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Choosing an axe / maul size.

Post in 'The Gear' started by TheLastDeadMouse, Feb 25, 2014.

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  1. TheLastDeadMouse

    TheLastDeadMouse New Member

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    I've decided I'm going to treat myself to a bit of a luxury and buy a Gransfors Bruks splitting axe or maul. (I understand its not the most cost effective way to split wood, I'm investing a small portion of the money I've saved burning wood on something I'll enjoy).

    Although I have a decent amount of axe experience from my teens, I haven't used one much since then (currently 28). I'm trying to decide what axe weight / length / type is most appropriate for me. I understand this is largely user preference, but I'm hoping people can share their experiences as a starting point for me. 6'2", 195 lbs, average fitness level. The stuff I'll be splitting will probably never be significantly larger than 18" - 20" rounds, perhaps a rare 24".

    The two choices I'm looking at now are the large splitting axe and the splitting maul

    Large Splitting Axe: 3.5 lbs head, 27.5" handle.[​IMG]

    Splitting Maul: 5.5 lbs head, 31.5" handle.
    [​IMG]




    If I like the splitting axe or maul as much as review have lead to believe, I may also get a felling axe that will be used occasionally for its intended purpose, but also as a decoration. It'll be used for tree's anywhere from 8" - 24" Trying to decide between the Scandinavian Forest Axe and American Felling Axe

    Scandinavian: 2 lbs head, 25" handle

    [​IMG]

    American Felling: 3.3 lbs head, 32" or 35.5" handle.
    [​IMG]

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  2. jatoxico

    jatoxico Minister of Fire

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    Who can say what's right for someone else but I have the small splitting axe and like it. Axe is more versatile than a maul so can be used for making kindling or resplitting so that's my choice.
  3. Spud Monkey

    Spud Monkey New Member

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    Just get a Fiskars X27, a 8 lb splitting maul from Lowes with sledge hammer and call it day ;) I split a 36 inch douglas fir with the X27 alone and I'm 6' hence my avatar picture.
  4. TheLastDeadMouse

    TheLastDeadMouse New Member

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    I know the Fiskars is the most financially logical choice, but its rare that the difference between a the normal product and a hand made heirloom quality version is $100. I'm buying it as more of a present to myself than because its the logical thing to do. I'm just wondering about sizes, every other time in my life the size axe I used was whatever axe we had.
  5. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    I'd skip the maul. I get that they're fancy and Swedish or whatever, but a mauls a mauls a maul.
  6. osagebow

    osagebow Minister of Fire

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    Love the look of the american felling axe, and the large splitting axe over the maul. I have about 30 hours in the ridiculously inefficient tool in my avatar. Wouldn't trade it for the most efficient "logical" one in the world. :)Go for it, and enjoy.
    Makers Mark likes this.
  7. jotul8e2

    jotul8e2 Feeling the Heat

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    Of the two components in the energy required to split wood, velocity (head speed) and mass, velocity is the most important. So you want to be able to whip around whatever maul you use, and not just once but for round after round. Of course, if you have the upper body strength and stamina, more mass will help. I am thinking you would probably like an eight pound maul, give or take. I simply cannot swing an eight pounder fast enough, so I prefer my Stilh 6.6 pound. I have a couple of grand nephews - both 6'3" high school athletes - who prefer a 12 pound maul.

    I have to say I like the looks of Council Tools products, from North Carolina. Like http://www.counciltool.com/product.asp?pg=product&item=80MA

    You only regret buying quality once and that briefly, but you can enjoy guality for a lifetime.
    Makers Mark likes this.
  8. tfdchief

    tfdchief Minister of Fire

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    Wow, I have been splitting wood for a long time with a variety of tools and I have to say, these are some fine looking tools. I have had Stolz Monster mauls, generic mauls, fiskars, and the list goes on, but those are some fine looking tools. I know I am going to get beat up here, but I have always loved a finely made tool, and these certainly look to be good ones!
    Makers Mark likes this.
  9. jatoxico

    jatoxico Minister of Fire

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    If you appreciate a well made tool, a visit to their website (Gransfors Bruks) is pretty cool.
    Firewood Bandit likes this.
  10. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    I think the whipping around of a light weight axe/maul style of splitting is dangerous. I prefer a much more vertical motion using my strength for lifting a heavier tool and dropping it straight down through the wood, bending the knees slightly and bringing the handle level with the head at impact. Each stroke is much more predictable, and an easy rhythm with no ricochets is achieved. I also vote for wooden handled tools being pleasant to use and because I like to hang my own handles.
    gerry100 likes this.
  11. Makers Mark

    Makers Mark New Member

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    Mouse, I have the large splitting ax and the maul and they are great! I use the maul on bigger rounds and ax on smaller. Be careful they are razor sharp and unless you hit ground they will stay that way. I have split 5 ten ft ricks with mine.
  12. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I think that metal collar near the head would be a source of constant frustration, for me. When considering any hand tool refined over hundreds of years of very heavy usage, I'm very skeptical of any recent addition or modification made by modern occasional users, who might not benefit from the wisdom of those who used these tools all day every day in generations past.

    Yes, I know this company has been making axes and mauls for 100 years, but the guy who came up with that sheetmetal collar probably wasn't there that entire time. Anyone old enough to remember when axes were made and used in high volume for forestry work is now retired.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2014
  13. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    I'm suspicious of that collar as well. Harder to affix a new handle and would foster dry rot.
  14. jotul8e2

    jotul8e2 Feeling the Heat

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    Probably a poor choice of words on my part - I do not use, nor advocate a roundhouse style swing. Like you, I use a vertical motion, coming directly over the top of my head and straight down into the log. Nevertheless, my point about impact velocity is still apposite, and if I use a heavier maul I just cannot get enough speed on my swing.
  15. razerface

    razerface Minister of Fire

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    it is most likely there to try and survive a missed swing or hard wood rub going thru the wood.
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  16. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Understood, but the fix to the missed swing breakage is putting the tool in the hands of someone who knows how to use it. I could clip the wings off a fly with my favorite 8 lb. maul, without hurting him, if he'd just stay still long enough.
  17. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Love them collars. Because of:

    1. Tiredness
    2. Beer
    3. Tiredness + beer
    EMB5530 likes this.
  18. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    BS.jpg
    Batman, EMB5530, NVHunter and 4 others like this.
  19. tsquini

    tsquini Minister of Fire

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    How much chopping are you doing? Swinging a 6lbs maul for a few hours will do you in. Where the splitting ax at half the weight at least you will be able to chop in consecutive days. My suggestion is buy a good splitting ax. When it comes to a maul just get a cheap one.
  20. jatoxico

    jatoxico Minister of Fire

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    I believe axe collars have been used for a very long time. If you don't like it you don't like it but it's not a new addition AFAIK.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2014
  21. Makers Mark

    Makers Mark New Member

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    The metal collars have saved the handles on mine several times. Wood doesn't always split straight and beer equals aim maybe off. Coming from someone who has bought umpteen handles over past 30 yrs.
    tfdchief likes this.
  22. tfdchief

    tfdchief Minister of Fire

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    Hey Makers Mark, off topic but my boss is a Makers Mark man! Sips it straight ;)
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  23. Makers Mark

    Makers Mark New Member

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    Good stuff especially on a cold nite in front of a warm fire.
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  24. smokedragon

    smokedragon Minister of Fire

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    When I was a kid (12 - 15) my grandpa made us fell trees with double bit axes......I have often thought about doing so again (but that Stihl just doesn't like to sit).

    If you want my two cents. Get the splitting axe. It is a fine tool. Mauls work better on stuff that is really stringy or tough, but a nice axe like that will do wonders on straight grained wood. It is a real beauty.

    As for the american vs. scandanavian.....I would personally go scandanavian. It is lighter and shorter. If you are trying to fell a tree by hand, that smaller weight is much easier to swing and get good bites into the tree. The shorter handle is nice if you are near other trees.

    Those are really nice tools. Makes me want to add to my collection of wood cutting/splitting gear.
    Joful, Makers Mark and tfdchief like this.
  25. Makers Mark

    Makers Mark New Member

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    I agree the ax will split most the maul is good for really tough stuff. They make a 31" handle large splitting ax. I have been really looking at those.
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