
Answer: The main difference between a single bit and a double bit axe is the number of cutting blades present on the head of the axe. A single bit has its cutting edge only on one side of the head. In contrast, a double bit axe is built with two blades on either side of the axe head which might be similar or different based on the intended usage of the axe.
Question: Are double bit axes better than single bit axes?
Answer: The preference for double bit axes comes from the versatility that they offer over single bit axes.
In a single bit axe, you only have one cutting edge which is either made razor-sharp on a thin blade or with a thick wedge-shaped blade. The former is used to cut perpendicular to the grain for felling and chopping trees while the latter is used to cut along the grain and split the wood for fuelwood and firewood.
In a double bit axe, the presence of two blades makes it possible to have both of those options in a single axe. You may, however, choose to have the same type of blade on both sides according to your needs.
Question: Are double bit axes heavier than normal axes?
Answer: In general, a double bit axes will be heavier than a single bit axe of similar length and dimensions. This is because of the presence of larger head material since the head of an axe accounts for most of the overall weight of the axe.
Like all other axes, the weight of the double bit axes increases with length. For example, the weight of a 40-inches long axe is about 7 pounds while the weight of a 32-36 inch long axe is somewhere around 5 pounds. Finally, smaller double bit axes of length 15-20 inches weigh very little at around 2-3 pounds. They are very easy to handle for working with wood and are commonly used for axe throwing sport.
Question: Are double bit axes dangerous?
Answer: Double bit axes are perceived to be more dangerous than other types of axes. Since there are two cutting edges, the chances of injuries may increase while using the axe or even during storage and by accidents.
Furthermore, they are mostly used by professionals and lumberjacks for heavy operations. Since it is harder to get a hold of the proper technique to use the axe, it might prove to be dangerous if used by beginners and without supervision.
Question: What is the rule for using double bit axes in axe throwing competitions?
Answer: The main rule for using a double bit axe for axe throwing is that the thrower is only allowed to hit the target with the fore-bit of the double bit axe and not the back-bit. Also, the axe needs to be stuck in the target area with the fore-bit.
The double bit axes used for axe throwing have symmetrical blades on both sides so that they have a well-positioned center of gravity to ensure the proper distribution of weight. This enables the axe to rotate properly. Additionally, there are certain restrictions on the design as well as the dimension of the double bit axes in several axe throwing competitions.
Double bit axes are powerful and versatile tools that are capable of performing a variety of tasks, which otherwise would require carrying more than one axes.
They are well-recognized for their durability and long-lasting ability and are trusted by professionals in the field. However, making the best out of your double bit axe first requires the selection of the best double bit axe for you. Factors such as head and handle material, length, weight, built process, etc. need to be assessed for selecting the best among the numerous options available on the market.
The list of the double bit axe mentioned above are our top picks and one of them will most likely align with your needs for the double bit axe. The one double bit axe that we use and would recommend the most is the 1844 Helko Werk Germany Traditional Hinterland Double Bit Axe. This double bit axe is more on the higher price category but the quality and performance it provides easily justifies the price. Besides, this is an axe that will last you for years to come and will prove to be a good initial investment that will prove value for numerous years.
To conclude, using a double bit axe might be a bit hard for inexperienced users, but choosing the best double bit axe won’t be a hard process if you carefully consider the factors we’ve mentioned and go for the trusted and recommended options.