The two-headed axe is synonymous with Viking culture, first originating back in 3400–2900 BC. Although you may associate this type of axe with war and pillaging, it has an impressive range of uses in the modern world.

If you’d like to know what a double-bit axe is used for then keep reading. We’ve pulled together an essential guide to answer all your questions.    

What are double-bit axes used for?

A double-bit axe, also known as a double-bladed axe, is a versatile axe that has blades on both sides of its head. Keep one side dull for splitting wood and the other super-sharp for felling, snedding, bucking, and general yard work.

1. Firewood splitting

The weight of a double-bit axe makes it useful for splitting wood. Keeping one blade dull stops it from biting too deep into the wood and getting stuck.

2. Felling small trees

The secret to efficient felling is a sharp axe bit. The benefit of having two blades is they can both be sharpened, effectively providing two axes in one. The axe will stay sharp twice as long as a regular axe. For larger hardwood trees you’re best to stick with a purpose-built felling axe.

3. Snedding

Snedding or trimming a tree involves removing all the unwanted branches from the trunk. The tree could have already been felled or still be standing. Double-bit axes make easy work of this job, whether you’re out in the bush or at home.  

4. Bucking

If you’ve felled a tree or have dead wood, if you need it in smaller logs then a double-blade axe will work well. Because you’re chopping across the wood fibers, a sharp blade will be needed.

5. Yard work

Most general types of yard work can be taken care of with a double-blade axe. For dirty groundwork that could easily chip a sharp blade, keep one side dull for this purpose. It’ll make easy work of knotted logs and stubborn roots.

6. Axe throwing

Although the favored axe is a hatchet or tomahawk for throwing, double-bit axes can also be used. The sport of tossing axes at targets is becoming more popular every year, and you’ll find an axe with two blades offers excellent balance. It also bites into the target well, reducing the chance of the axe bouncing to the ground.

7. Woodwork

Use the sharp blade to trim, shape, and sculpt wood into furniture, toys, and other crafts. Gardeners can sharpen sticks to use as stakes for growing tomatoes, runner beans, and other produce that needs support. Keep in mind that an extra blade facing you increases the risk of injury, so extra care is needed.  

8. Meat processing

Whether you’re out on a hunt or you’ve just bought a whole carcass, it’ll need to be processed. A hunting knife is useful, but an axe is great for chopping through joints and sinew with ease. Poultry can also be processed into smaller pieces in under a minute.

Related reading:
Discover the anatomy of an axe.
Find out how to choose the right axe.
We reveal the best uses for a hatchet.

Are double-bit axes dangerous?

All axes are dangerous if they aren’t used correctly, but double-bit axes increase the chance of injury. When splitting wood with the dull side, the sharp blade could bounce back towards your face. Always split wood on a chopping block to reduce the chance of this happening. Extra care should also be taken when carrying a double-bladed axe – there’s double the opportunity for you to cut yourself.

How do I free a double-bit axe that’s wedged into wood?

With a regular single-bit axe, you can use it as a wedge if it ever gets stuck in a piece of wood. Several swings of the sledgehammer on the poll will break through the wood, freeing your axe. With double-bit axes, you’ll need to use one or two separate wedges and hammer them until the axe can be freed.

Should I buy a double bit or single bit axe?

If you mostly use an axe for one purpose, like splitting wood, it’s best to buy a single-bit axe that’s made for the job. They’re lighter, safer, and easier to find in store. Double-bit axes are awesome for their versatility, accuracy, and durability.

What should I avoid doing with a double-bit axe?

Although a double-bit axe has many uses, for work in confined spaces or where you’ll hold the tool up high a hatchet will make more sense. It is lighter and more maneuverable.

People who need a specialist tool, like a roofing axe, fireman’s axe, or carpenter’s axe should avoid using a double-bit axe.  

The pros and cons of a double-bit axe


  • Durability: With two blades, you can use the tool twice as long without needing to sharpen it.
  • Accuracy: The design of a two-blade axe means you can aim with more precision than regular axes.
  • Versatility: A dull and sharp blade means you get two axes on one handle.
  • Versatility: A double-bladed axe can be used for a wide range of jobs.


  • Safety: Two blades double the chance of injuring yourself.
  • Availability: They’re not easy to find in hardware stores and replacing parts can be more difficult.
  • Weight: The added weight of some brands can make using them harder work.

Fast facts

  • Double-bit axes are usually made using steel for the axe head and wooden hafts. In rare cases, they’re made completely from steel.
  • The handle of a double-blade axe is always straight and often longer to provide more power.
  • It wasn’t until the 1800s that double-bit axes became popular with lumberjacks. Before then, they were a popular weapon in war.
  • The most popular use for double-bit axes is to fell and limb trees.
A medieval double-bladed axe
Medieval double-bit axes had bigger, rounder blades.

Summing up

Double bladed axes are a handy tool to have in the shed. Whether you’re felling, splitting, or limbing, it’ll do a great job. Keeping one side blunt and the other sharp will provide a super-helpful combination.

For tougher jobs that’d normally make a mess of your perfectly sharpened edge, you can use a thicker, duller blade. It’ll take the knocks without the unwanted chips and damage. When it’s time to get serious about chopping across the grain, use the sharp side to bite into the wood efficiently.

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