Whether you're new to firewood or a seasoned pro, you've probably discovered that large rounds are cheaper than pre-cut wood. But if you purchase huge logs, you'll need a log splitter. Log splitters aren't cheap, and they also aren't small.
What do you do if you don't have the budget or the room for a log splitter?
One of the best solutions is to get a wood splitting axe. Axes may look intimidating at first, but as long as you have time and a high-quality tool, you'll find that breaking up your firewood is much easier.
We've taken a look at some of the best wood splitting axes on the market. Here are our top recommendations and tips.
Top 5: Best Wood Splitting Axes
This is technically a maul rather than an axe, but it functions the same way. Rather than having a single blade, it has a bladed edge and a mallet on the opposite side. It is also one of the longest options on the list, coming in at 36 inches. If you want to generate significant force behind your blows, this is your best bet.
In addition to using the tool to split wood, you can also use the mallet side to drive wedges and stakes into the ground. It's a versatile option that's great for people who do a lot of outdoor landscaping work.
The blade features specialized geometry that allows it to wedge more deeply between the logs. The wood splits apart faster, and you need less power to do it.
Another ideal feature is the IsoCore Shock Control system. This patented bit of technology absorbs the vibration and shock of each strike, so it doesn't reverberate through your body. That can make a huge difference in your soreness later, especially if you have joint issues.
The riveted head is molded onto the handle with one piece. It won't snap off or slide down the handle, so it's both safe and convenient to use. If it does get damaged, though, you'll need to replace the entire axe.
That's not a huge concern since there's a full lifetime warranty. If you need a replacement, you can get one. The manufacturer has built this tool to last through thousands of logs. The steel blade has been heat-treated and coated with rust-resistant materials.
The handle has an ergonomic grip that fits softly in your hand. It also stays firm even when your palms are sweaty, so you retain control over every strike.
This is a much less heavy-duty axe option. Instead of being built to split huge logs and do long jobs, this axe is made for camping trips. As such, it's compact and portable, and it's just capable enough to cut through wood for a campfire.
Don't let the small size and simple purpose fool you, though. There are several features that make this model stand out from the cheaper camping axes on the market.
The design was made to be easy to use, even if you're not used to chopping your own wood. You can use it to both chop and split branches, kindling, and wood. The blade features specialized geometry that allows you to drive more force into the wood, leading to more one-strike hits.
In addition to being ideal for campers, this tool is also used by hikers, people preparing for bonfires, and people doing other outdoor activities. It's even used by some gardeners to chop tree branches in their yards.
The blade is made out of forged carbon steel that has been heat treated for maximum density and durability. It allows for quick and sharp splitting. In addition, the blade remains sharp for longer time periods than the average axe. You can go longer between sharpenings, which makes maintenance easy.
The grip has an anti-slip shock absorber, so you don't suffer as much from each impact. The ergonomic grip is very comfortable to hold, and the anti-slip material keeps your stance controlled. Instead of using wood, the handle is crafted with long-lasting and lightweight fiberglass.
The finished, polished edge of the blade can be resharpened using a file. Since the wedge is weighted, it's easy to chop logs and aim with accuracy. There is a careful balance between the handle and head, which makes it easy to hold and to generate power.
Every model includes a rubberized protective sheath. This can be used to store the product while you're hiking, or while it's otherwise not in use. After you're finished using the axe, you can put the rubber cover on and hang it up using the provided hole.
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This maul is a little more lightweight than some of the other options. Most mauls on the market weigh anywhere from 8 to 12 pounds, but this one weighs just 7 pounds. It's a good choice for people who want the power and versatility of a maul, but who don't have a ton of upper body strength.
The wedge-shaped blade is built for splitting wood fibers. In addition, the 5-pound metal head creates a significant weight at the end of the tool. This allows you to create more heft and force as you bring the axe down.
The 32-inch handle is made out of lightweight fiberglass. It has shock absorbing technology that prevents your joints from being jarred with each hit. Also included are rubber inserts that allow you to grip more easily, even when your hands are sweaty.
The axe is brightly colored, which makes it easy to find in a cluttered space. It also has a hole through the handle, so you can easily hang it up in your garage or workshop when you're not using it. That's a great built-in storage option.
The head is made out of heavy-duty steel. The other side is a flat mallet-like surface. You can use it as a sledgehammer. The extra weight makes it much easier to wield the mallet than a shorter handle would.
You can use this tool to chop wood for campfires. It's also ideal for use in gardening and landscaping tasks of all kinds. If you need to demolish a structure, the combination of the blade and sledgehammer should be able to do the trick.
This is another hatchet that's great for people who are camping and backpacking. It's a compact design built for chopping and splitting wood. The tool can be used with one hand and aimed with precision.
Rather than being a single-piece axe, the head and handle are separated. The handle attaches to the head using a steel wedge and a wooden wedge for extra security. As long as you double-check the fastening before your work, it shouldn't come apart.
The blade is made of heat treated carbon steel. It cuts smoothly and sharply. The heat treating also allows it to retain its sharpness for longer than the average axe.
The axe is well-balanced and easily controlled. It funnels all of your energy into the blade for powerful cuts. The soft-touch handle has a non-slip grip and can reduce overall fatigue in your hand.
Though the axe lacks a mallet, it is capable of chopping wood, splitting logs, and cutting up kindling. The geometric design of the blade is meant to produce more one-strike splits than usual. You can use it to clear trails and bushwhack as well.
The bladed edge is protected by a rubber coating when it is transported. Because of this, you should grind the blade before using it to get the best results.
The included rubber sheath comes with a hanging hole. You can place the axe in the sheath and then hang it in your garage. The manufacturer recommends sharpening the axe either before or after each use to keep it in ideal condition. It's also recommended that you store the tool somewhere dry to prevent potential rusting.
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This is another ideal option from Fiskars. The tool is designed specifically to split logs, so it has been honed for this purpose. You can use it to split both medium and large logs, which makes it ideal for those who need something stronger than a camping axe.
The goal of the design is to maximize efficiency, allowing you to split more wood in less time. The heavy head allows you to swing faster, so you generate more power and speed.
The handle is built with FiberComp technology. This engineering absorbs the shock of every blow, allowing you to work for longer without damage to your body. At the same time, the fiberglass material has been proven to be more durable than steel. You don't need to worry about doing accidental damage due to a too-powerful strike.
This model comes with a lifetime warranty. If you run into any problems, you can get a replacement free of charge. All of the materials should last for decades if you take care of them properly.
Every tool in the X-Series from this company has the same powerful blades, superior grinding technique, and unbreakable materials. This is a great choice for anyone who's looking for a splitting axe alone, rather than a more versatile maul or a portable camping axe.
For those seeking a heavy-duty axe that can take on multiple jobs with ease, we recommend the Fiskars IsoCore maul. This 8-pound axe has a 3-foot handle and shock absorbers that allow you to work for longer. It's not the best for people who need a lightweight option, though.
For a compact and portable option for camping, we recommend the WilFiks chopping axe. This durable model has a lightweight fiberglass handle with a shock-absorbing, ergonomic grip. The head can be resharpened as needed, and the heat treated metal materials are some of the best on the market.
If you want an affordable option for minor needs, we recommend the Eletorot Camping hatchet. This option is made with a wooden handle and a steel blade. It has everything you need to chop and split wood while you're camping. You can also use it to clear trails and remove troublesome branches from your garden.
For those looking for a pure splitting axe, the Fiskars X25 is a good choice. This design has a sharpened blade that's built to wedge deep into pieces of wood. It cuts through both large and small logs, outperforming many competing axes. However, it's not the best choice if you need something portable, or if you need the mallet of a maul.
Frequently Asked Questions
A splitting axe is designed to split wood fibers apart. It is built differently from traditional axes, which are made to cut through different materials. Several kinds of axes are considered wood splitters. Some have both a cutting blade and a mallet.
If you're looking for a basic wood splitter, you'll want to get a splitting axe. These axes are built with wide, wedge-shaped blades that push between the wood fibers so that they split with ease. Since the design is meant to wedge rather than cut, it's not ideal for cutting down trees or cutting through other materials.
Splitting axes are among the lightest in weight when looking for wood splitters. Because of this, they're ideal for people who often struggle with fatigue during their splitting sessions.
There is also the splitting maul. A splitting maul weighs significantly more than an axe. In fact, the majority of mauls are anywhere from 8 to 10 pounds in weight. The handle tends to be long, while the opposite head is mallet-shaped.
Splitting mauls aren't often sharpened. Instead of relying on sharpness, the user relies on the extra leverage and weight of the handle. This is a good choice for people who have a lot of brute strength to break their wood apart.
You might think of felling axes when you imagine an axe. A felling axe is built for chopping through materials like live tree branches. It has the sharpest blade of any axe on the market. This allows it to cut easily through wood fibers.
Felling axes might be used to split your firewood. However, they aren't designed for this purpose. You'll have a harder time splitting firewood with a felling axe than a splitting axe, because the head isn't designed to wedge between the dead fibers.
People who are camping often use camp or hatchet axes. These are made to be lightweight and portable, so they can be stowed in your luggage while you hike. However, you won't use the same level of force when you strike the wood, so you have to use a lot more energy to see results.
Because of this, hatchets and camp axes aren't good for chopping firewood in bulk. But they will work okay if you're just making a campfire with a couple small logs.
Axes have been used for hundreds of years. You might not think of them as very technologically advanced tools. But there are certain features that you should look for, and certain factors that should be taken into account.
First, you'll need to decide whether to get an axe or a maul. Mauls tend to be a more multipurpose tool, thanks to their combination of blade and mallet. Axes are a much better choice if you want a lightweight option that will allow you to chop a lot of logs without fatigue.
Most axe models will eventually need a replacement handle, no matter how high-quality they are. Before you buy your axe, make sure you'll be able to get replacement handles. There are some designs that use one-piece molding to join the head and handle.
This means that if there's any damage to the axe, you'll need to replace the entire thing. However, it does also prevent the head from falling off while you're working, so it's up to you whether that's worth it.
The axe should be comfortable to hold and have a firm, non-slip grip. If you're chopping wood for a while, you can expect to sweat. A slippery handle could lead to serious danger if it slides out of your sweaty palms.
Axes also require a certain level of maintenance to continue performing efficiently. The head of the axe needs the most care. Make sure that you know how to maintain the axe and that you can do it easily.
Different axes are used for different purposes. Wood splitting axes are made to split dead wood fibers, but they aren't sharp enough to chop through trees. Felling axes are made to chop through trees, but they aren't shaped correctly to split wood.
The handle length makes a big difference. Different axes have different lengths. Some long-handled axes are built for taller people. You can also get more force with a longer axe, which means it's easier to split the wood with your strength. This makes long-handled axes ideal for strong people.
Some handles are short and compact. These tend to make the tool more precise and lightweight. A lightweight axe is good for people who want to be able to split a lot of wood without getting tired.
The material that the handle is made out of also makes a difference. Until recently, the majority of axes were made using wooden handles. These days, though, you can get models that have metal and fiberglass handles.
Metal and fiberglass are both more durable than wood, so you don't have to worry about them splitting. But when they do become damaged, it's more difficult and expensive to replace them. Wooden handles wear down and splinter over time, requiring a replacement to keep functioning.
The axe head is the next most important factor. Axes might have different shapes. Traditional splitters have wedge-shaped heads. Traditional mauls have one wedge-shaped side and one mallet side. The mallet makes the tool much heavier, but also more versatile.
Lastly, consider the weight. How long do you want to split firewood? How many pounds can you reasonably swing? Will the axe be too heavy for you to finish the job? If it's too light, will you be able to get enough power to split the wood?
All of these questions must be answered when considering your options. The best axe for you is the one that allows you to generate power, finish the job, and not be exhausted for the rest of the day.
There are protective products that you can purchase for your axe. You might put it in a sheath or cover it. You might also purchase a sharpening tool, which can be used to sharpen the edge of the blade when it dulls.
Some manufacturers will make protective products specifically for their own axe models. If you stick with them and buy the associated accessories, you know they'll fit your product. However, as long as you have the measurements correct, you should be able to purchase a protective item from a third party manufacturer as well.
With axes of any kind, the majority of maintenance is related to the axe head. You'll need to maintain the blade and sharpen it. If your axe has a wooden handle, it will wear down and split over time. This will happen even if you take perfect care of it, but misuse will make it happen faster.
After every use, you should complete the following steps to take care of the head:
- Clean the surface so that no pitch or other potentially harmful residue remains.
- Sharpen the blade if it needs to be sharpened.
- Use oil to keep the blade from rusting.
As you oil the head, make sure that the substance stays away from the handle. It's important that no slippery materials build up around the handle, as this can lead to dangerous situations.
Most wooden axe handles come with a finish. This coating helps to protect the materials and preserve the lifespan. You can add a finish to an axe that doesn't have one, or add an extra coating to an axe that does.