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Splitting/Chopping Tool Review Thread

Discussion in 'Firewood, Heating and Wood Burning Equipment' started by spike60, Nov 19, 2014.

  1. spike60

    spike60 ArboristSite.com Sponsor

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    This idea came up in CTYank's council tool thread, so I thought I'd kick it off. Thought is that each of us comment on the tools that we actually own and use. Pics if possible. Just share our personal opinions about what we like and don't like. Two suggestions that we ought to stick to so that this doesn't devolve into unnecessary arguments as has happened in a few other threads. Let's try and stick to talking about our own tools. Everyone is entitled to their own viewpoint about their own tools, so lets have none of that crap where guys step in and criticize people for thinking differently than they would. Let's keep it informative, constructive and friendly, OK?

    So, here's my fleet of tools. 6lb. Yellow handle maul by Collins Axe. Second is a 6.5lb Total brand maul from Tilton. 5lb Husky splitting axe, Couple of old 3.5-4lb axes, and a couple of 3lb short handle axes, one Husky, one Collins.

    Looking at the 2 mauls first. The Collins has a head similar to the council tool. Good and consistent taper. It came with the same 1/8 inch back shoulder that is on the councils, and I put the edge on it. The Total has a new idea type head that I'm not real fond of. It's taper makes a kind of abrupt transition from "not enough" to "too much". More prone to getting stuck than the Collins. When it splits, that abrupt change really shoots the two splits apart. They just fly in either direction farther than they need to. (insert ankle joke here). I do like the handle on the total as I prefer a flatter axe type handle vs the rounder sledge type. I'm just more accurate with a flatter handle. Used both of them last weekend on some large ash rounds. 20+ inches. Needed to half or quarter them to carry them to the truck. The Collins was a clear winner here. There were a couple that were ignoring the Total, but gave it up to the Collins. On smaller stuff, either did the job. Prices for both are in the 30-35 range.

    I'll do the axes in the next post.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Gypo Logger

    Gypo Logger Timber Baron

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    Its hard to beat a 6# Collins with a 36" hichory handle,but the double bevel maul is useless for anything but kindling.
     
  3. svk

    svk Firewood and Saw Collector

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    Good thread, and nice fleet.
     
  4. spike60

    spike60 ArboristSite.com Sponsor

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    The 2 old axes are freebies. The red one I found lying in the woods a while back. The other is an old axe head I found in a barn. Stamping on it is "S U S Rodgers"; can't find anything about it online. Somebody gave me a handle that they couldn't use, so total cost for the 2 of them is zero $. Pretty hard to beat that, huh? :givebeer: I put a real nice edge on the two of them. These things have just been sitting around not getting used, but after getting the Husky splitting axe, and reading some posts from Chris-PA and few others I figured I'd try them for splitting. (Any chopping stuff I do with an axe I always grab the lighter 24" handle ones.) Both of those old axes work really good. (And I'd never really given them a thought before.) Good speed and you can go a long time with no fatigue at all. The longer handles are well matched to the heavier axe heads so the feel is just right IMO. Snaps the wood pretty easy and the splits stay pretty close to the block. Not really the answer for real big rounds, but these previously ignored tools always make the trip now. The Husky axe is a near perfect blend of all of them. Better taper than the other axes, so a little better suited to splitting duty. You do need to pay attention to the different handle lengths when going back and forth between several tools. ;)

    [​IMG]

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  5. spike60

    spike60 ArboristSite.com Sponsor

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    You were one of the guys who gave me this idea, and I'm hoping you'll join in here. :)

    This is some of the stuff I've been banging away on. Mixture of ash, oak, maple and hickory.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. spike60

    spike60 ArboristSite.com Sponsor

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    Not even that. The smaller axes or hatchets are much better for kindling. The Husky and large axes are better when splitting small to medium wood. So the Total is kind of the odd man out in that group cause it's not the best choice for any particular task. OK to have around as a spare, but that's about it.
     
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  7. svk

    svk Firewood and Saw Collector

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    Here's the only recent picture I've got. My 8 lb maul is broken and the head is MIA in my garage. I think its under the radial arm saw table which is almost buried in wood scraps (which will be used for kindling this winter). I've got a new handle to put on once I unearth it.

    This picture was from the Leveraxe test thread, the LA is the traveling one and not mine.

    Left to right: True Temper Splitting Axe, True Temper 6# maul, and x27.

    1) Splitting axe is a nice tool on straight grained stuff and easy to swing. Has it's limitations on tougher wood. True Temper factory handle is a little rough, could use some sanding and a coat of BLO but I don't use it much.
    2)The maul works OK. Better on knotty stuff than the Fiskars but doesn't work nearly as well on green wood, tends to just stick in the round.
    3) BEST SPLITTING TOOL EVER MADE BAR NONE.....Just kidding but do most of my work with this. Best all-around splitting tool I have used *up to this point*. Works great on most ash, aspen, maple, and birch which is 95% of what I cut.
    4) (Not Pictured) 8 Lb maul, brand unknown. Looks just like the 6 but the head is blue. Performance similar to #2 but the extra weight tires you our faster. Works a little better on difficult pieces than #2 or #3.
    5) (Not Pictured) "Kindling Axe". Basically a splitting axe like #1 with about 1/2 of the handle cut off. This is used to reduce splits to kindling, basically one handed operation on the axe and one setting wood on the chopping block. Not sure if others used something like this or not.
    axes.jpg

    With that being said, I'd like to try out the "Big Ox" and also the higher end mid weight splitting tools.
     
  8. Erik B

    Erik B ArboristSite Guru

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  9. CTYank

    CTYank Peripatetic Sawyer

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    Mauls are of interest to me also for driving wedges with their polls. The best I've seen for driving wedges without mushrooming are my 3 kg Mueller or 6 lb Council Tools mauls. Really tough steel in their polls. Wetterlings is a bit more malleable.

    For splitting:
    big, nasty, tough splittable stuff- Mueller 3 kg. Sharp edge, flat evenly tapered faces at ~30 deg. angle. Really substantial handle, that hasn't been touched in 3 yrs by a split, because the max width of the head is back around the midpoint of the eye.
    large, relatively straight-grained stuff- Wetterlings 2.5 kg or 6 lb Council Tools mauls. Whichever's closest. Couple of reworked big-box-store cheapie mauls get some exercise too with the mid-range stuff. They can handle it now, just not the greatest steel.
    small stuff, kindling- 3.5 lb Jersey-pattern Council Tools axe

    Unsplittable stuff- noodle as little as possible, then assault with suitable choice from the above, with a wedge or two to suit.

    We've seen pix already of these mauls. Wan't more?

    Maul head angle: checking with a bevel, the angle near the edge is very close to 30 deg with Mueller, cheapies that were modeled on it, Wetterlings, and Council Tools mauls. Surprisingly consistent, but the Wetterlings and Council Tools mauls only maintain that angle for an inch and change from the edge. Either version seems to work.

    Wedges: HF has some pretty good wedges nowadays. Just like most cheapie mauls, they need the attention of a grinder for sharpening. Then they can be used for splitting wood.
     
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  10. svk

    svk Firewood and Saw Collector

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    For visual comparison, yes please lay them all out next to each other.

    Why don't you throw that shelf queen Dolmar in the photo too...Have you even put it to wood yet? We just got a Dolmar dealership in the town nearest my cabin.
     
  11. Erik B

    Erik B ArboristSite Guru

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    That red handled axe you have looks to be a PLUMB axe. I have a Boy Scout knife and hatchet set that I got back in the early 60's and the hatchet is a smaller version of your axe. It even has that same red plastic looking stuff on the eye of the head.


    I was having problems with my post being faded out. Hope this is better.
     
  12. El Quachito

    El Quachito ArboristSite Operative

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    Good thread.

    I use a #6 maul. The head is Mexican steal and the original handle was plastic. I installed a wood handle and filed on it a bit. I also split a lot with a 3-5 pound axe.

    I will post pics someday.
     
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  13. spike60

    spike60 ArboristSite.com Sponsor

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    Good shot Erik; the red axe is a Plumb. Still stamped in the head, but needed a little cleaning to read it.
     
  14. zogger

    zogger Tree Freak

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    Left to right, 8lb anvil on a stick, original Fiskars supersplitter, Husky/Wetterlings wood handle, generic utility axe I've had so long I don't remember when or where I bought it, synthetic fiberglass handle still great.

    Split with all of them, of the bunch, the Fiskars is the easiest in most wood. The anvil on a stick will bust almost everything, you just get whipped running it in extended sessions, well, I do anyway. The husky is close to the fiskars but not a fan of wood handles that wear out quickly, plus the head shape sticks easier if you don't get a clean split. The plus is you can smack wedges with it. I learned to split with a light utility chopper axe like the one on the right, I still can, but the Fiskars is soooo much easier.

    I have wedges but don't use then much at all for splitting, they are just too dang small. To me, anything that needs one or more wedges you are better off noodling. Now if they had one about 10-15 lbs and like fat and two feet long, maybe. Whenever I try wedges I just get them buried and stuck, it's silly.
     

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  15. svk

    svk Firewood and Saw Collector

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    That Husky tool sure has an interesting look!
     
  16. zogger

    zogger Tree Freak

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    Ya, it and the Fiskars are much closer to a proper shape for a sharp swung wedge on a stick. These splitters and mauls with the flared out design, like a chopping axe..there's no point to, it's marketing "optics". They don't need to "look" like an axe, they need to function as a splitter and the shape is what it is then, a big splitting wedge. Notice they don't put axe flares on wedges they sell? Hang it on a stick though, "Oh noes, it needs to look like an axe now"!! Fail..marketing....

    That's why I was disappointed with the x27 when it came out, they flared it to look more like an axe. That flared out design does zilch for splitting. they should have stuck with the original design, like in the pic on my original supersplitter, and just made the handle longer, and maybe around 1/2 lb heavier head.

    The husky/wetterlings is closer to ideal in the shape and size, but they EPIC failed on the edge, got close, then they choked. They have it raised in the middle and not even uniform. It's tarded, it makes it not split as well as it could, and then get stuck. It's fixable, grind it flat and uniform tapered on both sides, just I haven't done it yet.

    I am thinking...if someone were to start with an 8lb maul..now, no handle attached, cut the flares off of it. Lose some weight. Make it straight from the hammer head to the edge. Now adjust the bevel so it actually cuts, so it is sharp, but slopes out wide so it splits. Nothing abrupt, just an even taper, sharp to fat. Now it is closer to 6 lbs, hopefully a little under, but shaped correctly. (that's why start with an 8lber) Now rehang it on a good 36 to 40 inch handle.

    That would be a good maul.
     
  17. svk

    svk Firewood and Saw Collector

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    Well that can be your next invention, with the Zogger 2000 being such a hit :)
     
  18. Erik B

    Erik B ArboristSite Guru

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    Do you know what the red stuff is on the opposite side of the handle on the head?
     
  19. zogger

    zogger Tree Freak

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    If I scrounge up another maul head I might try it. Cutting it off square though, might get some machine shop to do that. I ain't hack sawing all that steel off and don't want to grind it off. Don't know much about temper other than don't **** with what's there...
     
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  20. CWME

    CWME ArboristSite Guru

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    Dont have pics but I am with Zogger on the original Fiskars supersplitter being better for me than the X25 or X27. Just something about the weight/head shape/short handle that comes together for me with the original. I can bust up stuff with the original that the X27 won't split for me. I feel like I am working harder to get the head to snap on the X27 with the longer handle. The X25 is better for me VS the X27 but it lacks the snap and wth the wider blade gets stuck more for me.
     
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