The 6 Best Axes for Splitting Wood

Man Splitting Wood

Splitting firewood is a task dreaded by many but with the price of firewood increasing, most people find it worth their time and effort to pick up their splitting axe and make their own.

It may surprise you to learn that there are many types of axes and they’re all used differently.

Not only are they used in different ways, but they’re made from different materials. Some have a fiberglass handle while others are wood, the head is forged with varying qualities of steel, etc.

For this reason, I’ve created a guide to help you select the best axe for splitting wood. Having the best of the best is all fine and well, but this list is geared more towards people who want the most bang for your buck. I listed my favorites below.

ImageLengthWeightName
Husqvarna Multi-Purpose Axe26″3.0 lbsHusqvarna 26″ Multi Purpose Axe
Helko Werk Classic31″5.5 lbsHelko Werk Classic Axe
Ochsenkopf Splitting Axe27.5″4.0 lbsOchsenkopf 27.5″ Splitting Axe
Gränsfors Bruk Large Splitting Axe27″5.2 lbsGränsfors Bruk Large Splitting Axe
Hults Bruk Agdor Splitting Axe20″3.2 lbsHults Bruk Agdor Splitting Axe
Fiskars x27 Splitting Axe36″5.9 lbsFiskars x27 Super Splitting Axe
All links go to Amazon.

Possibly the most important topic to cover is this – do you want a splitting axe or a splitting maul? There is a difference. The following section will help you decide which is best for you.

Splitting Wood: Axe vs Maul

There is a difference between an axe and a maul. An axe weighs around 4 lbs while a maul can weigh up to 7 lbs. The shape of the head is different, too.

The “head” of an axe is the steel, cutting/chopping part. You can compare some of their differences with the illustrations below.

Axe

Forest Axe Head - Top
  • Weighs about 4 lbs
  • Thin head

Maul

Splitting Maul Head - Top
  • Weighs up to 7 lbs
  • Wedge-shaped head

On a maul, the head is heavy and blunt. It’s meant to divide the wood by pushing it apart with sheer weight and size. A maul is used in splitting the heaviest types of wood. They’re effective for firewood “rounds” with knots. The extra weight helps punch through.

A splitting axe weighs less than a maul. They’re easier to handle and take less effort to swing. They’re good for splitting smaller logs and felling trees.

Suffice to say, a splitting maul is a heavy tool. It’s something you break out when you run into a knotted hardwood or stubborn round.

Most people don’t enjoy swinging a maul due to their weight. However, if you feel a splitting maul is what you need, check out my post on the best splitting mauls.

What to Look for When Choosing a Splitting Axe

When choosing an axe, there are a number of factors that go into your decision. The first and foremost reason you’re here is that you’re looking for the best one for the money.

When choosing an axe for splitting wood, there are several factors to consider. This section is meant to help you make the right decision.

1. Overall Weight

The heavier the head, the more force you can generate. That being said, you don’t need a 9 lb splitting maul to split most firewood. The fastest way to take the joy out of splitting wood is to spend a few hours swinging something uncomfortably heavy.

An axe designed for splitting wood has a weight between 3 – 5 lbs, but most weigh around 4 lbs. For a lot of people, this is a great weight. It packs enough punch to get the job done while being easy to swing.

Opt for a smaller, lighter axe if you’re a small person. Even the strongest people find lighter, smaller axes easier to control and more enjoyable to swing.

2. Length of the Handle (Helve/Haft)

The haft is the handle, and this affects your swing as well. Some people prefer a larger handle as it generates a bit more force. However, the length doesn’t make an astronomical difference so long as it’s between 26 – 36 inches.

The most important aspect is your safety, and wielding something too large is frowned upon if you’re not the size to match. A 30″ axe is a great all-around length for splitting wood.

3. Materials

An important factor I’ll cover is the material from which the handle is made. Most of the brands listed here have wooden handles. There are plenty of options available for composite handles, which are lightweight and durable.

They’re more difficult to break than a wooden handle but, in most cases, they cannot be replaced. Also, most axes with composite handles are machine-made tools with lesser quality.

You will get more value from an axe with a wooden handle, in most cases. Aside from that, wood handles are generally the most comfortable on impact.

The Best Splitting Axes Reviewed

You’re looking for a splitting axe that delivers the most value for your money. Well, I have them listed below. The brands listed here have earned their spot here by offering incredible value with quality materials.

So, without further delay, let’s get into the reviews.

Husqvarna 26″ Wooden Multi-Purpose Axe

Husqvarna Multi-Purpose Axe

Husqvarna takes the cake for delivering the most bang for your buck. They combined the quality of a hand-forged head with a durable, American Hickory handle. What they’ve accomplished is very difficult to do for under $150 but they’ve managed to do it.

Now, the company doesn’t hand-forge its own axe heads. They’re purchased from another company. I cannot find a definitive answer on which company makes them.

Judging by the shape of the head, it might be the brand listed below, who knows? Suffice to say, they’re hand-forged and high quality.

Pros

  • Easy to handle
  • American hickory handle
  • Drop-forged head
  • Comes with leather sheath
  • Multi-purpose
  • Great price

Cons

  • The small size makes it less effective on large rounds

The handle is made from American hickory and comes with a leather sheath to cover the bit of the head.

As for the Husqvarna company? Well, they’ve been making things for more than 325 years. Husqvarna started as a weapons foundry but over the years they’ve produced a number of devices like sewing machines, bicycles, meat grinders, and more.

Nowadays they make some of the world’s best chainsaws, lawnmowers, trimmers, and of course, axes. Simply put, they’re masters at bringing together the best products at the most reasonable prices.

I’ve bragged about this axe for long enough. Let’s look at the dimensions and I’ll show you where you can get one for yourself.

  • Drop-forged head
  • Head weight of 2.2 lbs
  • American Hickory wooden handle
  • Comes with a protective leather sheath

It’s difficult to beat the price of Husqvarna’s hand-forged axes. Should you decide to get one, you won’t be disappointed. Oh, by the way, Husqvarna sells a line of composite handled axes. I’m sure they’re great tools, but this review only applies to the wooden splitting axe.

Alternatively, Husqvarna has a 30″ splitting axe and 32″ splitting maul, which are more suitable for chopping firewood. Unfortunately, they’re difficult to find online due to the demand.


Helko Werk Classic 3.5 lb Axe

Helko Werk Classic

Helko Werk is another company with a long history of making high-quality woodworking tools. Originally known as the Helsper Tool Factory, this brand was forged in 1844 by the Helsper family.

In the early 1900s, the company was already known for producing the best-of-the-best, exporting axes in America, Asia, and Africa.

As for how they became “Helko” was with the addition of a new partner in the early 30s, a partner named Kotthaus. Combine the first few letters from each name (Helsper & Kotthaus) and you get “Helko”.

All of their axes are hand-made from the head to the haft in Wuppertal, Germany. Helko Werk has a North America branch that sells the entire line of tools to the US, Mexico, and Canada.

Pros

  • Full-sized Axe
  • American hickory handle
  • Drop-forged head
  • Comes with a leather sheath
  • Great for splitting, felling, limbing
  • Multi-purpose

Cons

  • Can be difficult for small people to use.
  • Expensive

As for the 3.5 lb Classic Axe, well, it’s exactly what you would expect from one of the top axe manufacturers in the world. It’s top-notch. Every step is taken to ensure your axe is in perfect working condition.

From the reflective finish to the linseed oil-soaked handle, you can’t go wrong in getting anything from Helko Werk. Here are a few things I like about this tool.

  • It has an overall weight of 5.5 lbs
  • Has a head weight of 3.5 lbs
  • The length of the handle is 31 inches
  • Uses Grade-A, American Hickory
  • Comes with a Leather Sheath
  • Uses high-grade C50 Carbon Steel

Again, the axe is fantastic! It’s a full-sized, multi-purpose axe that is great for splitting, felling, and limbing. It also costs a little more than the others.


Ochsenkopf 27.5″ Splitting Axe

Ochsenkopf Splitting Axe

Ochsenkopf is also known as “Ox-head”, and they originated in Remscheid, Germany in 1781. They’ve been around for quite some time, making forestry tools like log tongs, can’t hooks, sappies, and axes.

In recent years, the company seems to have been acquired by Gedore, although its axes are still sporting the Ochsenkopf logo.

Despite any confusion with the brand, they produce decent-quality tools. In my opinion, they’re in the middle in terms of quality and price.

Pros

  • Full-sized Axe
  • Ash hickory handle
  • Decent price

Cons

  • Can be difficult for small people to use.
  • Ash handle

They’re made very well but not with the attention that goes into the axes from Gransfors or Hults Bruk. Having said that, their axes are more affordable than those other brands too.

I would recommend this for someone who wants a full-sized axe with a wooden handle and doesn’t want to pay too much. Another option is to see the Fiskars axe. It’s cheaper but has a composite handle. Both options are decent for their price.


Gränsfors Bruk Large Splitting Axe

Gränsfors Bruk Large Splitting Axe

This is one of the most well-known brands. They’re known for their superior designs and top-notch quality. Gransfors Bruk axes are premium tools, the best money can buy. As you can expect, however, you’re going to pay more for them.

While I think they’re worth the money, I haven’t placed this one at the top of the list because I don’t consider it the best for the money.

Remember, we’re looking for exceptional quality and a low price. This one, while it’s likely the best overall, also costs twice as much.

Gransfors Bruk is yet another company with a lot of history. Their first axe was created many years ago in what was originally a scythe forge. Johan Pettersson and his brother Anders Pettersson moved from Alvdalen, Sweden to Gransfors to set up a scythe forge. The brothers acquired another scythe forge which eventually became their axe facility.

As the demand for forest tools exploded in the latter part of the 19th century, this company made its mark on the industry by producing exceptional tools for every aspect of felling, splitting, and shaping lumber.

Pros

  • Full-sized Axe
  • American hickory handle
  • Drop-forged head
  • Comes with a leather sheath
  • All around best quality

Cons

  • Can be difficult for small people to use.
  • Expensive

As for this particular splitting axe, it has a 27.5-inch handle, it’s made with high-quality steel, and comes with everything you’d expect. The specs are listed below.

  • Overall weight is 5 lbs
  • The weight of the head is 3.5 lbs
  • Handle length is 27.5 inches
  • Comes with a leather sheath
  • The handle is made from hickory
  • Has a protective steel collar

The part I like the most about this large Gransfors Bruks splitting axe is the protective steel collar. You don’t see that on many wood splitters nowadays but it’s a great addition. Especially if you’re not very accurate at chopping wood. Repeated blows to the wooden handle will quickly wear it out but with the steel collar, you don’t have to worry as much.

What I don’t like about this tool is the price. It’s the most expensive one on this list, coming in at around $200. It’s well worth the money and probably the highest-quality axe on this page, but I don’t consider it the best for the money.


Hults Bruk Agdor Splitting Axe

Hults Bruk Agdor Splitting Axe

The Hults Bruk company has been around since 1697. They began creating items like nails and iron bars but eventually graduated into making quality tools like spades and eventually, axes.

Nearly two hundred years in operation and the ownership passed from the hands of one family to another. Eventually, however, in the late 1800s, it passed to the Ekelund family who began developing axes for the American market.

With the efforts of the Ekelund family and modern advancements in the 1930s, the tools created by the Hults Bruk company are now deemed among the best available. The company employs 20 people to this day and produces more than 100,000 hand-forged axe heads each year.

Pros

  • Very easy to handle
  • American hickory handle
  • Drop-forged head
  • Comes with leather sheath

Cons

  • The small size makes it less effective on large rounds

As for this model, it’s one of the best splitting axes in the world. Not only that, it’s reasonably priced compared to most hand-forged axes.

It has an overall weight of around 3.2 lbs, a head weight of 2 lbs, and a handle length of 20 inches. I can’t say enough about this tool. It’s a real gem, especially for the price. Here are some specs and what I like about it:

  • Has an overall weight of 3.2 lbs
  • Head weight of 2 lbs
  • Handle length of 20 inches
  • Comes with a leather protective sheath
  • The handle is American Hickory

It would be great to see a slightly larger version but this tool is great for light usage around the home or cabin. It’s especially good for younger people helping out around the house.


Fiskars x27 Super Splitting Axe

Fiskars x27 Splitting Axe

The final one on our list is Fiskar’s X27 Super Splitting Axe. It’s a bargain in itself. At the beginning of this page, I briefly wrote about axes with composite handles. As you can see from the picture above, it has a composite handle.

That doesn’t mean it’s a bad axe and if I gave that impression, I do apologize. The truth is, for the money you’re spending, it’s a great deal. I’ll be honest about the product, list some qualities, and I’ll tell you why you may or may not want this one.

The price is one of the main selling points for this brand. They’re readily available at many home improvement stores and online for $70 or less. At the time of writing this, it’s 32% off on Amazon.

Pros

  • Full-sized Axe
  • Composite handle
  • Cheapest

Cons

  • Can be difficult for small people to use.
  • Lowest quality

Not only that, you get free 2-day shipping if you’re a Prime member. To see this product on Amazon, click the link below. Otherwise, check your local hardware or home improvement store.

Another benefit Fiskars has is the option of different sizes. While this X27 has a 36-inch handle, you can get a 28-inch version for a bit cheaper. What I don’t like about it is this; If you happen to break it, you’ll be hard-pressed to replace the handle. You may as well throw it in the trash and buy a new one. Here are the things I like about it.

  • The overall weight is 5.9 lbs
  • Strong composite handle
  • The cheapest option on this list

Who is the X27 for? Well, it’s for someone who splits firewood on occasion and doesn’t want to spend a whole lot. You can often catch this on sale for less than $50 which is nearly half the price of the Hults Bruk.


Frequently Asked Questions

This section is meant to answer some of the most frequently asked quests about axes and splitting wood.

How heavy should an axe be for splitting wood?

A good weight for a splitting axe is between 3.5 to 5 lbs. This is considered a full-sized axe. Mauls can weigh up to 9 lbs and they’re effective at splitting, but they’re difficult to use. The most important thing is safety!

What is the best length for a splitting axe?

I’ve found that a full-sized axe, around 30″ in length is suitable for me. Some handles reach up to 36″ in length, and they’re good for large people.

Is a maul or axe better for splitting wood?

A maul will power through most wood. They’re especially helpful for knotted, dense hardwood and large rounds. They’re also exhausting to use. For this reason, many people opt for using a lighter splitting axe for chopping lots of wood. It won’t wear you out as fast and they’re good for most rounds under 24″.

TLDR; What Is The Best Splitting Axe?

All the axes on this page are great buys for the money. Whether you can’t or simply don’t want to spend much, Fiskar’s is a great option. If you can’t find it on sale for less than $50, I recommend the Husqvarna 26″ multi-purpose axe.

Even if you do find it on sale but you can afford it, get the Husqvarna or Hults Bruk – you won’t be disappointed. The Husqvarna, Hults Bruk, Helko Werk, and Gransfors Bruk axes will last forever, so long as you treat them right. Not only that, they’re great to pass down to future generations.

The bottom line is this; It’s hard to beat Husqvarna’s 26″ splitting axe in terms of the quality you get for the money.

When determining the best option for the money, it doesn’t mean the cheapest option is the winner. The winner offers the highest quality for the lowest price. In my opinion, Husqvarna is the clear winner.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.