Splitting logs is hard physical work at the best of the times.
At the worst of times, it can be exhausting, dangerous, and even potentially lead to expensive trips to Accident & Emergency.
What separates the best of times from the worst of times?
The right equipment, of course.
Whether you’re filleting a fish or splitting logs, the right equipment can make your day go faster, smoother and more efficiently.
When it comes to splitting logs, you’re looking for an axe – seemingly an ancient tool, it’s rarely if ever been bettered as the go-to option for turning logs into useful timber and or firewood.
But saying you’re looking for an axe is like saying you’re looking for a knife in the kitchen. There are different types of axe that are better for different types of job.
So how do you know which axe to choose? There are hundreds on the market, if not thousands. What are you looking for to make your log splitting if not exactly a breeze, then at least as fast, efficient and uniform as it can be?
Step away from the bladed tools. We can handle this. Here’s our list of the best log splitting axes on the market
Axe (Total length: 70 cm) for cutting logs 20-30 cm in diameter for the fireplace, stove, barbecue or campfire
Very sharp blade in hardened steel with coating, Ideal balance between head and handle for maximum swing power
Durable handle made of weather-resistant and impact-resistant fibreglass reinforced plastic, Handle moulded directly onto the tool head for greater safety, Firm and comfortable grip thanks to innovative handle with textured non-slip coating and handle end with flared guard for optimal finger protection
The Fiskars Splitting Axe is a combination of all the things you’d put on your list if you were building the best log splitting axe from scratch.
Firstly, it’s available in a range of different lengths. That means it doesn’t matter whether you’re tall, short or average, there’s a Fiskars Splitting Axe that’s the right size for you. Having a log splitting axe that’s appropriate to your size and swing means maximum efficiency every time you swing at the log.
The other thing that the size range of the Fiskars Splitting Axe brings you is comfort while you chop, with less risk of back pain and/or injury.
The shape and weighting of the axe is designed and balanced specifically to encourage clean one hit log splitting. That in turn means faster, more efficient log splitting – no hacking away at a single stubborn log for three or four strokes, breaking your rhythm, taking up extra time, and pushing you towards backache, arm or shoulder pain.
The blade itself has been shaped so that if you get a log which doesn’t split on the first hit, the blade doesn’t quibble and get stuck. It pulls free clean and easily to let you get the split on the second hit, rather than breaking the rhythm of the task and having to waggle the blade free.
And the Fiskars Splitting Axe also comes with a safety case for storage and transport, which makes it feel like a responsible tool for all your log splitting needs.
Range of lengths to fit people of different heights
Designed to minimize multi-hit log splitting, for efficiency and less pain
Blade designed to come free from wood easily
As with any precision tool, the Fiskars requires regular maintenance to the blade to keep it at peak efficiency
There’s something nostalgic about splitting logs in the 21st century. It connects us to a history of hard work, and helps us deliver a modern necessity. That makes sense of using a traditional wood-handled axe.
If you’re going to go for a wood-handled log splitter, the Spear & Jackson is our top pick.
The Spear & Jackson has a hickory shaft for strength through the swing time after time, and a drop forged carbon steel head, which has been hardened and tempered so it’s durable all day long.
It’s less technologically designed than some log splitting axes, but it has that traditional artisan vibe to it, should you want to get your fairy tale woodcutter vibe on.
Although it’s a log splitting axe by definition, there’s something of the maul about this axe, and users have even described it as a sledgehammer with a sharpened edge. When you swing it, you’ll understand why – the force you can generate with the Spear & Jackson is pretty fierce.
Bear in mind of course, this is a wooden axe, relatively untouched by the concerns of the 21st century, so there’s little to absorb any of the shock of that impressive impact – there’s you, there’s the axe, and there’s the log. That means you may well feel the strain of a long log splitting session in your arms with the Spear & Jackson.
Like the Fiskars though, there have been some concessions made to the notion that people of all sorts of heights might, in the 21st century, need to split logs. As such, the Spear & Jackson comes in a range of weights, from the 1.5 pound (0.6Kg) hatchet all the way up to the 6.5 pound (almost 3Kg) log splitter.
Also like the Fiskars, there’s an effort towards safety when the axe is not in use – the Spear & Jackson comes with a blade guard to keep you safe in between splitting sessions.
If you want the rougher, more primitive feel that comes with the physical act of log splitting, the Spear and Jackson is probably going to be your favourite from the axes on our list.
Drop forged carbon steel head
Hickory shaft for the traditional log splitting feel
Comes as part of a coherent range of axes and hatchets
Various weights in the range, up to the log splitter
Blade guard for safety during storage
No shock absorbing material, so it can give you aching arms after long use
Some users find the head detaches during extreme log splitting sessions
The Roughneck Splitting Maul is a very ‘does what it says on the tin’ log splitter. It’s another splitter with a drop forged steel head for impact and splitting power, but unlike the standard wooden handle on the Spear & Jackson, here you have a fibreglass handle with gripping aids for more secure swinging.
As with all our axes so far, the Roughneck comes in a range of sizes – for serious log splitting, we’d suggest going for at least the 6-pounder, simply for the added certainty that weight delivers. That said, the greater the weight, the longer the handle, so be sure to buy the weight and length you’re confident you can swing.
It is of course also a maul, rather than an axe. That means the blade’s not sharpened, but it still works a treat in terms of splitting logs.
In terms of its comfort zone, the Roughneck is probably a better friend to you if you’re working with smaller, pre-dried logs, because although the head has been designed not to jam, bigger and ‘greener’ logs can make for harder work than you want to do with the Roughneck.
That said, as a maul, rather than a sharp-edged axe, the Roughneck also comes with the option of a set of ‘wedge grenades’ which will have you powering through any log that dares to stand against the power of the Roughneck+you.
In fact, while all our axes so far have come as part of a range of weights and sizes, the Roughneck is notable for being available as a complete wood splitting kit – pick yourself up the 6 pound (2.7Kg) maul, a short-handled 1.1 pound (0.5Kg) hand-axe for smaller logs and off-cuts, and a wedge grenade to make your logs an offer they can’t refuse.
Comes in a variety of sizes, up to the log splitter
Well weighted head and handle combination
Solid fibreglass handle
Polypropylene grips reduce likelihood of slippage and mis-strikes
Comes with option to include ‘wedge grenades’ to take on any log
Some users find the need to maintain the blade carefully, as it can blunt easily
It can split up to 20cm logs in diameter. The steel blade is made up of high carbon steel that makes it strong enough to split any type of wood and a rugged fibreglass handle. The blade has a sharp edge for splitting wood. It comes with a storage case that protects it from bad weather and for the safety of other people around you. The case protects, gives easy storage to the user, and safety when you are carrying it. You can even travel with the axe without insecurities as you might think it might hurt the next person.
No matter how much you use it, the head is made so that it will not come off. It is molded carefully into the handle so that it will not come off. If a head comes off, not only does it hurt the nearest person but also the user. This is why it is incorporated carefully to make sure that safety prevails. The head’s design is not meant to work on small logs but small and large logs.
Efficiency is attained due to the way the head is designed. Outstanding balance is what makes the axe stronger. It increases speed and power when you are using the axe. You do not have to use all your energy on the axe. Just a hit will make you swing with more power without falling off or losing balance. Chances are very slim that the handle will slip off your hands. It comes with a non-slip handle that gives you a secure grip. This makes you more confident as a user.
It is also comfortable, and you will not experience any pain while using it for longer periods. A soft touch is what you experience. The handle will not make your hands loosen as you split wood. As much as the handle is meant to be strong to withstand any type of wood, it remains lighter. The fact that it is lightweight makes the whole axe lightweight as well. Chances are very low that you will strain the hands. It is ideal for camping as well as your garden.
The edge is not just sharp but also hard so that no piece of wood will be tougher than the head. The Davaon Pro axe is a universal tool that is not only meant for domestic use as you chop wood for your small grill. You can use it for camping or gardening. It is ideal for cutting wood, logs, and tree branches. Its ease of use has made it user-friendly and gain popularity in the market. You are guaranteed an exciting, strain-free experience.
The second out-and-out maul on our list, the Draper Expert 09944 earns its place by meeting a lot of the other axes on their own territory and proving its credentials as a log splitter.
It’s one of a coherent series of wood-splitting tools, going down in weight and size from the splitting maul down through some mid-range axes to the likes of a kindling hatchet, so there’s a sense of completeness to the Draper range.
The maul-head is drop forged from fine grain carbon steel correctly hardened and tempered with a polished head. Fibreglass shaft fitted with comfortable shock-absorbing rubber grip.
Again with an eye on safety when not in use, it also comes with a rubber blade guard, and in this case a straightforward, though shorter-lived manufacturer’s guarantee – the maul is covered for 12 months of use.
While as a maul, the blade is not sharp, mauls are very effective log splitters and if it comes down to tools to do the job, you can do a lot worse than the Draper, especially given that it’s significantly cheaper than some of the higher-scoring axes on the list.
The Draper Expert 09944 may have fewer design points than some of the higher-scoring axes, but it has a faithful feel that will still be splitting logs for you while some of the other axes are demanding they be sharpened and pampered.
It’s got a straightforward ‘See log, swing maul, split log, next!’ approach to doing the job, so you can get back inside and start the ‘sitting in front of a roaring fire’ portion of your day.
As such, it will appeal to more pragmatic woodcutters, less tuned in to the whole retro romance of cutting their own wood and more interested in getting it done and getting on with their lives. If that’s you, spend less, and welcome the Draper Expert maul into your log splitting routine.
Drop forged, heat-treated head for weight and splitting power
If you’re committing to cutting your own wood for household uses, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when looking for log splitting axes.
In The Swing
Be aware of size, weight and height – you don’t want to have an axe or maul that’s too long, too heavy or too cumbersome for you to comfortably swing. Pick the right length of handle, and the right weight of head for your own use, otherwise your log splitting will be less than useful, and you might end up with muscle injuries from incorrect posture and swinging of too heavy a weight.
On a similar note, be aware of the space you have around you. You don’t want to swing an extra-long axe or maul in a relatively confined space – that’s both a sitcom and a tragedy waiting to happen. Swing what you can, split how you like, but be space aware before you click the ‘buy’ button.
There are two schools of thought on shock absorption. Decide whether you’re in love with the traditional feel of splitting logs with a wood-handled axe and shock absorption be damned, or whether you’re a 21st century, Health & Safety-conscious log splitter who might possibly have uses for your arm muscles later in the day or night. The degree to which your axe or maul comes with shock absorption and/or safety grips will generally depend on the levels of nostalgia and/or practical function you want from it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is better for log splitting, axes or mauls?
While these are technically different implements, they’re used more or less interchangeably when it comes to log splitting, because they both do the job very efficiently. The difference is that axes have sharp blades and so do their splitting with their cutting edges, while mauls have unsharpened blades and are more often used with wedges (small inserts), so the impact of the swing is directed into an effective splitting force, rather than a cutting force.
So why should you care? Several reasons – if you’re new to swinging sharply-bladed weapons about, we’d suggest you start off with a splitting maul and its force-transfer principle, at least until you’re confident you’re not about to accidentally lop your own foot off.
Also, mauls are often significantly cheaper, and so offer a better option to beginners.
Will a fibreglass log splitting axe last longer than a wooden one?
This usually depends on how you treat your axe. Fibreglass is immensely strong and usually comes with shock absorption, where wood usually doesn’t, so on a basic level, it should last longer, yes. But if you treat your log splitting axe with respect and store and maintain it well, the difference should also be negligible in practical terms.
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