Axes are ancient tools, long pre-dating the Middle Ages. During the medieval period they were used for nearly every stage of cabinetry. “Two-handed axes” (axes with long handles, swung with both hands) were the foremost tool for felling trees and cutting wood. These axes had dual-inclined planes, meaning they were beveled on both sides of the blade.
Single-inclined plane axes (beveled on only one side of the blade) -known as “broad axes”- could also be swung two-handed and were highly effective at hewing (splitting off the sides of logs to create flat faced beams).
Axes swung one-handed have shorter handles and are usually referred to as “hand axes”, although “hatchet” (from the French hachette meaning “small axe”) is also a common term. Hand axes excel at shaping wood: everything from removing waste on a roughly dimensioned piece, to carving fine details in woodenware or statuary.
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