Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to work we go! And like the dwarfs in Snow White, we sometimes need a pickaxe to get the job done. We’re not going into the dark depths of a mine, of course, but even around the lawn and garden, this tool is incredibly useful.
For this article, we’re going to focus on short-handled pickaxes. These aren’t the tools you see swung high in the air and brought down with great force. Instead, we’ll look at ones that measure under 2 feet in total length. Fifteen (15) inches is the most common length.
That makes them better for up-close work. You won’t be pulling huge rocks out of the ground with them, but they’ll be a great help with roots and can still handle the common rocks you’ll find around your lawn.
What A Pickaxe Is Used For
A pickaxe, sometimes spelled “pick axe,” also known as a mattock axe, is designed to help break up soil. It’s ideal for pulling out or cutting through mid-sized roots and for providing great leverage to lift buried rocks.
One side – the “pick” – is pointed. This is perfect when you have to pierce rock-hard soil or work your way under an obstacle. The opposite side is a mattock – a wide, flat edge. This is good for softer soil and when you need to drag through a wider swatch. It also offers more leverage once you have space under the rock or root you’re attacking.
What To Look For In A Pickaxe
A pickaxe has two basic parts: the head and the handle. We’ve described the head, with the pick and the mattock, above. It’s almost always made of steel. It should be heavy enough to make solid impact when you swing it, but not so heavy that it’s hard to handle.
Traditionally, handles were made of wood, and that remains common. Steel handles are also frequently used, but fiberglass is growing in popularity since it’s durable and lightweight. Look for a pickaxe that has a durable handle that won’t crack or bend.
The connection between the handle and the head is key. You want to be sure the head is secure and stays that way. It shouldn’t jiggle at all. Over time and with use, it’s likely to loosen up, and you should make sure to have it fixed.
Balance is also key. Since the two heads are different shapes, it takes a precise design to achieve equilibrium in the tool. So look for one that has good recommendations for how it feels in your hand.
Best Short-handled Pickaxes
Based on our research, we recommend one of these when you’re ready to add a pickaxe to your tool shed.
This 15” pickaxe is one of the most popular and for good reason. It’s solidly built, comfortable to use, and well-priced.
The head is made of carbon steel and the handle is fiberglass. The head is 10 inches across.
The green and black color scheme is really attractive. It’ll stand out in your shed, and it’s a bright enough green that it won’t get lost against the lawn, either.m
There’s also a 17.9” version available at the same link.
This 2-pack of 15-inch pick mattocks is great especially if gardening is a family affair. You’ll get the job done twice as fast when the two of you work on it at the same time! It could also be useful if you have some rocks that are hard to move; use one of these to wedge it up, then the other to further the task.
The two pieces are identical. The head is drop forged and the handle has a fiberglass core and no-slip grip. Each weighs just under 1.5 pounds. They’re well-balanced and put together, so you’ll be able to use them confidently.
And the price is great if you think you’ll be able to use both!
We had to look twice when we saw the brand on this – we were afraid it was a video game replica. But the more we looked, the more impressed we got.
Like others here, this tool measures 15 inches long and just a hair under 10 inches wide across the head. It weighs 1.4 pounds.
The handle has a fiberglass core and a no-slip grip covers it halfway up.
Oddly, assembly is required. You have to put the head on the handle yourself. It’s an easy task, but it does make us a tiny bit nervous. The conscientious user will have no problem with it, but you do have to make sure it’s securely fastened before use.
With its bright yellow handle, it’ll be easy to see on the lawn or in the shed.
Tabor Tools products appear relatively frequently on our site, and they’ve earned a place yet again.
It has standard measurements – 15 inches long, and 10 inches across the head. And standard materials, like a fiberglass handle and no-slip grip. It’s a tiny bit lighter than most others, at about 1 ¼ pounds.
The contouring of the handle seems a little more ergonomic than most competitors.
The head has to be connected to the handle by the user.
This piece was, at least at press time, slightly more expensive than the others we have here, but with the backing of the Tabor brand, it may be worth it.
This is another durable pickaxe made with a forged steel head. The company says the handle is rubber, although we suspect it has a fiberglass or steel core. Still, it weighs just under 1.5 pounds.
You have to put it together, like some other models here. But it’s an easy job; just make sure to fasten it according to the instructions.
Despite being from a lesser-known brand, it holds up well and will make a worthy addition to your tool supply!
A small pickaxe is the perfect tool whenever you have to deal with roots, rocks, or even hard soil. Lightweight and easy to handle, it can make it easier to get rid of all kinds of garden obstacles. Any of those we’ve reviewed above will make worthy additions to your shed!