Woodsman with Felling Axe

The 7 Best Felling Axes & Where To Buy Them

Felling trees is a task best suited for a special axe; the felling axe. With a sharp angle and high-quality steel, these tools are designed specifically for cutting down trees. The length of the handle, the weight of the head, and angle of the blade all play a role in just how deep it cuts. I’m here to help in selecting the best one for you. Whether that means you want the highest-quality felling axe or a general work-horse that will last you for years to come, I’ve got you covered.

One thing about axes is, there one for almost every job. Whether you’re a carpenter, splitting firewood, or replacing shingles,  there is an axe or hatchet designed to help you do that job. It’s the same with felling trees. A felling axe is designed to cut perpendicular to the wood fibers. Because of this, the bit is thin and the cutting edge is razor sharp. In contrast, a splitting axe has a steep angle, like a wedge. It’s meant to push the wood apart.

Now that you know the basic differences between a splitting axe and felling axe, let’s take a look at some of my favorite choices. I’ve listed them all directly below this paragraph. I’ll do a review on each one of the felling axes farther down the page.

Image Length Weight Name
Hults Bruk Atran Felling Axe 32″ 5 lbs Hults Bruk Atran Felling Axe
Helko Werk Germany Classic Forester 36″ 3.5 lbs Helko Werk Germany Classic Forester
Velvicut American Felling Axe 36″ 5.6 lbs Velvicut American Felling Axe
Gransfors Bruk American Felling Axe 31″ 5 lbs Gransfors Bruk American Felling Axe
Ochsenkopf OX 16 Twin-ILTIS 35″ 4.6 lbs Ochsenkopf OX 16 Twin-ILTIS
Husqvarna Multi-Purpose Axe 26″ 3 lbs Husqvarna Multi-Purpose Axe
Truper Premium Single Bit Axe 33″ 3.5 lbs Truper Premium Single Bit Axe

How to Choose a Felling Axe

When choosing the best felling axe for you, there are a few aspects to consider. The price of the axe is generally the biggest factor which determines the one you get so I’m going to start with that. The cost of felling axes ranges drastically, between $30 – $300. The materials play a role in the pricing and how its made. So the materials are the second thing to consider. Mainly, do you want a wooden handle or a composite handle? Also, the length and weight will affect your swing but because we’re dealing with a tool made for the task for felling, most of the axes have a similar dimension. Last but not least, you have the option of getting a single or double-bit.

Length & Weight

Both the length and the weight affect the amount of force you’re able to generate with each swing. Essentially, the more it weighs and the longer the handle, the more force you’re able to generate. The best felling axe has a long handle; around 30 inches in length. It goes without saying but, a hatchet isn’t fit for felling trees. It’s possible, sure, but it will take a long time using a hatchet.

As for the weight, most of it comes from the head. The head of a felling axe is thin, designed for cutting deep into the wood. Also, the task of felling trees is rarely accomplished in a short amount of time. Now, one or two small trees won’t take long but if you’re cutting down several large trees it will take a while. For this reason, felling axes aren’t overly heavy. They’re meant to be used for long periods of time so you can expect the overall weight to be between 3 and 5 lbs.

Be honest about your physical abilities and choose an axe that’s not too big or heavy for you. The most important thing is your safety and being able to comfortably swing the axe is a top priority.

The Materials & How its Made

Most of the felling axes I’ve selected are among the best of the best. This means they’re mainly drop-forged and handcrafted from the best materials; from head to handle. Having said that, I’ve added a couple budget options which utilize composite materials and lower-quality steel.

The tools on this page have handles made from either wood or a composite material (fiberglass). Wood is my favorite because it’s easy to replace if you happen to break it. It looks nice and it is comfortable, too. Composite handles are strong and comfortable but you can’t replace them when they break.

Another material we have to examine is the steel used to make the head. Because we’re talking about felling axes, the alloy in the bit, or cutting edge, is fairly important. It determines how sharp the blade can get and how long it holds an edge. This affects how well it cuts and how often you have to sharpen the blade.

Finally, how it is made greatly affects the price and cutting ability. You will see me mention “drop-forged” several times throughout this post. Drop forging refers to a method of hammering and shaping the steel. In most cases, a blacksmith places the head of the axe under the mechanically powered hammered, using it to strike or hammer the metal into shape. This is still considered a hand-forged tool. On the other hand, some are completely machine made, containing more imperfections.

Single or Double-bit

A single-bit is an axe with one cutting blade while a double-bit has two blades. If you’re wondering why on earth you need two bits on an axe, I’ll go more into detail about that in the following paragraphs. Double-bit axes are still useful and helpful today but they’re not utilized as much as they were a hundred years ago.

Before chainsaws, having a double-bit axe was a luxury for woodsmen. Having two blades instead of one meant they didn’t have to carry around two axes. You might be wondering “What exactly is the purpose of a double-bit axe?” Well, I’ll tell you by giving you two examples…

First, having two bits means you can use one side to remove the bark of the tree, which often holds a fair amount a dirt. Dirt will quickly dull your blade. With one side devoted to debarking the tree, you can use the other end for chopping and felling the tree. Second, you can have a felling axe on one side and a “limbing” axe on the other side. Fell a tree with one side and remove tree limbs with the other side. Having a double-bit allows you to have two angles; one on each side. This affects how the axe cuts and determines the purpose of the blade.

The Price

Last and certainly not least is the price. Coincidentally, all the previously mentioned factors affect the price; the length, weight, materials, how it’s made, and whether its single or double-bit. Because there is such a huge range in price, this is something to take into consideration. Even the lowest-priced felling axe on this page is decent but spending just a little more money will get you something worth keeping and passing on to family or friends.

The Top 7 Felling Axes Reviewed

Now that you know what to look for in a felling axe, let’s take a look at the ones I consider the best. One thing you should keep in mind is, many of the brands listed below make both a single and double-bit axe. Their weight and length will vary slightly, but they will have a similar quality to the felling axes below. So, if you prefer a double-bit over a single-bit, there is a good chance you can get one made by the your favorite company.

Hults Bruk Atran Felling Axe

Hults Bruk Atran Felling Axe

The Hults Bruk company is based out of Sweden and they’ve been hand-forging tools since 1697. They don’t cut corners. All their products are made using the best Swedish steel and American hickory handles. It’s important to note that Hults Bruk offers 5 different felling axes that I know of.  Their main difference is the head pattern, handle length, and head weight. Having said that, they’re fairly similar in design with the real difference coming from weight and length.

I chose the “Atran” felling axe because of the weight and length. With a head weight for 3.5 lbs and overall weight of 5 lbs, the Atran is a good fit for most people. Even the length is a nice, medium size at 32-inches. This is a good weight and comfortable size for your average man or woman. If you’re a hulk of a person, you may consider something a little heavier or at least with a longer handle. Here are some specs for the Atran felling axe.

  • Overall weight is 5 lbs
  • Head weight is 3.5 lbs
  • Handle Length is 32-inches
  • Hand Forged with Swedish Steel
  • American Hickory Handle
  • Comes with Leather Sheath

Hults Bruk makes some of the best axes in the world; the Atran is no exception. This felling axe is drop-forged and comes with a nice leather sheath to protect the cutting edge. It’s my all-around best pick for the top felling axe because of the quality, size, weight, and overall value for the money it costs. You can find them online for around $115.

Helko Werk Germany Classic Forester

Helko Werk Germany Classic Forester

Helko Werk is another brand with a long history of success. They began in 1844 as the Helsper Tool Factory. Their name changed in the 1930’s when a new partner was introduced to the company. Helko Werk is a German brand based out of Wuppertal and all their forestry tools are hand-crafted using the highest-grade materials.

This particular device is called the “Germany Classic Forester” which is very similar in design, length, and weight to the Hults Bruk felling axe we just looked at. This one is every bit as good, being drop forged with C50 high carbon steel and hung with American hickory. The handle length is 32-inches, which is a nice size for your average person. The head weight comes in at 3.5 lbs while the overall weight is 5.5 lbs. The head is polished steel and it comes with a nice sheath as well. Listed below are some of the specs.

  • Overall weight is 5.5 lbs
  • Head weight is 3.5 lbs
  • Handle Length is 31-inches
  • Hand Forged with C50 High Carbon Steel
  • American Hickory Handle
  • Comes with Leather Sheath
  • Includes 1 oz bottle of Axe-Guard protective oil

Helko Werk has three distinguishable lines of axes; classic, traditional, and vario 2000. This one is from their “Classic” line but they have other felling axes, too. The Germany Classic Forester is one of their best designs, well-suitable for most everyone. Having a 53-56 HRC (Rockwell Hardness) means you can get the cutting edge very sharp and it will hold that edge for quite a while. You can buy these online for around $164.

Velvicut American Felling Axe

Velvicut American Felling Axe

This is certainly an axe I’m proud to list on this page. It comes from Council Tool, which is a brand made in the USA. Typically their products don’t make my top lists because they’re often cheap and made with inferior materials. Not this one. Council Tool is stepping up their game by making a line of premium tools in their new “Velvicut” series.

You can tell the guys over there at Council Tool really took their time with their Velvicut axes. Take this one, for example, the American felling axe.  The overall weight is optimal at just over 5 lbs. The head weight is around 4 lbs and it is crafted using 5160 high carbon steel, which is great for holding a sharp edge. Here is where they win over the hearts of those who’ve spent some time around axes; Council Tool used the popular Dayton head pattern and they left the handle unfinished.

Now, an unfinished handle may seem like more work for you if you’re not familiar with the upkeep of a quality axe. Of course, something of this caliber has to have a sheath to protect the cutting blade but what about the handle? Well, boiled linseed oil is what you need. Get yourself a nice rag and smooth some boiled linseed oil over the handle. It soaks in, causing the handle to expand slightly while protecting the hickory from the elements.

Okay, so back to why the unfinished handle is important. Most company’s like to finish the handle with some type of lacker to protect the wood. It’s nice of them to be so thoughtful but most people, myself included, will tell you to scrape that crap off with a knife. And when you’re finished, treat the haft with boiled linseed oil. A lacker finish is slippery which can be dangerous when swinging an axe. So, the unfinished handle actually saves you the hassle of scraping a cheap lacker off the handle. Anyway, here are some of the specs for Council Tool’s Velvicut American felling axe.

  • Overall weight is 5.6 lbs
  • Head weight is 4 lbs
  • Handle Length is 36-inches
  • Hand Forged with 5160 High Carbon Steel
  • American Hickory Handle
  • Comes with Leather Sheath

I’m definitely proud of Council Tool for stepping up their game and giving us a nice, quality line of axes. Their labor doesn’t come cheap, though. This one is a little more expensive than the first two. You can find them online for around $225.

Gransfors Bruk American Felling Axe

Gransfors Bruk American Felling Axe

Perhaps the most well-known brand when it comes to premium axes; Gransfors Bruk. Their name alone is enough to send most woodsmen into a starry-eyed glaze for a few minutes. They’re a Swedish company that developed such a great reputation for their wood cutting and shaping tools. It all started more than 100 years ago in the small village of Gransfors. Nowadays, they have a few more employees and their production methods have changed slightly but they’re still making some of the world’s best axes.

Their axes are the finest made cutting devices available today. Careful attention is paid in the development process; from the hand-forged head to the American hickory handle and even the vegetable tanned leather sheath. Listed below are some of the specs for the Gransfors Bruk American Felling Axe.

  • Overall weight is 4.8 lbs
  • Head weight is 3.3 lbs
  • Handle Length is 36-inches
  • Hand Forged with Swedish Steel
  • American Hickory Handle
  • Comes with Leather Sheath

It’s easy to gush over the best-all-around felling axe but the price is important, too. It’s more than twice the price of the Hults Bruk felling axe. You can buy these online for around $300.

Ochsenkopf OX 16 Twin-ILTIS

Ochsenkopf OX 16 Twin-ILTIS

The Ochsenkopf brand, often called “Ox head”, always puts a smile on my face. Ochsenkopf is Germany’s oldest axe forge according to their website. They’re known ’round the world for their superior design, innovation, and those fancy colors. Most of their axes have a polished head with yellow and sometimes red on the handle of the axe.

I’ve chosen their double-bit axe for this list. The reason is that their double-bit axe is reasonably priced compared to most other brands. Each side of the head is uniform in thickness and shape. It’s not uncommon for a double-bit axe to have a thin side and a thick side, one meant for felling and the other meant for splitting. That’s not the case with this one. I recommend using one cutting edge for limbing or debarking while saving the other side for felling. Some of the specs are listed below.

  • Overall weight is 4.6 lbs
  • Head weight is 2.2 lbs
  • Handle Length is 35-inches
  • Drop Forged with High Carbon Steel
  • Hickory Handle

Like I mentioned earlier, this is one of the most reasonably priced double-bit axes and it is made in a quality Ochsenkopf forge. You can find them on Amazon for around $200.

Husqvarna Multi-Purpose Axe

Husqvarna Multi-Purpose Axe

This is a multi-purpose axe. While it’s not specifically designed for felling trees, it will play the part almost as well the other felling axes on the list. Most importantly, it’s quite a bit cheaper. This is one of the two budget options I’m adding to this page. Husqvarna’s wooden handle axes offer incredible value for the money. They’re hand-crafted and cost nearly half the price of the other hand-made axes. You’re probably wondering how this is possible and don’t worry, I’m going to tell you.

Husqvarna buys the heads, which are drop forged by another company, hangs them with a cheaper handle, and sells them at unbeatable prices. Sure, the handle might not be fancy but it’s hard to pass up the overall value. I’ve chosen this because it makes a decent felling axe but it’s really exceptional all-around. Whether you’re felling, limbing, debarking, processing, or whatever. Again, it’s very hard to beat the value Husqvarna offers for the price. Some of the details are listed below.

  • Overall weight is 3 lbs
  • Head weight is 2 lbs
  • Handle Length is 26-inches
  • Hand Forged with High Carbon Steel
  • Hickory Handle
  • Comes with Leather Sheath

The overall weight is just around 3 lbs, making it the lightest axe on the list. It’s also the shortest, having a handle with the length of 26-inches. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use, quality tool for felling trees and other tasks, this is the one for you. They’re sold online and various stores for around $84.

Truper Premium Single Bit Axe

Truper Premium Single Bit Axe

The Truper single bit Michigan axe is another general purpose axe and budget option. Its meant for a variety of situations, one of which is felling. While it’s not designed specifically for that task alone, it’s a cheap tool which is fully capable of cutting down trees.  Truper tools are known for being of a decent quality and very affordable. Often-times, their tools are the cheapest option available which is one of the reasons I’ve added this one to the list.

As you can tell by the picture above, this one has a fiberglass handle. In some cases, a fiberglass or composite handle is stronger than wooden handles but they’re not so easy to replace. Generally, once a fiberglass handle breaks it cannot be replaced and you need to buy a whole new tool. This is why premium-quality axes use wooden handles; they can be replaced for a small price. But enough about that, let’s talk about this axe.

Truper’s single bit Michigan axe weights 3.5 lbs and has a length of 33-inches. This is a great weight because almost anyone is capable of swinging it. The handle, as we’ve already established, is a comfortable fiberglass material. You may be wondering where the “Michigan” comes from or why it’s in the title of the tool. Michigan is the name of the pattern of the head. There are many different head patterns for axes, some of which are named after the states they originated in.

  • Overall weight is 3 lbs
  • Handle Length is 33-inches
  • High Carbon Steel Head
  • Fiberglass Handle

So, if you’re in need of a super cheap multi-purpose axe that is capable of felling a tree, the Truper single bit Michigan axe is worth considering. You can find them online and in various hardware and home improvement stores for around $30.

Conclusion

Felling a tree is fun but it’s hard work, too. Having the right tool for the job will both make the task more enjoyable and easier. Buying a nice felling axe isn’t difficult either, especially since most brands sell online nowadays. The Hults Bruk Atran Felling Axe is my top choice; its hand-forged, has a great design, weight, length, a nice American hickory handle, and a protective sheath. All of this for about $115. This is a bargain. Helko Werk and Council Tool’s Velvicut are great options, too. They just cost a bit more. Then there is the Gransfors Bruk, the best of the best but most expensive.

Ochsenkopf’s double-bit is nice and so are the two multi-purpose axes. Husqvarna surely won’t disappoint, it’s one of the best options on the page just because it offers such a great value for the money. Whatever option you go with, remember you get what you pay for. The Hults Bruk is the 3rd cheapest on the page and one of the best overall. I hope this page helped you find what you’re looking for. If so, please consider sharing with family and friends.

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