As much as we’d love to believe that there’s that one best axe out there that will handle every chore we have around our homestead, farm, or wooded countryside, the fact is, that’s just not the case. Axe designs can be very specific to tasks, from splitting large-diameter wood for the fireplace to chopping down smaller trees or making kindling, we have used a wide variety of axes around out property. But some axes are generally more versatile than others, and not surprisingly, high-quality axes are going to be pricey and likely not available in your regular ol’ Walmart or Home Depot. So we wanted to explore what makes the best axe for chopping (what some may also consider to be forest axes), while bringing a bit of versatility to your day-to-day use.
We love having firewood handy for the wood stove in the winter and for the fire pit in the summer, and we fully believe that old saying that chopping firewood can warm you several times over: Once when you chop it, once when you haul it, and again when you burn it.
We’re going to focus on the chopping part, since that’s one of our favorite parts of collecting and stocking firewood. All of the axes that we’re choosing for the best axe for chopping firewood are ones that we’ve used over the past decade or so. We do have favorites, both in the high end and in the lower end, but most of all, it’s important to find the best axe that fits your needs and your budget. To be clear, we’re not aiming for the largest-size splitting axes and mauls — those are a category all their own.
Here’s a short video on how to properly use an axe (the rules are generally the same for chopping and limbing as they are here for splitting), and it’s good to check out videos on axe safety, if you’re not entirely familiar with how to use one:
Using an axe for chopping the right way will be efficient and keep you injury-free. Especially in the months when the snow starts to fly and you’re working on trees or firewood in the sub-freezing temps, we understand that you may not want to spend all day in the woods!
We’ve narrowed down our favorites here for the best axe for chopping and other forestry tasks. We’re not including vintage or other super-custom axes — only the ones you can readily get your hands on!:
Gränsfors Bruks Scandavian Forest Axe
Arguably, this is the premium brand in the axe market — and the price tag often reflects that. Gränsfors Bruks axes are Swedish made, and are some of the few that are ready to be used right out of the box (the blade steel measures a 57 on the Rockwell C scale). The Gränsfors Scandinavian Forest Axe is a professional axe, ideal for felling larger trees and for limbing a felled tree. The axe is forged to a curved bit, making it suitable for cutting into fresh, resinous wood such as spruce or pine. And the long handle also gives more power to the cut. It measures 25 inches, with a weight of 2.6 pounds.
Best combing transport and durability
Hults Bruk Akka Foresters Axe
Measuring in at about 25 inches and about 2.5 pounds, this axe is about as versatile as they come, while still delivering on a lot of power when it comes to getting through trees and splitting up some of your firewood. The axe head is hand forged and made from Swedish axe steel in a foundry that has been in operation since 1697 — so there’s a lot of history to how these blades are made. The steel itself is struck multiple times, helping to increase its density and resulting in more durability of the axe. And it does well to hold an edge even after many sharpenings. The straight hickory handle is treated with linseed oil. This is basically the best sized axe for easy transport and heavy-duty tasks.
Best all-around axe
Council Tool Wood-Craft Pack Axe
I’ve got a soft spot for my Council Tool blades, as they seem to be the ones I use the most because of their nice combination of strength and mobility. The Wood-Craft Pack Axe design is intended to produce a multi-functional axe that can cut, chop, split, carve, shave, hew, hammer, aid in fire starting, and other key Wood-Craft and outdoor activities — the North Carolina-based company likes to think it for as for those who do extreme work and play in the woods. The Wood-Craft Pack Axe has a head weight of 2 pounds, an overall weight of 2.75 pounds, and a length of 24 inches. It’s made with 5160 American Steel, a a high carbon and chromium spring steel. This brand has been Made in the U.S.A. for 130 years.
Best easily available
Husqvarna Wooden Multi-Purpose Axe
We’ll admit, this one clocks in a little pricier than what we’d expect, as Husqvarna is typically a top-notch production line brand but doesn’t carry with it that exclusivity that companies like Council Tool or Hults Bruk do. Still, this is a great axe, and one that you’re most likely to find in a local big-box store. It’s ideal for tree felling, log limbing, branch trimming, and clearing bushes. A long handle (26 inches) gives power to the cut. The handle is made of hickory, while the head is hand-forged Swedish steel. The head is attached to the handle using both a wooden and a steel wedge to secure fastening.
Best affordable axe
Condor Tool Cloudburst Axe
The Condor Cloudburst Axe is a 23-inch (the shortest on this list). It is constructed of 1060 high carbon steel and is annealed to 50-55 Rockwell C scale. It is also coated in the Condor natural finish, giving it a bare metal look, and there is a special treatment over the top of the blade to help repel rust. The American hickory handle is selected for proper grain orientation. For under $100, this is one of the best axes you can pick!
What to look for in the best axe
Comfort is king, and that means that the best axe for chopping should have a sturdy and comfortable grip, have ideal balance to limit fatigue during swinging, and be made of a steel that is tough and unlikely to dull easily. Hickory wood handles are popular because of their strength, while our list helps to show just how prominent Swedish design and craftsmanship are to the top-of-the-line options out there.
How much do I pay for a chopping axe?
The price of big-box store chopping axes is typically going to run from about $40 up to around $75, and beyond that, anything up to about $150 is likely going to be a good mid-range price point. Some of the more premium axes will be closer to $200, especially when it comes to getting some of the longer-handled versions. But for those higher-end ones, you do get what you pay for, and a premium blade is going to last for generations.
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