Everyone needs a Splitting Axe
A splitting axe is a staple in any firewood burners' tool collection. Why??? Because axes are always handy tools and they represent doing things the old fashioned way. Sometimes you need an axe when the rest of your equipment and tools are broken. For this reason, make sure you have a good splitting axe.
Are firewood axes different than normal axes?
Yes they are a bit different, although there is no reason that you couldn't use a regular axe to split firewood. But, depending on your normal axe, it may not be a good idea because it will dull a sharp axe rather quickly unless done very carefully.
A "normal axe", generally refers to an axe used to cut wood. Therefore it will have a sharp edge. An axe for splitting doesn't need to have a sharp edge because it is only splitting the wood apart.
The actual size and shape of the axe varies greatly with different models and brands. A typical axe used for splitting will have a head that weighs between 3-4 lbs. There are some axes that are shaped like a "v" to simulate the shape of a maul without the extra weight. Regardless of the size or shape of the axe, if you use it to split wood, you can safely refer to it as a splitting axe.
What is the best handle?
Honestly, it's really just a matter of personal preference. I like using hickory handles that are about 30" long. However, that is not the normal size, I just prefer it because I'm used to using that length.
Most handles sold on a splitting wood axe are 36" long. The advantage to having a longer handle is the ability to get more power with your swing. The advantage of a shorter handle is better control of the axe. Pick your poison!
Some axes come with fiberglass handles and others have wooden handles. I like the feel of a wooden handle but fiberglass is a better buy if you're not an experienced axeman. You only need to over-shoot a log once with a good strong hit and you can break a wooden axe handle. Do the same thing with fiberglass and it will bounce right back. Fiberglass handles are built to last a lifetime.
Buy a splitting axe. If you only have one, buy another! They are extremely useful to keep around. As I said earlier, at the very least, it is a good backup plan when other splitting equipment breaks.
Also, axes are very efficient when processing easy-to-split species like poplar, ash or pine. You can split wood like this quicker with an axe because you won't tire as quickly compared to using a maul.
Find out what works for you. Just remember, if you decide to buy a wooden handle, plan to buy an extra handle. At some point, the handle with probably break and you'll need to re-hang the axe. Good luck and happy splitting!
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