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If you’ve ever split wood before, especially for a longer period of time, then you know exactly how exhausting it can be. Using a tool like a splitting wedge speeds up the process and makes it less physically demanding.
If you’re looking for a traditional splitting wedge, you can’t go wrong with the Estwing Sure Split Wedge or Hooyman Splitting Wedge. The Collins Diamond Wedge and Truper Super Splitter are the best choices among diamond, grenade, and torpedo wedges.
Each of these four has quality construction, holds up over time, and splits wood both efficiently and effectively. In the sections that follow, we’ll break down everything you need to know about splitting wedges and talk about our top choices.
In this buyer’s guide, I’ll be reviewing the splitting wedges listed in the table below.
|Wedge||Type / Rating|
|Estwing Sure Split||Traditional|
|Truper Super Splitter||Diamond|
Why You Need A Splitting Wedge
Splitting wedges help you cut wood into halves or quarters by driving down into the wood fibers and forcing them apart, expanding the break until the log or wood splits.
Despite what modern media would show you, it’s not actually that easy to heft an axe and cut clean through a piece of timber. The most efficient (and effective) way to cut wood is to actually use a splitting wedge.
Though not technically necessary, splitting wedges have several benefits:
- Easier Cutting – Splitting wedges make the process of cutting wood easier and helps you leverage your natural strength and tools to their best effect.
- Extended Lifespan – Using a splitting wedge can preserve other cutting equipment such as mauls and axes. These tools take more force and time to cut wood, wearing them down and potentially shortening their lifespan or increasing the cost of maintenance over time.
- Clean Splits – As a bonus, wedges split the wood more cleanly than other tools. Instead of swinging an axe multiple times and cutting in multiple different places, the splitting wedge creates one cut that’s continually deepened.
- Safer Process – Splitting wedges create a safer cutting process because they give you a larger target to swing at and reduce the amount of time and energy you need to put into splitting. Both of these reduce the chances of an accidental injury.
These aren’t the only benefits of a splitting wedge, but they are four of the most important. So while splitting wedges aren’t must-have’s, they certainly should be on the top of your wish list.
How To Select A Splitting Wedge
Choosing a splitting wedge will depend on a variety of factors, such as your budget, needs, and current equipment. Splitting wedges range from basic models to more advanced versions, such as those with four-way splitting designs.
The best splitting wedge will meet your splitting needs (halves, quarters, etc.) while holding up to the repeated use it’s undoubtedly going to get. It should be easy to initially drive into the wood and be able to handle splitting different types of wood.
Material, cost, and shape/type are a few elements to keep in mind when selecting a splitting wedge, all of which are covered more in-depth in the sections below.
Splitting wedges are made of hardened steel so that they can handle repeated impact from an axe, maul, or other tool. They may also be made of aluminum,
Each material has both pros and cons:
- Steel – Steel is the strongest material and most robust when it comes to impact, but doesn’t hold up as well in cold temperatures. If used in freezing temperatures, it’s actually possible that a steel wedge may freeze and break.
- Aluminum – Aluminum holds up better to extreme temperatures, but is lighter and therefore less effective. It’s also softer, which means that it may need to be replaced sooner than a steel variant.
- ABS Plastic – If you come across a wedge that’s made of ABS plastic, double-check the product: it’s probably a felling wedge and not a splitting wedge. This is a very important difference since splitting and felling wedges aren’t interchangeable.
And among each material itself is a range of hardness. For example, there are some types of steel that are harder than others, which will affect the wedge’s overall performance and longevity.
The quality of a splitting wedge is tied to the material it’s made of, but that’s not the only factor at play.
Splitting wedges come in different shapes depending on their function. Some come in the traditional three-sided web shape (reminiscent of a block of cheese) while others are shaped differently to split the logs into quarters. Special features and dual functions may also affect the shape of the splitting wedge.
Here’s a basic rundown of some different splitting wedges:
- Traditional – This traditional splitting wedge works well. Though it may struggle with knotty wood, it’s easier to initially break into the tree because these wedges stick well.
- Diamond – These splitting wedges don’t initially stick to wood very well, but they’re considered more effective and faster-acting than traditional wedges. They’re also the recommended method for dealing with tough knotty wood.
- Felling – Felling wedges are distinctly different from splitting wedges; they should only be used to fell a tree, not cut through wood or split logs. These types of wedges won’t hold up to being repeatedly hit with a maul or axe.
- Universal – These wedges can be used for both felling and splitting. But the tradeoff for this versatility is that universal wedges aren’t as effective as specific types of wedges.
Another term for a diamond wedge is a wood grenade wedge. As such, you’ll often see them used interchangeably. However, diamond is the more common of the two. Less commonly, you’ll see them referred to as a torpedo-type wedge.
No one type of splitting wedge is “the best.” Each is designed for a specific splitting method and has its own benefits and drawbacks.
Instead of focusing on which type of wedge is objectively better, think about what your current and future splitting needs are. From there, choose the wedge that fits these needs.
This will essentially boil down to the type of wood you deal with most often and how you want it split.
If you just work with softer woods and are turning them into firewood, then traditional wedges will work. But if you’re working with hard or knotty woods and need them broken into smaller pieces, such as for kindling, then a diamond or grenade is the way to go.
Size & Weight (Dimensions)
The dimensions of a splitting wedge (size and weight) can influence its performance, efficiency, and longevity.
- Size – Thinner and longer wedges are more effective than wider and shorter wedges. This is because the former is able to transfer more force from your swing into the wood.
- Weight – Wedges can weigh anywhere from 3 – 5 Ibs usually, but 4 Ibs is the most common weight. Anything outside this range will affect how easy it is to maneuver and actually split the logs.
For heavier and knotty wood, err toward a larger and heavier splitting wedge. For softer woods, go with a smaller and lighter wedge.
Splitting wedges can cost anywhere from as low as $15 to over $50 depending on the material, brand, and features.
Keep in mind, expensive wedges aren’t necessarily the best ones. Price is tied to a variety of factors, not just quality. But compared to other woodworking equipment, such as the axes themselves or electric grinders, splitting wedges are cheap.
Because of this, it’s a worthwhile investment to get two instead of one. Buying two wedges has its own benefits:
- If a wedge gets stuck, you can use the second one to finish splitting the wood and retrieve your first wedge.
- Similarly, you can use a second wedge if the first one isn’t effective enough to split the wood.
- If your wedge is dull and you don’t have any sharpeners on hand, you can switch to the second wedge.
- When splitting particularly large logs, you can set the wedges up in a line and “leapfrog” from one to the other.
A splitting wedge is an investment in an easier cutting process overall. So to protect your investment, it’s useful to buy two wedges. Chances are, you’re more likely to need a second wedge than you think.
To cover absolutely all your bases, you can buy three wedges: two traditional ones and a non-traditional one, such as a diamond or felling wedge (covered in the next section).
Our Picks For The Best Splitting Wedges
There are a wide variety of different splitting wedges, but here are our top picks: the Estwing Sure Split, Hooyman Splitting Wedge, Collins Diamond Splitting Wedge, and Truper Super Splitter Wedge. Below is a quick reference chart for each of our choices:
|Estwing Sure Split||Traditional||Hardened Steel||8.9” x 2.5” x 1.8” (5 Ibs)|
|Hooyman Wedge||Traditional||Hardened Steel||9” x 2.25” x 1.75” (5 Ibs)|
|Collins Diamond||Diamond||Heat-Treated Carbon Steel||7” x 3” x 3” (4 Ibs)|
|Truper Super Splitter||Diamond||Heat-Treated Carbon Steel||3” x 6” x 3” (4 Ibs)|
Keep reading for more information about each specific type of wedge and why we think it’s one of the best wedges currently available on the market.
Best Traditional: Estwing Sure Split Wedge
The Estwing Sure Split Wedge combines a streamlined look with tons of features, packing in as much functionality as possible into this 5-pound wedge.
An isocore system reduces shock and recoil, while small ‘wings’ shuck the wood away from the wedge and striking surface as you use it. Topping this off is a hand-sharpened head that makes the start of the splitting process as easy as possible.
The most common complaint about the Estwing wedge is that it’s made of softer steel, which can produce metal splinters or warp if you’re not careful.
Best Heavy-Duty: Hooyman Splitting Wedge
The Hooyman Splitting Wedge is specifically made with heavy-duty work in mind. It’s constructed of solid 1045 high-strength, drop-forged steel with a 45 – 60 hardness value (HRC). Backed by a lifetime warranty, it’s obvious that this wedge is ready for whatever you throw at it (or split with it, as it were).
And like any well-crafted splitting wedge, it’s longer and thinner to help split wood more easily. But a drawback to this is that there’s a smaller striking surface than on other wedges, making it harder to accurately strike the wedge.
In case you’re worried about damage to the splitting wedge, you can take confidence in the fact that it’s covered by a Limited Lifetime Warranty.
Best Diamond: Collins Diamond Splitting Wedge
Among diamond splitting wedges, it doesn’t get better than the Collins Diamond wedge. This splitting wedge is perfect for creating smaller kindling and quarter rounds, though you can also use it to produce basic halves.
It’s made of solid heat-treated carbon steel with an insulation sleeve for added protection and shock absorption. A sharp point, broad striking head, and jagged fins make it easy to drive into wood and keep it there as you work.
But even with these features, users report that some shifting is common with the Collins wedge since the ‘teeth’ on the fins don’t always bite into the wood very well. And if strike this wedge before it’s properly seated, the head has a tendency to bend.
Diamond Runner-Up: Truper 33040 Super Splitter Wedge
The Truper Super Splitter Wedge is a serious contender in terms of diamond wedges and affordable splitting accessories.
It’s crafted with drop-forged, heat-treated carbon steel for durability and longevity. It has ‘teeth’ that line the four blades to help prevent it from shifting when you first place it in the wood, but nothing as extensive as the Collins Diamond option.
Like the Collins Diamond, users also reported shifting with this wedge. And despite being made of the same type of material, there was an increased chance of warping based on the reviews online as compared to more higher-end wedge options.
There are also 3 Ib and 4 Ibs versions available and a regular wood splitting wedge option instead of the super wood splitting wedge.
When To Use A Splitting Wedge
You may not need a splitting wedge with smaller logs or stumps, or with softwoods like pine and fir. But for any larger pieces of wood, knotty wood, and hardwood, it’s easier to use a splitting wedge. This saves you from having to employ mauls or other heavy equipment, which are effective but require more physical force.
It’s best to use a splitting wedge whenever you have multiple pieces of wood to split, rather than just a log or two. If you’re going to be working on lots of wood or for a longer period of time, a splitting wedge makes the overall process easier and more efficient.
Using a splitting wedge also means you won’t be wearing down your axes or risking breaking your tools, such as the axe handle.
Related: The Best Felling Axes
How To Use A Splitting Wedge
When using a splitting wedge, place it in an existing crack in the log or piece of wood you want to split. If there are no cracks, you may need to hammer it in a bit with a maul or other piece of equipment.
Here are some tips on how to properly set up and use a splitting wedge:
- Placement – The wedge should be placed so that it lines up with how the tree grows. Don’t try to drive the wedge perpendicular to the fibers or across the tree.
- Location – Place the splitting wedge in the middle of the log or piece of wood, in the most central location possible. This will help you break the wood into even pieces and is most effective at breaking through the wood fibers.
- Preparation – The only time you’ll need to prep your splitting wedge is if the edge has become dull. While your wedge doesn’t need to be as sharp as an axe, it does need to be sharp enough to actually stick in the wood. If necessary, break out a file sharpener.
As you hit the wedge, it will drive deeper into the wood, eventually splitting it into two or more pieces.
Final Thoughts: How We Chose Our Top Picks
Despite varying in wedge type, dimensions, dimensions, and cost, all of the four splitting wedges we chose as our top picks offer superior construction with features that are designed to make the splitting process as easy as possible.
They’ve been thoroughly reviewed online and have held up admirably against their manufacture’s claims. All in all, any one of the wedges above would work well for years to come.