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I’ve been splitting logs for years, mostly at my family’s garden centre, as we sell our own firewood, which we split mostly with a good old-fashioned log-splitting axe or maul with the Spear & Jackson Razorsharp 6.5 lb Log Splitting Maul being a favourite of mine. With this in mind, I thought I would share my experience here.
I now mostly split my own logs for my wood-burning stove I had installed a few years back as I regularly get free wood from a local tree surgeon friend of mine which I cut and then let season in one of the polytunnels, an excellent way to season logs fast. That being said, I’ve been using my Forest Master Electric Log Splitter more and more; a fantastic piece of kit which is worth considering if you do a lot of the log splitting.
However, I always have the best log splitting axe handy, nothing beats swinging an axe around for a couple of hours and making some firewood. Plus, it keeps you warm. They say having a log burning stove gets you warm twice, once when you are splitting firewood and again when you light the fire.
Log splitting axes vs mauls
Anyway, back to log-splitting axes and mauls. First things first, not all axes/mauls are the same, so you need to choose an axe or maul that is designed for splitting logs. A log-splitting axe and a maul serve the same purpose—splitting wood—but differ in design and application. The splitting axe, lighter and usually sharper, is ideal for smaller logs and offers agility and precision. Whereas a splitting maul, with its heavier and blunter head, excels in splitting larger, tougher logs, using its weight to drive through wood with less precision needed. These differences make the axe suitable for quick, precise splits, while the maul is better for heavy-duty tasks. Choosing between them depends on the user’s strength, wood type, and personal handling preference. If you have a lot of smaller logs, I recommend going for an axe. If you have a lot of large logs, a maul is probably the better option.
Also, get yourself a good-sized, level tree trunk to use the axe on when splitting logs. I always say that, ideally, the length of the handle should be about the same length as your arm.
That being said, you can get some log-splitting axes such as this LEXIVON 18″ splitting Axe which has a 2.1 lb blade that is fairly good for splitting smaller and medium-sized logs, not perfect and deferently not for larger logs, say over 20-30cm max, it’s more than good enough for splitting logs but also small enough for making kindling too.
Personally, I prefer to use a tool specially designed for making kindling, which at the moment is my Forest Master Kindling Blade pictured above, and then I have an axe, especially for logging and splitting logs. That is when I’m not using my log splitter.
Choosing an axe
When it comes to choosing an axe or maul, as well as price, is the actual build quality. Now, I like to buy tools that last, so I have found that if I budget around £40-£60, I can get a decent axe, especially for splitting logs—just a quick one about the blade sharpness. When splitting logs with an axe, it’s not really the sharpness that splits the logs, although it helps; it’s the actual momentum and shape of the blade that forces the axe/maul blade into the log down the grain, which splits the logs. However, I would also invest in a honing stone to sharpen the blade on an axe as it will make your life much easier.
If you have never used an axe, get some experience to show you or, at the very least, watch some YouTube videos. it’s your stance and the way you swing the axe that makes the difference.
Before I get into my detailed reviews and buyers guide further down, I want to just go over some of my recommendations depending on how big the logs are, which you are trying to split.
For me, this Draper Expert 09944 Log Splitting Maul is one of the best options and will split logs as wide as 60cm (2ft), maybe even a little wider, with a bit of experience. It really is an impressive piece of kit for the price but also one of the most affordable options. It’s quite heavy, but it’s well-balanced, which is important. It’s easy to swing and has a decent blade that cuts through logs like a knife through butter. You won’t be splitting kindling with this, but for logging, it’s a brilliant maul.
I also wanted to mention this Fiskars L X21 Splitting Axe. Now, I think this is the perfect size for most people, but it’s not the cheapest. However, the build quality is on another level, as is the blade quality and sharpness, as it’s made from hardened steel with a coating. It’s basically super sharp and perfectly balanced. The only restriction is thats it’s best for splitting logs up to around 30cm (1ft). It will split bigger logs with a couple of swings, but if you have a lot of larger logs over a foot wide, you would be best to choose a slightly larger axe such as the Roughneck ROU65678 Log Splitting Maul or even the Draper Expert 09944 Log Splitting Maul I mentioned earlier.
If you are looking for a hatchet rather than a full-on axe just for kindling, I would go with the 600g Ruthe VPA/GS Hatchet. It’s small, compact and perfectly suited for kindling. Personally, I would consider the Forest Master Splitting blade I reviewed in another guide. However, if you prefer to use an axe, this is worth considering.
Finally, I want to mention an axe that is a little more affordable but still a good option for medium and larger logs and the model we have used for the last few years. This Spear & Jackson Razorsharp 6.5 lb Log Splitting Maul. The bit is good quality, the grind is more than good enough for a maul, and the wedge and key are fitted well. It’s a great bit of kit from the price. Maybe not as refined as some of the alternatives, but certainly still good quality without the fancy finish of some more modern axes and mauls.
The best log-splitting axes and mauls that we have included in our review
- Draper Expert 09944 Log Splitting Maul – A great all-around maul for medium and larger logs
- Fiskars Splitting L X21 Axe – A brilliant axe for smaller logs up to 30cm in diameter, super sharp and very well made
- Ruthe VPA/GS Hatchet with Hickory Handle – A brilliant little hatchet ideal for making kindling
- Lexivon 18 inch Splitting Axe – A good option for anyone looking for an axe that can split logs up to 30cm but is also small enough for making kindling
- Spear & Jackson – Razorsharp 6.5lb Log Splitting Maul – An excellent, more affordable axe ideal for larger logs
- Roughneck ROU65678 Vintage Log Splitting Maul
Top 6 Log Splitting Axe/Maul Reviews
1. Fiskars Splitting L X21 Axe
This Fiskars L X21 Splitting Axe is a lightweight axe (1.75kg) designed for splitting relatively small logs of between 20cm diameter and 30cm diameter. The lack of weight is due to the fibreglass-reinforced plastic handle. This is both light and sturdy, and resists the impact when you split the wood. Overall its an excellent well-balanced axe perfect for splitting smaller logs. Build quality, like most Fiskars tools, I also own the telescopic long reach pruner (also a great product) and there very well made.
The handle is in the iconic black and orange Fiskars colours. It’s flared at the end to make it easier and safer to hold as you swing it. The textured non-slip grip on the handle also makes sure that your hand doesn’t slide away from the axe as you use it.
The axe head and blade are made of hardened steel, so it is a good quality tool.
Another advantage of using fibreglass and plastic for the handle is that the steelhead is moulded directly to the handle. There are no screws or bolts to loosen and make the joint insecure.
The blade is also easy to sharpen, but it’s also very sharp as it comes and holds its sharpness well. You do have an option to buy the optional blade sharpener, but I’d just use a honing stone. However, it does include a plastic storage case that fits over the blade head and keeps the blade from being exposed when the axe is not in use.
- The splitting axe is made of reinforced plastic and hardened steel.
- Handle of fibreglass-reinforced plastic.
- Blade made of non-stick hardened steel moulded directly to the blade.
- Cut logs from 20cm (diameter) to 30cm (diameter).
- Textured non-slip grip on the handle with flared safety guard.
- Easy to sharpen with optional sharpener (not included).
- Includes storage case.
- Weighs 1.75kg.
- Dimensions: 71cm (length); 7cm (length of blade); 16.5cm (width of blade).
The Fiskars Splitting Axe L X21 is a good choice if you’re looking for a lightweight axe for splitting small logs up to around 30cm. The plastic/fibreglass handle absorbs the impact of splitting the wood, and the blade is non-stick within the wood. A bonus is that the blade is easy to sharpen when it dulls, which all axes do eventually. Overall, although it is expensive, its build quality and effectiveness are unmatched. The only downside is that it’s not really good enough for logs over 30cm.
2. Ruthe VPA/GS Hatchet with Hickory Handle
This Ruthe VPA/GS Hatchet with its Hickory Handle is another axe in my review that’s suitable for camping as well as making kindling. This is lighter than the Lexivon Splitting Axe 18″/46cm I also review. The Ruthe axe has a heavy head designed to just slice through logs and other wood pieces to produce firewood.
The handle of this Ruthe axe is made of solid hickory. Hickory is a strong and durable wood that’s not too heavy. It naturally absorbs vibrations so it absorbs some of the impact of the axe head hitting the wood. You just need to be a bit careful in looking after a wooden-handled axe and wipe it down and put it away after use as it can absorb moisture and start to rot.
The blade is made of steel that’s been forged, hardened and annealed. It’s finely polished, which adds to its sharpness and durability.
- Hatchet with hickory wood handle.
- Forged, hardened and annealed blade.
- Blade is finely polished.
- Weighs 600g.
This Ruthe VPA/GS Hatchet is a small and lightweight hatchet that’s designed to split wood for kindling and firewood. It won’t split large logs into pieces, but for making some kindling, it’s perfect. It’s also the most inexpensive axe in my review, so it fits within most people’s budgets. Overall a great little axe, you might just need to give the blade a sharpen.
3. Draper Expert 09944 Log Splitting Maul
The Draper Expert 2.7KG Log Splitting Maul features a lightweight fibreglass shaft that is extremely strong and designed to handle the pressures of a modern axe. Its lightness makes it more manoeuvrable and gives you an easy time splitting the wood and logs even when larger in diameter to as big as 60cm (2ft). It really is a great piece of kit, especially for larger logs.
The head is the heart of the maul. If the material used is of a lesser quality, the blade may bend or break mid-action. Also, you will find that the blade can go blunt quickly if not manufactured from quality metal. The blade on this one is made of tempered carbon steel which is about as good as you can get. It’s very easy to sharpen the blade and will make light work of splitting logs.
I also like the rubber insulated handle that has been fitted to provide you comfort despite the size of your hands; it also acts as a shock absorber, which further adds to the comfort when using this axe for prolonged periods of time.
The dimensions of this splitting maul are 93.3 x 22.4 x 5.5cm which is perfect for most people.
- It easily splits large logs with its fine-grain carbon steel-weighted carbon splitting head.
- Lightweight strong construction, thus easy to handle for most people.
- Fibreglass handle for durability meaning shaft is unlikely to break.
- Comes with a blade cover to protect the blade when not in use.
- Affordable price
This Draper Expert 09944 Log Splitting Maul with its fibreglass shaft is an easy-going tool and fairly lightweight for its size. Even though it is light, it does have enough weight to slice through larger logs up to around 60cm. Ideally, it is for small jobs rather than big jobs so is perfect for the home user.
If I were to buy only one axe, this would have to be it; it really is that good and comes at a great price.
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4. Lexivon 18 inch Splitting Axe
This Lexivon Splitting Axe 18″/46cm axe is for splitting logs and any other medium-sized wood pieces, but it’s also small enough to make kindling with. The handle is a proprietary design that takes seriously your comfort and efficiency in the wood chopping task.
The axe is designed for you to make firewood and kindling with just one strike. The handle is made from injected fibreglass with a reinforced back spine. This makes the handle stronger than a wooden handle and it won’t bend like steel sometimes does.
The fibreglass is also shock absorbing and weather resistant. With its anti-slip coating and flared end, the handle is both comfortable to use and will keep your hand in the correct position for efficiently wielding the axe.
The blade of this Lexivon axe is made of Grade-A carbon steel with hardened cutting edges. This provides a cleaner and deeper cut, letting you make just the one strike for the kindling. The edges also add to the durability of the axe. There’s no joint between the blade and the handle as they’re moulded together, so they won’t come apart.
What’s interesting about this axe is that the designers have placed the balance point close to the axe head. This serves to create an excellent weight distribution which increases the swing power and the speed of the swing.
- Axe designed for one-strike splits of firewood, kindling and logs.
- Blade is wedge shaped and made of grade-A carbon steel.
- Handle fully encases the end of the blade and is moulded over it.
- Injected fibreglass handle has a reinforced back spine and has anti-slip grip.
- Balance point is near the axe head for great weight distribution.
- Includes a protective plastic carrying sheath for safety.
- Weighs 0.8kg.
The LEXIVON splitting Axe 18″/46cm is a great all round axe. Everything about this axe is designed so that you create kindling and firewood from a log with just one swing of the axe. The wedge shaped carbon steel blade and the injected fibreglass handle work efficiently together. A great little multi-purpose axe.
5. Roughneck ROU65678 Vintage Log Splitting Maul
Theis Roughneck ROU65678 Vintage Log Splitting Maul works well for splitting logs of all sizes. Everything about this axe is designed for strength, efficiency and durability.
First up is the solid wood handle. Made from hickory wood that’s been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, you know that the wood is grown and harvested according to sustainable forestry practices. The handle is gently curved in an ergonomic design to be both comfortable and efficient when you swing it to split the wood. The handle provides strength and flexibility as hickory has shock-absorbent properties.
The handle is set firmly and securely into the head of the maul. This is a polished steel alloy head that’s been drop forged and heat treated. Again, this adds to the axe’s long life and strength. The head is also protected with an anti-rust treatment so a little rain won’t hurt it.
Of interest is the anti-jamming design of the axe head. This is in the form of a dual wedge head. This shape allows you to easily release the axe head when it becomes stuck in a log.
This Roughneck ROU65678 Vintage Log Splitting Maul comes with a protective sheath made of canvas that covers the blade for safety for transportation or in storage.
- Log splitting maul for logs of all sizes.
- Anti-jamming device with polished steel dual wedge head.
- Polished alloy head that’s been drop forged and heat treated.
- Handle is made from hickory wood that’s FSC certified.
- Head protected with anti-rust treatment.
- Includes protective canvas sheath for the blade.
- Great for splitting logs.
- Weighs 2.65kg.
- The handle may feel a little too short for taller people.
The Roughneck ROU65678 Vintage Log Splitting Maul is a sturdy maul for logs of all sizes. The solid hickory wood handle is made from timber from ecologically sourced wood. This is a solid axe that is durable and should last a long time. The protective canvas blade cover provides safety and security for the axe when not in use.
6. Spear & Jackson – Razorsharp 6.5lb Log Splitting Maul
Last in my review is this Spear & Jackson Razorsharp Log Splitting Maul which is another lovely axe that comes at an amazing price which makes it great for anyone buying their first axe. The axe weighs approximately 6.5lbs so it has plenty of weight to help split through the wood which is typical of a decent maul. As you can see, it is indeed a fairly heavy splitting maul that should be handled with care. If you look closely you can spot a hooked head. This is just to facilitate easy perforation of the wood. The blade is a wedge to provide easy penetration and splitting of your logs. The wider edge can be manipulated to open up the wood further which is a great feature.
The head is made from carbon steel which makes it durable and very strong. Carbon steel (as said before) is easy to manage and sharpen. It will last for a long time if properly taken care of.
The handle is made out of hickory wood which is known for its hardness and shock-absorbent qualities. No matter how hard you swing and slam the axe, the handle will remain solid and stable without a scratch (within reason as all wood shafts can break).
The dimensions of this axe are 8h x 89l x 21cm.
- Hooked wedged blade for easy splitting which is made from drop forged carbon and tempered.
- Other weights available, 1.5lbs, 2.5lbs, 4.5lbs
- The Hickory handle is strong and resilient to reduce the chances of the shaft snapping during use.
- Excellent choice for anyone on a budget looking for a first-time axe.
The Spear & Jackson Razorsharp 6.5 lb Log Splitting Maul is a great choice for anyone looking for either their first axe or looking to buy one of the cheaper models without buying something that is inadequate. I like the hickory wood which gives it a rustic feel and more importantly is very strong, especially when compared to cheaper axes that skimp on the shaft quality.
I love that the blade is hooked so as to facilitate easy splitting and is made from drop forged carbon steel, this is very strong and is probably the most important part of the axe.
Looking for an affordable maul, this model is worth considering, personally, we would spend a little more and get a carbon handle but we understand that people have budgets that are important to also take into consideration.
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What is the best time to split wood?
The best time to split wood is usually late winter or early spring because this allows the most time for the wood to naturally dry out over summer ready for the following winter.
Which is easier to split, dry wood or wet wood?
Dry wood is usually easier to split but wet wood is usually when most people split wood as it is easier to dry once split. You can make this process easier by using a log splitter instead of an axe.
Log Splitting Axe / Maul Buyer’s Guide
The need for the axe is undeniable. This is because they are quintessential to yard work and preparing firewood for those log burning stoves and chimineas. There are various designs and finishing that manufacturers use to make axes look like they are the real deal. But do not be fooled by how an axe looks with its shiny blade and polished shaft, the features are what determine their worth and at first, some models looking amazing and prove useless whilst others look cheap and simple and are actually very well made and more importantly much better at chopping wood. First look at the amount of work that needs to be done and make an informed decision.
Below are the factors that you need to keep in mind when shopping for a log splitting axe or splitting maul.
Amount of work that needs to be done
The axe you wish to purchase will depend on the amount of work you want to carry out. If you are dealing with large chunks of wood, you will need an axe with a heavier head or a longer handle. When the load is light you can settle for an axe that has a lighter head and a lighter handle. If you can handle a heavier head, then go for it. If you are splitting kindle then you need to choose a small axe that is much better suited than larger models.
Consider the handle length
The handle will affect the delivery of the blow. A handle that is long will serve to increase the amount of pressure that is delivered. For people with longer limbs, a long axe will serve much better when splitting larger logs. For shorter people, an axe with a long handle will be very hard to control and make splitting logs more difficult. The shorter axe is preferred for small jobs that involve smaller pieces of wood. If you have a heavy hand, you can try looking for an axe that has a longer handle for better control.
Quality of the materials
The handle and the head are made from different materials. You will find that most axe heads are fashioned from a carbon steel material or wrought iron depending on the model you are working with. The cutting edge has to be made of carbon steel as it is easier to sharpen and maintain. The handle can be made from fibreglass, wood or other forms of metal. Look for the finish and material that pleases you most. Remember that if you select a heavy material you may have difficulty controlling the axe. Most times you find the axes fitted with insulation to provide a firm grip and comfort to your hands as they absorb the vibrations.
Look at the price and accessories
The price of the axe will obviously determine if you can afford it or not. If you are indeed working on a budget, you may try to seek out an axe within the price range. Look at the materials that constitute the axe to find out if it is a worthy investment. There are those manufacturers that offer accessories that you can use. With axes, you will find axe head covers are provided. This to keep the blade from harming anyone when it is not in use and to keep the blade sharp. The extra cover provided costs you nothing but still provides a credible function. We found that if you budget around £40 this would enable you to buy a very good axe made from quality materials.
As you can see, axes do not have much to them. They are great at cutting wood as long as the size of the axe correlates with the work. We have seen that the shorter the handle the more limiting it can be for some users. If you have longer limbs we suggest an axe with an adequate handle. The provision of blade covers makes the money we spend on the axe more valuable. If taken care of right, axes can last for many decades with many people having an axe for over 30 years.
Last update on 2024-02-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API