An axe is a man’s best friend (right after your dog and your actual best friend, of course). Not only does the axe have a long history as one of the oldest tools used by many cultures, but it still proves incredibly handy today for a variety of tasks, including wood chopping. In fact, when it comes to preparing firewood, finding the best splitting axe can help you make quick work of the task.
If firewood is an important staple in your family’s life throughout the winter, then having an axe that you can depend on will prove incredibly critical.
Let’s take a look at some of the best axes around today.
Fiskars X27 Super Splitting Axe
The Fiskars X27 Super Splitting Axe is the best splitting axe on the market.
Not only is it the best axe according to Amazon users, but it’s also one of the strongest axes ever made.
This Finland made product can chop wood in one fell sweep. Rarely do you ever have to swing twice to split the same piece of wood.
With a handle made from FiberComp, this axe is also impossible to break, making this the best log splitter for under $50.
If the handle ever does break, it’s back by a 100 % lifetime warranty.
Estwing E45A 26-Inch Campers Axe
This is another great choice if you want to chop wood but also don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on a gas or electric machine.
Made of forged steel, this axe is lightweight (weighing only 3.5 Ibs). However, it will never let you down.
It’s perfect for splitting wood, so it’s great to take on a camping trip. It’s also incredibly durable, so you don’t have worry about breaking it when trying to split larger portions of wood.
Fiskars X15 Chopping Axe
The Fiskars X15 Chopping axe is designed to fell a tree, making it perfect for chopping.
What’s really great about this product is that it’s smaller than typical axes you find on the market.
This is super important if you want to ensure your own safety since the size of this axe helps you exert more control over it.
Another added safety feature of this product its blade, locked in place thanks to a special design, so you don’t have to worry about a dangerously loose blade.
Even better, it comes sharp and ready go.
But the best part?
This axe is one of the best splitting axes available and will keep its edge for many years.
This is a product that comes highly recommended by the best splitting axe reviews.
It’s lightweight—weighing only 4 pounds-- but designed to chop wood.
Most hatchets or mauls make gaining the right leverage difficult. It can be a pain to successfully chop in one or two strikes because these tools are heavier.
Additionally, if you can’t get just the right combination of each, you end up with a stuck axe.
However, no matter your size you can definitely achieve the momentum you need to split the wood with this axe.
Even better, it’s easy to take care of and comes with a suede sheath for storage.
Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe
If you’re looking for a quality, hand-held axe that will serve you while you’re on camping trips, at home, or on a farm, then you’ll love this forest axe.
This axe is incredibly light-weight, weighing only 1.5 pounds. While it’s small, it is also mighty, with the ability to chop down trees with little effort on your part.
Additionally, the great thing about this product is that it’s made for both heavy-duty jobs, but sharp enough for precise tasks. Gransfors is one of the best wood axe brands, so you can’t go wrong.
You can chop down large chunks of wood using this axe, or you can shave branches off.
Helko Vario 2000
There’s a lot to love about this heavy-duty splitting axe. Of course, what stands out the most is the quality make, with a blade that’s crafted in Germany and a handle that’s handcrafted in Switzerland.
Don’t let those details fool you, however. Nothing about this axe is dainty.
It’s one of the best splitting axes money can buy—if you can wield it.
This isn’t made for operators who don’t have some strength and skill with wielding an axe since it’s a bit heavier than hunter’s axes or forest axes.
Additionally, this product is versatile with the ability to be used on a range of projects.
Gerber 28.5 - Inch SPlitting
If you're looking for a cheaper, but an incredibly functional axe, you can’t go wrong with the Gerber Splitting Axe.
Made from forged steel, this axe provides a clean cut, while reducing friction and shock felt on the handle’s end.
The best part?
You can do more than just chop wood with this axe. You can also cut roots and fell trees.
It’s perfect for making quick work of any tough job, with a PTFE coating on the blade designed to make cutting a breeze.
What is a Splitting Axe?
A splitting axe is designed to act almost like a wedge. These tools work by breaking apart the fibers of the wood so that it splits apart.
Additionally, splitters are meant to split wood vertically, so you’re actually breaking up the wood in a different direction than if you were to chop.
Typically, this is a lighter tool than a maul, and more versatile. You can use your axe to split wood, bring down trees, and even do small trimming or touch-up jobs.
Splitting Axe Vs Chopping Axe
What’s the difference between a splitting axe vs. a chopping axe?
With a splitting axe, you're cutting along the grain of the wood, whereas with a chopping ax you cut against the grain.
Generally, splitters are intended to make the job easier, allowing you break the wood apart with as few hits as possible—most of the time in one downward sweep.
With a chopping axe, you cut the wood horizontally. You actually are cutting into the wood using multiple fast, downward strokes.
Additionally, the blade on a chopping ax tends to be sharper and slimmer than a wood splitting axe. Splitters typically have a thicker blade to help it force the wood apart.
Tree/Wood Splitting Techniques
As with anything, there’s a method to properly splitting wood and getting the results you want.
Ideally, when it comes to working with potentially dangerous objects like hatches, axes, mauls, etc. you really want to stick to the rulebook as much as possible.
Follow these steps to ensure perfect results and optimal safety:
1. Clear the area. Before you begin, you need to make sure that any onlookers, friends, children, or pets are as far away from you as possible (or preferably inside). You don’t want anyone getting hit.
2. Set up shop. At this point, you make sure your axe is sharp and that your wood is ready to go. Prop up your wood on a chopping block or even on the ground.
3. Look for cracks. Look for any cracks (or checks). That’s where you ought to aim because it will make splitting the wood easier.
4. Take the proper stance. Stand with your legs slightly apart and your knees slightly bent—do not lock your knees! Make sure that your arms are straight when you swing.
5. Aim. Raise the axe directly over your head and bring it down with force on the log. It should split nearly all, or half, the way through.
What is the Best Way to Sharpen A Dull Axe?
With the proper care, especially for a lot of the newer axes, you probably won’t have to sharpen all that often.
However, after significant wear and tear you might find that the blade might need some maintenance.
You’ll want to start by scrapping any rush or dirt off the axe, by using steel wool. If you really want your axe to look as good as new, you'll also want to sand the blade with sandpaper.
Once the axe is to your liking, the next step is to use a filer to sharpen the blade. Don’t forget to sharpen both sides.
Once that’s done, use a whet stone to apply honing oil on the edge.
What is the best length of an axe for splitting wood?
Ideally, the taller you are, the longer an axe you’re going to need.
Remember, when you use an axe you swing it back towards your shoulder then bring it down. This can become dangerous if the axe is too long because it’s more liable to slip out of your control.
If the axe is too short, it can put a strain on your arms and potentially lead to problems in your wrist.
Additionally—in most cases—longer axes will be heavier and will require the user to exert more control.
Finally, it also depends on how you’ll use the axe. Axes designed for felling or limbing are generally going to be longer—about 28 to 30 inches—than a forest axe or a hatchet.
Is It Easier to Split Fresh Logs or Dry Logs?
Sometimes this will just depend on personal preference. In most cases, however, you’ll find that drier wood is easier to split, because the fibers are brittle, which makes them easier to pull apart.
Additionally, when the wood is dry, this allows for cracks to open up. These cracks make it easier for your splitter’s blade to break the wood apart.
How to Choose the right Splitting Axe for you
The best splitting axe will be made to work for the tasks you intend to use it.
Remember, the axe should be long enough to fit your height. You can usually find this information in the product details before purchase.
In fact, axes that are made for taller individuals will usually have that information written clearly advertised.
Remember, you also want something that you can exert control over. Don’t buy an axe that’s too heavy because you’ll get exhausted faster.
Cutting VS Splitting Firewood
Remember, when you’re cutting wood you’re going against the grain. Splitting typically requires less effort because you’re going with the grain of the wood.
If you’re cutting or chopping wood, you’re going to need more force and more effort to slice through the log because you’re working against the grain.
Is An Axe The Same Thing As A Maul?
An axe differs a bit from a maul in terms of shape and uses.
First of all, mauls tend to be heavier, weighing about 8 to 12 pounds. They generally take on a sledgehammer shape and have a larger handle.
While they’re also designed to split wood fibers with the grain, they feature a blunter edge. This is probably more ideal for stronger users since they’re typically heavier.
Users that aren’t as experienced with using an axe or can easily tire during the process might prefer a splitting axe vs. a maul since it’s lighter and doesn’t require the user to exert as much force to use.
How To Fix An Axe Handle
One of the worst things that can happen is having your handle break. Unfortunately, these things happen sometimes, especially if you accidently strike the wood with the handle instead of the blade.
Keep in mind, with more specialty handles you're better off calling the manufacturer and seeing if they can replace it.
If it’s a traditional wood handle, however, you may be able to replace it by creating a new one or buying one.
Once you have your handle—and you're certain it fits properly—simply file the sides of the handle to fit the socket and replace the wedge by pounding it onto the handle with a hammer.
All in all, the best axes make breezy work of wood chopping. Remember, you just want to find an axe that feels comfortable for you.
If that means you feel safer using a maul, then do that. If you prefer a wood splitting axe then buy that.
Don’t worry so much about trying to split wood the “right” way. It doesn’t have to be picture perfect and the tools you use for the job aren’t written in stone.
Pick up the right axe for you and get chopping!