Your picture is what appears to be a "broad axe" or for the size shown,
a "broad hatchet" This is not a general purpose wood-chopping hatchet,
but was used to hand-form logs into boards and beams. A series of
cuts perpendicular to the log surface is made, spaced a few to several
inches apart. The cuts are made all more or less to the same depth. Then
the broad axe is used parallel to the log, to slice off the sections. The
perpendicualr cuts keep the split from moving in an unwanted direction
and also keep the broad axe from getting "stuck" if the log splits
Most axes can be sharpened with a good quality flat mill file. They
are generally not hardened to the degree that a grinder is necessary
for sharpening, though a grinder can certainly be used to get the
initial shape of the edge or to remove large chips or defects.
I'm not sure what the classic edge shape for a broad axe is, but
the usual run of the mill chopping/splitting axe often has a "cannel" shape
rather than the more common hollow or convex grind. It is a stronger
than a hollow ground edge simply because there is more metal there, and it
is more likely to split a log than get stuck in it. The tradeoff is that
it is not as efficient at cutting or perhaps chopping as would be
done in chopping down a tree, compared to splitting a log. However,
nowadays a saw is usally used for crosscutting, though the axe is still
favored by most for splitting.
There is always an easy solution to every human problem -- neat,
plausible, and wrong." (H L Mencken)
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