I began to research the different ways these axes were made after I decided I wanted to have one custom made to my specifications. There are two styles of sockets: blind and through. The blind socket is mostly seen on hewing axes (single and double bevel) as well as other small axes. The through socket is mostly used on larger axes, such as the felling axe. There are some smaller axes and side axes that also utilize the through socket, but these are quite rare.
As you might imagine, these tools are hard to make. They involve multiple forge welds, some involving thin metal stock. You might wonder why this design was produced at all – there are simpler ways to make an axe. I wanted to find out what made the socket axe special.
Until the last few years, I had only used a “Picardie”-style axe, a large double-bevel finishing axe from its namesake region in France. The edge of the Picardie is in the same plane as the handle, and shares similarities with medieval finishing axes. But I soon discovered the value and versatility of smaller socket axe and hatchet patterns.
–Gustave Rémon, excerpt from “Understanding the Medieval Socket Axe,” from Issue Eleven