Splitting vs Maul Axe | The Best Axe for Splitting Wood

Which is the best axe for splitting wood – a splitting axe or a maul axe? You are on the right page as we will be looking into both axes.

Like you, most people often contemplate between these two options when splitting wood. Both can chop wood. However, the question at hand is – which is better?

Quick Overview

Here is a brief comparison between the splitting and maul axe in terms of features:

  • Weight of Axe Head – The axe head’s weight makes all difference between the splitting axe and maul axe. Mauls have heavier heads than splitting axes.
  • Design of Axe Head – The splitting axe has a tapered head, while the maul axe has a broad, wedge-shaped blade.
  • Handle – Maul axes have longer handles compared to splitting axes, which decrease the likelihood of self-injury. Splitting axes, on the other hand, have shorter handles and are ideal for splitting and chopping.

Now that you have a general idea about a splitting axe and a maul, I will share a detailed guide explaining each axe’s key features and benefits.

Let’s start with the splitting axe.

What Is A Splitting Axe?

As its name suggests, this axe is designed to split wood. It has a tapered head that breaks fibers apart. Unlike chopping axes that cut across the grain, a splitting axe cleaves along the grain.

Key Features of a Splitting Axe

A splitting axe is designed to break the fibers apart by splitting along the grain. Here are the key features:

  • Lightweight

Splitting axes are lightweight and easy to use. Since they weigh 3-6 pounds, users can swing the axe over long periods without tiring.

  • Durable

Even though splitting axes are lightweight, they have sturdy construction. Most axe heads are made of high-carbon steel for durability. Their handles, too, are made of wood, steel, and fiberglass to last long.

  • Superior Comfort

The wood and fiberglass handle on splitting axes provide a superior grip on the user’s hands. The enhanced grip protects the hand and creates room for one-strike splits.

  • Balanced Power-to-Weight Ratio

These axes generate balance and a higher power-to-weight ratio. This feature improves splitting power and speed.

  • Weighted Head

The weight of an axe head determines the momentum generated to split wood. The heavier the head, the higher the swinging power. 

Since most splitting axes weigh between 3-6 pounds, this weight is ideal for splitting small and medium-sized wood. Furthermore, the weight is not too heavy for operators to control.

  • Multi-Purpose Use

Splitting axes are multifunctional. Not only can they split wood, but they can chop trees, too. 

They have blade-grinding techniques that fell small trees, split logs, and carve stakes.

  • Reduced Friction

Splitting axes have a low-friction coating on the blade to reduce friction. The layer diminishes the likelihood of the axe getting stuck when splitting.

  • Shock Absorption

These axes have wood or fiberglass handles. These handles absorb and dissipate vibrations to safeguard hands. They also prevent overstrike damage.

Why You Should Buy a Splitting Axe

A splitting axe is a convenient tool for splitting small-sized logs and kindling for the fire. Its sharp edges and lightweight nature make the axe ideal to hold in one hand. Besides, splitting axes have more appeal and precision.

Pros

  • It is lightweight, thereby reducing fatigue.
  • The sharp, narrow head is designed to split fibers.
  • It is comfortable to use for long hours.
  • The axe is sturdy and durable.
  • The design allows accurate strike and is appropriate for women.

Cons

  • It would help if you had a block to support the wood you want to split. Failure to do so results in the axe digging into the dirt.
  • It requires more force and strikes.

My Recommendation

I recommend the Fiskars 378841-1002 X27 Super (36″) Splitting Axe as the best splitting axe. It has advanced blade geometry, optimized weight distribution, a razor-sharp edge, and an unbreakable design.

This 36″ splitting axe offers one-strike swings on medium and large-sized logs. Its long handle and weighted head provide increased leverage, power, and speed.

The X27 features a blade-grinding technique that offers better contact and precise cuts. To stay sharp, the blade is made of hardened forged steel. It also has a blade coating to prevent the axe from sticking in wood.

The handle on the axe has a non-slip grip to improve control while reducing hand strain. It also features a shock-absorbing Fiber-Comp handle that prevents overstrike damage.

What I love most about Fiskars X27 is their lifetime warranty. The axe is made to last, but in case of defects, the company offers replacements.

What Is A Maul Axe?

Maul axes are referred to as block splitters, blockbusters, and sledge axes. It’s a heavy tool used for splitting wood.

Like splitting axes, mauls are designed to split along the grain without wastage. They have a heavy, blunt head that delivers sheer force into the wood to break fibers. Mauls have long handles that guide the tool into the ground after a swing.

Key Features of a Maul Axe

Maul axes are also referred to as block splitters, blockbusters, and sledge axes. From these names, we can deduce that a maul is a heavy tool that splits wood.

Maul axes are designed to split along the grain of the wood, not across. Nevertheless, here are the key features found in these axes:

  • Axe Head

Maul axes have heavy, broad, wedge-shaped heads for cleaving into the wood. They are often forged from high-grade carbon steel with a Rockwell scale of 45-60 to endure repeated abuse.

Maul’s heads weigh between 8-12 pounds. They require more energy and force compared to splitting axes. The heads are fat and blunt to break fibers along the grain. Their V-shape design tears the wood apart without sticking.

How about the other end?

The poll end on the maul axe works like a sledgehammer. It can be used alongside a metal wedge to split tough wood.

  • Quality Handle

Maul handles are made from hardwoods, steel, and fiberglass. The most common type of hardwood used is hickory. It offers strength, flexibility, and resiliency. In addition, it is lightweight and absorbs shocks without breaking.

Fiberglass handles are popular too. They are tough, durable, and excellent at dissipating shock. Moreover, a fiberglass maul handle is comfortable to use over long periods. Its only disadvantage is- difficulty in finding replacements.

Maul steel handles are more durable compared to wood and fiberglass. With it, users can work on different woods without the fear of the axe head coming off. Unfortunately, since the head and handle are welded together, operators often suffer brutal shocks when splitting.

  • Eye of the Maul Head

Maul’s heads have either an axe-head eye or a sledge-head eye. Both eyes fit the handle securely to the axe head.

  • Strength and Durability

The heads on maul axes are heat-treated to ensure strength and durability. Their handles, too, are secured safely to the head.

Why You Should Buy a Maul Axe

Mauls are more effective in splitting wood than splitting axes. Their blunt wedge-shaped heads cleave through the wood to tear the fibers apart. Although they are not as sharp as splitting axes, the blunt edge drives powerful force without getting stuck.

Besides, these axes need no power to work, which makes them affordable. With the right amount of elbow grease, you are good to go. 

In addition, splitting is a great way to exercise. Although the experience will not match the gym, you will have a great workout after splitting wood.

Pros

  • The long handle reduces the likelihood of getting hurt when working.
  • The wide wedges prevent the axe from sticking.
  • It offers greater leverage.
  • Users achieve high velocity and speed.
  • The blade does not need regular sharpening.

Cons

  • The heavy wedge is difficult to swing.
  • The added weight will tire you quickly.

My Recommendation

I recommend the Husqvarna 32″ Wooden Splitting Maul based on performance, ease-of-use, durability, and convenience. 

The Husqvarna 32″ is heavy yet powerful in splitting medium-sized and large wood. Its 6-pound Swedish hand-forged steel head makes it durable and efficient. 

The hardened striking face acts as a splitting wedge while the poll acts like a sledgehammer.

This splitting maul comes with a hickory handle that provides superior strength. The handle absorbs shock and vibrations to enable a user-friendly experience. Besides, the 32″ ergonomic handle offers a secure grip and convenience when swinging.

The Husqvarna 32″ also offers a balanced weight between the head and handle for more accurate swings.

Things You Should Consider When Buying an Axe

Before clicking the ‘Buy’ button, here are a few things to consider when getting an axe:

  • Axe Head Weight

Axe heads are either heavy or lightweight. Most users think that heavy axe heads translate to better splitting tools. What’s unknown to them is, it is much easier to lose accuracy when swinging a heavy axe.

This is why experts recommend beginners use lightweight axe heads. The reason is that a user should feel comfortable while learning the swinging techniques.

Besides, if you are to spend a lot of hours splitting wood, choose a splitting axe. Its lightweight design comes in handy when swinging for long hours.

Remember, if an axe head is too heavy for your arms, you may lose control and aim, resulting in a disaster. In addition, you will only last a few swings before tiring. Therefore, find a splitting axe or maul that feels comfortable in your hands.

  • Handle Length

It would be best if you also considered the length of the handle. Short handles work best in splitting small woods, camping, and using with one hand. They are also ideal for short operators.

Long handles, on the other hand, generate more power and velocity when splitting. They provide force and control and are ideal for tall users.

If you are starting, try a 32″ handle. It is neither too long nor short. This length will help you achieve power and speed while perfecting your splitting skills.

  • Materials on the Handle

Choose handles made of wood, forged steel, or fiberglass composite materials since they can withstand rigorous impacts.

Wood handles are more popular. They feel good on the hands and are lightweight. In addition, wood does absorb vibration and shock, making it comfortable.

To tell a strong wood handle, check that the grain is parallel to the bit. It should also have tight, narrow-spaced, and numerous growth rings. Sadly, wooden handles weaken over time and may demand a replacement.

For forged steel handles, they are often combined with the axe head to make it one piece. They are more durable than wood and fiberglass. However, they do not absorb shock.

Fiberglass handles are smooth and comfortable to swing. They absorb shock and are lightweight. However, they do not perform well in freezing temperatures.

  • Balance

It is essential to find balance when choosing a splitting and maul axe. This means checking the ratio between the head and length of the handle. 

Also, confirm the shape and design of the axe. Well-balanced axes are easy to swing, which makes them efficient.

  • Good Grip

Your safety should be a concern when buying an axe. Find one with a secure grip during all weather conditions. You wouldn’t want the axe sliding away after sweating your hands.

  • Type of Wood

Put into consideration the type of wood you will be splitting before the purchase. If you need to break a hardwood or large pieces of wood, a maul axe is the best option. The heavy axe head will split faster through tough wood.

However, if you are looking for an axe to split small-sized kindling, get a splitting axe.

  • The versatility of the Axe Head

Splitting axes can be used for splitting and chopping trees. Maul axes, on the other hand, can be used for splitting and driving in wedges. For this reason, consider your woodworking needs before the purchase to evaluate which tool suits you.

  • Maintenance

Look for brands that offer covers, sheaths, and sharpening tools before buying. These care goods help maintain the functionality and durability of an axe.

  • Price

It is important to note that maul axes cost more than splitting axes. Why? Because they are larger and made of more materials. 

If you come across a maul axe retailing at the same price as a splitting axe, the chances are that its quality is compromised.

Which is Better for Splitting Wood?

There is a lot to consider when choosing between a splitting and maul axe. Both axes have outstanding features that make them ideal for splitting wood. They have high-quality steel heads, durable handles, and a perfect head-to-handle ratio.  

Now back to our question, which axe is best for splitting wood?

It all comes down to preference. Both axes are great for splitting. Nevertheless, keep in mind your overall strength and stamina, size and type of job at hand, and the weight of the axe. These three factors will help you find the best axe for you.

I hope you find this guide helpful in deciding whether you need splitting or a maul axe.

Related Questions

What is the Difference Between a Splitting Axe and a Maul?

A splitting axe is smaller, and easy to handle, and weighs 3-6 pounds. A maul, however, is heavy, demands more strength during operation, and weighs 6-8 pounds.

Should I Sharpen My Maul Axe?

Mauls do not need sharpening to work effectively. On the contrary, their blunt wedge-shaped heads drive splitting force through wood effortlessly. However, you can sharpen the maul if you love working with sharp edges.

James Thomas

James Thomas

Tool Enthusiast

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