A pickaxe or pick is a hand tool
Hand tool
A hand tool is a device for performing work on a material or a physical system using only hands. The hand tools can be manually used employing force, or electrically powered, using electrical current...

 with a hard head attached perpendicular
In geometry, two lines or planes are considered perpendicular to each other if they form congruent adjacent angles . The term may be used as a noun or adjective...

 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
A metal , is an element, compound, or alloy that is a good conductor of both electricity and heat. Metals are usually malleable and shiny, that is they reflect most of incident light...

, and the handle is most commonly wood
Wood is a hard, fibrous tissue found in many trees. It has been used for hundreds of thousands of years for both fuel and as a construction material. It is an organic material, a natural composite of cellulose fibers embedded in a matrix of lignin which resists compression...

, metal or fiberglass
Glass fiber is a material consisting of numerous extremely fine fibers of glass.Glassmakers throughout history have experimented with glass fibers, but mass manufacture of glass fiber was only made possible with the invention of finer machine tooling...


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, often with a flat end for prying.

The pointed edge is most often used to break up rocky surfaces
Rock (geology)
In geology, rock or stone is a naturally occurring solid aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids.The Earth's outer solid layer, the lithosphere, is made of rock. In general rocks are of three types, namely, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic...

 or other hard surfaces such as concrete or hardened dried earth. The large momentum
In classical mechanics, linear momentum or translational momentum is the product of the mass and velocity of an object...

 of a heavy pickaxe, combined with the small contact area
Area is a quantity that expresses the extent of a two-dimensional surface or shape in the plane. Area can be understood as the amount of material with a given thickness that would be necessary to fashion a model of the shape, or the amount of paint necessary to cover the surface with a single coat...

, makes it very effective for this purpose.

The chisel
A chisel is a tool with a characteristically shaped cutting edge of blade on its end, for carving or cutting a hard material such as wood, stone, or metal. The handle and blade of some types of chisel are made of metal or wood with a sharp edge in it.In use, the chisel is forced into the material...

ed end, if present, is used for purposes including cutting through root
In vascular plants, the root is the organ of a plant that typically lies below the surface of the soil. This is not always the case, however, since a root can also be aerial or aerating . Furthermore, a stem normally occurring below ground is not exceptional either...


A Mandrill is a miner's smallish pick for use in confined spaces.

Also note that during war in medieval time the pickaxe was used as a weapon.

Originally used as agricultural tools as far back as prehistoric cultures, picks have also served for tasks ranging from mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

 to war
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

fare. The design has also evolved into other tools such as the plough
The plough or plow is a tool used in farming for initial cultivation of soil in preparation for sowing seed or planting. It has been a basic instrument for most of recorded history, and represents one of the major advances in agriculture...

 and the mattock
A mattock is a versatile hand tool, used for digging and chopping, similar to the pickaxe. It has a long handle, and a stout head, which combines an axe blade and an adze or a pick and an adze .-Description:...


In prehistoric times a large shed deer
Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. Species in the Cervidae family include white-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, reindeer, fallow deer, roe deer and chital. Male deer of all species and female reindeer grow and shed new antlers each year...

Antlers are the usually large, branching bony appendages on the heads of most deer species.-Etymology:Antler originally meant the lowest tine, the "brow tine"...

 from a suitable species (e.g. red deer
Red Deer
The red deer is one of the largest deer species. Depending on taxonomy, the red deer inhabits most of Europe, the Caucasus Mountains region, Asia Minor, parts of western Asia, and central Asia. It also inhabits the Atlas Mountains region between Morocco and Tunisia in northwestern Africa, being...

) was often cut down to its shaft and its lowest tine
Tine may have one of the following meanings:*Tine – a 'prong' on a fork or similar implement, or any similar structure*Tine – the biggest dairy producer in Norway...

 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

In the Miscellaneous Symbols
Miscellaneous Symbols
The Miscellaneous Symbols Unicode block contains various glyphs representing things from a variety of categories: Astrological, Astronomical, Chess, Dice, Ideological symbols, Musical notation, Political symbols, Recycling, Religious symbols, Trigrams, Warning signs and Weather.-Tables:Note: These...

 block, Unicode 5.2 introduces the glyph ⛏ (U+26CF PICK), representable in HTML as ⛏ or ⛏, to represent this tool.

Pickaxe handle

A pickaxe handle (sometimes called 'pickhandle'), without the head, is sometimes used, often unofficially, as a baton
Club (weapon)
A club is among the simplest of all weapons. A club is essentially a short staff, or stick, usually made of wood, and wielded as a weapon since prehistoric times....

: for example it is an official issue baton used in the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...


A pickaxe handle has been known to be used while scuba diving
Scuba diving
Scuba diving is a form of underwater diving in which a diver uses a scuba set to breathe underwater....

 to fend off shark
Sharks are a type of fish with a full cartilaginous skeleton and a highly streamlined body. The earliest known sharks date from more than 420 million years ago....

s 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
Ash tree
Fraxinus is a genus flowering plants in the olive and lilac family, Oleaceae. It contains 45-65 species of usually medium to large trees, mostly deciduous though a few subtropical species are evergreen. The tree's common English name, ash, goes back to the Old English æsc, while the generic name...

 or hickory
Trees in the genus Carya are commonly known as hickory, derived from the Powhatan language of Virginia. The genus includes 17–19 species of deciduous trees with pinnately compound leaves and big nuts...

 wood and is about three feet long and weighs about 2.5 pounds. British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 pickaxe handles must, by regulation, be exactly three feet long, for use in measuring in the field .

The pickaxe handle was used as a pro-segregationist
Racial segregation
Racial segregation is the separation of humans into racial groups in daily life. It may apply to activities such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a public toilet, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home...

 symbol by Lester Maddox
Lester Maddox
Lester Garfield Maddox was an American politician who was the 75th Governor of the U.S. state of Georgia from 1967 to 1971....

 in his campaign for governor of the U.S. State
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 of Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

. When demonstrators protested outside Maddox's segregated restaurant, Maddox led a group of employees and customers wielding pickaxe handles to chase them off.

See also

  • Dolabra
    The dolabra is a versatile tool used by the people in Italy since ancient times. The dolabra could serve as a pickaxe used by miners and excavators, a priest's implement for ritual religious slaughtering of animals and as an entrenching tool used in Roman infantry tactics....

  • Ice axe
    Ice axe
    An ice axe, is a multi-purpose ice and snow tool used by mountaineers both in the ascent and descent of routes which involve frozen conditions. It can be held and employed in a number of different ways, depending on the terrain encountered...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.