At last, my hand forged carving axe that was to be last year’s Christmas present has arrived. What’s that? You didn’t know that an axe could have a beard? Why yes it’s true. Although this beard is more likely to do the shaving than to be shaved.
A carving axe is not for splitting firewood, or general chopping. Although chopping is one of the ways the axe can be used, it is more often used like a large knife. The grip is up near the head of the axe and the beard overhangs your fingers, as shown below. The long, curved edge makes this axe an excellent paring tool, and it is razor sharp. By using the thumb of your other hand on the toe of the axe, you can exercise a great deal of control over the cut. So yes, they have toes too, and heads, and eyes and heels and cheeks as well.
The bearded axe can do amazing things in the hands of a skilled worker. In Norway, it’s considered an essential boatbuilding tool, and can be employed as the only tool. I’m planning to make some spoons first, boatbuilding will have to wait.