When it comes to summer camping in a cabin, or trying out that new fireplace you installed you are going to need wood. While you can just buy chopped up wood there comes a feeling of self sufficiency when you chop your own wood. Whether it is because you do not want to pay as much, or you live in a forest where supply is ample, you will want to chop your own wood, the hard part is trying to figure out what kind of axe you need to get the most efficient experience. (Scroll down to see our top pick for the best axe for splitting wood)
What we are looking for
For our axes we will need to look for specific qualities that are different when compared to other types of axes and their uses. A great wood chopping axe needs to have these set of specifications met. It is important for a splitting axe or maul to have specific features different from other axes.
It’s these minute changes to the head and handle that make tough splitting jobs a little easier with the right tools. A great Hunting Axe or Ice Axe both excel at their particular jobs, but splitting requires different strengths.
An axe that you use for splitting wood has to be durable, sure. But what we are looking for specifically when it comes to durability is how unlikely the blade head will move during a chop. This is important while splitting wood since you will have to aim in a specific location every time to get a constant chop. Because of this most handles will have an extra piece of wood inside the handle to keep the blade head locked without much trouble.
The material of the axe does not matter much when it comes to the durability, as most wood is made of a strong hickory or will be made of a metal or synthetic material. We will want to make sure that it resists water as often the inside of wood will be wet or damp which can cause our blade head to rust when used for prolonged periods of time.
Like I have said before, the material of out axe is not the biggest factor. There are great axes with synthetic materials and ones that are made out of wood. What we are looking for is the coating that is used on these axes. We want our axes to be water resistant, to prevent rusting the blade. We will also want the material to be able to handle slight bends and able to hit really tough trees so that they can be split.
Make sure your bit is sharp before you start splitting. One technique to sharpen an axe is to use a belt sander. This can be tricky if you’ve never done it before, here is a review showing you how to sharpen an axe with a belt sander.
The weight of an axe while chopping wood is important for a stamina reason. Most people will not use one chip and be done with it. Most will likely swing about forty or more times in one session to get every piece that they need for the week at the very minimum. Because of that we want to make sure our axe is light. On the other hand a heavy axe means that our swing will have a greater impact and will guarantee that the wood will be chop all the way through in one go.
What we will be looking for is a sort of balance. A lot of axes try to do this by making sure that the blade head itself is heavy as well as the end of the axe handle to ensure that all the momentum focus on where you will be cutting the wood. The handle side tends to be much lighter to compensate as well as make sure that overall the axe is slightly light, just enough so that you can use it multiple times without completely wearing yourself out.
The handle of most axes allow you to have at least one hand gripped around it so that you can swing it or throw it to the best of your abilities. With splitting wood axes on the other hand, it is almost always a good idea to have a long axe handle. This is for two important reasons.
The first is that you will want to have the ability to put as much force as possible in it when you accomplish your swing. This is not like throwing axes where you have to carefully aim your target from far away or wood carving tools that require more precise accuracy but you will have a larger, close by target with much more control to where you axe is going.
It is vital that you are able to let out your strong swing every time so that you can minimize the amount of swings needed to chop the wood as well as the amount of time spent splitting wood overall (Just a note, if you are splitting wood for a camp fire you should be able to split your wood in one swing, if it takes multiple swings either the wood is too big or your blade or swing itself is too weak.)
Because we want the strongest swing every time, that leads us to our second point. We want a long handle so that we can use both hands with it. This may seem more obvious but swing with both hands allows for a more stable swing as you have better posture and reduce the odds of hurting yourself from recoil.
Before you get to Splitting
While I appreciate how masculine this can be, it is always a good remind to have safety equipment on. Wood that is wet or dried up can shatter, causing the splinters or bits of wood to fly and hit you even from afar. Because of this it is a good idea to have a pair of gloves on and a pair of safety goggles. For clothing it is also recommended to have on long sleeve shirts and jeans to make sure that you are not going to hurt yourself.
When chopping wood itself make sure that you are in an area that is open and can obviously handle the swing of your axe without damaging anything important.
This is why a lot of lumberjacks do this on the stump of the tree that they just cut down. Make sure you have a pair of strong and sturdy boots to keep your footing and lift it over on should as if you were carrying a bad. They use a more specific lumberjack axe but the concept is the same.
Then lift it about your head and heavily swing the axe down the middle of the wood. You should be able to cut the log in half in one swing with great precision. If you cannot split the log in one go it might be a good idea to make sure that the log itself is of a small size, about sixteen inches.
As for what axe you should get, the best answer is going to be the Gränsfors Bruks chopping axe. This one hits all the marks in what we need; a long handle for both hands, great craftsmanship and a strong, resistant blade and handle. This axe is about 31 inches long and I guarantee that it will do the job that you want perfectly.
This axe will make sure that you can get the job done not just for months or weeks compared to throwing axes but for years. It is a tool that you can handle multiple times without causing damage to yourself or your surroundings. The price is going to be a bit higher than most tools but Gransfors Bruks has a history of strong, reliable axes that can do pretty much anything that you want!
check out this review from an experienced woodsman:
Note: Splitting wood and felling are 2 very different things. If you are looking for a good axe for felling large trees, check out this Gransfors Bruks American Felling Axe Review to see if this type of axe is more suitable for your needs.
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