How to Choose the Best Axe for Splitting Wood

How to Choose the Best Axe for Splitting Wood in 2018

When the season turns chilly, it’s time to get the axe out and start chopping some wood for a lovely fire. Nothing compares to sitting by the fireplace on a cold night, and you need to make sure you have the proper axe handy to split the wood you’ll need for the long winter. Here are a few tips on how to choose the best axe of 2018 for splitting wood and a few reviews to help you get your shopping started.

Woodcutting Axe Buying Guide - How do I find the best axe for splitting wood?

Before diving into our search for high-quality wood axes, keep in mind that finding the best axe for splitting wood is a matter of personal preference. You may need to do a bit of research on the best axe for felling trees, the best axe for chopping wood, or the best survival axe, depending on how you plan to use it. Here are a few features that can help determine the right axe for you:

Type of Job

When it comes to picking out an axe to use for splitting wood, you want to consider what your load size of wood is. If you have larger pieces of wood, you’ll want a larger axe; while a smaller piece of wood would require a smaller axe. There is a downside, though, to using the larger axe, as even the best axes in the world will wear you out considerably faster than any small axe. 

Axe Head Weight

You want to have a good axe head weight that doesn’t require too much energy to pick up and raise. A heavy axe will give you more output than a lighter axe, but a lighter-weight axe will allow you to use it for longer periods.

If you are just starting out using an axe, you probably don’t want to go heavier than five pounds. A heavier axe head will give you more force, but not as much accuracy in your swing. Start off with a lighter axe head and then, as you get stronger, you can move up in weight.

Swinging an axe can be a somewhat daunting activity to some people. Here is a video that will show you the safe way to wield an axe:

Axe Handle Material

A typical axe handle is made of wood, fiberglass, or steel. They are typically varnished for a good look, but you may want to sand the varnish down for a firmer grip. Some handles these days are made from plastic, but a high-quality wood axe is usually made of hickory or ash.

You will also want to check out the grain of the wood and also the quantity and width of growth-rings. The perfect grain will run parallel to the bit of the axe; grain that is perpendicular is usually weaker and can snap when you hit a tree. Growth rings need to be numerous, narrow, and tight, so avoid wood that has a pattern with fewer growth rings that are broadly-spaced. 

Axe Design

Make sure that you are choosing a solid axe head that does not have any noticeable joints. This guarantees that the strength of the head hasn’t been compromised. For safety purposes, the head should be intact, with the handle well-thrust into the eye. The axe should also be solid, preventing the head from breaking off.

Features to Look for in an Axe

Single Bit or Double Bit

The most common type of axe is the single-bitted axe. It can cut faster due to the added weight that comes with the poll. Double-bitted axes have more versatility and a balanced swing which is due to both ends of the head having the same weight and length.

You will have less wobble with a double-bitted axe giving you more accuracy, control, and efficiency. There are also two cutting edges which give you more versatility in creating multiple cutting edges for different types of projects, like limbing and cutting roots. 

Length of the Handle

Longer handles let you swing with more force, but that much length can also give you less control. Measured from the knob at the bottom of the axe to the top edge, the length of the handle typically comes either full-sized or “boy’s axe”-sized. The standard length of felling axes is 36”, but that can be too long for an average 6’ tall man who would be better off with a 31” handle to give him the best control and force.

A boy’s axe which measures 28” can be an appropriate length for an average grown man, especially one that is not planning on using it to split wood. For more suburban home chores, a boy’s axe can get most projects around the house done and let you have a more controlled swing. 

Curved or Straight Handle

You will find that axe handles are either straight or curved. Curved handles are found on single-bitted axes, giving them a more natural feel when swung. You can only get a straight handle when you choose a double-bitted axe (because, if it were curved, you wouldn’t be able to turn it over to use the other side).

Wood Splitting Axe Reviews 2018

One of the more popular choices by outdoorsmen who refer to it as the best American felling axe ever made is the Estwing E3-FF44. This is a heavy-duty axe that is forged in one piece so the handle and head won’t come apart which is a great safety feature since you don’t have to worry about the axe head flying off when you are chopping wood.

If you are looking for the best camp axe, this is the perfect one to take along on your next adventure if you spend a lot of time outdoors (and even if you don’t). Hand polished to a gorgeous finish, the Estwing E3-FF44 is a class axe that features unparalleled temper and balance.

With its patented Shock Reduction Grip, your impact vibration is reduced by 70% while the tempered 2 3/8” cutting edge allows for easy cuts. The E3-FF44 also includes a ballistic sheath made of rugged nylon that provides both protection and safety. 

PROS

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    Handle absorbs the shock to your body
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    Made of strong construction steel
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    One solid piece so you don’t have to worry about the axe head flying off

CONS

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    Doesn’t come with a cover so it is hard to safely transport it

Perfect for those users that are tall or who like a long axe, the Fiskars X27 gives you the power you need to split medium to extra-large logs. Featuring ideal weight distribution, the X27 includes a pretty much unbreakable design, an incredibly sharp blade, and advanced blade geometry. With this combination, the blade is much more effective in splitting wood, as it lets you make more one-time splits per swing.

The X27 also features the longest handle Fiskar has developed, to increase the leverage you need for maximum power. Since you can split wood easily, you also use less effort with the X27, as well as less time and less hand strain. Not only will this axe work well if you are tall, but it will also help you to split large logs. 

PROS

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    Comes in four different lengths
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    Designed so you can remove wood easily from the blade
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    You only need to swing the axe once to get the wood to split

CONS

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    Axe must be kept sharp to work efficiently

For those who want less joint pain and muscle fatigue, the Fiskars Iso Core Maul lets you take on hardcore wood splitting projects without pain. This powerful and rugged maul uses premium steel that is constructed into a concave form that is perfect for splitting wood. The Iso Core Maul helps to make every swing count with a performance handle that is designed to fit your hand comfortably and securely.

With its patented Iso Core Shock Control System, the maul will absorb vibration and strike shock lessening the abuse your body takes. It also includes a handle with a dual-layer that can capture any vibrations that linger while the texturing on the handle improves your grip to lessen blisters. The enhanced blade geometry blisters apart tough logs without worrying about the riveted head snapping or sliding down. 

PROS

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    Has a shock absorbing design
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    You can use it for driving things and splitting wood
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    Can cut large logs easily

CONS

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    It is on the heavy side
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    Doesn’t come with a sheath so you can transport it safely

Featuring a unique V-shape wing design, the Mintcraft Pro 4004 easily splits wood by acting as a secondary wedge. The fiberglass handle includes a double injection giving it incredible durability and strength. It also features overstrike protection for added safety. 

With superior wood slitting results, the MIntcraft PRO 34004 gives you the basic qualities you want in an axe. It features a simple design that gets the job done. 

PROS

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    Features a simple design
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    Lightweight and durable

CONS

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    Doesn’t work well on stubborn pieces of wood
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    No maul function

If you are looking for an axe that is suited for splitting thick pieces of wood, the Husqvarna Outdoor Large Wood Splitting Axe is forged in Sweden with high-quality Swedish steel. The head is securely fastened with both a steel and wooden wedge to the hickory shaft. Those users that love a traditional axe will love the Husqvarna’s traditional wood handle, plus this lightweight axe only weighs 3.3 pounds make it easy to swing.

Designed to go easily into the wood, the head requires very little effort on the user’s part to split wood. The long handle provides extra power with a two-hand grip. The Husqvarna splitting axe also comes with a leather edge cover. 

PROS

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    Nice traditional design
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    Lightweight and easy to swing​​​​
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    Comes with a nice leather sheath

CONS

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    Doesn’t feature shock absorbing technology
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    Doesn’t have maul capabilities

Conclusion

The winner of the best axe of 2018 roundup is the Estwing E3-FF4 Wood Splitting Axe. This popular choice is not only heavy-duty, but is forged in one piece. This is a great safety feature as it prevents the user from having to worry about the axe head flying off mid-swing. This sturdy and solid axe is a great addition to any camping trip and is perfect for those that love to spend time outdoors.

Hand polished to a gorgeous finish, the Estwing E3-FF44 is a class axe that features unparalleled temper and balance. Vibration impact is reduced with its patented Shock Reduction Grip and you get easy cuts with its tempered 2 3/8” cutting edge. The clear winner of the best axe for splitting wood roundup is the Estwing E3-FF44 hands down.

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