Axes are all pretty much the same, right? Wrong. Different activities require different types of axe - and if you’re looking for one to efficiently split your firewood, you’ll need a splitting axe. This is sometimes also called a maul.
While felling axes are designed to cut against the grain of wood - to chop it, essentially - splitting axes are intended to cut in parallel with the grains. Quite literally, you’re splitting them apart. Their axeheads are typically heavier than those of felling axes, since they’re intended to come down on their target with force. The vast majority also have a flat, hammer-like side: this is for you to drive a splitting wedge into your wood. These are also known as ‘log bombs’ or ‘log grenades’.
Looking for log splitters? Take a look at our guide to the best manual and electronic devices to prepare winter firewood.
What size axe for splitting wood?
Splitting axes and mauls come in a range of sizes, too - from small, single-handed hatchet-sized options to long-handled models intended to be swung with both hands. The size you’ll pick will depend on the size and toughness of your wood. It may well be a wise idea to buy both a single- and double-handed option.
Here's how to choose a splitting axe
Read on for our pick of the best splitting axes and our favourite splitting wedges. These cover a range of sizes and prices. For more information on splitting wood, head to our article on how to chop kindling page. And you’ll want to make sure you’ve got something to store your wood, so take a look at our list of the best contemporary log holders.
The best splitting axes and mauls 2023
Davaon Log Splitting Axe
Splitting axes need to withstand a fair bit of abuse, especially in the way they often need to be wrenched out of half-split logs.
Every log splitting axe on this list has been picked with durability in mind, but if you’re looking for a smaller axe that’s extra-likely to serve you faithfully over many years, this model by Davaon is a smart choice. It’s 46cm long, and its head is made of high-grade carbon steel.
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It also comes equipped with a protective sheath for the head and blade so you can keep it in top condition when it's not in use.
Bulldog Fibreglass Splitting Axe
Bulldog stocks a wide range of sensibly-priced, no-nonsense garden equipment, and the brand’s splitting axe looks like a smart option for larger logs that need a full, double-handed swing. Its 6lb axehead has a flat side for wedge-driving, while the ergonomically-shaped handle with a grip section looks like it offers ease of use.
Fiskars X11 Splitting Axe
Finnish company Fiskars has been making and selling chopping tools since the seventeenth century, so we’re highly confident in the quality and reliability of its splitting axes. You’re certainly spoiled for choice: there are five different sizes in its range. But we’ve picked out the X11 as a solid, single-handed option for smaller logs and kindling. It measures 44cm in length, and comes with a plastic blade guard for when it’s not in use.
Hultafors HY Splitting Axe
Another Scandinavian brand (this time Swedish); another that’s been making tools since the seventeenth century. In contrast to Fiskars’ X range, Hultafors’ HY axe is wooden-handled and traditional looking. If you appreciate the aesthetics as much as efficiency in your tools, you can’t go wrong with this - we love everything from the finish on the hickory handle to the delicately inscribed logo on the axehead.
Jackson Log Splitting Maul and Splitter
Spear & Jackson’s splitting maul comes in four different sizes, each of which you’ll find in the link below. We’ve picked out the 4.5lb (2kg) maul as a smaller double-handed alternative to the Bulldog and Hultafors, but there is a larger 6.5lb (2.9kg) size, too. Best of all, this maul comes with a splitting wedge, something you’re highly likely to need at some point.
Husqvarna Splitting Axe S2800
Husqvarna is a company from - yes, you guessed it - Scandinavia. And yes, it was founded in the seventeenth century. The S2800 is a heavy-duty splitting axe that’s intended for use with particularly large logs. Its steel, resin-coated axehead weighs 2.3kg - but with an overall weight of 2.9kg, this heavy-duty axe isn’t all that heavy.
Niwaki Ono Splitting Axe
An ono is a Japanese splitting tool that’s larger than a hatchet, but light than a standard Western axe. It’s ideally suited for smaller logs, its lightness offering you plenty of swing. We’re simply enamoured by the elegant design on display, from the subtle curve of the white oak handle to the darken carbon-steel head. A lovely addition to anyone’s tool rack.
Roughneck Grenade Splitting Wedge
If you’ve got some particularly tough wood to split, and your axe simply doesn’t have the requisite brute force, then bring in this little guy. With the flat end of your axe, you can knock this ‘log grenade’ into the wood - then a heavy blow should split it apart. We particularly like this splitting wedge from Roughneck as its four toothed ridges will split the log not into two but four pieces.
AGMA Swedish Log Splitter
We couldn’t leave this incredibly clever-looking contraption off the list. It’s one that looks especially suitable for people who are less physically able to split wood, or have vast amounts to get to that could quickly become difficult to manage.
You can fix it in place by using the 20 millimetre drill bit that comes included to create a 12 centimetre hole into your base log. Then you’ll just need to begin throwing the weighted blade down into your wood for an effective end result, making this the ultimate labour-saving log-splitter.
Matt Breen is a digital writer for the tech section of RadioTimes.com. He writes buying guides, product reviews, how-to, explainers and news stories about everything from flagship smartwatches to bendable televisions (no, really). He keeps a beady eye on all the latest news in the consumer tech world. Matt has also written for Expert Reviews, BikeRadar, Coach, Gardens Illustrated, Gathered.how and The Week. When he's not obsessing over the latest tech products, you might just find him painting and drawing - anything to limit his screen time.