An ax can be a God send or a death sentence-or at the very least a trip to the emergency room! I have seen some very nasty wounds from ax misuse. A glancing ax is an ax out of control. Period. And when it stops in your leg, its going to cause an awful lot of damage and bleeding. This is why a lot of folks consider it too dangerous to carry. Some depend on big blades like Kukri's, machete's and others. Well, if you don't have enough practice with these tools or are careless, you will still suffer in the end. I was fortunate to have started with a hand ax at an early age. It was an old one with a hammer poll and a cutting edge of about 4 inches. It was my grand father's and I had to put it back clean after every use. Pap was good at keeping it sharp and showed me how to cut with it and how not to take a leg off. I paid close attention to him and never suffered any self inflicted wounds. I cut many a sapling and downed trees for fire wood and other things I would make in the woods. I was told to never bury the blade in the dirt and to sink it into a log or stump of dead, dry, wood. This kept the sharp edge covered and dry won't make it rust. I would always (and still do) place my feet apart and well back from the area where I was going to take a swing. Not enough to loose balance but to avoid the ax edge if it glanced. I was taught to think each swing ahead and thus avoid glancing blows.
I've had a few different axes over the years and one of the best has been my little Norlund. It is considered a small camp ax and has a head 5 1/8" long and a cutting edge 3 1/8" wide. The head is 7/8" at the thickest point. I bought mine for around 50 cents and it was without a handle. The handle I put in is 14" long. I like it that way. It gives a little more power to the swing. There's no reason to fear such a handy woods tool. Our ancestors used them every day. It just requires a good dose of common sense and paying close attention to what you are doing. Never attempt to interrupt or have a conversation with a person who is chopping. It can lead to some nasty accidents.