garden axes A splitting axe and a Chopping axe

Best Axes and Mauls for garden, chopping and splitting

Last Updated on March 25, 2024 by Editors

Choosing the ideal axe for gardening or your yard from different brands available on the market can be challenging. There are hundreds of different axes for garden on offer. So, what do you need to know as a new gardener or homeowner for you to discern which garden axe best suits your individual needs and intended purpose?

There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of chopping wood with a well-made axe or maul. Whether you’re splitting logs for the fireplace or chopping up branches for the compost pile, the right tool makes the job a whole lot easier – and more fun.

In this guide you will learn about axes for gardens and yards, their types, common uses, maintenance, how to safely use them, how to choose the best ax for your needs and more! Also, we included two suggestions for the best axes of each popular type. We hope that you will find this guide useful.

Best Axes for chopping and splitting wood – Our Top Picks

We decided to include two axes in our suggestions. The first is the best maul on the market for splitting wood and it is quite expensive. However, if you need an axe for breaking apart many big pieces of wood every season and you want the splitting tool to last forever, then our recommendation will not disappoint you.
Our second suggestion, is an affordable solution for chopping wood. We do not have hands-on experience with this particular chopping ax, however, in the past we used other axes of this company (Fiskars). For these two reasons, plus the hundreds positive reviews on the internet, we believe that it has an excellent price-to-quality ratio.

Best Axe for Splitting Wood

Gränsfors Bruk Splitting Maul

Gransfors Bruk Splitting Maul - Garden axes and Splitting Mauls

In our opinion, you will not find a better splitting maul on the market. It has top-notch craftsmanship and the perfect weight, length, and materials for splitting large pieces of wood. Made in Sweden by a brand that specializes in making high-quality handcrafted axes, the splitting maul from Gränsfors Bruk has a total length around 31.5″ and overall weight around 7 pounds. The 8.267″ long head weighs 5.5 pounds. The maul comes with the AxeBook of Gränsfors Bruk, a leather edge-guard and an extended 20 year warranty for the ax-head. If you are shopping for the best splitting mauls, then we believe that this offer is ideal for you.

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Best Axe for Chopping Wood

The 23.5-Inch Fiskars Chopping Axe, 378571-1002 X15 (our recommendation for tight budgets)

378571-1002 X15 from the Fiskars garden axes chopping axe felling axes

The 378571-1002 X15 from the Fiskars brand is a budget-friendly chopping axe. It’s not as long as other chopping axes on the market. However, it is lightweight and has a head that has an extremely sharp edge of the felling type. Thankfully, it comes with a plastic carrying sheath to protect you from getting injured while you carry it. This affordable ax is made in Finland and it has a lifetime warranty! It has a strong shock-absorbing handle and it is best suited for chopping fallen trees. If you are shopping for the best chopping axes and you are on a tight budget, then we believe that this sturdy felling ax will be perfect for you.

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What is axe

Axe is a one-handed or two-handed tool with a handle and a heavy metal blade.

What is an axe used for

You can use an axe as a garden hand tool to split the wood into two pieces, chop trees, logs, chop and cut branches or kindling. However, not just any axe can be used for chopping wood or to break logs into pieces of wood.

Splitting axe vs chopping axe

The axes of the chopping category are used to chop wood. The most common types of this category are the felling axes and chopping axes. You should use these axes to chop and cut wood. On the other hand, if you want to split wood, then you should use an axe of the splitting category. Among the axes of the splitting category you will find splitting mauls and splitting axes. With these axe types you are going to break the wood fibers apart.

Where to use an axe

The axe is a good tool to have if there are trees in your garden. Additionally, many people use wood as fuel for either recreational purposes, heating and/or cooking. This firewood needs to be split into smaller wood pieces and stacked in a dry place somewhere in the yard.

How to choose the best axe for gardening tasks

Garden axes come in many different types consisting of small and large designs, different weights, and each make differs from the other. Therefore, the first thing to do when choosing the best garden axe for you is to determine how you plan to use the axe and then select either a small or large design. In addition, you’ll have to choose the right weight for your needs. Apart from that, it is ingenious to know that your level of expertise matters. All these factors among others help determine the best axe for you.

Axe length

There are several essentials that a good garden axe must-have. For instance, you need to consider the length of the axe’s handle (shaft). This is important because the length of the handle determines your swing’s force. Theoretically, the longer handle will help you make swings with more force. For the average person a 30 to 32 inches length is good enough.

Axe weight

The weight of the axe is another determining factor when you have to choose a good axe to use in your garden or yard. Typically, heavier axe heads might enable you to use more force when you swing your axe. On the other hand, there are several important things that you have to consider. For instance, if portability is your main consideration, then you should consider getting a lightweight axe.

User body posture and strength

Axes are still used as weapons. They are not kid toys to play with. A wrong swing can be fatal. Depending on your body strength and stance you should choose the right one for you. In addition, many of us have some kind of disability that forces us to take poor posture when swinging with an axe. It is imperative to use an axe that you feel comfortable to make swings with accuracy. Generally, a 5 pounds weight is the sweet spot for swing force and accuracy.

Axe head

In the past, you could easily find many double head axes. These are double-bit axes which means that they have a head with two blades. These days, most axes on the market feature a head with a single bit. The bit is the cutting edge of the head. Nevertheless, you can still find both types of axe heads for sale on retailers. As for the material of the axe’s head, the most common one is the carbon steel. This type of steel is hard. The cutting edge doesn’t become dull easily. However, it is advisable to sharpen the cutting edge very often.

Axe handle

Another basic consideration is the material of the handle. Typically, the materials used for the handle are wood, metal or fiberglass. The wooden handle is a classic and proven choice. In the case of other handle materials like metal (steel) and fiberglass you should avoid buying an axe with a hollowed handle. When you chop with an axe you have to use a lot of force. As a result, a hollow handle gives you a nasty feeling when you strike with an axe because the feedback creates vibrations. Most of us hate the feeling of the impact vibration.

Another consideration is the shape of the handle. The handles of axes are usually straight but curved handles are not uncommon. Last but not least, when you use an axe you must be able to hold it securely. Many axe models on the market feature some kind (rubber etc) anti-slip grip.

Types of axes for garden

There are many different types of axes that you can use in your garden or yard. The most useful types of axes for gardens are:

1. Hatchets

The hatchet tool is a small one-handed axe with a short blade. Hatchets are lightweight, portable, used for light garden work like cutting branches, kindling and chopping small logs.

2. Felling Axes

The felling axe is a chopping axe, a big hatchet used to chop down trees, felling trees and logs of wood. Felling axes have a thin blade with a very sharp edge. They are used to cut across the grain of the wood.

3. Splitting Maul

Splitting mauls are long-handled heavy axes used for splitting a piece of wood along its grain. When you are pondering about the types of axes for splitting firewood the answer is certain. For the average person, the splitting maul is the best axe for splitting wood. The splitting maul has a wedge-shaped or conical head. You can use the wood splitting maul to strike splitting wedges. In order to do so, one side of the head is like a sledgehammer. The other side is like an axe, it is a pointed axe head. You can use this side to split logs and chunks of wood.

4. Splitting Axes

The splitting axe is a lighter version of the splitting maul tool. Therefore, it is easier to swing with the splitting axe. This type of axe is best suited for basic splitting of smaller chunks of wood or splitting around the edges of wood.

5. Brush axes or Billhooks

The billhook tool is a brush axe. You can use brush axes and billhooks to clear brushes, to strip the side shoots from a branch and to cut suckers. In addition, they are used to cut the small branches off trees. Despite their name, brush axes and billhooks are not axes per se. They are garden machetes.

6. Grub Axes and Pickaxes

The grub axe, also known as cutter mattock and the pickaxe axe are garden picks. Check our useful guide about garden picks for more information on cutter mattocks and pickaxes.

How to split wood with an axe

First things first, choose the appropriate axe for this task. You are going to split the wood along its grain. For this reason, you will need a splitting maul or a splitting axe. If you are going to split large logs, choose the maul. For smaller logs, choose the axe to break them into smaller pieces of wood.

  1. Make sure that there isn’t anyone nearby
  2. Secure the log
  3. Use separate splitting wedges for larger logs
  4. Aim for the cracks
  5. Raise the axe to the level of your head and use some force along with the axe’s gravity force to split the log
  6. Repeat

Axes safety

When you use axes extra care should be taken to avoid accidents. For instance, when you split logs you must make sure that there aren’t any people nearby. Also, whether you are in a closed or wide stance there is always a high possibility that the splitting tool will hit your feet if you don’t aim carefully.

Above all, when you aren’t using it then always use the leather or rubber sheath to protect the cutting edge (and yourself). Similarly, when you are not using your axe you should make sure that its cutting edge isn’t exposed. Another good safety habit is to examine the axe from times to times to make sure that its head is attached tightly to the handle.

Maintenance for garden axes

A clean and sharp axe makes your job significantly easier. If it is properly maintained then it will be effective for many years. It will cut or split wood efficiently.

Clean the axes

Always, remove the dirt and sap and clean your axe with water after each use. Moreover, use a damp cloth to dehumidify all around well and coat the blade with oil.

Sharpening axe

The cutting edge of the axe needs to be very sharp, especially if it is a chopping axe. To sharpen the axe, you can use an axe sharpening stone, or you can sharpen the axe with a file. There are many sharpening  products on the market designed especially for axe cutting edges.

Wooden handle care

Most axes have a wooden handle. Remember to use a finishing oil to finish it. Furthermore, the handle might need light sanding with a durable sandpaper to sand off splinters.

Storing axes

Store your axe in a dry place like the tool cabinet of your garage or your garden tool shed. This place should always be far away from children’s reach.

In sum

Axes are great hand tools that can help you if you have a garden with trees or you use firewood as fuel. When shopping for the best axes it is crucial to know some of the things you will need to take into account to find the best ax for your needs. In this guide we talked about their common uses, types and more. In addition, we included instructions about how to use them and our suggestions for the best ax of the chopping and splitting types.

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