HealthyHandyman is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

What’s the Best Wood for an Axe Handle?

Last Updated on July 29, 2020

best wood for an axe handle

When you are out in the wilderness chopping trees down or cutting them into pieces, you want one that you know won’t let you down. The head is made of steel, so you don’t have to worry about that too much. It is the handle that is the most fragile.

Whether you are buying an axe with a wood handle or making your own, pay attention to the type of wood that has been used. What is the best kind of wood for your ax handle? We will give you a quick rundown of the most common ones used, but ultimately the choice is yours.

The Best Types of Wood For Axe Handles:

1. Hickory

Hickory is one of the most popular types of domestic wood in America. It is also the most used wood for ax handles and has been for hundreds of years.

Hickory is a hardwood that has provides a ton of strength. It also absorbs a lot of the shock that fatigues your arms upon impact. Hickory has made the best ax handles for years and it won’t let you down today.


Image credit: Katja Schulz, Flickr

2. Oak Wood

Oak is one of the hardest and most durable woods that you can get, due to the higher density of the tree. It is also great for absorbing some of the contact shocks. The only problem with Oak is that it will splinter is it isn’t oiled on a regular basis.

It is incredibly resistant to insects and funguses, so you don’t need to worry about those things eating away at your wood. Keep it well oiled, and you won’t have any problems with an Oak handle at all.


Image credit: Yath, Wikimedia

3. Ash

Though Ash is available all around the world, it is the most common wood used to make handles in European countries. It is the wood choice because it has long fibers that absorb impact shock very well.

Ash is a strong and flexible wood, but it generally doesn’t last as long as your Hickory or Oak.


Image credit: Brian Green, Wikipedia

4. Sugar Maple Wood

Sugar maple, also known as Hard Maple, is indigenous to North America. The Sugar Maple has been used to make baseball bats for many, many years because of how hard it is. It is a much harder wood than both Hickory and Ash, but that extra strength makes it more brittle so it can shatter easier than the other woods. It also doesn’t do too much to absorb any shock upon ax to wood impact.

sugar maple

Image credit: James St. John, Flickr

5. Yellow Birch Wood

Yellow Birch is the wood of choice in Scandinavia, though it is available in the United States too. It is a solid choice for an ax handle because it is slightly harder than both Hickory and Ash, yet it won’t shatter easily as the Sugar Maple can.

You can see there are quite a few types of wood that make great ax handles. It basically comes down to the availability of that wood where you live, and your preference. Just keep in mind that they are all wood, and all wood can splinter and break. These are only the top five types of wood that are used around the world.

yellow birch

Image credit: Joanna Stancil. U.S. Department of Agriculture

So which to choose?

If you want to go for strength only, go with the Hickory, Oak, Sugar Maple, or Yellow Birch. If you want it most for how much of the vibration it can take upon impact, then you will want to stick with the Ash, Hickory, Oak, or Yellow Birch.

The question of which wood is best for your ax handle is then answered with another question. What is the most important feature for you? Strength or absorption? The choice is yours.

Image credit: Pxhere

About the Author Adam Harris

Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!