Whether it’s chopping, kindling or splitting firewood for a campfire, there are times when an axe comes in handy. Within the different types of axes – hatchets, splitting axes, mauls, felling axes, carpenter’s axes, historical battle axes, throwing axes and more – there are hundreds of models on offer. They’re not all the same, and each isn’t as good as the other.
As we said earlier, a splitting axe is designed to split along the grain of wood to break the fibers apart, not cut them. It has a tapered head, generally weighing between 3 and 6 pounds. When you swing the axe down, the force of the wedge causes the wood to split. Typically lighter than a splitting maul, a splitting axe can be used for a longer period of time. You can chose between a wooden handle or composite handle. Composite splitting axes are lighter than wooden ones, as well as more durable; however, both are fine options. Many people still love the feel of an old wooden axe!.
A splitting maul is essentially a huge sledge hammer with a pointed axe head. The maul head generally weighs between 6 and 8 pounds. Featuring a longer handle and duller blade edge, a maul bluntly splits wood through sheer force. However, the disadvantage of using a splitting maul rather than a splitting axe is the heavier weight. Because it requires more energy to swing a maul, you’ll get tired more quickly.
The additional weight of the ax head provides more force when swinging. This is why heavier ax heads – that way six, six and a half, and even seven-pound models – are used in wood-splitting and tree-felling competitions. But heavier doesn’t always mean better-suited to your needs. True full-size felling axes are 36 inches long, but that’s usually way too large for most people’s needs. Instead, consider getting a 31-inch full-size axe and 28-inch “boy’s axe”.
Hatchets are usually 18 inches long, and weigh around 1.5 to 2 pounds. Hatchets are a good, light, “all-round” choice when going camping. You can split firewood, chop down small trees and remove their limbs, and clear an area of brush and branches with a hatchet. For most people, that’s all they’ll ever need. Good hatchets are also usually less expensive than larger high-quality axes, so if you don’t plan on doing a lot of lambing, felling, chopping, or splitting of large pieces of wood, a hatchet will serve you just fine. The 14-inch hatchet is a must-have tool on camping or hiking trips.
The hardened forged steel blade stays sharp longer than traditional axes. The axes’ shock-absorbing DuraFrame handle is lightweight, but stronger than steel. And the insert-molded PermaHead will not loosen, so it prevents overstrike breakage.
Ultimately, personal preference, as well as the size and quantity of the wood you plan to split, will determine which axe to use. For very large chunks of wood, the splitting maul is a great choice, as its heavier weight will give you additional power. As a result, you’ll spend less time working! However, smaller users may find the heavier weight of the maul difficult to swing.
For smaller pieces of wood, or splitting around the wood’s edges, a splitting axe is the better choice. It’s lighter, easier to swing and performs similarly to a splitting maul. The wood-cutting pros at Husqvarna recommend you have both, as together they form an excellent one-two punch for your wood splitting needs.
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