Update September 28, 2015

Axe Reviews:

An axe is a key tool that any homeowner should own. Whether you are chopping wood in your backyard or using it to split up kindling while camping, an axe is very versatile. I own both a splitting axe and a small hatchet - as both are necessary to me. I have never felled a tree in the woods, but a solid chopping axe is the tool of choice for projects like that. I have owned my axes for almost a decade and the blades can get a bit dull unless you have them sharpened periodically. I found a contact through Home Depot where a guy brings his sharpening machine to their parking lot and does all the axe sharpening for a small fee. Much like a set of cooking knifes, an axe can be more dangerous the less sharp it is. What should you look for in a new axe? What should it be made out of? Where to buy an axe?
axe


Choosing an Axe - Unless you have ever shopped for an axe, you are probably not aware of all the various types that exist. Types of Axes - You have chopping, splitting, hand, camp, forest, double bit, and brush axes. The forest, splitting and chopping axes are the largest and designed for heavier use. The smaller axes, often referred to as hatchets, are best used for things like breaking up kindling for fires or chopping out roots that are growing along your lawn and causing issues. Every few years I walk my lawn area and feel for roots that have popped near the surface and then proceed to hack away at them. Materials - You may think that all axes are made with wood handles and steel blades, but that is not the case. Many axes we found have metal handles, some even have fiberglass handles. Blade - Those with the best reviews have hardened forged steel blades that will remain sharper longer than traditional blades. Non stick blade coatings are also something to look for as they will help the axe power through wood much better. The shape of the axe head will also make a difference as some are designed for clean splitting. Handle - The longer the handle, the better for duties like heavy chopping. Look for handles that are 25 inches or longer for the best results of chopping or splitting wood. The shorter handles are better for control and exact chopping/splitting. A solid grip is helpful as you will be swinging the axe with power and speed at times. Prices - Small hatches might cost you $25 while the larger, customed designed axes will go over $100. The price shouldn't be that much of an issue as axes tend to be very durable and reliable for a decade or more. Brands - Gerber, Fiskars, Estwing, Cold Steel, Ames True Temper, Gransfors, Graintex. We found many of these manufacturers listed on Amazon.com and you will also see them in Lowe's, Home Depot, Ace Hardware and speciality outdoor shops for camping or hunting. Axe Reviews - We found some dated material on Popular Mechanics for axes, but the best source out there is Amazon.com with dozens of models reviewed by actual owners who use them all the time. Get feedback, comments, and opinions on the website with pros and cons to help you make an informed buying decision. You can browse the best selling axes online here.

Best Axe/Hatchet:

I use my hatchet way more often than my axe as I find it more useful around the yard and house. Our yard is not large, but we have several trees that send out roots into our lawn and this causes issues. I don't want my kids tripping on surface level roots as they play in the grass, so I often use my Fiskars hatchet to cut through the roots and get rid of them. A hatchet is the simplest tool to do this kind of work with as I can swing down through the root into the dirt and eventually split the root and pull it out after chopping through the other side. I also find that a hatchet is priceless when camping. Use it for splitting up kindling, chopping mid-sized firewood into smaller sections, or for pounding in tent stakes with the back of the blade. They are inexpensive too, most range between $20 and $30. With the shorter handle, you get superior control and accuracy when using a hatchet. Always be sure to wear a thick pair of work gloves when handling a small axe as accidents do happen and you can't always hit your target perfectly. Several times I have been holding onto a smaller piece of wood with one hand and trying to split it with the hatchet and I have grazed my glove. Safety is rule #1 when using an axe.


Best Axe for Splitting Wood:

RECOMMENDED - The Fiskars 7884 X27 36" Splitting Axe is the one most websites recommend and our local arborist says this is his tool of choice for splitting wood. Fiskars is well recognized in this industry and the axe is designed so that the weight distribution of the head of the axe provides control, accuracy, and a solid strike each and every time. The power at impact is really impressive - whether splitting or chopping wood. The hardened forged steel blade will stay sharp much longer than the competition and the non-stick coating won't let the head get stuck in the wood. It's made in Finland and the X27 Splitting Axe is perhaps the most versatile on the market. More than 95% of owner reviews we found on Amazon rated this 5 out 5 stars. Comments included things like "splitting made easy" and "perfect length handle". The FiberComp handle is considered "virtually unbreakable" as it is lightweight and shock absorbing - but stronger than steel. The non-slip grip is another great safety feature. The only other axe of this type that gets mentioned by experts and owners is the Gransfors Scandinavian Forest Axe - at over $100 is more expensive, but you are paying for that added perfection and a 20 year product warranty.