What is a Michigan Axe? Design Features and Uses

Photo of author
Written By Michael Culligan

With over 12 years of experience in Oregon's forestry industry, I have established myself as a skilled and knowledgeable lumber professional. As a passionate competitor in local timbersports events, I have consistently ranked among the top lumberjacks in my area. I take great pride in meticulously maintaining an extensive collection of restored vintage axes. I personally test every axe I review by using it to fell and chop up oak firewood on my land.

REVIEWED BY SPencer Durrant
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

A Michigan axe, also known as a Michigan pattern axe, is a popular type of felling axe with a distinctively curved, single-bit cutting blade. Named after the logging history of Michigan, USA, it’s designed for cutting and chopping tasks in forestry, featuring a balanced head and a comfortable handle for efficient use.

A Michigan axe is a large felling axe with a thicker profile and rounded, curved head suited for cutting through Michigan state’s large, frozen trees. The advantage of a Michigan axe is that it won’t chip when cutting down dense, frozen trees and will penetrate more deeply into the trunk.

A Michigan axe works best to quickly cut the wood into pieces according to your desired sizes. While there are other tools you can use to cut down trees, a Michigan axe work best for trees in cold weather locations. With a Michigan axe, you can reduce the time you spend cutting each tree or log

Read on to learn more about the Michigan axe, its use, and its features. 


It’s a type of felling axe with a sharp shape. Its curved head makes it perfect for chopping denser wood and large trees. Michigan axes gained popularity in the 1860s. Almost every felling axe is named after an area or state, so you can probably guess that Michigan axes originated in Michigan. Originally, these axes were designed to meet the requirements of lodgers or lumberjacks who cut white pine trees. Of course, some people also used it to cut different types of trees.

Why was a different axehead design required for this region? It’s because the people in Michigan often had to cut large frozen trees, such as the dense White Pine. The Michigan axe was designed to cut down frozen trees that are otherwise difficult with a normal felling axe. Its curved head is unique compared to most straight-edged axes. This axe has a rounded heel and toe design that helps it cut into the tree deeper and prevents it from chipping from the frozen wood. 

Michigan axe is not a versatile tool, but it is used for specific work, including:

  • Chopping large trees 
  • Splitting wood
  • Cutting dense trees

Of course, it’s a heavy professional tool designed for lumberjacks and forestry workers. Therefore, if you purchase one, use it with great care. 

Michigan Double Bit Axe by Condor Tool

Design and Features 

The standard Michigan axe has a curved, sharp head, but it’s also available with two different head sharpness. These types of axes are known as double-bit Michigan axe. One end of the head is sharper and thinner, helping in knot-free cutting, while the other is blunter and thicker, which helps to split wood by forcing the fibers apart. This means that you only need to carry a single axe to do two axes worth of jobs.

Whether you opt for a single-bit or double-bit Michigan axe, they can make things much easier. And most likely, you might not need any other tool for this wood breaking, cracking, and splitting purpose. Besides that, the Michigan axe has a simple design with a metal head and a long wooden handle. The handle of these types of an axe can have different sizes based on your needs and requirements. 

The key design features of a Michigan axe can be summarized as:

  • Rounded Poll
  • Thicker Cheeks
  • Rounded Heel and Toe
  • 3-pound weight

Michigan axes are also heavy if made with natural metal and wood. But the weight greatly matters on the size of the head and handle. 

What is a Michigan Axe? Design Features and Uses

Modern Brands

Several modern brands are offering Michigan axes with unique designs and features. Manufacturers use cutting-edge technology and modern methods to produce highly durable and efficient products. There is a wide range of products, so you can choose the one based on your budget, quality, features, and durability.

Some features that modern brands offer today are:

  • Different handle materials from fibreglass to American Hickory wood.
  • Different weights and sizes are available depending on your frame.
  • Excellent grip made with leather or plastic.

A few modern manufacturers of Michigan axes include:

  • Truper
  • Dinovia
  • Prandi
  • Casstrom
  • Cold Steel
  • Estwing
  • Snow & Nealley
  • Gardening Axes

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is Better: Michigan Axe and Splitting axe?

Michigan axes and splitting axes have very different purposes. A splitting axe is swung vertically to cut through a log by forcing the wood fibers apart. A Michigan axe is swung horizontally to cut through the fibers of large, dense tree trunks.

What is the weight of a Michigan Axe?

Michigan axe usually weighs around three pounds. But the weight can change depending on the material used to make it. Wood-handled Michigan axes are heavier than fiberglass alternatives. The length of the handle also impacts the total weight. You can check the weight of the product before purchasing it. 


Now that you know what a Michigan axe is and how it’s used, it will be easier for you to differentiate them from other axes and make the most out of them. When purchasing an axe, consider your needs and requirements, the purpose you need it for, and your budget.