What is a pick axe?

     
     
 Shop for Pick axes 
     
     
 Pickaxe with hickory wooden handle 

A pick axe is a simple hand tool that comprises a metal head with a pointed pick at one end and often a chisel at the other, fitted to a long wooden or fibreglass handle.

 

A pick axe is mainly used for breaking up hard ground or rock. 

 
     
 Pickaxe head and its parts, Pick, Chisel, Eye 

The head is made of metal, whilst the handle is made of wood or fibreglass. Ice pick axes usually have metal handles.

 

The metal head has a pointed pick, which curves slightly, and nowadays often features a counterweight which is most commonly another pick or a chisel to balance out the weight at the head and improve ease of use. 

 
     
 Pickaxe being used to break up road surface 

The pointed pick edge of the head is used mainly for breaking up hard surfaces like concrete and rocks or dry, hardened earth. The weight of the pick axe head increases its momentum, and the force on the small area of the pick makes it a very effective tool.

 

The chisel end is mainly used to pry open splits in the ground or in rocks.

 
     
   

What is the difference between a mattock and a pick axe?

 
 Mattock 

A mattock has a broad adze (horizontal blade), usually with a pick or axe on the other end of the head.

 
     
 Pickaxe and Mattock head comparison, Pickaxe head, Mattock head 

A pick axe has a pointed pick at one end of the head and a narrow chisel at the other. 

 

Today, the terms pick axe and mattock are often used to mean the same thing, but they are in fact different tools.

 
     
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