Adam holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Linguistics, and creative writing has always been his greatest passion. For more than 25 years he's been working for several well-known automobile and travel magazines as an editor and expert consultant, but when Adam started his writing path here, at WisePick, it turned out that he's capable of writing practically anything about everything.
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Last updated: January 06, 2021
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A splitting axe is a vital tool for anyone who needs to split logs into small pieces. Whether you need to prepare firewood for your wood stove or take part in log splitting competitions, the best splitting axe will go a long way. The problem as always is choosing the best axe for splitting wood from the plethora of options on the market. We’ve got you covered, though, as we review the top-rated splitting axes to help you arrive at your ideal tool. If you are short of time, jump to our comparison table and see how we rated them.
So how did we arrive at our top picks? We carefully picked the models by examining them against the important features to consider in a splitting axe, including overall weight, head and material, head and handle weight, to mention but a few. For instance, a heavy head is considered to deliver the most impact on the wood being hit, but it may not be the best option for camping enthusiasts. Likewise, a short handle length is only good for casual applications but it’s not a good choice for very tall guys.
That said, the models we review here excel in particular applications and you will find our recommendations in the in-depth reviews. There’s also a detailed buying guide to help you learn more about splitting axes and how to buy. Let’s explore the options now.
The Gränsfors Bruks Splitting Axe 445 is made in Sweden using the highest quality Swedish steel. This splitting axe has been handcrafted by a professional smith who takes pride in his work that he marked the head with his initials behind the Gränsfors crown label.
The steel axe head is forged and ground to a concave with a thin, yet incredibly sharp blade at the bit. This unique design helps the head drive fast into the wood and split more efficiently while the thicker part of the head tears apart the wood. The edge is additionally razor-sharp, allowing you to split wood with minimum effort. In addition, the hand-forged head has been honed, tempered, and annealed to maximum hardness and reliability.
The handle itself is made from seasoned hickory which has also been soaked in hot linseed oil and tumbled in bee’s wax, making it of premium Swedish quality. It is 31 inches long and very ergonomic, providing a lot of leverage for delivering power as needed. The bottom part of the handle is roughened to offer a steady grip even when your hands are wet.
Important to note is that this axe is not designed for pounding wedges. Supplied with this wood splitting axe a steel collar and a grain leather sheath for covering the blade when not in use. Overall, the quality of this tool is unmatched with a 20-year warranty giving enough evidence. If you are looking for the best axe for splitting wood, you can’t go wrong with the Gränsfors Bruks Splitting Axe 445. Even the price is hard to beat.
The only thing our reviewers had struggle with was a leather sheath that is quite difficult to close due to an easily breakable snap.
This is a truly iconic axe reminiscent of the traditional American double bit axes that were used for tree felling in the 19th century. The beauty of this kind of axe is that you can profile each edge differently such that one blade is used for splitting logs and the other for fine cutting.
The Helko Werk Hinterland has a straight handle plus symmetrical head, which provide a comfortable balance for the user. The handle is crafted in Switzerland out of grade A American hickory. Every piece of the hickory is carefully selected for wood grain, density and strength. The axe handle has also been smoothly sanded using 150 grit sandpaper and then finished with boiled linseed oil. The result is a solid, smooth and comfortable to use handle.
The head is handmade in Wuppertal, Germany and it features German C50 high grade carbon steel, making it extremely durable. Furthermore, the head has been forged, heat-treated and oil-hardened for maximum strength as is indicated by the material’s 53-56 HRC Hardness rating. The Helko crown has also been hammered into the cheek of the head so there’s mistaking who made this quality splitting axe.
Investing in the Helko Werk Hinterland comes with other benefits too. You get a vegetable tanned leather sheath for covering the blade and a small bottle of Axe-Guard protective oil. If versatility appeals to you, then this is the best log splitting axe you can buy.
What we liked:
Double edged axe for versatile applications
High-quality construction featuring grade A American hickory and C50 high grade carbon steel
Supplied with sheath and protective oil
What could be better:
Not ideal for tall individuals due to shorter handle
The Hudson Bay Bad Axe Boy’s Premium Velvicut Axe is not nicknamed the “Bad Axe Boy’s” for no reason; it simply takes improved performance to the next level. This has the ideal size and shape for camping, hunting and hiking expeditions. At just 3.5lbs and a small handle length of 28 inches, this tool is small enough to pack and transport, yet big enough to get the job done. Furthermore, it arrives razor sharp so it’s ready to use out of the box.
The head is forged out of 5160 grade alloy steel. The bit has also been treated and quenched about an inch from the cutting edge, and then tempered for superior edge holding and robustness. The hardness rating is RC 52-56, which guarantees super strength for felling large trees. A light oil coating is also applied to the head to protect against rust.
The 28-inch handle is crafted from grade A American hickory, which is grain oriented and has a high density, making it very strong. It is also coated with Linseed oil, which not only protects the handle but also gives it a shiny surface that shows off the grain of the wood.
Major add-ons include a leather sheath for safe storage and a buckle for fastening the tool during transportation. A belt slit is also included.
To sump, this mid-sized tool is a great recommendation for splitting small wood for a cook stove when camping. It is pretty much affordable too.
The Ochsenkopf OX 440 H-2708 Champion axe is especially designed for the demands of Timbersports competitions. With a mid-range sized handle measuring 31.5 inches, this axe suits both short and tall players. The handle material is none other than high-grade hickory with an ordinary look and curved design at the bottom for excellent grip. Perfect balance plus the ability to cut any size of wood are the real benefits owing to this hickory handle.
The axe head is made of special steel that has been hand-forged to achieve maximum solidness. The head widens outwards, resulting in a 7.5-inch wide blade that is easy to penetrate wood grain with minimum force. It also arrives razor sharp, specially grounded by Ochsenkopf’s proprietary technique to ensure a durable splitting axe that will remain sharp longer and virtually last forever. A leather blade protector is a useful addition for safety reasons when the axe is out of use.
Worth mentioning is that this splitting axe should never be used for cutting frozen wood but only soft wood. Frozen wood can damage the blade over time and that’s something you definitely don’t want to happen.
So if used appropriately, the Ochsenkopf OX 440 H-2708 Champion is an absolute brute. It is carefully crafted and arguably the best size axe for splitting wood. If money is no object and, in particular, if you need to stay ahead of the game, then this is the real deal.
The Leveraxe Classic – The Smart Axe is a genuine example of a modern axe featuring an attractive red colour head and black colour handle. Not only does it have the looks but it’s also a workhorse.
It features an impressive double head design which may be confusing to work with at first. However, this special design prevents the axe head from bounding over the wood when you’re cutting it. Moreover, it will allow you to pull out the axe easily in case it gets stuck in wood. The vital thing about this axe is that it can cut logs of any sizes. In fact, the head fits nicely into the wood and cuts it into your desired pieces. Men and women alike can split firewood with ease using this axe.
The hole of this splitting axe is larger than traditional axes, thus restraining the axe from swinging over the head. 36 inches of handle length offer comfort in use and you don’t have to swing it too high to deliver enough splitting force. The handle is engineered from polyamide composite plastic, which is characterized by improved strength, thermal resistance, and shock absorption. The most impressive thing about this handle is that it can has the ability to cope with extremely low temperatures. Note that the handle is hollow, making it lightweight and, in turn, assists in building up speed when in action.
The axe also comes with a top grain leather sheath, while a 10-year warranty says enough of the manufacturer’s confidence in this tool. If you come from a winter based country and looking for the best log splitting axe, consider the Leveraxe Classic – The Smart Axe. It will supply your firebox with finely cut logs for warming your house.
The Hults Bruk Arvika 5 Star Racing Axe is the only axe remaining in ‘Five Star’ range of axes made by Hults Bruk. This axe is typically meant to stand up to Australian hardwoods and it’s commonly used as a racing axe at Timbersports.
The overall length of this axe is 32 inches and the handle is made from solid American hickory with a perfect grain orientation. The handle thickness is near perfect; thin enough to be comfortable in hand but thick enough for any large splitting axe. Another thing we like is the shape of the palm swell with a defined nob for improved grip.
This axe boasts a massive 4.5lbs steel head that is hand-forged withstand abuse for years. The blade measures 5.5 inches, allowing you to make large V-shaped cuts in knotty, hard or frozen wood. The hickory handle is mounted onto the head with a steel and wooden wedge.
If you need a dedicated axe for splitting wood, felling trees and for professional use, the Hults Bruk Arvika is a great consideration. The budget won’t hurt either and the quality is unbelievable.
What we liked:
Available at budget price
More defined nob for enhanced grip
High-grade hickory handle
What could be better:
Things to Сonsider
Many people may not consider an axe a modern tool but it’s still going to be around for a long time, and as long as we rely on wood burning stoves to warm our houses. Some of the uses of splitting axes include splitting junks of firewood, tree felling, and cutting bushes. Not all axes are made the same though and having the right information can help you select an ideal splitting axe. Luckily, this buying guide will put you on the front foot when shopping.
What is a splitting axe?
A splitting axe is a tool with a conical head made of steel and for the most part weighing anywhere 3 to 6 lbs and mounted into a handle. It is intended to split wood along its grains so as to break the strands apart, unlike the conventional axes that cut timber across its grains. When you swing the axe above your shoulders and bring it down, you produce a force at its head which causes the wood being 0hit to come apart.
The handle of a splitting axe is usually made of wood or composite material like the one on the Leveraxe Classic – The Smart Axe. Wooden handles boast an impressive aesthetic appeal, however, some are prone to breaking due to immense impact or heavy use. Composite handles, on the other hand, are incredibly durable. Note that the handle influences the overall weight of the tool depending on its material and length.
Sharpening an axe blade is much like sharpening a maiul’s blade.
If you are doing it at home, then make sure to clamp down the axe for safety reasons. In a clamped position, file each side of the edge using a heavy-duty sharpener. Be sure to push against the edge and not pull into it.
We highly recommend following manufacturer’s instructions or YouTube videos on properly sharpening the blade.
How to choose handle length that suits you
While most people think longer handles offer more powerful swings, they may be uncomfortable and troublesome to work with, especially for short men. Short handles actually give better control and improved accuracy.
The standard handle length is 36 inches but more or less you can select the right length according to your height. In most cases a 6 feet tall person will do just fine with the 28’’-31’’ long handled axe.
Features to consider while choosing a seam iron
To ease your doubts about what is an important information you need to know for choosing the perfect splitting axe, we’ve selected the most essential features that will help to make a sure buy
No doubt, heavier axes deliver the most power for splitting wood or felling trees. But, there’s no point purchasing a heavy tool if you can’t handle it and, indeed, some axes are quite heavy.
The handle length is an important factor to consider because it provides balance and enables you to perfectly target the piece you want to split. The length determines the amount of force you can produce by swing the handle. A good splitting axe has a handle ranging from 31 to 36 inches. Also, go for the longest handle if you are very tall, and vice versa.
Typically, there are three types of handle material; high-grade hickory and composite plastic. Both materials will likely have a varnish on them, which can be sanded down to improve the grip. While wood may splinter over time or due to improper use, composite material has no such issues. Choosing the handle material comes down to personal preference in most cases and what you feel comfortable while working.
Imagine your hands slipping around on the axe handle while it’s over your head! Dangerous is the word. So be sure the axe handle fits comfortable in hand and the grip is perfect, even when your hands are sweaty. The Gränsfors Bruks Splitting Axe 445 excels in this department.
What steel to use for a head?
Most steel heads are made out of forged steel. Forged steel is an alloy of iron and carbon that is compressed under very high pressure to make an extremely hard and tough substance. In splitting axes, forged steel make the strongest heads that will last virtually forever.
When a heavy head is coupled with a long handle, the result is a powerful cut. This is perfect for felling trees, but not exactly what you want for a camping axe. Generally, a heavy head of about 7 pounds produces more force and are great for cutting, such as the the 7.3-pound on the Ochsenkopf OX 440 H-2708 Champion axe. Beginners are better off with a 3-pound axe head.
The best wood splitting axe ought to come with a sheath, at least for protecting the user or passersby from a sharp blade lying around, mainly when the axe is not being used. However, an axe head sheath is not like any other; consider one that’s made from full-grain leather since it will never come apart, while ensuring maximum protection at the same time.
A solid piece or a multi-piece
Solid axes are safer to use because the head and handle are literally one thing. With a multi-piece, the head and handle can come apart and some people argue that it’s to sharpen the head this way. However, there’s the risk of the head flying off accidentally. Again, this is a personal preference factor.
Single bit or double bit
A single bit is the way to go for most people but if you want the most bang for your money, go for a double bit axe. A double bit offers versatility and a more balanced swing owing to the fact that both ends of the head are of equal weight and length. So instead of having multiple single bit axes for various tasks, a double bit splitting axe can suffice in most applications.
Any axe would do really though it’s possible to find brands making their axes in right-handed and left-handed configurations. In such cases, the right-hand axe is designed to be used on the right side of the log. A right hand axe comes with a head that is flat on the left side plus a handle that deflects to the right. In contrast, a left hand axe head is flat on the right side with a handle that deflects to the left in order to cut a log.
You can do the hickory handle great service with frequent coating using teak oil or boiled linseed oil. Never use raw linseed oil since it takes too long to dry and leaves the surface sticky. You can use a small paintbrush or rag to rub the oil on the handle’s surface.
You probably won’t need to replace the handle if you look after it well. You can still replace the handle in case it splinters or breaks in the rarest scenario. If you have a one-piece model, then forget about replacing anything because the parts are permanently joined together. Otherwise, you will be forced to purchase a new axe should any serious damage happen.
All the splitting axes above are high-quality with some guaranteed to offer lifetime value. We believe you are now familiar with the top brands and other specifications of wood splitting axes. We would like to point out that the Gränsfors Bruks Splitting Axe 445 is our ultimate pick. The 20-year warranty really caught our attention and we trust the tempered head will surely last forever. We also like the fact that it comes with a protective sheath and the handle length is just perfect. This model simply stands out as the best splitting axe available.
We also recognize the advantages of the double bit Helko Werk Hinterland axe not only because of its versatility, but also the high-quality construction featuring grade An American hickory handle and strong steel head. It strikes hard and splits greatly!
Lastly, we highly recommend the Hults Bruk Arvika for anyone on a budget all day long. It is strong and with a decent handle length of 32 inches.
If you would need an alternative, you can always consider buying a splitting maul or felling ax to help with your tasks.
Overall, your requirements will determine the kind of splitting axe that you need. Hope the ton of information above was helpful.