EDIT: In the time since the original post, based on real world experience I have concluded that the heavier mauls (6-8lbs.) are generally more effective for splitting for most people (the effectiveness curve of speed vs. weight probably peaks around 8lbs for the average male wood splitter - only a physically weaker person will benefit from a lighter weight maul/axe - you physically cannot get the velocity of a lighter maul up enough to compensate for the lower mass). Originally I had only tested 4# and 12#, the 4# worked better, but since then I have tested others... OK - I know this will sound geeky, but I've been having a little debate with friends on the best tool for manually splitting wood. Its real hard to test this in the real world - every log is different even if cut from the same tree, same length, and every person is obviously different too. I know there is no one shoe fits all answer, but I was hoping maybe science could help solve the question of what shape/size/weight/length maul/splitting axe works best? My neighbor for example uses a 12lb "log blaster" maul which I do not like (tires me out REAL fast, feels like it weighs a lot more than 12 lbs, is short, and doesn't seem to split that well). Anyway, I admit to being new to splitting wood, I never owned a wood stove or fireplace at any point in my life until just recently. I've been cutting/bucking/splitting wood for about a month now (a couple cords). I am definitely getting better and stronger each day. Anyway, I studied some tips found here: Woodheat.org: How to split wood I’m also interested in physics/science (computer scientist by trade). Many people I run into, including my neighbor, seem to think bigger is better when it comes to mauls. I have tried 3 very different mauls, and so far the one that works best for me is the $25 red fiberglass handled splitting axe they sell at Walmart! The handle is super light weight but extremely strong (lifetime warrantee), the head is a weird shape - sharp but quickly flares WAY out (much moreso than a traditional maul) and weighs just 4 lbs. The thing is - and this is alluded to in that "how to split" article above - the formula for kinetic energy is 1/2 mass times velocity squared. A difference in velocity can be much more significant than a difference in mass because this factor is squared. I'm not sure how these variables, "in the real world" balance themselves out - for example obviously you are going to naturally swing an 8 lb. maul slower than a 6 lb one, but will the difference tend to balance so that total kinetic energy is roughly the same? I googled, but could not find any sample data for the speed at which a maul head is traveling when it hits the wood. It would be neat to measure one’s speed with different weight mauls and actually try to calculate kinetic energy (I know they sell radar tools for measuring golf swings for example). Even though I couldn't find data for axes/mauls, I found data for baseball bats – apparently they can be swung at 70 miles per hour. Even though it’s a totally different motion, I think this number is probably comparable to an overhead axe swing with a light weight axe (?). I suspect actually that an axe can be swung even faster than a baseball bat but I’m not sure (reasons = arms seem better designed to move quickly up and down than horizontally, gravity may help the downward stroke as well). So anyway, with only this flawed data I did some calculations: 4lbs = 1.8kg 70mph = 31.2928m/s KE = .5 * 1.8kg * 31.2928m/s^2= 881.3 Joules If you can only swing a 6 lb. maul 50 mph (I have no idea, just a guess) 6lbs = 2.72kg 50mph = 22.352 m/s KE = .5 * 2.72kg * (22.352 m/s)^2=679.5 Joules Clearly you are getting MUCH better KE with the lighter axe in this example. What would be the break even point? i.e. how fast would you have to swing a 6 lb. maul to equal the KE of a 4 lb. maul swung at 70mph? .5*2.72kg*X^2=881.3 X^2=881.3/(.5*2.72kg) X=25.456 m/s = 56.94 MPH If you could swing the 6 lb. maul about 57 mph you should have the same theoretical impact as a 70 mph 4lb maul. So who’s going to buy the radar gun?