Are you looking for the best splitting ax? Today I will explain how to choose it and I will list the best performing splitting ax models.
Also known as a splitting mace, this particular ax allows us to perform many different operations. First of all, we can obviously use it to cut the logs, so as to be able to reserve wood for the winter. In fact, when it is cold, the fireplace needs continuous supplies. Secondly, the tools in question are ideal for limbing operations, and even for cutting down small trees.
On the other hand, it is important to select a quality tool, in order to obtain adequate cutting and splitting performance.
What is a wood ax and how is it made
It is not a complex product to describe, and a simple glance is enough to understand how it is made. In practice, we have a stick that can have a variable length, with an often ergonomic handle. At the base of the rod there is a wedge, that is the head with the cutting blade, which will allow us to split more or less large and hard pieces of wood. I would like, however, to immediately make you aware of a fact: between an ax and a hatchet there are profound differences.
Most of the models, then, have a head with a club to hit the independent splitting wedges.
Differences between ax and hatchet for wood
Axes have a more extended handle, when compared with a splitting hatchet, so much so that the former can have sticks almost twice as long. The reason is simple to understand: as you will use them to split larger and more challenging pieces of wood, you will need to take more momentum and grip them with both hands. Only then will you be able to apply enough force to the wedge to split the piece of wood in two.
The hatchets, on the other hand, have a shorter handle, precisely because they do not require great momentum, so they can be gripped and used with one hand. Not surprisingly, they are usually used for delimbing operations: that is to cut the branches of plants before cutting down the tree or afterwards. A hatchet to chop wood, therefore, is mainly used to remove the branches and to prepare the trunk for transport or fall.
Best axes for splitting wood
1. Fiskars Forged Carbon Ax and Mace 4.6 Kg
If you’re looking for a really nasty product, this 2-in-1 splitting ax and mallet is exactly what you need. It has a high weight (4.6 kilos) and a power without comparison terms, therefore it requires a good strength to be used. The excellent cutting performance depends above all on the structure and blade in carbon-hardened steel, and on the dynamic handle in plastic and fiberglass.
- Weight 4.6 kilograms
- Length: 90.5cm
- Excellent for complex logs
- Usable with a wedge
- Hardened steel blade
- Ergonomic and non-slip handle
- There are various models with different weight
Anyone who has to split difficult logs, and with diameters greater than 30 centimeters, will fall in love with this tool from Fiskars. It is in fact a professional cutting and splitting ax, which you can use both for cutting logs and for limbing side branches. In addition, you can also use it as a simple club, in combination with a wedge to sink into the wood. Also consider that it has a long length (90.5 centimeters) and a universal type blade.
The hardened steel of the blade is a guarantee of quality, such as to reduce fatigue during use, even if it still requires a certain force to be handled. On a structural level, I would like to point out the end of the blade with a hook shape, which lifts the log after being stuck in the wood. There is also an anti-vibration system that reduces kickback on the handle when the blade hits the pieces of wood. Finally, the Fiskars has a fiberglass-reinforced hard plastic handle, with an ergonomic grip.
- Wide length of the stick
- Blunt blade in hardened steel
- Shock and anti-vibration system
- Mace and ax in one tool
- Dynamic and ergonomic handle
- Can also be used for limbing
- Excellent balance
- It takes a certain amount of strength
- Price higher than the averages
2. Maurer 2360465 Fiberglass Handle 3 KG
Do you want a quality wood ax, powerful but not too expensive? I propose this model by Maurer, with a handle length of about 90 centimeters and a weight of 3 kilograms. It is therefore an excellent compromise between power and lightness, with a heat-treated forged steel blade and a hard plastic handle reinforced with glass fiber.
- Weight: 3 kilograms
- Length: about 90cm
- Head in forged and treated steel
- Hard plastic and fiberglass handle
- Ergonomic rubber handle
- Anti-kickback and vibration system
- Compatible with the use of a wedge
I have had the opportunity to try it myself, and I can assure you that this club does its “dirty” job. It is not overpriced but splits wood without any kind of effort, thanks to its forged and heat-treated steel head. Also consider that it has a light, resistant and comfortable handle, with an ergonomic rubberized handle that makes work easier. The anti-kickback system is really excellent, which protects arms and shoulders after the ax hits the wood.
The only flaw is that the blade tends to become blunt in the medium term, thus requiring re-sharpening, but this is a limit belonging to all medium-range splitting axes. The performances, however, are optimal, since it allows you to split logs of 50 centimeters in diameter, without making too much effort. The solidity of the tool can be seen immediately, so we are not faced with a 20 euro “toy” that breaks after a few uses. Finally, it has a club head, so you can use it in conjunction with wedges.
- Excellent value for money
- Anti-kickback system
- Head in forged and hardened steel
- Fiberglass handle
- Compatible with wedges
- Splits logs up to 50 cm in diameter
- After a while the blade needs to be sharpened
3. Gardena Wood Splitter Ax 1600 S Universal
We leave the sector of long axes, and enter the field of products with a handle from 60 centimeters in height. This small ax from Gardena is excellent both for splitting wood and for cutting side branches. In fact, it has a universal type blade, and the handle can be gripped both with two hands and with one, even if it is not really a splitting hatchet.
- Length: 60cm
- Weight: 1.9 kg
- Head compatible with a wedge
- Durable metal body and blade
- Excellent for cutting and limbing
- Protective stainless steel plate
We are faced with a 2 in 1 ax, with a club head and with a universal blade, therefore excellent both for cutting firewood and for limbing. It is not made of steel but of metal, therefore it is very light and easy to handle, weighing around 1.9 kilos. Then there is a protective stainless steel plate that shields the handle, protecting it from any impacts during the blows inflicted on the logs. Being usable with one hand, it is versatile and also suitable for trekking and camping.
It is also necessary to talk about its shape, with an optimal center of gravity and balance to reduce the degree of fatigue, but without giving up an important splitting force and high precision. The fiberglass reinforced handle has a non-slip and ergonomic coating, and I remind you that there is also the flat milled head, to be used to hit the wedges (as long as they are not made of steel). Balance and efficiency are its strong points, and it allows you to split logs up to 30 or 40 cm in diameter.
- Excellent blade sharpening
- Universal blade for cutting and limbing
- It can also be handled with one hand
- Very resistant metal structure
- Compatible with wedges
- Non-slip and ergonomic handle
- Be careful not to use your head against steel wedges
4. Meister 2191000 Wood Ax with Hickory Handle
The suggestion I give you is to always be wary of cheap axes, because they often split them instead of wood logs. For this model from Meister I decided to make an exception: it is clear that this is not a professional product, but it makes its own and has a more affordable cost than the other models seen today. It has a Hickory wood handle, so it has a traditional design and structure.
- Hickory wood handle
- Length: 60cm
- Weight: 1.2 kilograms
- Can be used with one or two hands
- Flat head for wedges
- Handle with non-slip coating
I’ll start immediately with the defects: it has a blade with a good cutting capacity, but it arrives dull, so I recommend that you take care of this operation yourself. The handle is made of good quality wood, but if you make a mistake the blow could chip near the blade, so you have to be a little careful. For the rest, it is an excellent ax that you can also use as a hatchet for wood, since it has a 60 cm long handle and can be held with one hand.
I personally recommend it only to novice users, who want a decent quality product but at a competitive price. It is a rather light tool (1.2 kilos), so it can be used without particular effort and without effort. Apart from the risk of chipping, the Hickory handle is really resistant and almost indestructible, and the blade offers interesting cutting performance, enough to penetrate large diameter logs. The difference compared to professional products, however, can be felt.
- Economical price
- Very sturdy handle and blade
- Compatible with wedges
- Can be used with 1 or 2 coats
- Excellent for medium sized logs
- Lightweight and easy to use
- The blade needs to be sharpened better
- The handle may chip if you miss the shot
How to choose the splitting ax
1. Head with blade
It is clear that one of the most important factors when choosing a club for splitting wood is the quality of the head with the blade. Almost all models of splitting axes have a wedge-shaped head, that is, with an inverted triangle and with a tapered or sharp profile. This is the most suitable form, as it allows you to apply a higher splitting force on the face or side of the trunk.
However, there are other alternatives, which we find above all in the classic lumberjack hatchet, therefore in the models with a shorter handle and one-handed grip. In this case you may notice the presence of a “champagne glass” head, therefore with a larger belly than the tip of the blade, but with a practically flat profile.
There is also a third option, and this is the so-called “universal blade”: it is a cross between the first and the second, and has a slimmer and narrower wedge structure. Its purpose? Introduce you to an ax that is useful both for splitting less demanding logs and for limbing operations. Here is a small summary.
- Wedge head: it is the best for the most demanding splitting operations, because the wedge better conveys the force exerted by the user’s momentum movement. In practice, it hits the center or side of the trunk more effectively, improving the final result.
- Universal head: it is almost identical to the wedge, but it is slimmer and has a blade with a slightly flattened profile towards the tip. It is recommended for less demanding and lighter splitting jobs, and for limbing logs.
- Head for limbing: like a champagne glass, this particular head has a blade with an almost completely flat profile, and is usually used in hatchets for limbing. In fact, it is also excellent for splitting and felling small trees, as long as it is mounted on an ax and not on a hatchet.
In conclusion, if you find a product with an almost flat blade and a “fat” head, do not think it is not suitable for splitting wood. It is quite the opposite, only it is less effective and powerful than a wedge splitting ax.
2. Sharpening the blade
I have already anticipated this topic above, and it basically concerns the shape of the steel blade profile. It depends on the type of sharpening carried out by the manufacturer, and the most common types are two:
- Convex sharpening: the blade has the shape of an inverted triangle with tapered sides.
- Sharp sharpening: it is a real inverted triangle, with clear and straight sides.
Why is it very important to evaluate this detail? Because the sharpness affects both the cutting or splitting performance, and the life of the blade. Here is a little insight into both.
It is the best ever, since the wedge is able to impart a very strong cutting force on the wood. The convex and rounded sides, then, make the blade more durable, as it will not blunt after sinking the blows. In summary, you will not need to sharpen it, so you will gain in effort and time saved.
Apparently, the triangle shape with sharp sides, therefore sharp, can be more “bad” than the rounded and convex one. This is a fairly common mistake, because the splitting power is almost identical in both cases. Only here the blade may be blunt more easily, forcing you to re-sharpen. Therefore it is less resistant than the convex wedge, but equally performing.
3. Handle and materials
If you love traditions, a splitting ax with a wooden handle is the best choice for you, but it is also the most expensive of all. If, on the other hand, you prefer a more modern and economical tool, but still of great quality, you can opt for splitting axes with hard plastic handle reinforced with fiberglass, or in metal. What are the peculiarities of the three options?
- Wooden handle: it is traditional, but the blade is detached from the rest of the body, which could negatively affect the resistance of the tool. On the other hand, it has excellent power due to the weight of the wood, but it is also a bit more tiring to use.
- Hard plastic handle: hard plastic is cheaper and guarantees high resistance over time, especially if it has been reinforced with glass fiber. However, it has a lower consistency, therefore a lower weight and a lower impact force. However, it is an excellent choice, due to the excellent relationship between quality and price.
- Metal: it has a higher weight than hard plastic, but a higher resistance in the long term. A metal shaft, however, less dampens the vibrations produced by the blow and therefore is more difficult to use. It is not a tool for newbies, and requires some strength.
As for the wood and its quality, there is one detail to check, and it concerns the grain on the handle. The best splitting axes have longitudinal veins, therefore vertical, while the worst ones are horizontal. The handles with oblique veins, on the other hand, are of an acceptable level.
Other elements to know
- Balance: A quality wood ax is always well balanced, and guarantees effective movement and greater comfort, as well as less fatigue.
- Handle coating: whether it is made of wood, metal or plastic, the handle should have a good ergonomic and non-slip coating, in the section that you will hold with both hands.
- Shape of the handle: The slightly S shape of the handle is preferable to the straight one, as it improves the splitting force and reduces user fatigue.
- Head fixing: If the handle is made of wood, make sure the head has a reliable attachment system to the handle. Otherwise, the blade could come off and the tool become very dangerous.
- Tool weight: the weight of a splitting club can be around 2 kilos, and exceed 4 kilos. The heavier the weight, the longer the stick, the more you will be able to split logs with a larger diameter. But it is clear that it will take more strength and you will have more effort.