Picture yourself in a situation where you need some wood for a fire and you’ve just spent several hours driving to a remote cabin in the woods. The last thing you want to do is chop wood when you could be diving into that nice pristine mountain lake, but it has to be done. It will be even more frustrating if you have to do it with a dull bladed axe, or if you don’t have one at all.
Sounds simple enough right? You just have to remember to bring an axe with you on your trip. It isn’t quite so straightforward though, because there are different types of axes. What you plan on using the axe for will determine which one suits your purposes best.
The three main types of axes in common use are felling axes, splitting axes, and splitting mauls. A felling axe is designed for actually chopping trees down and is not the one you want with you at the family cabin. More than likely you’ll be splitting wood from logs that have already been cut into manageable pieces. What you’re looking for is either a splitting axe or a splitting maul.
If you have to choose between a splitting maul and a splitting axe it’s best to go with the maul, although having both on hand is ideal. We’re going to review our top five choices for the best splitting mauls then go through a brief discussion of some key features you should be looking for when you purchase a maul.
- 1 Reviews of the Best Splitting Mauls
- 2 Wood Splitting Maul Key Features
- 3 Final Thoughts
Reviews of the Best Splitting Mauls
Performance Tool M7111 Splitting Maul
The Performance Tool M7111 maul is great if you’re on a budget, but still want the extra weight and leverage that a maul provides. The blade is made from sharp steel and the entire head weighs 8 pounds giving you the extra pounding power needed for those larger logs.
You’ll also find a rubber cushion grip just below the head meant to provide extra shock absorption capabilities and it generally works as advertised.
The handle is made from fibreglass and is approximately 33 inches in length. There are longer handles on mauls, but this one is adequate for an average sized individual.
Some customers have complained that the handle circumference is a little undersized making it difficult to grip properly. If you have overly large hands this may not be the best choice.
Some have also run into problems with the handle actually coming off after light to moderate use, although this does not seem to be a common problem. This isn’t our top choice, but if you’re budget conscious this maul will do the job.
Performance Tool M7111 Splitting Maul Summary:
- Perfect for those on a budget
- Comfortable to wield
- Sharp steel head
- Rubber cushioned grip
Gransfors Bruks Splitting Maul
The Gransfors Bruks splitting maul is the top rated choice on this list if you consider yourself a traditionalist. The head is made of the highest quality steel and will hold up well against damage from excessive use over time.
The blade features an extremely sharp edge that rarely needs sharpened and it has the sledge hammer feature on the opposite end of the blade.
The manufacturer has chosen to avoid the urge to jump on the modern bandwagon and instead they’ve chosen to stick with traditional materials for the handle.
It’s made from real hickory and does a great job of absorbing the shock when you strike a piece of wood.
The length of the handle is 31 inches making it ideal for just about anyone that isn’t as tall as a basketball player.
The other great thing about this maul is that it comes with a grain-leather sheath and, as we mentioned in our earlier information section, these are ideal for protecting your axe and extending its useful life.
There aren’t too many products that get a perfect rating by anybody, but for us this one comes close. It is a little more expensive than other mauls on this site at over $200, but it’s still our pick for best wood splitting maul.
Gransfors Bruks Splitting Maul Summary:
- Extremely sharp blade
- Made from real hickory
- Comes with grain leather sheath
- Expensive but worth it
Fiskars Iso 8lb Maul
A lot of thought has gone into the design of this axe, right down to the size and shape of the blade for maximum splitting power. It’s concave design and premium steel materials make it one of the industry’s best log splitting mauls.
The handle itself is a marvel of technological advancements. It has dual layers of insulation material to absorb the shock and impact on your body and it has a patented technology called IsoCore that includes extra shock absorption material where the handle meets the blade head. The end of the handle also has thicker padding and a pitted texturing for a secure grip at all times.
The total weight of this axe including the blade head and handle is 10.2 pounds and its 36 inches in length giving you lots of handle to grip for leverage.
It might surprise you to know that this axe also comes with a lifetime warranty – Fiskars really stands by its products.
The only real complaint I have with this axe is that it doesn’t come with a sheath, but as long as you store it in a clean dry place when not in use that’s not really the end of the world.
Fiskars Iso 8lb Maul Summary:
- Concave design
- Premium Steel
- IsoCore shock absorber
- Lifetime warranty
True Temper Sledge Eye Wood Super Splitter Maul
The True Temper Sledge Eye Wood Super Splitter Maul is another great wood splitting maul that should certainly make your short list.
This axe features a 4 pound axe head which will provide you with enough weight to wield considerable force, although it is on the lower end of the weight spectrum for mauls. The sledge surface on the opposite end of the blade is also a little smaller than other mauls.
What we do really like about this maul is the tapered contours of the handle, which provide a comfortable and natural fit when you’re holding the axe.
This isn’t the best wood splitting maul on the market, but it’s a decent one for the price at just over $50.
A wood splitting maul is meant to be heavier and this one is just a bit too light at about 6lbs, but it’s a good alternative if you want something that’s ½ way between a standard splitting axe and a maul.
True Temper Splitter Maul Summary:
- Lighter than most mauls
- Quality fibreglass core
- Value for money
Mintcraft 32910 Wood Splitting Maul
The Mintcraft 32910 Wood Splitting Maul is a very capable axe that‘s reasonably priced between $60 and $80. This has one of the heaviest axe heads of all of the mauls we’ve reviewed on this site at 8lbs, making it capable of providing a lot of extra wallop to your axe swing.
The head is made from durable steel and the sledge end is large enough to use whenever you need a sledgehammer.
It also has a rubber grip for easy handling and traction, which provides an extra level of shock absorption as well. The circumference is also greater near the head and at the end as well to make it that much easier to work with.
This axe is probably what we’d call our sleeper choice. It has the weight and substance you’re looking for in a wood splitting maul and at a great price.
It even features bright yellow paint on the handle to make it more visible, which is always a good thing when working with any kind of tools.
Mintcraft 32910 Wood Splitting Maul Summary:
- Durable steel
- Rubber grip for traction
- An all round great choice
Wood Splitting Maul Key Features
The Weight of the Handle
One thing you need to keep in mind if you’re leaning towards a splitting maul is that these are heavy axes. If you’re splitting wood with an 8 to 12 pound axe you will feel it in your shoulders and you’re bound to get tired quicker. Yes, it can split large pieces of wood easier, but it’s not ideal for everyone. If you’re small in stature, or if you’ve had some kind of permanent should injury, the splitting maul may not be for you.
Versatile – Multipurpose
A great added bonus of choosing a maul over a standard splitting axe is that it’s actually a more versatile tool. On the side of the axe handle, opposite the blade, mauls feature a flat solid surface much like a sledge hammer. That means you can use them just like a sledge hammer. They’re great for driving stakes into the ground or any other similar types of activities. As long as you don’t have any major physical limitations, if you have to choose between a splitting axe and a maul the maul wins hands down because of its versatility.
How Sharp Is the Blade?
Your primary purpose in purchasing a maul is to have the right tool for splitting firewood and that means you need a sharp blade. It’s always a good idea to take a close look at reviews of a maul you’re considering to see how the blade stacks up against the competition in terms of sharpness. Sure, you can always sharpen the blade, but the less often you have to do that the better.
The Length of the Handle
It isn’t just the weight of the axe handle that allows you to wield more power when splitting wood, it also has a lot to do with the length of the axe handle. Mauls generally have much longer handles and you need the extra length to take full advantage of that extra weight it affords you. Typically, a standard splitting axe has a handle between 22 and 28 inches. A maul’s handle normally measures anywhere between 32 and 36 inches.
Axe Handle Materials
What your axe handle is made of is almost as important as how sharp the blade is. Traditionally, axes had wood handles and these are still a good choice as the wood acts as a natural shock absorber that’s easier on the body, but they also wear easier. Many modern axes now use fibreglass handles and this is a much more durable material that doesn’t tend to split or crack. The problem with fibreglass handles is they’re not necessarily as good at acting as a shock absorber. If you’re going to choose a fibreglass handled axe, make sure it’s of the highest quality as these tend to use better quality fibreglass that works almost as well as wood in absorbing the shock to your body.
Is There a Sheath?
The last thing you should probably consider when buying a splitting maul is whether or not it comes with a sheath. This is a cover that goes over your axe blade to protect it from unnecessary wear. This may not be absolutely necessary, but it’s a good feature to have if you want your axe to last you as long as possible.
Difference Between Splitting Mauls and Splitting Axes
There are a couple of differences between the two. A splitting axe normally weighs between 3 and 6 pounds and is ideal for splitting smaller logs that are nice and dry. The splitting maul is a much larger tool, weighing somewhere between 8 and 12 pounds. The head itself is where most of the weight comes from. If the wood you plan on splitting is from a large tree, or if it’s freshly cut, the maul is probably the better choice.
If you only want one axe for the family cottage then the splitting maul should be your first choice. It may be a little heavier than traditional axes, but that extra weight will make it easy to split wood that a normal axe would barely put a mark in.
You certainly have to be conscious of the potential for fatigue to set in earlier, but as long as you pace yourself you should be fine. The extra length and the heavy axe blade head will serve you well in most situations.
Most mauls are in the same sort of price range so you’re primary focus should really be on finding one with the right features for you.
Anyo ne of the wood splitting mauls we’ve reviewed in this article will likely do a great job for you. Just make sure you to find the best splitting maul for your needs and keep it ready so that you end up miles from the nearest town without an axe.