Best axe to buy for splitting wood
Every cottage owner needs a good splitting axe to cut firewood for the wood stove. Choosing the right axe is important to ensure you can split the logs efficiently and not put yourself at risk of an injury.
This post contains links to products. Cottage Tips may receive a commission for purchases made through the links.
Axe sizes for splitting firewood
The type of axe to buy depends on how big the logs are that you plan to split and how much axe weight you can safely handle to cut the wood. The heavier the splitting axe the more power you can wield to split the firewood.
The typical splitting axe has a large head that is the shape of a wedge. The design is meant to drive the log into two pieces by separating the wood, normally along the same lines as the grain.
The weight of the axe head for a standard splitting axe typically ranges from three to five pounds. Most cabin firewood splitting can be done with an axe in this grouping. The best thing to do is lift the different axe weights at the store and see which one is good for your personal size and strength.
Even if you are very strong, it doesn’t make much sense to buy a splitting axe that is too large for your needs at the cottage. Splitting wood is hard work and the novelty of the experience quickly wears off after the first ten or fifteen minutes, especially in the summer heat among swarms of biting flies and mosquitoes.
Firewood that is properly dried out will typically split nicely. Wood that is still green and contains moisture might not split at all even if you have a huge splitting axe or a maul.
Buying a maul or a splitting axe
A maul is the heavy duty splitting axe that is typically used by people who need to split wide diameter logs from hardwood trees like oak, or trees that have a lot of knots. The axe head of the maul looks more like a sledge hammer as opposed to the wedge shape of the standard splitting axe. The maul is also heavier, weighing as much as eight pounds.
You would normally use the maul to split large logs into smaller sections that can then be cut using the lighter splitting axe.
Importance of axe handles
The axe handle is as important as the head of the axe that splits the wood. Old timers tend to prefer a classic wood handle. They just like the way it feels and don’t mind the added weight. The downside of the wood handle is that it gets damaged more easily if the handle hits the log.
Newer axe handle technology uses composite fibreglass material. It tends to be lighter and more forgiving if the handle strikes the log or the splitting stump.
Beginners to wood splitting might want to choose a fibreglass handle splitting axe and look to upgrade to a wooden handle maul once you get some practice. It is good to know the exact size and weight that enables you to comfortably split firewood at the cabin.
Handle length also comes into play. The longer the axe handle the more power you can drive into the splitting motion. The tradeoff of the long handle is reduced accuracy and a higher risk of injury.
Chopping axes and hatchets vs splitting axes
A chopping axe has a small narrow axe head and a very sharp blade edge. It is designed for cutting down trees, not for splitting wood. Most cottage owners use a chainsaw to drop trees, rather than an axe.
A hatchet is a small version of an axe and would be used for trimming branches. You might want to have a chopping axe or a hatchet handy for making kindling, but this can be dangerous work.