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5 Best tools for making and splitting kindling

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I’ve been cutting and splitting logs and making kindling for around 15 years. I started doing this at my family garden centre, where we sell seasoned logs that we cut ourselves. Back in the day, we used a good old-fashioned hatchet and a smaller splitting axe like the Roughneck ROU65640 Axe, which is 1¼lbs for the kindling. These days I think there are much better ways for making kindling.

The Forest Master log Splitter I use to make firewood that I then use to make kindling

Over the last six years since having my log burner installed, I’ve found myself regularly splitting logs at home using my Forest Master electric log splitter, a great piece of kit and, more importantly, at least for this review, making my own kindling.

In that time, I’ve tried a few different tools for making my own kindling, from using a small splitting axe (old style) to my personal favourite, the Forest Master Kindling Splitter shown below. Let’s just say, I wish I’d bought one years ago! With this in mind, I hope my knowledge and experience will help you get the best tools for making your own kindling.

splitting firewood to make kindling and testing different tools
Probably one of the easiest ways to make kindling quickly

What I like about making my own kindling is that I can spend 10-15 minutes making some kindling from a handful of already split logs, and I’ve got enough kindling for the next couple of weeks. Combine this with one or two of my favourite eco-friendly wood wool firelighters using the upside-down fire method and a decent stove fan, and my log burner is super easy to get going. I use mine on a daily basis!

Before I get into my buyer’s guide and detailed kindling tool reviews, I want to talk quickly about some of my favourite tools I’ve used over the years for making kindling.

Using the Forest Master steel kindling splitter to make kindling
Forest Master Kindling splitter

I’ve already mentioned that my go-to tool for splitting kindling is the Forest Master USBB Firewood Kindling Splitting Blade pictured above. I screwed it down into a large log to use as a base to make my own kindling. For the price, I think it is an excellent piece of kit. Way safer than an axe!

Forest Master heavy duty kindling spitter

It’s a very simple design but super effective. It’s also much safer than using an Axe, especially if you have never used one. It’s more versatile than when I used the Chimsoc type Kindling Splitters or the wall-mounted steel splitter, although that’s perfect for splitting pallet wood. Both are great pieces of kit for making kindling. However, this Forest Master Splitting Blade has the edge and is the best splitter for making kindling.

You screw the splitting blade onto a large log to secure it down, and it’s ready to use. It’s worth noting that it’s also best to wear work gloves to avoid splinters, something I often forget to do. I often use a simple hammer. However, using a lump hammer does it quicker, especially on more dense logs like oak. There is more weight to split the log against the blade. It’s also perfect for splitting pallet wood. Simply cut the pallet wood into sections around 20cm long, and they are ideal for splitting. Overall, it is a great piece of kit and makes splitting logs to make kindling easy and safe.

The Forest Master Smart Sweedish Log splitter with kindling maker
Forest Master Smart Splitter Manual Log Splitter with kindling splitter

I also want to quickly mention the Forest Master Smart Splitter. This is essentially a take on the traditional but very effective Swedish log splitter. It also comes with a kindling splitting, which I’ve just talked about. The reason I think it’s well worth considering is that it is also perfect for splitting logs up to around 50cm (20 inches) wide.

These types of log splitters are straightforward to use. If you have logs that are a little too large for your fire, you can split them down further using the large falling axe but also use the fixed bottom axe (the kindling splitter) to make kindling without having to invest in a separate log splitter. This second blade (kindling splitter) also makes it easier to split logs. This is such a versatile piece of kit!

Chimsoc kindling splitter I've been using for a few years

The two other types of Kindling splitters I like are the Chimsoc Log and Kindling Splitter (I have a very similar one, but it’s the same). It’s a good, solid piece of kit. However, the ring around the edge, as handy as it is, does restrict the size of the log you can put into it. This is something that is not an issue with the Forest Master Kindling splitter. This is why the Forest Master splitter is my go-to when making kindling as it provides more freedom.

The other kindling splitter that I like is the Wall Log Splitter. The design is great, and it just works. However, I found it was much better for splitting pallet wood as they split with little pressure. What I do like is that because it is mounted 4ft to 5ft off the ground, it puts much less strain on your back when you have a ton of wood to split. Just remember to put a large bucket under it to catch the kindling pieces as they fall.

If you have a steady supply of pallet wood or similar, this is a great way to split them into kindling.

It’s worth mentioning I also use this Stihl GTA 26 Mini Pruner to cut pallets into sections or even longer logs; that is, when I’m not using my petrol chainsaw or cordless Ryobi chainsaw.


Best Tools For Making Kindling

1. Forest Master USBB Firewood Splitter

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This Forest Master USBB Firewood Splitter is a metal-splitting blade, and it’s a solid bit of kit and very well made. I’ve now been using it for a few years, and it is probably my favourite way to make kindling as it’s so versatile.

This firewood splitter is excellent to produce both firewood and kindling as it’s easy to use. And you can accurately place it for the width of split wood that you want. I usually split the logs in half with a couple of blows with a hammer, and it usually splits in half. I then just continued to split the log to make it into kindling.

You do need to get a good-sized log to screw it to so it has a heavy base. Any local tree surgeon will probably give you one for free if you ask nicely. You then just screw the blade base to a wooden base (screws included) to keep it securely in place. Then place the log on top of the blade at the place where you want to split it. Tap the log hard with a hammer, and the blade goes into the wood and splits it along the grain line. You can make a lot of kindling in very little time with this setup, and you can use any size log as long as you are reasonable, of course.

I would say this Forest Master Firewood Splitter handles logs up to 25cm in diameter without any trouble and that includes hardwood. It comes with a safety cap, also steel, to put over the blade when it’s not in use.

Pros

  • Very effective at making kindling from logs and pallet wood.
  • Screws to a wood base (screws included), get yourself a good-sized log.
  • Includes a blade cover for when not in use.
  • Handles logs up to 25cm in diameter.
  • Easy and safe to use.

My recommendation

This Forest Master USBB Firewood Splitter is one of the simplest hand tools for splitting kindling and is very effective. You can accurately place it where you want the wood or log to split for just the right kindling size. Overall, it’s a well-priced product that just works. For most people, I would think this is the one to have.


2. Forest Master Smart Splitter Manual Log Splitter With Kindling Maker

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Smart Splitter Manual Log Splitter

This Smart Splitter Manual Log Splitter, also made by Forest Master, is an ergonomic tool that doesn’t need you to swing a mallet, an axe or any other hitting tool. This reduces the risk of you missing the target and hurting yourself. Always a bonus. This is perfect if you need a log splitter and a way to make kindling, as you can easily do both with this. It basically comes with the same blade as the one I reviewed earlier and use regularly, but it also has the Swedish-style log splitter.

The idea behind this splitter is that the force of dropping the blade on the wood is enough to cause the wood to split. The blade drops with force from 1 meter and splits logs up to 55cm in diameter. This is strong enough to produce firewood as well as kindling. It really is a great piece of kit.

This splitter is easy to use. Just find a thick wood block for a base and drill a hole in it for the support pole (it does come with the drill bit). Attach the blade onto the guide pole and move it to the top of the pole. Place the wood below the blade and bring the blade down onto the wood as shown below; it easily splits logs.

But there’s an extra feature you can use. It comes with the Forest Master USBB Firewood Splitter. This provides a blade to split the wood from the bottom as well. So, your wood piece is sandwiched between two blades to split it from both the top and the bottom. In the picture above, it is actually being used without the extra blade.

Pros

  • Perfect for splitting logs up to 55cm in diameter and making kindling.
  • Smart Splitter works without the need for a mallet or other hitting tool.
  • Drops from a height of 1m to easily split logs, Swedish style.
  • Easy to get set up.
  • Comes with the Forest Master USBB Firewood Splitter.

Cons

  • Takes up quite a bit of space.

My recommendation

If you use the Smart Splitter Manual Log Splitter along with the included Forest Master USBB Firewood Splitter, your wood log is split from both the top and the bottom at the same time. This makes it easier to have one-strike splitting success with this tool for logs, but it is also perfect for making kindling as you can swing the top blade out of the way and use the bottom blade to split kindling with a hammer. Both the splitters are easy to set up and work well together.


3. Chimsoc Log and Kindling Splitter

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Chimsoc Log and Kindling Splitter

This is another type of kindling maker I’ve used over the years, and this Chimsoc Log and Kindling Splitter is a great example of one as it’s a good alternative to the Forest master splitter if you don’t like the idea of holding the log. It’s easy to use and this model also comes with a carry bag for transportation and storage. However, there’s no safety cover to put over the blade when the tool is not in use. You can use it not fasten down, but it’s much better if you screw it down to provide more support.

It’s easy to set up this Chimsoc log splitter. It has four screw holes in its feet for screws to mount it to a wooden base. A good idea is to put a rubber mat underneath the wood base so nothing slips around. It’s made of cast steel so it’s quite heavy in the first place.

To use the splitter, hold the log against the curved blade and tap it with a mallet or a heavy hammer to impale it. Then take your hand away and give the log a hard hit to split it. Be aware that you’re limited to the width of the circular structure for the diameter of the logs this structure can deal with. This is why I switched to the Forest Master Blade!

Pros

  • A safe way to split logs into kindling.
  • Log and kindling splitter without any moving parts.
  • Constructed of cast steel.
  • Mounts onto a wood base for stability.
  • Hit once with mallet to secure wood to blade, then again to split wood.
  • Includes storage bag.

My recommendation

If you always use small logs to make your kindling and want something sturdy, then the Chimsoc Log and Kindling Splitter is a good choice. Just be sure to store it somewhere out of the reach of children and small animals as the blade remains uncovered, although it’s not super sharp when it’s not in use as it uses more pressure to split the logs rather than slicing them with a sharp blade.


4. Gerneric Wall Log Splitter For Kindling

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Wall Log Splitter For Kindling

Over the years, I’ve tried a couple of these wall-mounted kindling splitters at my family’s garden centre to split pallet wood into kindling. I have found they do work well on pallet wood, but on logs, not so well. If you have plenty of pallet wood, this is a great option.

The Wall Log Splitter needs to be mounted vertically on a wall or a sturdy fence post. It’s a log-splitting blade that doesn’t need a hammer or a mallet to operate which is what I liked.

This particular kindling splitter is made of metal that’s coated with paint to make it weatherproof and rust-resistant.

The two parts of the splitter are the blade section (orange) and the holding space (black). To use it, you raise the blade and then put the log vertically in the holding space at the appropriate height so that the top of the log is touching the bottom of the blade. You then lower the blade (with some force; a couple of taps usually do it) and that splits the log. The silicon cushion at the end of the handle protects your hand from blisters and strain.

There’s four different heights/lengths of holding space to use for your logs. So you do have to sometimes adapt your logs to what this splitter can handle. The maximum diameter wood to split is 10cm and the maximum length is 45cm.

Pros

  • Log splitting tool with an integrated blade is used without a hammer or axe.
  • Constructed of durable metal coated with orange and black paint.
  • Blade easily removed for sharpening.
  • Handles logs of various lengths.
  • Handle has silicon cushion for your comfort.
  • Easy to mount on a wall (required).
  • Maximum wood dimensions: 10cm in diameter and 45cm in length.

My recommendation

If you’re OK with raising and lowering a blade, the Wall Log Splitter could be the splitter for you. It works best with thinner, relatively short logs of wood for kindling rather than larger logs for firewood, but it really comes into its own on pallet wood, which is what we used it for, and it saves your back as you don’t need to keep bending over to use it. And you need to have a stable place to put it up vertically – a fence post or a wall both work well.


5. Roughneck ROU65640 Axe For Making Kindling

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Roughneck ROU65640 Axe For Making Kindling

This Roughneck ROU65640 Axe is not a splitter, as with the other products I’ve reviewed here. It’s a traditionally shaped axe, but it’s a good choice for making kindling.

But the handle is not made of the traditional wood. The handle has a solid fibreglass core that is both lightweight and strong. It’s also weatherproof and rustproof. The ergonomic shape of the handle, curved towards the end, lets you use it in comfort and yield it efficiently.

Moving down the handle, you reach it, and it joins with the head. You won’t find any screws or nuts here as the handle is epoxy bonded (with industrial grade epoxy) to the head. There’s nothing to crack or break away – it’s all solid.

The head is painted for corrosion resistance so don’t worry about rusting. The blade is made of drop alloy forged steel. This has been hardened and tempered for strength and durability. It lasts a long time. And the edge of the blade is polished to preserve the sharpness.

Just be aware that using an axe to splinter wood for kindling is difficult and takes some practice.

Pros

  • Drop forged and heat treated alloy steel metal for blade.
  • Blade is painted as well and has a polished cutting edge.
  • Handle has a solid fibreglass core and is epoxy bonded to the head.
  • Soft grip curved end to handle for comfort.
  • 25-year guarantee.

Cons

  • Blunt blade on arrival so may need sharpening with a honing tool (sharpener).

My recommendation

If you really like axes and want to use one for splitting kindling, this Roughneck ROU65640 Axe is a good choice. This is a relatively lightweight axe due to its solid core fibreglass handle, yet its alloy steel blade is sturdy and accurate.


Buyer’s Guide for the Best Tool for Splitting Kindling

This review includes a selection of tools I’ve used over the years for splitting kindling. But do you know the difference between everything available and the pros and cons of using each?

My Buyer’s Guide gives you all the information you need to make the best choice in your purchase decision on your splitting kindling tool.

What is kindling, and why do you need it

Kindling for lighting fires

Kindling is simply combustible material for starting a fire. You can’t light logs of wood directly on fire, so you start with smaller, more easily flammable material and work your way up.

Often, kindling takes the form of small strips and slivers of wood cut off a larger log. You need a tool to do this, and that is what this review has been all about.

Remember that kindling runs out relatively quickly, so make lots or have a way to make kindling from logs easily and quickly.

Here’s what your different choices are. Some are not mentioned in this review, so take a look at my Best Log Splitting Axes For Logs or Kindling Review for examples of different axes for splitting logs if this is the route you want to take.

Kindling splitting tools

Remember that these are broad descriptions of the differences between the wood-splitting tools. The manufacturers can name their tools whatever they want to. That’s why it’s important to read the details of the specifications of the product to determine which kind of Kindle-splitting tool it really is.

Kindling splitting axe

Real axes are meant to cut down trees rather than splitting wood for kindling. They have thin heads/blades and fairly long handles that create quite a lot of force when swung. They’re also good for doing other cuts into wood but against the grain. You usually wield an axe with both hands, so they’re harder to control in the smaller areas you need for splitting wood.

However, some manufacturers have produced smaller axes especially designed for splitting kindling, and they work well if you learn to use them safely. They may be called kindling axes or hand axes. These axes have a fairly large head with not much of a taper from front to back. The handle is usually still quite large and doesn’t curve towards the top.

It’s best to use hand axes/kindling axes on larger chunks of wood rather than thin strips.

Hatchet

Hatchets are smaller than hand axes and have a slightly different shape. You hold them in one hand, and they’re easier to control. They’re designed for splitting kindling and firewood from smaller logs. They’re of a size that’s small enough to put on your backpack and take camping with you. Just make sure your purchase comes with a protective sheath or case.

Hatches sometimes have a hammer on the non-blade side, making them useful multi-tools. The shaft usually curves towards the top for more efficient use. They’re also lighter than a hand axe, so you can probably use them longer without getting too tired.

Maul

Mauls are designed for splitting firewood. They have long handles and heavy heads (about 3.6kg.)  This is not a tool to take camping with you. The heads are designed with a wide wedge that gets between the grain of the wood and splits it apart. This is a difficult tool to use for kindling, but I include it as it works well for firewood from large logs that you can then split into kindling using a hatchet.

Sledgehammer and wedge

This is quite an old-school method. You push the sharp point of the wedge into the wood and then hit the other end with a sledgehammer or heavy hammer. This drives the wedge further down, splitting the wood. The advantage of this method is that you can be accurate about where you split the wood by the placement of the wedge. And you can split small logs by using the wedge and a heavy hammer, you don’t need to carry a sledge hammer with you.

This is similar to how the maul works – but more scalable.

Log Splitter

A splitter is basically a tool for slicing wood that has the blade integrated into the unit, and you don’t have to swing it – it’s stationary. You may still need a mallet or a weighted hammer, but the effort is minimal compared to an axe or a maul.


Final conclusion

Splitting wood for kindling is quite a delicate process as you start with pretty small pieces of wood and end up with even smaller slivers. All the splitters in this review can perform that task well, and even the one axe I featured can do this in experienced hands.

Whichever tool for splitting kindling you choose for yourself, make sure to keep the blade sharp. Dull blades cause more mishaps than sharp ones.


Last update on 2024-02-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at john@pyracantha.co.uk

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