Best Axe for Cutting Down Trees


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Different tree length and thickness will determine the best type of felling axe to use. If the tree is small enough, even a well made hatchet will do the job in the hands of a skilled user. If you could only chose one axe for felling, I would say the Gransfors Bruks American Felling Axe is the best axe for cutting down trees.

Total Weight: 5.3 lb 
Head Weight: 3.3 lb
Length with handle: 35 inches
Handle: American Hickory
Steel: Hand forged Swedish high carbon steel
Country of origin: Sweeden

Current Price: See price on Amazon

Gransfors Bruks is known for their hand crafted quality. The company has been around for a very long time, making better and better axes over the years. Another company also out of Sweden known as Hults Bruk also make very good axes and would be Gransfors Bruks main competitor. Hults Bruk vs Gransfors Bruks is usually a long discussion among axe enthusiasts.

In our case, we are looking strictly at cutting down trees and I think Gransfors does the job better than anyone on the market. However, it still depends on what kinds of trees you are going to be cutting down.

Some smaller axes might work out well for you if you never need to go near a large tree. The opposite is also true for bigger axes. It makes sense to carry the right tool for the right job and not over pack.

Felling Small Trees

I consider small trees that can be cut down with an axe to be anywhere up to 15 feet max.

If the tree you’re cutting down is small and skinny enough to be considered small, a full sized felling axe will still do the job but might not be necessary. It’l work sure, but a smaller axe will be able to do the job just fine. When I say smaller axe, I mean something with about a 19″ handle. Using a smaller hatchet is still doable, but will take forever and be very uncomfortable.

If this is the primary tree size you will be dealing with, this Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe is a very solid choice. Gransfors hand crafts every axe in their lineup a little differently. Each one is designed to perform very well in different tasks.

A smaller, thinner, softer tree is a little different from a large dense one, and the axe design reflects that. The Small Forest Axe will still be ok for slightly bigger trees, but anything beyond that is in American Felling Axe territory.

Check out a more in depth small forest axe review here to learn more about its unique uses and features. The American Felling Axe is really designed for bigger and denser trees and is quite a bit heavier than the lightweight Small Forest Axe, not to mention the price difference between the 2 axes.

Felling Medium Trees

I would consider medium trees to grow between 15 -30 feet in length.

This is where the American Felling Axe really shines. In my opinion, there are plenty of other options when it comes to axes but this Gransfors is in a league of its own.

You can feel the difference when chopping with this axe compared to others. It takes bigger bites out of the wood, and has a very good grip on the handle in the perfect areas.

It is very difficult to find exactly the quality of Gransfors Bruks steel, but you can be sure its pretty high. Probably why they keep their process such a secret. This axe comes razor sharp right out of the box, ready for use.

This works well when combined with the long 35″ handle. The longer than handle, the more power behind the chops – since you can hold the axe further away from your body, it has a longer distance to travel before striking.

It’s not impossible to get the job done with other axes with similar specs to this one, the American Felling Axe will just outperform either by a little or by a lot. This Hults Bruk Atran felling axe and Helko Werk Classic Expedition found here  both make some good felling axes, and might be a secondary option if you decide not to go for the Gransfors Bruks American Felling Axe.

Felling Large Trees

Large trees are ones that grow beyond 30 feet.

Bigger axes work best for bigger trees. It will take a long time no matter the axe you use, but more bit sharpness and chopping power will save  you some time.

Not much difference between large and medium sized trees when it comes to axe selection. As the wood gets thicker with some bigger trees, some of the cheaper axes will be of no use. Steel quality plays an even bigger role here compared to medium sized trees. The American Felling Axe still gets a slightly deeper cut and has a great grip in almost any position.

The axe head itself is just over 7 inches and the cutting edge is 4 1/2 inches. The thicker blade works better on thicker wood, and although it wont slice through wood like a thinner and smaller axe blade might, for the larger trees it works very well.

The Gransfors Bruks American Felling Axe for sale will handle any size tree.

What About Double Bit Axes?

Double bit axes have 2 bits for the option of a sharper and a duller blade. Professional lumberjack axe needs to be a multipurpose axe that can hack around dirt or rocks  and limb the branches in addition to fell trees. Why carry 2 axes when you can have 2 bits on one axe.

Besides the practical axe use, double bit axe throwing is a real sport in certain places. Although the modern sport of axe throwing usually uses single bit axes only, double bit axe throwing is a very old game.

Having a double bit axe with both blades sharpened can be an advantage if you are doing something like building a log home. You will be able to do twice the work of a single bit before needing to stop and sharpen your axe.

Check out this selection of double bit axes and see if one of these would be good for you.

Tree Felling Tips

Make sure the tree you are chopping down is an appropriate one. Definitely do not just go around cutting down saplings or a random tree you feel like wacking at. If the tree is on a public or a protected land, better stay away from it.

The most common reasons for felling trees are if it is an old dying tree, if a fallen tree is blocking the road or if you are in need of firewood on a camping trip.

Once you have your tree picked out, there is really only one correct way to cut it down with just an axe.

  1. pick the direction you want the tree to fall
  2. Start chopping on that side, and do your best to get a 45 degree angle on your cuts.
  3. Don’t always chop the same way. High to low then low to high creating a notch.
  4. Stop when you’ve made it about 1/3 into the tree.
  5. Get around the opposite side and start on your second cut.
  6. Position your striking on the opposite side a few inches above the original 45 degree cut.
  7. Keep going on this side until you are about half way though, or even a little further.
  8. The hinge you’ve created will cause the tree to lean on the original cut and eventually fall.

Safety

General safety when it comes to chopping down trees is somewhat common sense, but here are the best practices:

Tie a rope as tight as you can going from the tree in the direction you want it to fall. This is optional but leads to a much more safe experience.

No need to cut straight through the tree. Always make wedges on either side and let gravity do its thing.

After making both wedges – be on alert! Trees have a tendency to come down unexpectedly. Keep you rears open and eyes on the tree at all times. Be ready to jump out of the way if you hear that creeking sound.

Use your head – following the steps above and using the best axe for cutting down trees should get the job done safely, quickly and effectively.

 

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