chopping axe sitting in a log. chopped logs in the background.

Key Factors to Consider When Buying an Axe

Hey what’s up, fellow lumberjacks, campers, and axe enthusiasts! This post is all about giving you the best info on what to look for when buying a new axe.

We’re talking about that trusty tool that’s been a staple of human civilization since the Stone Age. But buying an axe isn’t as simple as picking the first shiny one you see. There’s a lot to consider when finding the right axe for the job. So, let’s get chopping!

Understanding Different Types of Axes

First things first, let’s talk about the different types of axes out there. You probably know that there are many different types of axes out there.

In fact, there are several… and each are designed for a specific purpose. We have an in-depth post about the different types of axes, check it out if  you want to know more.

But for now, here is a quick rundown of some of the most used axes and their purpose.

  • Hatchets: Small, one-handed axes perfect for light tasks like kindling and small chopping jobs.
  • Felling Axes: Designed to cut down trees. They have a sharp, thin blade that slices across the wood grains, severing them for a clean cut.
  • Splitting Axes: Used to split the wood along the grain. They have a wedge-shaped head that forces the wood apart.
  • Broad Axes: Used for shaping logs into beams. They have a wide, flat blade for a smooth finish.
  • Tomahawks: Light, fast, and versatile. They’re great for throwing, if a throwing axe is what you’re looking for.

A photograph depicting a Broadaxe positioned on a log with a knife placed in a knife holder. The Broadaxe is a large, heavy axe with a long wooden handle and a broad, straight blade. It is resting on top of a log, ready for use. Adjacent to the Broadaxe is a knife holder with a knife securely placed in it

Factors to Consider When Buying an Axe

Now that we know the different types of axes and their use, let’s talk about the factors you need to consider when buying an axe.

  • Purpose: This is the first thing you need to consider is what you’ll be using the axe for. As we’ve discussed, different axes serve different purposes. Make sure to choose the right one for your needs.
  • Material: Axes are typically made of two parts: the head and the handle. The head is usually made of steel, but the quality can vary. Look for high-quality, hardened steel for durability. The handle can be made of wood, fiberglass, or metal. Each has its pros and cons, so choose what suits you best.
  • Weight: The weight of the axe affects its efficiency and how tired you’ll get using it. A heavier axe can split wood more effectively, but it could also tire you out faster.
  • Length: The length of the handle affects the axe’s leverage and control. Longer handles provide more swing power and leverage but less control, and vice versa.
  • Balance: A well-balanced axe feels good in your hands. The weight of the head should be proportionate to the length and weight of the handle.
  • Sharpness: A sharp axe is a safe and efficient axe. Make sure the axe is sharp enough for its intended use.
  • Price: Don’t forget consider your budget. More expensive doesn’t always mean better. Look for an axe that offers the best value for your money, so make sure to do your research!

Choosing the Right Axe for Your Needs

The right axe for you depends on your specific needs and preferences. Do you value durability over all else? Or is the balance more important to you? Do you need a versatile tool, or do you prefer specialized ones for each task? Consider these questions as you do your research.

Choosing the right axe for your needs is crucial. It’s not just about the type of axe, but also about the specific model and brand.

Some brands specialize in certain types of axes, and understanding their specialties can help you make an informed decision. Here are a few notable brands that you might want to consider when shopping for a great axe:

1. Gränsfors Bruk: This Swedish company is renowned for its high-quality, hand-forged axes. Each axe comes with a 20-year guarantee and is stamped with the initials of the blacksmith who made it. If you’re looking for a felling axe, their American Felling Axe is a popular choice among professionals.

2. Hults Bruk: Another Swedish brand, Hults Bruk has been making axes since 1697. They offer a wide range of axes, but their splitting axes are particularly well-regarded. The Hults Bruk The Agdor 26 Yankee Felling Axe is a versatile tool that’s great for both felling and splitting.

3. Estwing: This American company is known for its solid steel axes, which offer great durability and balance. Their hatchets, like the Estwing Sportsman’s Axe, are a favorite among campers and outdoors enthusiasts.

4. Fiskars: A Finnish brand with a history dating back to 1649, Fiskars is known for its innovative design. Their axes often feature a unique, almost futuristic look, but they’re not just about aesthetics. The Fiskars X27 Super Splitting Axe is an excellent choice if you have a lot of wood to split.

5. Helko Werk: A German company, Helko Werk combines traditional craftsmanship with high-quality materials. Their Vario 2000 axes are particularly noteworthy, they used German engineering to create an axe with interchangeable blades, they say that “All Vario heads, handles, and fastening components are fully interchangeable and inter-compatible”.

axe with accessory, black leather protective sheath

Safety Considerations When Using an Axe

Safety should always be your top priority when using an axe. Even the most experienced lumberjacks can have accidents if they’re not careful. That’s why it’s important to choose the right safety gear. We have a great post on choosing the right gear for axe safety, but also make sure you brush up on some axe safety tips before you take your first swing, maybe start with this axe safety video from Original Outdoors.

When it comes to axe safety, there are a few key areas to focus on:

  • Proper Handling: Always hold the axe with both hands when swinging. Your dominant hand should be near the top of the handle, and your other hand near the bottom. This gives you control and power. Never swing an axe overhead, as this can lead to serious injuries.
  • Protective Gear: Always wear protective gear when using an axe. This includes safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from flying wood chips, sturdy gloves to protect your hands, and steel-toe boots to protect your feet. A hard hat is also recommended, especially when felling trees.
  • Axe Maintenance: A well-maintained axe is a safer axe. Regularly check the condition of your axe. The head should be securely attached to the handle, and the blade should be sharp. A dull blade can glance off the wood and cause accidents.
  • Clear Working Area: Make sure your working area is clear of people and obstacles. When chopping or splitting wood, pieces can fly in unexpected directions. A clear working area helps prevent accidents.
  • Proper Storage: When not in use, store your axe in a safe place, out of reach of children. The blade should be covered to prevent accidents and to keep it sharp.

Remember, safety is not just about gear and precautions. It’s also about attitude. Respect the power of the axe, and never use it when you’re tired or distracted. Safety first, always!

Caring for Your Axe

Taking care of your axe is just as important as choosing the right one. A well-maintained axe will serve you well for many years, and it’s not as complicated as you might think. Remember, an axe is an investment. With proper care and maintenance, it can serve you well for many years to come.

Here are some key steps to keep your axe in its best shape:

1. Cleaning: After each use, clean your axe to remove any sap, dirt, or debris. This can be done with warm water and a mild detergent. Dry the axe thoroughly to prevent rusting.

2. Rust Prevention: Rust can damage the axe head and dull the blade. To prevent rust, you can apply a light coat of oil to the axe head after each use. Any oil will do, but some people prefer to use linseed oil or mineral oil for their axe head.

3. Sharpening: A sharp axe is a safe and efficient axe. Regularly sharpen your axe using a file or a sharpening stone. Always sharpen in the direction away from your body for safety.

4. Handle Care: If your axe has a wooden handle, it’s important to prevent it from drying out and cracking. You can apply linseed oil to the handle to keep it hydrated. Do this a few times a year, or whenever the wood starts to look dry.

5. Storage: Store your axe in a dry place to prevent the handle from rotting and the head from rusting. The axe should be stored off the ground, ideally hung up by the handle. The blade should be covered with a sheath or mask to protect it and to prevent accidents.

6. Regular Inspection: Regularly inspect your axe for any signs of damage or wear. Check the tightness of the axe head and the condition of the handle. If you notice any cracks or other damage, it may be time to replace the part or the entire axe.

The Last Chop: Summing Up Our Axe Buying Guide

There you have it, folks! That’s our guide on the key factors to consider when buying an axe. Remember, the right axe can make your work easier, safer, and more enjoyable. So take your time, do your research, and choose wisely. Happy chopping!