Pickaxes are simple hand tools that consist of a handle and a blade. The blade is usually double headed, with tapered protrusions at each end of the blade. In some cases, the pickaxe will feature a pointed end and a flat end on opposite sides of the blade, making the tool helpful in a wide range of tasks.
In most cases, the handle of the pickaxe is made of some type of hard wood. The handle will be anywhere from four to six feet in length, and will be similar to the handle used with any type of axe. In more recent times, the use of metal handles has become more common. There are also a few models of the pickaxe that make use of heavy duty fiberglass blends, although these are normally recommended for less labor intensive tasks.
The blade of the pickaxe is composed of some type of metal, often steel or some other hard metal. The most common design includes a two pronged body to the blade, with one of the prongs or spikes coming to a sharp point. The spike is usually constructed with a slight curve. The opposite prong may be a duplicate of the other, or may be configured with an end that is flat. In other designs, one of the prongs may resemble a common chisel.
A common pickaxe can be used for a number of common tasks. The spiked end is ideal for breaking up surfaces, such as concrete or hard ground. When equipped with a flat end on the blade, the pickaxe can also be used to slide under an object and pry it away from the surrounding area. When the chiseled prong is included in the design of the hand tool, the pickaxe becomes an ideal choice for cutting through roots as part of the removal of a tree stump.
There is evidence that the pickaxe is one of the oldest tools known to humanity. Its use is generally tracked back to prehistoric civilizations, and has over the centuries used for everything from cultivation to war. The sheer simplicity of the design along with the easy use of the tool make the pickaxe an ideal addition to just about any collection of tools.