Best Axes For Splitting Wood 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks
An ax is one of the most versatile tools for construction, camping, survival, and for enjoying your mountain cabin retreat – you’ll definitely want some wood for a fireplace when the nighttime chill settles in. But although most axes can do a suitable job of chopping wood, some axes are particularly good at splitting wood due to their shapes and balances.
Today, let’s take a look at the best axes for splitting wood. These tools are specifically designed for excellent balance and blade shape, offering excellent power and efficiency when you bring them down on their targets. Let’s get started.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Fiskars X27 Super Splitting Ax||
|Best Value||Estwing E30FF4 Fireside Friend Ax||
|Premium Choice||Helko Werk Vario 2000 Ax||
|Husqvarna 576926701 Wooden Splitting Ax||
|TABOR TOOLS J55A Splitting Ax||
The 10 Best Axes for Splitting Wood – Reviews 2020
1. Fiskars X27 Super Splitting Ax – Best Overall
If you need an excellent overall log-splitting tool, the Fiskars X27 Super Splitting Ax is your best bet. While it’s a little limited in its use (it’s not very good if you’re on the shorter side due to its length and balance), it’s phenomenal for splitting average for larger sized logs and is designed for utmost efficiency.
To this end, it has phenomenal balance and a good power to weight ratio, despite weighing only 5.85 pounds. The textured grip makes it easy to keep a hold of the ax even if your palms become sweaty from lots of exertion. Swing the ax once in a wide arc, and any fireplace-suitable log will split in two.
This is also partially because of the head’s double convex blade shape. In simpler terms, the blade’s wedge has a sharper and wider angle that grants it additional cutting power. Furthermore, the beveled head design means the blade won’t easily get stuck in a piece of wood, so it’s easy to keep swinging without wasting more energy.
Ultimately, it’s a phenomenal ax for splitting wood. Those who just need an ax for fireplace wood or professional loggers alike will find this tool to be exceptional.
2. Estwing Fireside Friend Ax – Best Value
The Estwing Fireside Friend Ax is one of the best axes for splitting wood for the money. It’s very affordable and is ideal for hobbyist woodworkers or folks who just need to chop up some firewood for the winter months. It’s a small ax around the length of a forearm, so it’s mostly suitable for chopping smaller pieces of wood. The hand-sharpened ax head is made of solid American steel for long-term durability.
More importantly, users will appreciate the shock reducing grip that will let you chop plenty of wood pieces before tiring out. The ax is weighted heavily on the head’s side to make swinging down even easier, and it comes with a nylon sheath for storage.
But that’s not all. The ax also comes with a splitting maul on the other side of the cutting-edge. The maul can also help you split through certain types of wood when a clean cut isn’t an option.
While it can’t split larger wood pieces, it’s a perfect hand ax for many and an excellent choice for budget-minded shoppers.
3. Helko Werk Vario 2000 Ax – Premium Choice
The Helko Werk Vario 2000 Ax is expensive but well worth it. Handmade in Germany, this heavy-duty wood splitting ax features a well-designed splitting wedge that allows it to cut through larger and longer wood pieces with incredible precision and power. The long handle, while making it harder to use for shorter folks, ensures that every swing delivers tons of force to chop through wood in a single strike.
The head is made of high carbon steel (higher carbon normally translates to better sharpness), which also ensures that the cutting head won’t get stuck in a wood piece. The handle, meanwhile, is made of American hickory wood that’s finished with linseed oil. This ensures that the handle looks great and feels smooth to the touch. We only wish it was a little more textured to eliminate the possibility of slipping.
The ax also comes with a full-grain leather sheath for safety and storage, plus a bottle of protective oil for the ax head. All in all, this 8.5-pound ax is a great choice for woodsmen or heavy-duty woodworkers who need something hard-core and long-lasting to chop through wood pieces for years to come.
4. Husqvarna Wooden Splitting Ax
The Husqvarna Wooden Splitting Ax is much more affordable than the last, and it’s 30 inches long: thus, it’s best used for small to medium-sized logs rather than larger pieces. The durability of the head, though, is perfect for chopping through thicker wood pieces so long as you use a two-handed grip. The head is secured to the wooden handle to avoid accidents.
The ax is forged in Sweden and the head is made with extremely durable Swedish steel. Properly greased, the ax will last for years to come, especially since the purchase comes with a leather cover for added protection.
The handle is textured but isn’t uncomfortable, and even has a hole at the end for hook storage. Ultimately, this ax is a perfect pick if you want a heavy-duty but smaller ax for home use, or for clearing away some types of trees with thicker trunks.
5. TABOR TOOLS J55A Splitting Ax
Want a longer-than-average splitting ax? Then the TABOR TOOLS J55A is perfect for you. At 35 inches long, it’s ideal for a variety of heights, and it offers one of the best-optimized blade shapes we’ve ever seen. This makes it perfect for tearing through medium to large-sized logs or wood pieces. It’s also one of the most efficient axes you can find thanks to its length and phenomenal balance.
This is partially because the head itself is exceptionally balanced, featuring special wings that prevent the head from getting stuck in wood pieces. The head is made with durable steel that’s further bolstered by a protective coat of anti-rust material. The blade can be re-sharpened fairly easily with standard files, though this also means you may need to re-sharpen it a little more often compared to other axes.
The handle is also great. It’s fiberglass, so it’s durable but lightweight, and it comes with a comfortable grip that will make the ax more difficult to drop, even if you have sweaty hands. The anti-shock design of the ax handle makes it even more comfortable, too.
All in all, it’s a great ax for splitting wood. We only wish that the head was a little wider, as this would make it even better for chopping through fatter logs for construction or fireplace needs.
6. Cold Steel CSAXE All-Purpose Ax
The Cold Steel CSAXE All-Purpose Ax is affordable and simple: an ideal tool for the craftsman or hobbyist woodworker who just wants something functional instead of aesthetically fancy. It’s 26 inches long, making it suitable for a variety of arm lengths, and it has a head made of high carbon steel. This affords the ax phenomenal durability and excellent sharpness.
It also features a wide enough ax head that you shouldn’t have any issues chopping through wider workpieces or logs with this tool. The European-style cutting edge bites through heavy or harder wood varieties without much trouble. We also like that the length isn’t too long or too short for general cutting work.
The handle, as well, is durable and comfortable and is made from American hickory wood. There isn’t, unfortunately, anything to stop you from dropping the ax, but it’s still an excellent cutting implement all-around when you consider its overall cutting efficacy.
7. MTech MT-AXE USA Camping Ax
This shorter-than-average ax measures in at about 11 inches, making it a perfect hand ax that’s ideal for chopping through smaller wood pieces. Although it’s small overall, it comes with an excellent, 3-inch wide stainless steel blade. Stainless steel is excellent for this case since it means the metal won’t corrode or rust over time, even if you get the ax wet from time to time.
The tool is compact and easy to store, making it an ideal choice for camping or exploratory use. Furthermore, it comes with a rubber handle that offers a comfortable and textured grip, plus some limited shock absorption. Ultimately, it’s a phenomenal tool for chopping down smaller wood pieces or branches and for gathering fire to keep warm through the night.
It also comes with a nylon black sheath for added protection, and it’s one of the cheapest axes on this list. It’s not, of course, the best for splitting through larger logs. Additionally, the stainless steel edge might be a little difficult to sharpen when the time comes.
8. WilFiks Chopping Ax
The WilFiks Chopping Ax is affordable and a perfect choice if you want to chop through smaller wood pieces for logs. It’s particularly well-suited for striking through kindling and the branches you would use to make a campsite fire. That’s because it’s made with a heat-treated blade that also comes with a black finish to prevent corrosion or rust over time.
It also has an excellent and optimized blade that’s perfect for cutting through smaller wood pieces without too much effort. The blade is fairly dense, adding some extra weight toward the head side of the tool. But the overall swing sensation is bolstered into the ax has an ergonomically curved grip.
The grip is also difficult to drop thanks to its rubberized texture. The head can be resharpened fairly easily, and the tool comes with an additional rubber protective sheet. What’s not to like?
While it’s a great casual cutting tool, it does dull a little more quickly than many will like. Other than this, it’s a solid, budget-friendly ax for splitting wood in our eyes.
9. Intertool Steel Wood Splitting Ax
The Intertool Steel HT-0275 Wood Splitting Ax is a little pricier than the last smaller ax we looked at, but it comes with an appropriately heavy-duty head that’s made of some of the best steel on the market. Even more importantly, this ax is built with a wide striking maul. You can, therefore, use this ax to cut through some of the largest wood logs and workpieces you can imagine, and it doubles quite well as a sledgehammer.
The ax overall isn’t that heavy since the handle is made of fiberglass, which is lightweight. We also like that it comes with a non slip grip: this is doubly important with a tool with such a thick head.
The overall balance of the ax is fairly smooth and effective, and the purchase includes a silicon cap for transportation and storage. The downside is that it’s not the most comfortable ax to use, lacking an ergonomic curve to the handle, and the hollow handle may break before the head, necessitating a replacement.
10. Gerber 31-003636 Power Splitting Ax
Our last choice is the Gerber Power Splitting Ax, which features a blade coated with anti-friction material to ensure that every strike is clean and the head doesn’t get caught in any wooden pieces. The head is made of forged steel, so it should stay durable for the foreseeable future.
We also like the composite handle, which features shock-absorbing materials to reduce the strain on your wrists and arms. Since the handle is 36 inches long, it’s ideal for delivering heavy blows to larger wooden pieces and logs.
However, be aware that the black coating on the head may fade or chip away in time, opening the tool to corrosive damage. In addition, the relatively high asking price is a bit tough to swallow considering that it doesn’t come with a cover or cap for the blade as most other axes do.
The right ax for you might not be the right ax for others. Keep these factors in mind to determine which ax is ultimately the one you should purchase compared to the others.
Length and Weight
The most important factors for any ax for splitting wood are length and weight. The length of an ax determines whether the tool is suitable for longer, heavier strikes – the kind you would use to chop larger pieces of wood or thicker logs.
Small vs Long Axes
Smaller axes are usually used with one hand and are better utilized for chopping down thinner branches and smaller logs.
Longer axes are better for chopping through thicker wood logs, like the kind you might stack in preparation for a long and cold winter. Smaller axes are better for general utility and can be used for general camping purposes or other construction tasks, like chopping through thick dirt or mud to construct a shelter.
However, neither is particularly good at doing the job of the other. So, it’s important that you get the ax that’s best suited for your unique needs.
Keep weight in mind as well. Heavier axes wear down your arms and wrists more quickly, though a heavier weight works well for longer axes you plan to use to chop through tons of wooden logs in rapid succession. More weight equals more striking power and a cleaner blow in many cases.
Blade Width and Shape
The blade width and shape come next. Wide blades or ax heads mean that you can chop through wider wood pieces in a single blow, while narrower heads are more suitable for chopping through branches and smaller wood pieces. They’re also usually lighter. Again, there’s no right or wrong answer here for every purpose – it depends on what you plan to use the ax for and what type of wood you plan to split.
The shape plays a role as well. Obviously, each ax head will be sharpened, but those heads with beveled edges are often better at withdrawing from wood without dragging. Sharper edges, as well, are normally better.
The material that comprises an ax’s head plays a big role in determining its overall value. For instance, heads made with high quality or high carbon steel are usually more durable and sharper than heads made with lesser quality steel. Similarly, heads that have anti-corrosion coatings on their surfaces will last longer (though the coating may eventually wear off after heavy use).
Handle material plays a big role in overall ax durability and ergonomics of a quality ax. While handle shape is important, whether or not the handle has any rubber or texture to prevent you from accidentally losing your grip on the ax is much more critical. This is especially true with longer and heavier axes that may slip away from you if your palms become sweaty after an hour of heavy chopping.
Make sure an ax you plan to use heavily has some kind of textured grip. Furthermore, try to find an ax that has shock-absorbing materials in the grip – this will allow you to use the tool for longer without becoming uncomfortable.
Does It Come with a Sheath?
One last factor to consider is whether a given ax comes with a protective sheath. The majority of the splitting axes above do come with either a leather, nylon or cloth sheath that goes over the blade. Having a sheath provides a number of benefits for the blade, including increased longevity, better durability, and better resistance to corrosive damage. Plus, a sheath for the blade or head prevents anyone from accidentally becoming injured if they run into the head or it slides around on a truck floor.
A sheath is missing from a few of the axes above and some others across the market. If you already have a sheath for your ax head, you may not need this. But otherwise, we’d recommend sticking with one of the axes that do have a sheath for the protection and durability it provides.
Over the course of our reviews, we found that the Fiskars X27 Super Splitting Ax is the best tool for splitting wood you can find on the market today, at least for those with longer arms. It’s lightweight and exceptionally well-balanced, and the head and handle materials mark it as a great piece of equipment that should last for a long time to come.
If you are in the market for an ax but you’re on a budget, we recommend the Estwing Fireside Friend Ax. This small ax is ideal for chopping smaller pieces of wood and is made of highly durable materials.
In the end, any and all of the axes above are great fits for splitting wood of varying sizes. Be sure to choose a tool that’s appropriate for the logs you want to chop, and you’ll find that prepping firewood for your cabin or campsite is easier than you expected.
Other Useful Guides:
- Wood maul vs axe: is there even a difference?
- Which axe do we recommend when it comes to felling trees?
Featured Image: Helko Werk Vario 2000 Ax, Amazon
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Axes for Splitting Wood – Reviews 2020
- 1. Fiskars X27 Super Splitting Ax – Best Overall
- 2. Estwing Fireside Friend Ax – Best Value
- 3. Helko Werk Vario 2000 Ax – Premium Choice
- 4. Husqvarna Wooden Splitting Ax
- 5. TABOR TOOLS J55A Splitting Ax
- 6. Cold Steel CSAXE All-Purpose Ax
- 7. MTech MT-AXE USA Camping Ax
- 8. WilFiks Chopping Ax
- 9. Intertool Steel Wood Splitting Ax
- 10. Gerber 31-003636 Power Splitting Ax
- Buyer’s Guide