Infobox tool
name = Pickaxe

caption =Pickaxe on the ground
other_name =Pick
classification = Digging tool
types = Railroad pick
Miner's pick
used_with =
related = Mattock

A pickaxe is a hand tool with a hard head attached perpendicular to the handle.

Some people make the distinction that a pickaxe has a head with a pointed end and a flat end, and a pick has both ends pointed, or only one end; but most people use the words to mean the same thing.

The head is usually made of metal, and the handle is most commonly wood, metal or fibreglass.

The head is a spike ending in a sharp point, may curve slightly, and often has a counter-weight to improve ease of use. The stronger the spike, the more effectively the tool can pierce the surface. Rocking the embedded spike about and removing it can then break up the surface.

The counterweight nowadays is nearly always a second spike, usually with a flat end for prying.

The pointed edge is most often used to break up rocky surfaces or other hard surfaces such as concrete or hardened dried earth. The large momentum of a heavy pickaxe, combined with the small contact area, makes it very effective for this purpose.

The chiseled end, if present, is used for purposes including cutting through roots.

Originally used as agricultural tools as far back as prehistoric cultures, picks have also served for tasks ranging from mining to warfare. The design has also evolved into other tools such as the plough and the mattock.

In prehistoric times a large deer antler was often cut down to its shaft and one tine and used as a one-pointed pick. [http://www.ingenious.org.uk/See/Tradeandindustry/Handandmachinetools/?target=SeeMedium&ObjectID=%7BB316DA4B-0B90-D31E-C28F-94EC504B8D04%7D&viewby=images] [http://www.dkimages.com/discover/previews/847/970747.jpg] [http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/piclib/images%5CTHUMB%5C0330000190_5mb.jpg]

=Pickaxe handle= A pickaxe handle, without the head, is often used, often unofficially, as a baton: for example it is an official issue baton used in the British Army.

A pickaxe handle has been known to be used while scuba diving to fend off sharks by hitting them bluntly on the nose with it (underwater, by jabbing with it, not swinging it).

A normal pickaxe handle is made of ash or hickory wood and is about three feet long and weighs about 2.5 pounds. British Army pickaxe handles must by regulation be exactly three feet long, for use in measuring in the field.

ee also

*Ice axe

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • pickaxe — (n.) early 15c., folk etymology alteration (influenced by AXE (Cf. axe)) of M.E. picas (mid 13c.), via Anglo Fr. piceis, O.Fr. pocois (11c.), from M.L. picosa pick, related to L. picus woodpecker …   Etymology dictionary

  • pickaxe — UK [ˈpɪkˌæks] / US noun [countable] Word forms pickaxe : singular pickaxe plural pickaxes a tool used for breaking roads and other hard surfaces. It has a long handle and a heavy curved metal blade that has one pointed end and one flat end …   English dictionary

  • pickaxe — /ˈpɪkæks / (say pikaks) noun 1. a pick, especially a mattock. –verb (pickaxed, pickaxing) –verb (t) 2. to cut or clear away with a pickaxe. –verb (i) 3. to use a pickaxe. Also, US, pickax. {pick2 + …   Australian English dictionary

  • pickaxe — n. & v. (US pickax) n. = PICK(2) n. 1. v. 1 tr. break (the ground etc.) with a pickaxe. 2 intr. work with a pickaxe. Etymology: ME pikois f. OF picois, rel. to PIKE(2): assim. to AXE …   Useful english dictionary

  • Pickaxe — Pickax Pick ax , Pickaxe Pick axe (p[i^]k [a^]ks ), n. [A corruption of OE. pikois, pikeis, F. picois, fr. pic. See {Pick}, n.] A pick with a point at one end, a transverse edge or blade at the other, and a handle inserted at the middle; a hammer …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • pickaxe — 1. noun /ˈpɪkˌæks/ A heavy iron tool with a wooden handle; one end of the head is pointed, the other has a chisel edge. 2 …   Wiktionary

  • pickaxe — noun Pickaxe/pickax is used before these nouns: ↑handle …   Collocations dictionary

  • pickaxe — [[t]pɪ̱kæks[/t]] pickaxes N COUNT A pickaxe is a large tool consisting of a curved, pointed piece of metal with a long handle joined to the middle. Pickaxes are used for breaking up rocks or the ground. Syn: pick (in AM, use pickax) …   English dictionary

  • pickaxe — pick|axe BrE pickax AmE [ˈpık æks] n a large tool that you use for breaking up the ground. It consists of a curved iron bar with a sharp point on each end and a long handle …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • pickaxe — pick|axe [ pık,æks ] the British spelling of pickax …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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