Getting the right axe for splitting wood shouldn’t give you a splitting headache, but if you’d tried to shop online recently for these great products, you might have noticed that there are hundreds of options to choose from. We know that the amount of choice can be overwhelming, and it can make it hard to make a good decision.
We think that well-informed consumers can make great choices and find the model which is right for them. That’s why we’ve assembled this list of reviews of the best axes for splitting wood of 2020. With this guide, you’ll be able to learn all about these fantastic models and find one with the features you need at a price you’ll love.
We’ve also included a buyer’s guide, so you can learn to evaluate axes with an expert eye, even if you’ve never split your own wood before.
|Model||Price||Sizes Available||Editor Rating|
|Fiskars x27 36-Inch|
|Helko Werk Vario 2000||36"||4.7/5|
|Estwing Fireside Friend 14"|
The Budget Buy
If you’re looking for the best all-around axe, then you can’t go wrong with the Fiskars x27 Super Splitting All-Around Axe 36 Inch. This axe excels in every area you’d want an axe to excel. It comes with a strong composite handle, which manages to be both lighter and stronger than a wooden handle of equivalent length. It also comes with a great blade, which is coated with a low-friction coating, which helps it stay sharp for longer, and reduces the damage the blade takes over time. Plus, the blade is mounted in the head in a manner that will make it virtually impossible to separate the two, even if you’re really abusing your axe.
Overall, this axe feels well-balanced and makes it easy to be accurate and deliver powerful blows with your axe. That speeds up the process and leaves you feeling less worn out by the end of the process. Our only gripe is the handle can be slick at times. You can offset this by wearing gloves, but it would be nice to not have to. If you’re looking for an axe that does just about everything correctly, then you’ll be very happy with this axe.
The Helko Werk Vario 2000 Heavy Wood Chopping Axe is the model you want to get if want to take advantage of a heavier axe and your excellent strength to make the job easier. It’s one of the heavier models on our list, and that extra weight is directly transformed into power when you swing the axe. This model includes a curved shaft, which gives you more torque on each swing, and the shaft is long enough that you can easily two-hand it in a variety of positions. Plus, it comes with a high-quality carbon steelhead, which is one of the stronger and more durable ones you can find.
This model also includes a sheath, which is one of the better ones that comes included with an axe. What ultimately keeps this model out of first place is the fact that it’s expensive. If you’re only going to be splitting occasionally, then you’re not going to be able to get your money back in value with this model. However, if you’re going to be using it a lot, and are looking for an all-around high-quality axe, then you’ll be very satisfied with this one.
The Husqvarna 30” Wooden Splitting Axe could be at the top of other lists, and some people will like it the most, regardless of its flaws. This model comes with one of the best heads of any axe on our list. It’s forged by hand in Sweden, and the attention to detail shines through with this model. The blade tends to come very sharp, unlike with some other brands, which need to be sharpened right out of the box. Once you wear it down, it’s easy to sharpen, and it holds that edge well, so you go longer without having to sharpen with this model.
Also included is an axe cover, so you can keep the blade corrosion-free and protected when you’re not using it. This axe is heavier than some of the others on our list, even though it’s not the longest. Some people will like the extra weight, which adds some power to the swing. There are rare reports of the handle breaking on this model, so it’s something to keep in mind when you’re buying. If that problem were ironed out, we’d have no problem ranking this axe in the top two.
The Estwing Fireside Friend Axe – 14″ is a shorter axe, generally used more for reducing split firewood than for splitting logs in the first place. If you’re looking for something in that category, you could be very happy with this axe. This model comes with a shock-reducing grip, which is an underrated feature in axes that often leaves you feeling less tired afterward. It’s also forged in one piece, which makes it one of the strongest possible axes. Plus, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, so you can save money and get a useful axe at the same time.
It also comes with a sheath, so you can keep it safe when you’re not using it. What we really don’t like about this model is that its balance is off. In part because it’s short, and in part, because it’s metal throughout, it has a strange center of gravity compared to most axes, and it takes some time to get used to how it feels. If it could be made with better weight distribution, then we’d certainly like this model a lot more. As is, it’s still a good choice for people who want a short axe.
For the price, you’d expect the Gerber 36-Inch Power Splitting Axe to have few, if any problems. This model does have some good things going for it, including a blade with a low-friction coating that makes it easier to split wood without wearing down the blade’s edge. It also comes with a solid head-handle connection. It would be hard to separate the two without taking power tools to this axe. The handle is also shock absorbent. If you want to feel a little bit fresher at the end of the job, the reduced vibrations will greatly improve your experience.
However, this model suffers from quality control concerns. For the price, you’d expect it to arrive in pristine condition, but it sometimes comes with dings and scratches that indicate a lack of care in shipping. The handle is also subject to infrequent failure, which can be dangerous, but also means that the axe is irreparably destroyed. This isn’t the cheapest axe out there, so you’d expect that you’d get better quality control out of it. If those problems were fixed, it would be easy to rank this axe higher, but it’s not the right axe for most people.
The rest of the axes on our list are good enough that a decent axe falls to last place on our list. The TABOR TOOLS J55A Splitting Axe does have some good design choices, but it also has some poor ones that ultimately cost it some places on our list. Its best feature is arguably its fiberglass handle, which lowers the overall weight without sacrificing too much strength and it keeps the price low. It also comes with a good rubberized grip, which solves some of the grip problems found on other axes. Plus, it’s well-balanced, and you won’t have any trouble using this axe to the best of its abilities.
However, this axe is a monster, despite its fiberglass handle. It clocks in at eight pounds, which is far heavier than most people are looking for in their axe. If you’re not very strong, you won’t like using this axe. It also suffers from a small head, which makes it harder to split larger logs on the first try, which is something of a pain. In a vacuum, this isn’t a terrible axe. However, you have many options, and most people will be happier with a different model.
We hope that our reviews have already helped you find the model which is right for you. Of course, there’s a lot to consider when buying the perfect axe, so if you’re still not sure which one to get, make sure you check out this guide. We’ve designed it with beginners in mind, so if you’ve never owned an axe before, this is a good resource to consult before you buy. It’s packed full of great general information about axes, as well as some advice on getting great value for your money, so if you’re looking for a great deal, make sure you check out this guide.
While it may not seem like the most important feature at first glance, durability is something you can’t undervalue when shopping for an axe. It doesn’t matter how well an axe cuts, or how good it feels in your hands if it breaks within a few weeks or months of its first use.
The best axes can last for years or even decades of use, depending on how often you use them. The good news is that you can get an axe that can last a long time without breaking the bank.
When looking for a durable axe, it’s a good idea to first look at the connection between the head and the shaft. In the past, this was a common area of failure for axes, as it’s hard to hollow out wood to insert an axe head without reducing the wood’s strength.
Today, composite and metal handles take a lot of the stress out of figuring out which axes will last. These materials are stronger than wood, so they hold up better at the connection point. If you want to go old-school with a wooden handle, then you should look for a heavier axe, as denser, heavier wood tends to hold up better in the long run.
This is the category most people will likely have thought was the most important when shopping for axes. To be fair, it is very important. If you’re looking to take full advantage of what your axe can do, you’re going to need an axe with a great head.
However, the best axes aren’t always the sharpest ones right out of the box. Sharpness is sometimes used by manufacturers to disguise subpar craftsmanship elsewhere on the blade or axe. What’s more important is how long the axe stays sharp. That factor is related to both the material the head is made from and the quality of the craftsmanship that goes into it.
Another aspect that can extend how long an axe can go without needing to be sharpened is a low-friction coating. Some axes are starting to come with low-friction coatings, which makes them easier to remove from wood if your first splitting attempt wasn’t successful, but it also does a good job of reducing the damage an axe takes. Less damage to the blade means that it stays sharp for longer.
Between uses, you must keep your axe in a sheath or case. This reduces oxidation on the blade and helps it stay sharp for longer. Some models come with a sheath included, which can add a lot of value to the purchase.
Another area to consider is the handle quality. This is probably the area where you have the most choices today. You could go with a traditional wooden shaft, or upgrade to a metal or plastic shaft.
Wood shafts have the most traditional look, so if that’s something you value, you can’t go wrong with a wooden shaft. They also naturally absorb shock to some extent, which is something that can become a problem with metal shafts, which sometimes amplify the shocks. If they break, wooden shafts are the easiest to replace. However, they are the shaft type that is most likely to break in the long run.
Metal shafts have the best durability. If you want an axe that you can use for decades, then getting one with a metal shaft is a good idea. However, metal shafts add a lot of weight to your axe. If you’re going to be carrying it around for a while or using it for long stretches, that weight may take a toll on you. While it’s unlikely that you break a metal shaft, they’re very hard to replace, unless you’re willing to switch to a wooden shaft. Metal shafts are the most expensive shaft type, and they also tend to amplify vibrations, leading many models to adopt rubber handles to offset the effect.
Plastic or composite shafts are also on the rise. They’re not as durable as metal shafts, but they’re far more durable than wooden ones while being as light or lighter than wood. However, they can be expensive, and sometimes their general lightness leads to a strange weight distribution that will throw some people off. Like metal shafts, they’re going to be very hard to replace if they do end up breaking.
There’s a lot to consider when shopping for an ax, but it’s a good idea to start with your needs. What kind of splitting do you need to do, and what features on an axe will best help you have a great experience? Make a list with all axes which have those features.
Then, rank them by price. The lowest-priced model on that list is the one you should get. It has all the features you need to have to be happy in the long run, and it comes at the lowest possible price, making it the best overall value for the money for you.
The Fiskars x27 Super Splitting All-Around Axe 36 Inch is the best axe on the market today for splitting wood due to its strong handle, great blade, and balanced weight distribution. The Helko Werk Vario 2000 Heavy Wood-Chopping Axe comes with a curved shaft, a carbon-steel head, and a great sheath, though its high price keeps it out of first place. The Husqvarna 30” Wooden Splitting Axe comes with a hand-forged head, a keen edge, though its weight and poor handle mean it slides to third place. The Estwing Fireside Friend Axe – 14″ is a great budget buy for those looking for a deal due to its shock-reducing grip and its very low price. In fifth is the Gerber 36-Inch Power Splitting Axe which comes with a low-friction blade and a shock-absorbent handle, though quality control concerns and its high price cost it a few positions on our list. In last is the TABOR TOOLS J55A Splitting Axe which had good balance and a good grip but has problems with its weight and undersized head.
Hopefully, our reviews and buyer’s guide have helped you find the model which is right for your next job.
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!