Splitting wood is essential if you want to use the logs you have for fuel. Also, the process has a satisfying feeling when you cut down a seemingly daunting chunk of wood into smaller pieces.
Perhaps you could use any axe you may have, but that will only make the work more difficult, tedious and rough on your hands. Unless you are prepared to buy wood at the supermarket, what you need is a splitting axe.
These tools are meant to help you cut to size (pun very much intended) any logs that are still too large to be used. This statement is also pun intended because a splitting axe is not actually meant for cutting or chopping wood but rather splitting it into pieces.
A good choice for such an axe would make your work a lot easier instead of leaving you with an ineffective axe worth hundreds of dollars. That makes this a critical decision.
There are several splitting axes in the market today, all with their unique attributes and differences in pricing. So much so that it might be difficult t determine which one would be best suited to you. To help you make an informed choice when you're next shopping for a splitting axe, here are all the factors you will need to consider.
How to Buy the Best Splitting Axe
This is the probably most important factor to consider when shopping for a splitting axe. This axe is not meant to be used for cutting wood fibers, which is why it is recommended to split along the lines. In this way, it is unlike a felling axe that cuts through the wood fibers.
Because of this reason, the splitting axe is supposed to have a tapered head so that the fibers are split farther apart as the head is driven through the log. Additionally, the tapered head prevents it from getting wedged and stuck within the log while splitting.
Therefore, the head needs to be heavy enough to force the wood fibers apart, but not so much that it makes accuracy difficult. In general, the heavier the head, the harder it becomes to be accurate and then you may find yourself creating a lot of tiny pieces.
Of course, it is always a tough balancing act between what a person can handle and what they need to be done. For example, you may need a heavier head to split larger heaps without having to make multiple swings. All the same, the head is the most important thing to consider.
Compared to, say, a felling axe, you will also notice that the splitting axe has a wider blade in addition to the tapered head. It is made that way to increase the length of the split in every swing and hasten the process. Otherwise, it would require several swings just to split a couple of inches. More important about the blade, though, is the material used.
Assuming you want to keep your axe for a few years while still being able to use it, it makes sense to get the best quality materials making up the blade. Apart from the quality, the blade needs to be sharp enough to split the wood fibers with ease as the head is driven through the log.
Most splitting axes have a handle made out of wood because it has shock-absorbent qualities. With every swing, you will be producing a lot of force and the handle should help by absorbing most of the shock.
Considering that the handle should also be long enough to produce the splitting force, the best wood handles are made from long and straight-grained woods that can produce a stave. If an axe's handle is not made from a continuous grain of wood, the shock on impact would cause it to break along the imperfections.
For this reason, the most common woods used for the handle are hickory and ash. Today, hickory is the most common type used while ash is more popular in Europe because it is known for its longevity. Walnut and birch could also be used, with the latter being cheaper, but it doesn't have as much longevity.
One does not have to limit themselves to wood, though, because there are other materials to pick from including plastic, steel, fiberglass or a composite. As already mentioned, wood can absorb most of the shock from the impact which is great especially if you may have joint problems.
On the other hand, wood is not as durable as either fiberglass or steel because it is susceptible to environmental factors and needs care for it to last. However, fiberglass is more expensive and steel does not absorb shock unless it has some kind of grip or you would have to use gloves with it.
The good news is that it is always possible to replace the axe's handle whenever you need to. Fiberglass handles are more difficult to replace, though, and they are not so easy to find. All in all, you should feel free to change it up depending on your preference and use cases.
Design and Ergonomics
Although the design doesn't really affect the purpose of the axe, you should always choose something you like the look of. Aesthetics have a psychological impact that definitely affects your experience with a tool. Ergonomics do matter a lot especially if you are doing a lot of splitting. The axe needs to be comfortable in the hand and easy to use without causing too much strain.
Manufacturer and Finish
There are many manufacturers who make splitting axes and some are more popular than others. More often than not, those popular manufacturers have better axes than their peers simply because of how they put together all the aforementioned factors into the finish of the axe.
For example, a manufacturer may have the best heat and handle but they are not well put together and the axe constantly needs fixing. This is why you should also consider who made the axe and what their reputation is among users.
Top 10 Splitting Axes
With so many splitting axes in the market, it may become difficult choosing the best one for you. Now you only have to choose one from these top 10 splitting axes available right now.
1. Gransfors Bruks, American Felling Axe
For those who want a simple yet effective axe for splitting wood, this is it. Its total weight is 5.3 pounds and the head is 3.3 pounds to deliver enough force to split any regular wood chunks. The wood handle is 31 inches long to complement the head and the quality of materials is great to maintain a sharp edge even after heavy use.
- Excellent finish and top-notch materials.
- Includes a 20-year manufacturer warranty.
- The manufacturer has a great reputation.
- Complementary sheath to protect the head and a copy of 'The Axe Book'.
- Comes only with the straight handle.
This product is ideal for the regular user who needs an effective splitting axe that will last them for years to come.
2. Gransfors Bruk Splitting Maul 31.50 Inch Wood Splitting Axe
When dealing with larger, thicker chunks of wood, you need a heavier head such as this one coming in at 5.5 pounds. It also sports 31.5-inch a wooden handle with great ergonomics to handle the higher weight of the head and deliver power. Also to support the weight of the head and handle larger impacts, a steel collar is added just below the head.
- Great manufacturer with a positive reputation.
- Excellent workmanship and finish all around.
- Delivered sharpened and includes a free sheath.
- Improved ergonomics make the handle more comfortable.
- Only the straight handle version is available.
This product is most suitable for that user heavy user.
3. Gränsfors Bruks Splitting Axe with Collar Guard
Whether you're splitting chunks of wood or even rounds, this axe is what you need. Its 3.5-pound wedge-shaped head makes quick work of any wood fibers and splits them apart with ease. The 31-inch handle is made out of hickory and it has a collar guard below the head for protection and grooves around the handle for better grip.
- Grooves provide a better grip for longer splitting sessions.
- Steel collar provides a better finish and improves durability.
- Comes with a 20-year warranty.
- Quite pricy.
An all-rounded splitting axe meant for heavy use.
4. 1844 Helko Werk Germany Saxon Splitting Axe
With a 6.2-pound head made from certified C50 German Carbon steel that has been hand forged, this is the splitting axe for a person who wants the best quality materials and a superior splitting experience. The 31-inch handle carrying this head is made from hickory and produced in Switzerland to ensure an accurate swing.
- Excellent materials used all around the axe.
- Delivered with a sheath and axe guard to maintain the blade for longer.
- Heavy enough for large chunks of wood and rounds.
- Might be a bit heavy for some users.
With a balance on quality and effectiveness, this is the ideal axe for the person who wants great aesthetics and effectiveness.
5. Gransfors Bruks Carpenter's Axe
A bit shorter than other splitting axes from Gransfors Bruks, it is still great thanks to the high-quality materials. The 18-inch hickory handle supports a 1.5-pound head that is great for splitting smaller chunks of wood with high accuracy. The product is hand made to ensure precision and a great finish.
- Short and light for higher accuracy.
- Well finished by hand.
- Hickory handle and steelhead are all durable.
- Too light for larger chunks of wood.
This is a great product for a less frequent user who needs to have small chunks of wood split into small pieces for fuel.
6. Helko Werk Vario 2000 Heavy Log Splitter
Heavy logs need a lot more force, which this splitter delivers thanks to its 36-inch handle and 6.7-pound head. The head is made from certified German carbon steel for longer durability and strength against damage. That head is held up by a Switzerland produced hickory wood also certified to be of the highest grade.
- Hand made from excellent materials from top to bottom.
- Great ergonomics make handling easier.
- Includes a leather sheath and axe guard in the shipment.
- Quite heavy to use by some.
From large rounds to large trunks, this splitting axe has enough to split anything to pieces.
7. Helko Werk Germany Bavarian Woodworker Axe
Taking advantage of axe design that has been used for centuries, this manufacturer came up with a modern version of the same. Its handle is made from hickory that is polished and shipped from Switzerland while the head is made in Germany from certified carbon steel. It weighs 5.5 pounds in total including a 3.5-pound head and a 31-inch handle that work together to produce an effective result.
- Makes use of the best materials available.
- Hand made for absolute perfection in finish.
- Has a steel overstrike protector to prevent damage upon a miss.
- Only suitable for medium-sized logs and wood chunks.
This product is best suited for someone who needs to split wood for the home.
8. Fiskars X27 Super Splitting Axe
Individual parts don't make a good axe, but the balance between them, and Fiskars have got this balance right in this axe. The head is made from steel treated with a low friction coating for easier extraction from the wood and the 36-inch handle from a fiber composite.
- Fiber composite handle ensures longer durability.
- Delivers more power from its 36-inch long handle.
- Has a Fiskars hatchet included in the package.
- May be longer for short users.
When you need a quality and long-lasting splitter for average use in the home.
9. Estwing Special Edition Camper's Axe
The all-steel splitting axe from Estwing is 26 inches long and weighs 3.7 pounds in total. The design is entirely drop-forged into either the polished steel or special edition black. It is capable of delivering enormous power for splitting and coupled with the shock reducing grip helps to reduce any shock from impact and prevent slipping.
- Steel design produces longer durability.
- Has many variations in colour and design.
- Its lightweight may not be suitable for larger chunks and rounds.
If you only need a wood splitter for regular use, then this is the one you will use for years.
10. Husqvarna 24 in. Steel Splitting Axe with Fiberglass Handle
Sporting a 2.65-pound head, the Husqvarna wood splitter is coupled with a fiberglass composite handle that is 24 inches long. These both ensure the perfect balance to deliver maximum splitting force even for long splitting sessions. To show their confidence in the product, it comes with a lifetime warranty.
- Lifetime warranty included.
- Reputable manufacturer with a good reputation.
- Long-lasting handle made from fiberglass.
- Short stature may not have enough power for larger chunks of wood.
Made in the US with a proposition 65 labelling for California proves that the materials used are safe without compromising on quality.