Published on March 6, 2013 by Amy
Description and Definition of the Pick Axe: The Pick Axe is the name given to describe one of the many different Types of Native American War Clubs used during Indian warfare and combat and as a useful tool. The name of the Pick Axe was so-called because this weapon resembled the shape of the beak of a bird. The word ‘pick’ derives from the Latin word ‘picus’ meaning “woodpecker.” The Pick Axe style of war club was made of either stone or metal blades. The Pick axe style of war clubs had a sharp edge on one side and a diamond shaped point on the opposite side. Some styles of pick axe had a blunt edge used for striking rather than cutting. The blades were attached to a wooden handle and are illustrated in the pictures of pick axes shown on this page and measured between15-20 inches long and weighed about 3 pounds.
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The Pick Axe were widely used across North America during early pre-historic times both as a weapon and as a tool. The Pick axe had a wooden handle which, when first developed by Native Americans, had a head made of either stone or antler and bone. The following picture illustrates the stone head of a pick axe and a Deer Horn pick. It is believed that the readily available deer horn pick and other such animal horns and bones proved to be so useful that similar tools were man made of stone.
The stone Pick Axe blade was characterized by its useful point. A suitable piece of hard stone, called Flint, was favored by the Native Americans although other hard stones such as chert, jasper, chalcedony, granite, basalt and sandstone were also used to make axes. The original piece of flint, called the core, was struck and smaller sharp flakes of stone were produced in the required thickness for the pick axe. The Indian would then shape, refine and create a pointed weapon, such as a pick axe. A pre-prepared a wooden handle was attached (hafted) to the pick axe head using sinew or rawhide as lashings to attach the handle to the axe. The shape of the stone or bone determined the design and style of the finished pick axe weapon or tool. As can be seen in the following pictures the pointed beak-like ‘blade’ of the pick developed into the Tomahawk and the Battle Hammer.
The Pick Axe handle was made with hard wood or different types of bone including the whale bone. The hardened woods used to make the handle of the pick axe included hickory, juniper, oak, cedar, maple, ash, walnut and birch. The handles were often decorated with paint and carvings on the handle and were also embellished with feathers and beads.
The stone pick axe was replaced with a metal blade. The rapid evolution of Native American Indian weapons occurred due to contact with the Europeans starting in the 1500 and 1600′s. The stone heads were replaced with blades using iron, steel, copper and brass.
The style, design and array of pick axe style weapons used by the Native Americans was both amazing and startling. The pictures of the various types of Pick Axe style weapons shown on this page demonstrate the workmanship of the Native American Weapons and tools.