What is a Pick Axe? Design Features and Uses

Updated on December 20, 2022 by

A pick axe is a tool that both miners and farmers use for digging the soil. People have been using this tool for centuries. It’s one of the oldest instruments used by mankind. It has a very versatile design, which has kept it relevant to this date. Though some people have moved to modern technologies, many people still prefer using pick axes. 

Want to learn what are the key attributes and festers of pick axes, where you can find them, and where you can use them? In that case, here is everything that I’ve learned about pick axes in the last few years. So, continue reading to get insightful knowledge about the tool. 


A pick axe, also known as a pickaxe, is a T-shaped hand tool you can use for prying. It comes with a metal head that attaches perpendicular to a long wooden handle, which can sometimes also be made of fiberglass and metal. 

While it is similar to a mattock, as it has a pick blade on one end and a horizontal broad blade (adze) on the other. You can use them for chopping, digging, or prying.

You can use pick axes for:

  1. Breaking rocks 
  2. Prying objects
  3. Digging soil
  4. Clearing roots
  5. Digging trenches

If you want to break soil easily, you should get a pickaxe. Pick axes can easily break rocky soils or dry, hardened clay that would otherwise be difficult to do with a shovel. Many people use them to remove tree roots, which helps reduce the soil around the tree base.

pick axe

Design and Features

It is easy to differentiate a pick axe from other types of axes due to their unique designs and features.  Some attributes that make it different from others include:

  • Long, sharp chisel on one end.
  • Wide, flat adze blade on the other end.
  • Straight handle design.
  • Various handle sizes.

Pick axes are two tools in one. You can use them for prying, breaking, or simply digging the soil. When you have a pick axe, you don’t need to buy a chisel and pick separately.

Since the pick part is pointed, you can break hard wooden floors or grounds easily and faster. Generally, you can break things in the first attempt. The five common uses of pick axes are:

  • Landscaping
  • Paving
  • Cement
  • Farming

You can use it for any purpose that requires breaking up hard surfaces and digging. Choose one based on the handle you want. Usually, medium-sized handle pick axes are easier to handle and use. 

Modern Brands

The upgraded technology and modern needs have compelled manufacturers to bring some advancements in pick axes. Therefore, 20th-century pick axe designs are different from the traditional century-old axes. Many manufacturers have also tried to use plastic or fiberglass composite handles instead of wood to make it lighter. You can even find pick axes with several head sizes or in different colors. 

 Some of the top modern pick axes manufacturing brands are:

  • Hooyman
  • Nupla
  • Fiskars
  • Estwing
  • WilFiks
  • Truper

While purchasing, just make sure to look for a few things like quality, prices, durability, and construction quality of the pick axe. The best way to get value for money is to buy a tool that will last for a lifetime, even if that means paying more up front.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a Pick axe Break Rock?

You can easily break rocks from the pick part of the axe. This is the primary reason people use pick axes. Besides that, you can also use the chisel part to pry apart rocks. 

Should You Need to Sharpen a Pick Axe?

If you are using a pick axe for a long time or chipping hard rock, you will need to sharpen it with a grinding stone. Sharpening can improve the tool’s efficiency, helping you do each task much faster. How will you know whether you need to sharpen the axe? If you notice breaking things from your axe is getting challenging over time, it’s a sign to sharpen your tool. 

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Michael Culligan

I am a lumber worker who performed logging services for Oregan's forestry industry for over a decade. I have spent years honing my skills and experience to become a well-rounded axeman. I enjoy timbersports and have ranked in my local lumberjack competitions. I'm exited to share my knowledge of axes and lumber tools with everyone to help. I also have a large collection of restored vintage axes that I carefully maintain.