2020’s Best Wood Splitting Axe - Top 10 Models Analyzed

2020’s Best Wood Splitting Axe – Top 10 Models Analyzed

Nothing quite brings out the inner woodsman in us all then the feeling of splitting wood. Whether for a campfire or for an at-home wood-fired stove, the practice of splitting wood dates back centuries and is still enjoyed by many today. But as any novice can attest to, splitting isn’t as easy at looks on TV. You need the right tool for the job and that means taking a wood splitting axe in hand.

Crafted specifically to optimize the wood splitting process, these axes have long been favored for their wedge-shaped heads and durable handles. Together, these parts are designed to rend wood through applied pressure, rather than through a continuous slicing motion. With the right add-on, this can really minimize user fatigue.

While a classic Paul Bunyan-style axe may come to mind immediately, there have been a number of innovations in axe technology recently such as composite material handles and beveled heads that can really improve your shopping experience. When it comes down to it, there’s a wood splitting axe out there for choppers of all experience levels. But the question remains: what is the best wood splitting axe?

To save you time and effort, I’ve tried out many of the best-performing models available today to create this guide to the best wood splitting axes. With unique weights, grips, and blade styles abounding, each of these axes is capable of bringing you that all-encompassing feeling of excitement as you cleave through a hunk of oak in one swing.

Whether you’re planning on keeping your axe by the stove or in your pack when you camp, be sure to invest in a model that is durable beyond compare. Quality means a lot when it comes to axes, so I recommend that you follow my expert guidance in order to prepare for this important purchase.

Best Wood Splitting Axe – Comparison

PictureNameSizeItem weightPrice
Fiskars 378841-1002 X27 Super36-Inch5.85 poundsCheck Latest Price
1844 Helko Werk Germany 31-Inch8.5 poundsCheck Latest Price
Estwing Double Bit Axe7 ouncesCheck Latest Price
 1844 Helko Werk Germany Vario 200030-Inch4.25 poundsCheck Latest Price
Council Tool Boy’s Axe24-Inch3 poundsCheck Latest Price
Fiskars Iso Core Maul 751110-100336-Inch10.4 poundsCheck Latest Price
Estwing Camper’s Axe26-Inch3.44 poundsCheck Latest Price
Leveraxe Classic | “The Smart Axe”36-inch6.17 poundsCheck Latest Price
Biber Classic Swedish Carpenter’s Hatchet 23-3/4-inch5.65 poundsCheck Latest Price
Cold Steel Trail Boss Axe27-inch8 ouncesCheck Latest Price


Top 10 Best Wood Splitting Axes for Wood Stove Owners

After trying each of these axes on a variety of common wood types, I can fully conclude that the following models are the 10 best wood splitting axes available to you today. A variety of factors went into crowning these top-tier wood splitting axes, including balance, leverage, and head durability. With these factors and more in mind, here are my expertly-chosen picks for the best wood splitting.

1. Fiskars 378841-1002 X27 Super Splitting Axe

    If you’re not the kind of wood splitter that sweats the details, then I’d gladly put the Fiskars 378841-1002 X27 Super Splitting Axe in your hands. This model provides a consistent level of performance that’s both comfortable in hand and effective on the chopping block.

    The Fiskars 378841-1002 has been particularly well balanced, as I found very little torque being wasted as I swung it down. While not extra hefty at 6 pounds, I found the power-to-weight ratio to be great for regular use. I didn’t walk away from this test with sore hands, either, thanks to the textured grip.

    Part of this optimal balance comes from its straight handle (also called the heft). This shape makes it easier to slide your hands as you follow through on a swing, ensuring that very little effort and force is lost. This optimal power transfer can be even better optimized by picking out a handle size that fits your frame, with sizing options including 17, 23.5, 28, and 36 inches in length.

    I also found this axe’s head to be a great performer. With advanced bevel construction, the Fiskars 378841-1002’s forged steel head was among the easiest to remove from a piece of wood without excessive pinching. This ease-of-removal is complemented by the low-friction coating across the entire cutting surface.

    Altogether, this model’s construction and ease-of-use make it a great standard go-to option. Like a reliable baseball bat, I would gladly take more swings with the Fiskars 378841-1002 wood splitting axe.

    What We Like:

    • Available in several sizes between 17 and 36 inches
    • Beveled head reduced pinching and friction
    • Forged steel blade with a low-friction coating
    • Textured grip reduces strain and improves stability

    What We Didn’t Like:

    • Handle prone to heat damage

    2. 1844 Helko Werk Germany Saxon Splitting Axe

      Have you ever heard the moniker, “precision German engineering,” perhaps in reference to cars? Well, that degree of quality and attention to detail isn’t reserved for automobiles alone. In fact, as the 1844 Helko Werk Germany Saxon Splitting Axe demonstrates that even a well-loved wood tool can go a step beyond the standard to provide a long-lasting, effortless experience at the chopping block.

      I usually pride American-made tools above all else. But I have to give my full professional commendation to this Helko Werk wood splitting axe, which was handcrafted and assembled in Germany. Each head is forged from German C50 high-grade carbon steel for enhanced chip-resistance, while the Swiss-made handles are carved from Grade A American hickory for exceptional weight balance.

      Perhaps most striking about this model is its pre-installed overstrike protector. Made from high-resistance steel and placed just below the head, this plate prevents this vulnerable joint from splitting apart after long wood splitting sessions. If you ask me, I think the overstrike plate also makes for a generally stylish addition to this well-built wood splitting axe.

      Add-ons can really sell an axe to me and with this model, the tanned leather and nickel sheath really convinced me that this model was worth keeping on my own tool rack. I believe it’s precision German engineering will really come in handy down the line.

      What We Like:

      • Precision German engineering
      • Swiss-made handle made from high-quality American hickory
      • Comes with tanned leather and nickel sheath
      • Built-in steel overstrike protector

      What We Didn’t Like:

      • Pricier-then-average import

      3. Estwing Double Bit Axe

        While I know this wood splitting axe looks straight out of a medieval fantasy movie, I can fully assure you that it performs just as powerfully as it looks. With two well-sharpened blades, you’ll be able to get double the lifespan out of the Estwing Double Bit Axe. In fact, you may be able to double that lifespan over again if you take these easy-to-hone blades to the whetstone at the right time.

        As any outdoor veteran knows, long hours spent chopping logs can take a toll on your hands, arms, and back. While it cannot eliminate this strain entirely, the Estwing Double Bit Axe has taken a firm step towards wood splitting comfort with its shock reduction grip. I found this shock absorption factor to be as effective as advertised, which states that this rubberized grip can reduce vibrations by up to 70%.

        I’m also a big proponent of axe safety, so I really appreciate the Estwing Double Bit Axe’s unique ballistic nylon sheath. Designed to protect you from the razor-sharp blades, this cover also effectively protects the blades from ambient contaminates that risk corroding their chopping capacity.

        As an Illinois native, I can’t help but mention this axe’s manufacturing origins. Made in Rockford, Illinois, at a generations-old foundry, you can take confidence in knowing that every component of this wood splitting axe has been crafted with American-made precision. For this reason and so many others, you should really give this double-headed wood splitting axe a swing in your own backyard.

        What We Like:

        • Forged steel construction for added durability
        • Shock reduction grip reduces vibration substantially
        • Ballistic nylon sheath for added safety
        • Made in Rockford, Illinois, USA

        What We Didn’t Like:

        • Maybe too small for larger-than-average people

        Also Read: The Best Wood Carving Tools – Buyer’s Guide

        4. 1844 Helko Werk Germany Vario 2000 Splitting Axe

          Helko Werk didn’t settle for just one high-performing wood splitting axe model. Instead, they further innovated by putting out the 1844 Helko Werk Germany Vario 2000 Splitting Axe. Like its beveled-headed cousin, this axe carries with it a great deal of precision and power that derives from its pan-European origins.

          Though this model is primarily crafted in Wuppertal, Germany, using high-grade carbon steel, it also sources its Grade A American hickory handles from specialized craftsmen in Switzerland. Effectively, this axe has been touched by some industry-leaders when it comes to reliable, durable axe construction.

          This model’s head stands out just a bit from Helko Werk’s more recognized models. Instead of a beveled construction, this axe incorporates a straight forward wedge-shaped head. While this does lead to slightly more pinching when wedged into a piece of wood, I found it easier to leave this model through wood without any additional weighted assistance.

          The Helko Werk Germany Vario 2000 also features a truly unique handle design unseen in other competitor models. This handle curves smoothly outward, which allows a user to fully maximize their curved swing to accurately and powerfully chop through even hefty pieces of oak and pine.

          I’m always in favor of proper axe maintenance, which this model makes easy. Because it comes with a 1 oz. bottle of Axe Guard protective oil, you’ll never have to worry about this axe head falling out of shape – even if you use it winter after winter to feed your wood-burning stove.

          What We Like:

          • Unique outer-bevel heft to maximize chopping motion
          • Pan-European construction
          • Comes with a bottle of metal protection oil
          • Ideal for wood-burning stove owners

          What We Didn’t Like:

          • Sub-optimal grain orientation

          5. Council Tool Boy’s Axe

            Every good woodsman or woman must learn to chop wood at some point and the best time to learn is when they’re still young. But regular wood splitting axes are often too heavy or too long to fit a young adult’s frame. Luckily, the Council Tool Boy’s Axe was uniquely designed to fit into a young person’s hands and optimize their ability to learn proper wood splitting technique and safety.

            Despite its name, the Council Tool Boy’s Axe’s diminished length and weight will fit comfortably into most any young man or woman’s hands. Clocking in at only 2.25 lbs., they should face little trouble pulling this cornerstone wood preparation tool down onto a log of maple wood.

            As noted, I’ve never found another model better suited to teaching young people about the importance of properly and safely using a wood splitting axe. This model’s bright red head is very visible, allowing a novice wood chopper to always keep an eye on where their axe head is headed. At the same time, they will learn to watch out for the axe head when others in their vicinity are chopping wood.

            This model’s serrated blade edge also gives an extra degree of bite, ideal for those still adjusting the amount of strength needed to cleanly split an upright log. This aluminum head is also fairly strong and resilient to ambient air moisture.

            I’ve long worked with Boy Scouts and other outdoor enthusiasts. Each and every time they ask me about the best wood splitting axe for young adults, I direct them to the Council Tool Boy’s Axe. Anyone can lift this axe and use it to learn this all-important life skill.

            What We Like:

            • Bright red head for classic aesthetic and safety
            • Lightweight for easy use
            • Serrated tip to improve bite
            • Ideal for use by young people, including Boy Scouts

            What We Didn’t Like:

            • Does not come with a sheath

            6. Fiskars Iso Core Maul 751110-1003

              Hardwoods have a tendency to not give up the ghost on your first…or even sometimes your second and successive swings. These dense wood chunks need a little extra help to split apart. That’s where a wood splitting axe like the Fiskars Iso Core Maul 751110-1003 comes into play.

              Technically a “maul” by categorical assignment, this type of axe sees a heavy rotation among routine wood splitters for its ability to (with help) drive through just about any wood imaginable. This model works much like a standalone wedge in that it is designed to be left in a piece of wood after a first attempt and then hit on its hammerhead end with a mallet or hammer.

              This pushes the driving face down with exceptionally focused force, cleaving the troublesome log side from side. Though this process can theoretically be completed with any old axe, only an axe like the Fiskars Iso Core Maul can accomplish it without damaging the entire head’s structural integrity.

              To establish this durability, the Fiskars Iso Core Maul is forged from heat-treated steel. This steel is then covered in a rust-resistant coating that prevents undue corrosion from damaging the cutting edge.

              The Fiskars Iso Core Maul also features a surprisingly comfortable grip system that left my hands feeling fresh after a prolonged chopping session. Built with the Iso Core Shock Control System, this model is able to mitigate shock and vibrations twice as well as a standard wood handle.

              With all this durability and splitting capacity, you’d expect this model to be expensive. But it really isn’t, making it an affordable option for serious wood splitting.

              What We Like:

              • Unique Iso Core shock absorption system minimizes fatigue
              • Soft grip handle minimizes slippage
              • Heat-treated steelhead
              • Hammerhead allows for effective wedging

              What We Didn’t Like:

              • Head is prone to chipping

              7. Estwing Camper’s Axe

              Traditional axe architecture dictates that a metal axe head must be wedged onto the end of a carved handle in one form or another. This construction is prone to obvious failures, such as the head coming lose and dangerously flying off at an unexpected moment. The Estwing Camper’s Axe attempts to eliminate this risk through its unique single-body construction.

              To be more specific, the head and body of this wood splitting axe are made from one continuous piece of hand polished steel. As such, the Estwing Camper’s Axe doesn’t feature any “moving parts” that require regular maintenance and tightening. This model is optimally strong and durable as a result, allowing for many years of successful use.

              This construction comes with one notable heel, however. Traditional axes are able to be fixed with some routine maintenance if the head chips or the handle splinters. Because this model is one continuous piece of unified metal, it cannot be fixed if the head chips or the body bends. While I am not a fan of this component, I have many camping friends who insist that they prefer this single-body construction for its balance.

              In the same vein, I definitely recommend this wood splitting axe to campers. This model’s overall lightweight frame makes it a real asset when you decide to make camp in the woods and need to split up some small trees and branches for a fire.

              What We Like:

              • Solid all steel construction
              • Hand polished finish
              • Can handle small trees and branches
              • Made in the USA

              What We Didn’t Like:

              • Cannot replace head if damaged

              Also Read: Best CNC Routers – Take Your Woodworking to the Next Level

              8. Leveraxe Classic | “The Smart Axe”

                If it’s not broken, don’t fix it, right? Well, sometimes a classic tool could use a little innovation – even an axe. Leveraxe saw this as an opportunity to give experienced wood choppers a new degree of power over their wood pile and introduced the “Smart Axe.” Featuring a wholly unique horizontal facing head, this model harkens back to a centuries-old axe style that is still pretty useful today.

                Categorically known as an adze-style axe, the Smart Axe splits wood at a horizontal angle, rather than a regular vertical angle. This method takes better advantage of the regular chopping motion, requiring you to put less power behind each swing. This can really cut down on fatigue once you get a hang of it.

                Speed is also a quality I would attribute to this axe. While one should always be methodical when they chop wood, the Smart Axe really sped up my wood cutting process because of how rarely it got stuck in the wood. I was surprised to find out this model came with a 10-year guarantee as well. That’s pretty impressive for such an up-and-coming company.

                Though it took me a moment to adjust to the Smart Axe’s unique style, I found using it to be pretty enjoyable. That being said, I can only fully recommend it to experienced woods men and women who are looking to really revolutionize how they prepare their wood pile.

                What We Like:

                • Unique adze-style head
                • Improves levering action to improve speed
                • 5.5 lbs. (with head)
                • 10-year guarantee on head

                What We Didn’t Like:

                • Not ideal for inexperienced wood choppers

                9. Biber Classic Swedish Carpenter’s Hatchet

                  Continuing along with the trend of fine European engineered axes, the Biber Classic Swedish Carpenter’s Hatchet originates from Austria where it was imbued a good deal of strength and durability. Each of these axes rolls out of a family-owned business – Leonhard Mueller & Soehne – ensuring that it has been well cared for before it reaches your hands.

                  Though like most regular axes in terms of construction, this model’s head and blade are noticeably different. Specifically, the blade has been forged to extend beyond the regular length of the head. This provides for more cutting space than most standard axes as well as an enhanced capacity to wedge.

                  In my experience with broad axes (both this one and others), these models are more accurate by virtue of their more expansive cutting surface. This makes cleaving through even thick logs a simple matter. This otherwise difficult process is further simplified by the slightly slanted blade orientation. This modifies the vertical bite, providing for a deeper cut overall.

                  Speaking from experience, a broad axe like the Biber Classic can be an unrivaled asset. While living and working out of a cabin in rural western Illinois for several summers, I made use of this type of axe to split every last ounce of lumber we used for cooking fires. As such, I’d gladly recommend this type of axe to anyone with a propensity for wood cutting.

                  What We Like:

                  • 7-3/8-inch face – broader than most
                  • 23-inch hickory handle
                  • Slanted blade to maximize vertical bite
                  • Handcrafted in Austria

                  What We Didn’t Like:

                  • Can be unwieldy

                  10. Cold Steel Trail Boss Axe

                    If you’re in the market for a run-of-the-mill wood splitting axe, I have a recommendation for you as well: the Cold Steel Trail Boss Axe. This axe can get the job done and still provide you with the familiar grip that you’ve used for decades.

                    With an overall length of 26 inches, the Cold Steel Trail Boss Axe will fit the frame of most folks with some wood splitting experience. That handle is made of American hickory as well, so you can be sure that it won’t split after a few hard impacts with the chopping block.

                    This model’s head is constructed from drop-forged 1055 carbon steel, a remarkably resilient alloy that is fairly chip-resistant. Even so, I could see it taking some surface wear after taking a few practice swings with it. I expect it may need extra sharpening down the road.
                    As I said, this axe is just right who don’t want to change a thing about how they chop and split wood. More power to you, as long as you relish every moment of this timeless practice.

                    What We Like:

                    • Reliable classic construction
                    • Drop-forged 1055 carbon steel head
                    • Versatile usage, from chopping to splitting

                    What We Didn’t Like:

                    • Head shape conducive to friction and pinching
                    • May require extra sharpening more often


                    When it comes down to it, a great wood splitting axe can make as much difference as proper technique and safety. A wood splitting axe with a low-friction head and high-leverage handle can go a long way towards turning whole oak logs into valuable lumber. Nearly every axe on this list embodies these important qualities in some shape or form, so I simply can’t choose just one of them to serve as the best overall wood splitting axe.

                    If you’re still unsure of which axe to choose, be sure to reread my reviews and determine whether durability, blade style, or price matter the most to you. From there, you should have no problem selecting the wood splitting axe that will stay with you through countless trips to the woodpile.

                    Proper technique can also go a long way when it comes to splitting wood efficiently. Be sure to practice with your new wood splitting axe in order to apply best practices to your standard swing.

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                    Sean J. Stone

                    Sean has been a woodworking enthusiast for 8 years, and in that time has written huge resources on woodworking and tools.

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