There’s more to think about than you’d expect when selecting your pick out of the best axes in the world. Woodcutting is a lost art, flushed away with the rest of the industrial revolution. Don’t rock the new-age lumberjack beard without possessing some of the know-how. With our guide, and the best made axe models on the market today, you’ll be a force of nature in your own right.
The Best Axes For Chopping Wood
Most people don’t even know what a splitting axe is, let alone how to spot the best axe for splitting wood when it’s sitting right in front of them. After all, splitting wood is what an axe is for, right? Truth is, there are a bunch of different ways to use your axe, but Fiskars is the best of the best for splitting wood.
At thirty-six inches long, with a flared wedge along the base of the handle, you get maximum power. A splitting axe has some power behind it, like having a sledgehammer on one side while the sharpened, slightly smaller-than-average axe head splits the wood properly. Fiskars X27 Super Splitting Axe wedges down into the wood just right to split it completely. You can get it in a multitude of different lengths, though a traditional axe—as opposed to a hatchet—is best at three foot long. With perfect balance and power, you can split just about any size log. With the very specific design, retrieving your axe from the log is actually easier than with just about any other model on the market.
- Weight6 lbs
The traditional axe is made of solid, slightly curved wood, with a heavy, all-metal head at the end—there’s no better representation of a classic-looking axe than Husqvarna’s model. Husqvarna 26” Woodcutter’s Axe is great for all purposes, and includes a leather edge cover for safe storage. The axe head is attached to the shaft with a steel wedge to ensure that it’s fastened nice and tightly.
There’s a certain feeling you get that shoots through you when you’re holding the wooden handle of an axe as opposed to a composite material. It’s just in your blood, even if you don’t realize it yet. This brand of axe comes in multiple sizes, materials, and for different purposes, but we honed in on the 26” woodcutter’s axe. When you’re hitting the trail for the weekend, you need the best camping axe by your side, and Husqvarna’s got it right here.
- Weight2.1 lbs
We’d really call this one more of a hatchet, but we’ll let it slide. Estwing 14” Sportsman’s Axe comes out with a sleek design, including a leather grip and wood-lookalike handle. The head of the axe blends seamlessly into the top half of the handle, so you won’t run into an axe head slipping off after extended use. One of the best features of choosing this brand is knowing that they produce American made axes, so when you choose Estwing, you’re choosing to keep work in the United States.
With this model, you get an all-inclusive heavy duty ballistic nylon sheath, so you won’t have to dish out the cash and purchase an additional item. American-grade steel doesn’t lie, and it sharpens better than imported steel. Thanks to higher manufacturing requirements here in the homeland, it’s assured, and backed by an exceptional warranty. Also, this is a great gift for gardeners in your life.
- Weight14.9 oz
Finnish steel coated in PTFE reduces friction, and gives you cleaner cuts. Gerber’s take on the outdoorsman’s axe brings you a new-age, sophisticated look, while keeping the functionality straightforward and trustworthy. The composite handle absorbs shock, and is designed to not strain your hands and cause blisters as frequently.
One of the most important aspects to your axe is proper weight distribution. If you’re using an imbalanced, cheap axe, you’re going to have sloppy chops, and when you bring the hammer down, the lack of aerodynamics are going to make that axe head wiggle through the air, giving you an unclear cut, or a complete miss. The Gerber 23.5” Axe is designed with every possibility already covered with its unique geometric angles. Be sure to also check out our list of the best camping saws for more great items like this.
- Weight3.6 lbs
The main difference between an axe and a hatchet is the length of the handle, which also defines the overall weight and size of the axe head. A hatchet is one-handed, while an axe should always be two-handed for optimum power and the perfect cut. The H900 Composite is ready for anything—will you be?
With a soft, ergonomic grip along the handle, you’ll be able to stave off blisters and callouses in awkward spots. This is perfect for hacking up some small bits of firewood to get a fire going immediately. Without exerting yourself, you can get a great pile of small firewood pieces and start up your campfire almost immediately. The H900 comes with weight distribution in mind—you won’t experience and wind resistance, because the good folks over at Husqvarna thought of every little trick that your axe likes to pull on you and took care of everything from the get go.
- Weight2.1 lbs
The big brother of the H900, the S2800 comes with optimum power for splitting. The best made axe for durability, just like the rest of the Husqvarna family, won’t quit even when you want to. Aerodynamics come into play, so you can swing down with all your might, and pick up little to no wind resistance whatsoever.
Your handle is lightweight enough to bring you that power, but not so lightweight that it feels awkward when transporting the axe. You could balance this thing on one finger (with due diligence)—that’s how much planning and execution went into the craft of this superior axe. The composite fiberglass handle also allows an easier grip as opposed to wood, leaving you with less blisters, and no chance of splinters. Our guide to the best laser measuring tools features more handy items like this, so check it out.
- Weight6.55 lbs
If you’re wondering what a fell axe is, it’s the same type that you use to actually hack down a tree—true blue lumberjack style. The art of felling a tree takes time, and a sharp axe. When an axe is specifically designed for felling, it’s made of a more tempered steel, which is perfect for sharpening to a fine point. Keeping a sharp head (proverbially as well as literally) will allow you to get a tree down faster, with less exertion, and with a cleaner cut.
This model comes with a slightly curved, solid wooden handle, as well as a leather sheath to get you started. The expertly-forged head is built to withstand multiple sharpening sessions, so you won’t need to replace this anytime soon, even if you’re getting intense use out of it. For splitting, there’s the other guys—for felling and carving up your bounty, there’s Hults Bruk Kalix.
- BrandHults Bruk
- Weight3.8 lbs
Estwing is all about fully-integrated design, and this is their testament to that belief. Gleaming stainless steel and a bright blue handle give 26” All-Steel Axe a unique look, while proving more functional than any other all-steel axe on the marketplace. When you bring a solid object straight down, there’s nowhere for the vibrations to go—with a wooden axe and metal head, the wood absorbs most of the vibrations (at least the painful ones). That’s why Estwing threw in a shock-reducing grip to ensure that your arms aren’t still rattling once you put this done.
This model comes complete with a nylon sheath, so no extra purchases are required. With 70% less shock delivered to your hands, and an all-steel body, this is by far one of the most reliable and durable American made axes on the market today. Felling, splitting, and any use in between—Estwing’s flying right beside you.
- Weight3.44 lbs
It looks like a demonic version of Thor’s hammer—Fiskars 28” all-black chopping axe comes with a built-in handle along the top, and an ever-sharp axe head that’s ideal for felling. The handle is designed to feel like you’re swinging an aluminum baseball bat—lightweight and fast, and delivers a bigger kick than wood.
There’s a perfect balance of weight and power here. The tempered steel blade keeps its sharp edge longer than traditional axes. The harder the steel, the longer you can go between sharpening sessions; if you’re not planning on using this axe more than 4-6 times per year, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the lack of maintenance required.
- Weight5.58 lbs
We all know the wacky outdoorsman Bear Grylls, and nobody knows survival hatchet models and brands more than he does. He’s put his signature on the edge of the blade to show his wild-tested approval. With an ergonomic no-slip grip, you won’t swing down and wonder where your hatchet flew off to. The nylon sheath that’s included is mildew resistant, so even if you leave it in your tent for a short while, you won’t be bringing a pungent sheath back home with you.
High carbon steel and a 3.5” design are two of the main reasons that Gerber Bear Grylls is a survival hatchet. Survival is all about packing like a minimalist, but getting the most out of your equipment regardless of their size or weight. This survival hatchet goes without compare—you can sheath it, loop it around your backpack or waist, and be off into the wilderness like it’s nothing.
- Weight1.32 lbs
You’re not in a fantasy RPG—this axe is real, and one of the most badass-looking axes ever. With a full pound of steel on the head of a 15” hickory handle, you’re holding a borderline hatchet. It comes with a leather sheath, complete with steel studs to prevent the sheath tearing from the immense sharpness of this premier blade.
As one of the best wood chopping axes out there, Gransfors ensures their unique design and perfect distribution of weight and power goes without rival. You can pick up a dozen different axes, not know the difference between them, but when you raise a Gransfors Bruks Outdoos, something inside you awakens, like this was the axe meant just for you. Tempered steel means minimal sharpening, and it comes with the “Axe Book” included in your purchase.
- BrandGransfors Bruks
- ModelDrake Off Road Tools
- Weight1.2 lbs
With a total of two pounds between the handle and the axe head, you get immense power and the perfect balance between weight and swing speed. Most of the time, wooden handle axes get a bad rep for being harder to swing, or taking more out of you—that’s why Hultafors uses the weight of their axe as a unique selling point; they know there’s trepidation from axe buyers.
The Hultafors Classic‘s shaft is made of complete hickory wood, and this model comes complete with a leather edge protector to keep that Swedish steel sharp. Hunting axes are defined by a unique set of specs—lightweight and short enough to be carried one-handed if need be, but with enough power to be used for practical purposes (without being confined to the category of hatchet). Hultafors hits the nail on the head.
- Weight2.6 lbs
This looks like it crawled out of a good game of D&D—an all-fiberglass handle and 11” total length gives you that lightweight feel that a hatchet needs, while the black oxide-coated stainless steel head stays sharp. With such a razor-edged blade, it’s easy to get CIMA Tactical Tomahawk Hunting and Survival Hatchet lodged into wood a little too far—slats in the head allow for the perfect way to retrieve your hatchet with minimal issues.
- Weight1.8 lbs
Chopping Wood Axe Buyers Guide
It sounds simple—toss some sharp steel on the end of a stick, and you’ve got an axe, right? Not in the slightest. Even if you look at the way axes were designed in the 1950s, there’s a difference in modern construction. Everything comes down to precise angles, weight distribution, and the perfect blend of lightweight material and power.
What To Consider When Buying An Axe
There’s three s’s when it comes to finding the perfect axe for you: strength, sharpness, and size. You want to be able to give it your best go, be certain that it can be sharp as a tack to split logs, and that it’s the right size for your height. You don’t want to throw your back out or incur other injuries from having an awkward distribution of weight and power. Another thing to consider is this: do you want an axe, or are you actually in the market for a hatchet? Here are the key differences:
After 14”, you’re dealing with axes—not hatchets. Axes are designed to be used with two hands, which is why they come up to about 36”. Axes are primarily used for splitting logs, felling trees, and anything else that requires great power, while hatchets are the one-handed baby brother to the mighty axe. Hatches come with one primary use, but axes can be specifically designed for different purposes. If you’re a true outdoorsman, you may already be looking for a unique felling axe, and a separate one for splitting. It’s all about additional power for the bigger tasks.
Hatchets are always smaller, and are usually defined at the 14” line. Anything higher than that, and it’s your judgment call, but we’re saying that they’re axes. Hatchets are also designed to be used one-handed; another judgment call. If you’re a behemoth that can wing an 18” axe one-handed without issue, we bow before your manliness. Hatchets are the preference for wildness backpackers who are looking to make use of fallen trees for wood, or hack up smaller trees. They don’t possess the proper power to fell a tree, unless you want to be there all day.
Chopping Wood Axe FAQ
Q: How To Cut Wood Perfectly With An Axe?
A: Woodcutting has become a lost art. It’s a shame, really. There’s a lot of tactic to getting that perfect cut, but you’re diligent enough to get it done. A properly cut piece of firewood is going to actually burn properly in your fireplace or when constructing a campfire. It’s not just about making it look awesome—it’s about what that awesomeness is going to do for you.
- Focus on Accuracy
It’s great to just smash that axe down and smash that wood in half, right? Wrong. So very wrong. Especially if you’re never swung an axe before, you need to focus on actually hitting the wood, not just obliterating it. When you get an accurate hit, you can build on that. Exhausting yourself with overpowered swings, when you’re embarrassingly not even hitting the wood in the first place, isn’t going to do you any good. If you have to hit the same spot on a log five times to split it, at least you’re hitting it, right? Build on that.
- Don’t Hold It Like An Axe
This isn’t a Halloween movie; however you’ve seen it done on the big screen, isn’t how it’s really done. The best hatchet you’ve got deserves the best handle you can possible manage. Put your right a few inches below the actual heat of the axe, your left hand at the very end of the handle, grasping firmly. Your palms should be aimed towards you. Then, pull back, focus, and swing.
- Familiarize Yourself With the Terms
Bucking, splitting, and limbing—what does it all mean? Axes have been used every single imaginable way; they’re one of history’s oldest tools. Every term and use has a purpose. Get yourself familiar with the short list of terminology and what each of them mean, so you can start chopping like a pro.
Safety Precautions When Using An Axe
When dealing with sharpened iron and steel, it’s best to practice the proper safety precautions. It’s easy to leave this leaning against the threshold of the backdoor, and even easier to forget that it’s there, and trip over it later. These things have to be sharpened enough to cut through a tree, remember? Think about what it’ll do to your boots and your feet. Not good. It doesn’t make you any less manly to maintain safety around your axe. A man isn’t measured by his carelessness.
- Sheathe The Beast
Put a protective cover on your axe, even if it’s not in storage. You may think that you’re the only one that’s accessing your shed out back, but if you have kids, you can rest assured that they’re poking around from time to time. You should keep a cover on your axe head even if you’re only putting it down for a moment to tend to something else, even at the chopping block. It can’t be stressed enough how easy it is to accidentally kick or trip over an axe, kept in its sheath or not.
2.Hold Her Steady
There’s a right and a wrong way to hold your axe. Holding it near the head, with the rest of the handle behind you, while the axe head is facing a forty-five degree angle (think southwest of your position). Keep a firm grip on the axe, especially while walking from one area of your campsite to the other, or around your backyard.
3. Cold Chopping
This is both personal safety, as well as maintenance on your axe. When your axe gets chilly in the garage or shed, the steel of the head is going to become far more susceptible to chipping and breakage. If it’s the dead of winter, and you’re roughing it in the woods of Maine, you’re going to want to hear this: start a small fire, and heat up your axe just enough to take the chill off. It should be warm enough to touch with your bare hand, but not hot enough that you immediately recoil. Cold chopping is going to send fragments of steel your way, potentially hurting you or someone nearby, and you’ll be left with a useless axe.
Additional Items You Need For Your Axe
Style N Craft Head Guard
Taking safety into concern just like we said? Excellent choice. You need a head guard that’s going to act as the perfect sheath to your axe. Style N Craft’s model fits to most standard shaped axes, single bladed, of course. Between leather, nylon stitching, and rivets holding this piece of beautiful craftsmanship together, you’ll be able to stow your axe with no worry in the world.
Planer Blade Sharpener
Whether you go for a more inexpensive model or not, one thing’s for sure: you want to maintain your axe, regardless of the size or cost. This high-end blade sharpener is going to do the trick for you. If you want to puck-and-file like the good ole days, be our guest. Don’t have the time? Use precision cutting with minimal effort on your part, and get that perfect blade’s edge.
Lansky Sharpening Puck and Nicholson Axe File
Just like how they’ve done it for ages. Using a puck and file is the ideal method to sharpening your axe, by maintaining it with your own two hands. You control how sharp the blade is, fitting it to your specific needs. Plus, it doesn’t require electricity. Electric, automatic blade sharpeners are nice, but it’s impractical to bring it along with you into the great outdoors. For a fraction of the cost, under twenty dollars in total, you can have the perfect duo to sharpen your steel at any point during your trip.
While axes may not be as necessary as they were even a hundred years ago, they are still essential survival items as well as crucial teaching tools. Being able to cut your own food and set a proper fire is just something that every man should know how to do, and should teach to their sons. Models, maintenance, and safety—you’re ready.