Log splitting axe buying guide

Whether you’re a groundcare professional, a DIYer, or even a camping or outdoor enthusiast, you’ve likely come across situations where you need to use a wood splitting axe. But, what type of axe do you need, and what are the factors that will influence your buying decisions?

At Hughie Willett Machinery, we want to make your life that little bit easier, so you can get to enjoying the fruits of your labour. In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about buying a log splitting axe - so keep reading to learn more from our team…

What is a log splitting axe?

Of course, the first thing to look at is what exactly is a log splitting axe?

As the name suggests, log splitting axes are designed to split larger blocks of wood into smaller segments. This is ideal for cutting logs into firewood, or into thinner pieces that will dry quicker to make better kindling.

They can also be known as cleaving axes, and their main characteristics to look out for include:

  • A wedge-shaped blade that is thinner at the bit, then grows wider.
  • A heavier axe head, typically made of steel.

A log splitting axe


Log splitting axes are designed to cut through wood vertically, along the grain rather than against it. This helps the axe exploit the natural weaknesses in the wood grain fibres and make it easier to cut.

You should also be careful not to confuse log splitting axes with splitting mauls. Whilst these are similar, and perform the same role in cutting vertically through wood, splitting mauls are heavier and designed for larger logs.

As you can see below, splitting mauls have a more prominent, flat poll on the back of the axe head. This can be used to strike a splitting wedge on thicker pieces of wood (as you would use a sledgehammer).

A wooden sledge axe

Buy Now - Husqvarna Wooden Sledge Axe

Whilst some log splitting axes may have a flat edge that can be used like a maul, it’s not designed for heavy use in this manner.

What’s the difference between a log splitting axe and a felling axe?

Depending on the task at hand, there are several different types of axes that you can use, so it’s vital that you choose the correct one for the job.

As we mentioned, log splitting axes are designed to cut vertically along the grain of wood to separate the log into smaller pieces. 

On the other hand, rather than splitting along the wood fibres, felling axes cut through the wood - which means they should be used horizontally.

A wooden forest axe


Felling axes have a flatter, thinner head shape to allow it to cut through the wood easily (see above). These are much lighter than log splitting axes too, as you need to be able to swing a felling axe consistently over time. 

A deeper beard (the curved underside of the blade) allows for a wider cutting edge to chop materials swiftly, whilst maintaining the overall mass of the axe head.

Note - hatchets are smaller, one-handed axes that are ideal for mobile use. For example, when you’re camping and need to make firewood, or need to cut through thinner branches.

A forestry hatchet

Buy Now - Stihl AX6 Forestry Hatchet

Advantages of a log splitting axe

There are plenty of advantages to choosing an axe for log splitting. Because of their design, wood splitting axes are ideal for chopping large logs into firewood, or chopping this further into kindling.

With the rise in popularity in wood fires and chimineas, investing in a specific axe for splitting logs can actually save you a lot of money. Buying pre-chopped kindling costs a lot more each time because it’s already been processed. You also have much more control over the size of the wood you use with a splitting axe, which is important if you’re trying to use smaller log fires efficiently.

Having your own log splitting axe is also a more sustainable way of managing your firewood and kindling needs because you can cut down on the amount of plastic involved in the process (from delivery bags etc).


Log splitting axe terminology

Before buying a new wood splitting axe, it’s important to understand the different terminology and parts to the tool. This can help you check that what you’re buying is right for you, as well as make sure you know what features to look out for. 

We’ve included a labelled diagram of a log splitting axe below, along with a brief explanation about each part.

Note - most splitting axes will have the same basic parts - but handle shapes and materials tend to vary. The specific model used in the diagram is the Husqvarna Splitting Axe S2800.

Labelled diagram of a splitting axe


The head of the axe is where the blade is - the business end, as some would call it. This is made of the following parts:

  • Poll - the poll, or butt, of the splitting axe is the back of the head. This can sometimes be used as a hammer on splitting wedges to help cut through wider logs (although this is not the primary function).

Top tip - never use steel splitting wedges with this type of axe because it’s dangerous, and could damage the axe head.

  • Eye - this is found just above where the axe head and handle join, where some of the metal head will peek out from the top.
  • Bit - this is also known as the blade, and is the sharpened area that provides the initial cutting force.
  • Cheek - the cheek is used to describe the side of the axe head.


The handle, or shaft, is where you hold the axe, and is made up of the following sections:

Note - the handle is more specifically made of the belly (front) and back of the shaft.

  • Shoulder - the shoulder is the curved outer edge found directly beneath the axe head.  
  • Body - the body is where you’ll hold the axe with your front hand. This is typically around the middle of the shaft for safety and control.
  • Throat - the throat is the bottom section of the handle, nearest to the end. This is where your back hand will hold and guide the axe during use.
  • Knob - this is the curved end of an axe handle, and is designed to stop your hands from slipping off when you swing the axe.

Buying considerations

Once you’re confident you know your head from your handle, it’s time to turn your attention to buying a new log splitting axe. But, what are the key considerations you need to bear in mind before you can commit to your new tool?

Fortunately for you, we’re one step ahead. Keep reading to learn about the various aspects you need to consider and how they will make a difference to which log splitting axe is right for you.


The first thing you need to consider when buying any new tool is ‘what am I planning to use this for?’ This has a huge impact on everything from size to material - so ask yourself these questions to narrow down what to look for in a new splitting axe.

What are you cutting, and why?

This is important because wood thickness and log size will dictate how big your axe needs to be to successfully cut the whole way through.

For example, thicker logs are harder to split - and a splitting maul may be more suitable. On the other hand, if you only need something to cut kindling, a smaller axe or even a hatchet can offer you more control.

Looking to fell trees instead? Explore our The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Chainsaw blog for more information.

How frequently will you use your log splitting axe?

Another thing to consider is how frequently you will be using your log splitting axe.

If you have wood burners in your home, or regularly make use of a fire pit or chiminea, investing in a high-quality axe for log splitting can make your life a lot easier, and save you money over time.

Regular use will also dictate the materials and weight of your new axe, as it needs to be safe to use for extended periods of time.

Top tip - remember to complete regular maintenance checks on your axe after frequent use. This includes oiling the head and cleaning everything properly to remove sap and avoid splinters.

Handle material

Log splitting axe handles come in three main materials, and each have their own advantages and disadvantages which we’ll explore below.

Wooden handles

Wooden handles are relatively light to use, and they feel good in the hand. Ash, oak, or hickory wood have commonly been used for tool handles because they’re strong and durable.

One of the main benefits of a wooden handle is that it can help absorb the shock of each strike, which makes them safer and easier to use over time.

However, wooden handles will weaken and degrade over time - and eventually will need to be replaced. To mitigate this as much as possible, look for handles with a tight grain that’s parallel to the cutting direction of the blade, as these tend to be stronger.

Top tip - remember to oil a wooden handle regularly to help keep it in optimum condition.

Fibreglass handles

Fibreglass is a popular tool handle choice because it’s durable and lightweight. Made from a blend of plastic and glass, fibreglass handles are smooth and comfortable to use - and attach grips to for more reliability.

A cleaving axe
Fibreglass is shock absorbent and has a certain amount of flex to it, which can help under stressful conditions. However, it can be prone to breakage, especially if your stroke is off and you hit the shaft instead of the blade. Once broken, it’s difficult to replace a fibreglass splitting axe handle.

Steel handles

Fully steel handles are rarer, but you can still get some axes with steel handles. These are often forged in one piece with the head, and are the most durable option.

However, steel axes aren’t naturally shock absorbent, so your hands will tire quicker. Shock absorbance is an essential safety feature, so if you do want a metal handled tool you should always look for models that have rubber or other materials as a cover to reduce the impact through your hands.


Considering the weight of your log splitting axe before committing to a purchase is essential because you need your axe to have enough weight to cut through your logs properly. 

The heavier the axe head, the more power you can generate with each swing - and the thicker and wider logs you can split in one go.

However, expected user fatigue is a key metric to remember when choosing the correct axe. If your axe is too heavy, you won’t be able to use it safely or efficiently - which is both dangerous, and a waste of money. 

Most splitting axes in the UK fall between 1.5kg to 3kg. This will add up with repeated use, and you need to be able to control each swing to ensure your own safety, and that of those around you. 


Similarly to weight, you need to choose the correct handle length to be able to use your wood splitting axe properly.

Longer handles allow you to generate more velocity and power in a swing, which is ideal if you have thicker logs to cut through. However, it’s much harder to hit a precise area (like the centre of a log) with a longer handle. Inaccuracy can be dangerous, so it’s important that you can confidently swing the axe to the correct spot consistently.

Short-handled axes for log splitting are perfect for cutting kindling, especially as you can often use them one-handed for more control at close range.

Top tip - wood splitting axe handles can range from 40cm+. To find the right one for you, hold the axe beneath the head and allow the handle to swing in line with your arm. If it’s longer than your arm (reaching over your chest), it’s too long.

A small splitting axe

Buy Now - Husqvarna Wooden Small Splitting Axe

Handle length can also have an impact on the balance of the tool itself. The majority of the time, you want the balance of your log splitting axe near the head, as this offers you more control during a swing. Longer handles need to fit with the head weight to make sure the axe is reasonably balanced for use.

Top tip - if you’re a beginner, start with a short-handled log splitting axe and work your way up to a longer handle over time once you get more skilled.

Additional features

When you’re choosing which log splitting axe to buy, you should always keep an eye out for additional features or unique design aspects that can make certain products more suited for your needs.

For example, certain Husqvarna splitting axes have stainless steel reinforcement beneath the head (as you can see in the diagram from the top of this article). This helps protect critical parts of the handle from damage and can improve the longevity of your tool.

You should also check whether the axe head has non-stick coating, as this reduces friction and can help your axe cut into the wood easier.

Another feature to look out for is the grip or handle shape. Whilst the knob at the end of the handle is perfect for stopping your hands slipping, choosing a log splitting axe with additional grips can help you feel more secure during handling.

Top tip - you should also explore the different head cover options available. Sheathes are designed to protect you from the blade when not in use, and are often made of leather.


Choosing branded tools offers you that extra level of security, as you can rely on their years of experience and trust that you’re spending money on a high-quality piece of equipment.

At Hughie Willett Machinery, we’re proud of our excellent range of wood splitting axes from leading brands like Husqvarna and Stihl. Both brands have decades of experience designing reliable tools for you to use.

Logs laid in a forest

Log splitting axe safety tips

Choosing your new log splitting axe is only the beginning. You also need to be able to use the tool safely - which is why we’ve included some of our top tips to keep you and those around you safe when you’re splitting wood.


The most important thing to remember when using any type of tool is to wear the appropriate clothing and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).

With splitting axes, this means ensuring you have gloves, goggles, and a helmet to protect yourself - especially if you’re swinging the axe over your head. You should also be well-covered with trousers and thick work boots to protect your feet.

Top tip - make sure your sleeves are tight to prevent them getting caught up with the axe or distracting you during use.

Check your splitting block height

When you’re splitting logs, you tend to have two main ways to work. One way is to work from a ground level, where the floor will absorb any shock as you cut through the logs.

Another way is to use a splitting block. This is a larger block of wood, or tree stump, that elevates the logs you’re cutting. This can be much better for your back over time. 

However, you should always make sure the block is at the right height for you. If it’s too low and you miss what you’re cutting, you don’t have a lot of time to react. This means the swing could damage your legs and cause serious injury. At the proper height, any force from the missed swing will be directed to the ground, which is much safer.

Store properly

It may seem obvious, but you should always store your log splitting axe properly to keep you (and others) safe from harm. Our top axe storing tips are:

  • Always cover the head when not in use.
  • Store securely on the wall, or in your designated tool area.
  • If used domestically, keep out of reach of young children.
  • Keep in a temperature-controlled, dry place to prevent corrosion of the head and/or handle.
  • Hang vertically to keep the handle and head well-aligned.

Consider using a sappie

If you’re splitting logs frequently, this can put a lot of strain on your back and arms. To reduce the pressure, you may want to consider using a sappie.

A sappie

Buy Now - Husqvarna Wooden Sappie (80cm)

Also known as a hookaroon, this is a useful tool to move, turn, and pull logs into place. A sappie has a downturned hook which can be stuck into a log for transport, whilst the longer handle helps protect your back from constantly needing to bend down and pick up logs.

Looking for the best place to buy a new wood splitting axe?

If you’re looking for your next log splitting axe, or want to start managing your own firewood for the first time, you’ve come to the right place.

At Hughie Willett Machinery, we know a thing or two about tools. We have decades of experience across the industry, and our experts are always on hand to help you at any stage in the buying process.

So, whether you want some more advice about buying a wood splitting axe, or have some questions about what tool will be best for you, contact us via our online form - or give our team a call on 0121 308 1262.

Buy a new log splitting axe from Hughie Willett Machinery today

For more valuable information, expertise, and groundcare equipment buying guides, explore the Hughie Willett Machinery blog

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