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The Best Axes For Splitting Wood

Best Wood Splitting Axes 00 Hero

Most of us don’t think about what kind of axe we put in our tool shed. We buy whatever chunk of iron or steel happens to be handy, and go on about our life. This is incorrect. Just like any other tool, axes have a wide range of variance, and picking a bad one (or the wrong one) will leave you with a chopper that’s frustrating, difficult to use, and causes more pain and distress than is necessary. A bad axe is also dangerous, as a flying head or splintering handle can literally be a fatal mistake. By choosing a decent axe, you might just save a life.

There are a few different kinds of axes available, with splitting or chopping axes being our focus here. We avoided the lumberjack tools for felling trees, and we cut out any hand axes or hatchets, since they’re not intended for extended splitting. These axes are longer, giving you more leverage as you bring them down, and they’re heavier, adding weight behind your swing to facilitate a clean cut. Whether you like an old hickory handle or space-age fiberglass, one of our picks for the best axes for splitting wood is sure to put a grin on your mug.

Best Wood-Splitting Axes

Splitting Axe Vs. Splitting Maul

Compared to a maul, an axe will be longer and sharper, which makes it better for prolonged use. Pound for pound, a maul is heavier, but also shorter, so they offer better control and harder hits, which can also get you more fatigued if splitting for a long period of time. If you’re doing a lot of chopping, go with an axe but have a maul nearby for tougher pieces.

What to Look For

Wood: The amount of wood you’ll need, as well as the type of wood, will factor into what type of axe you should buy. If you’re just looking to stock up the fireplace on occasion, you can probably do just fine with a smaller, lighter model (which will also save you some money). However, if you’re a frequent splitter or the wood you’re chopping is tough or knotted, or both, you’ll want something bigger. That’s where the following factors come into play…

Handle: While most blades will be some version of steel, handles can range from wood, fiberglass, or steel (which will be forged from the same piece as the head and often wrapped in another material). Wood has a classic look and can give you solid power, while fiberglass is lighter in weight and more shock-absorbant.

Length: Although longer axes will give you more power for tougher logs, you can also lose some control in the process, especially if you are a smaller person. Likewise, if you’re traveling to a campsite, a longer axe won’t be as portable.

Weight: Much like its length, you must strike a good balance when it comes to an axe’s weight. Heavier weight might mean greater power when splitting wood, but it will also mean you get tired faster. Select an axe based on your own personal strength.

Fiskars X27

Fiskars X27 Super Splitting Axe
  • Bevel convex blade makes it easier to split
  • Less work than wedges and most mauls
  • Lightweight
  • FiberComp handle absorbs impact well
  • Serious cold can cause issues with the handle

Best Overall: Fiskars is generally the only name you need when you plan on minimizing the size of your logs. In case you haven’t heard, it uses compounded force based on a size-to-weight algorithm that makes it capable of offering up more one-strike splits than anything else out there. Using a bevel convex blade all Fiskars are easier to get out of a difficult piece of green aspen, and they more cleanly cleave wood in twain. We like the X27 because it’s a 36-inch juggernaut that employs the impact-absorption chamber on the handle to take the sting out of big chops.

Blade Material: Hardened forged steel
Handle: FiberComp
Weight: 5.85lbs
Length: 36″

Wilton Splitting Maul

Wilton BASH 36
  • Handle is impossible to break through normal use
  • Great power behind its swing
  • Rubber handle absorbs impact
  • Head tends to blunt quickly

Best Runner-Up: A standard axe is fine for your average day hacking up some dried-up birch or cedar, but when you’re dealing with a chunk of redwood the size of your waist, it’s time for a nuclear solution. The Splitting Maul from Wilton is 8lbs of dense hacking and smashing action. Mounted on an anti-vibration neck piece, as well as a safety mount that prevents head and handle from ever parting company, the impact won’t rattle teeth and the head stays put without a wobble after years of use.

Blade Material: Drop-forged 46 HRC steel
Handle: Vulcanized rubber
Weight: 8lbs
Length: 36″

Husqvarna Large Splitting Axe

Husqvarna 30in Wooden Splitting Axe
  • Easy to sharpen
  • Optimal length
  • Incorrect grain on some handles

Best Wooden Handle: There’s a reason that classics keep showing up: they’re damn good at what they do. Husqvarna doesn’t complicate matters much, they prefer to go with what works. Meant for larger logs, the blade is hand-forged out of Swiss steel and hardened for simpler splits time and again without glancing off. The head has an enhanced density from the forging process, so you’ll get a little extra weight per square inch. That’s why the 3.3-pound head isn’t markedly larger. Using 30″ of straight hickory for the shaft, there’s little doubt it would meet with the approval of Honest Abe, Paul Bunyan, and your father.

Blade Material: Steel
Handle: Hickory wood
Weight: 3.5lbs
Length: 30″

ESTWING Fireside Friend Axe

ESTWING Fireside Friend
  • Really great control
  • Easy to stow in backpack
  • Good for camping
  • Budget-friendly
  • Made in the USA
  • Less powerful than longer axes

Best Hatchet-Style: If you’re looking to save money, or simply just need an axe for the occasional fireplace stock, you might want to opt for something smaller and lighter, yet with good control at your fingertips. Stretching just 14″ long and weighing around 7oz, ESTWING’s Fireside Friend is a fantastic choice for camping and smaller tasks. Made in the USA, the hatchet-style axe has great balance thanks to its forged steel construction that extends through the handle, which has been wrapped in leather for a comfortable, ergonomic grip. It also comes with a ballistic nylon sheath.

Blade Material: Forged steel
Handle: Leather-wrapped steel
Weight: 0.44lbs
Length: 14″

Helko Black Forest Woodworker Axe

1844 Helko Werk Germany Traditional Black Forest Woodworker Axe
  • Looks beautiful
  • Open-die drop-forged blade
  • Optimal length-to-weight ratio
  • Blade flanges can catch and glance during striking

Best for Hanging on the Wall: Serious tool devotees will understand: This is such a beautiful piece that you’ll want to hang it up, not slam it into some pine. Hand-crafted in Germany, the head is not stainless steel like so many of its brethren but a C45 high-carbon steel that allows you to get a finer edge for hewing, or lets you keep an edge with just a basic sharpening stone. The handle has been boiled and treated with linseed oil allowing it to wear the head like a second skin; reducing the risk of accidentally airborne steel and sealing the true FSC-certified American hickory against weather and wear.

Blade Material: C45 high-carbon steel
Handle: Hickory wood
Weight: 3.5lbs
Length: 24″

Gransfors Bruk Large Splitting Axe

Gransfors Large Splitting Axe
  • Swedish-made
  • Two sizes available
  • Metal sheath beneath head prevents damage
  • Optimal grip whether you’re bare-handed or gloved
  • Expensive

Best High-End: The handle comes in a pair of sizes depending on the needs of your chopping block. Whichever length suits you, they both come with a metal sheath beneath the head of the axe for less splintering and damage from missed strikes. Circular grooves at the end offer more grip traction whether you’re grabbing it bare-handed or with a set of fine gloves. Due to the reduced size of the head this works better at getting through wet wood or freshly fallen logs since it bites deep, slipping in like a thief in the night to wreak havoc on your winter cords.

Blade Material: Steel
Handle: Wood
Weight: 5lbs
Length: 27.5″

Kindling Cracker Firewood Splitter

Kindling Cracker Firewood Splitter

Honorable Mention: While not technically an axe, we thought it was worth mentioning this single-formed cast iron Firewood Splitter from Kindling Cracker, which uses a patented design to let you split wood with a hammer, using less force than you would with an axe, and ensuring that a blade is nowhere near your hands in the process. Made in Australia, this unit is also perfect for those with little ones, making for a safe beginner’s splitter, although it’s just as beneficial for those who may not love using axes in the first place. There are also bolt holes on the bottom if you want to mount this somewhere in your backyard.

The Best Wood For A Campfire

Now that you’ve got the proper chopping tool, it’s time to get the the proper wood. Dive into our guide of the best wood for a campfire before your next outdoor adventure.