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If you need to create your own firewood, you need to use a splitting tool to do this. Splitting wood is more effective than chopping as it leads to less waste. When looking at splitting wood in its simplest form, it comes down to a splitting axe vs a splitting maul. That is if you don’t want to spend hundreds on a more superior log splitter. But in order to determine which one is better suited to your lifestyle and environment, you need to consider what each is and what the differences are.
What Is The Difference Between A Splitting Axe And Maul?
This is one of the most common questions I get asked when I bring up the subject of splitting wood. I can understand why it does get asked since the difference between the two of them is very little. Which is why I thought I should list the differences just below by describing what they both do.
What Is A Splitting Axe?
A splitting axe is a cutting tool that has a tapered head commonly made of metal and will weight approximately 3 to 6 pounds. A splitting axe has been designed to split wood along the grain to break apart the fibres. This is different from the traditional axe which was designed to chop wood across the grains. When using a top-quality splitting axe, the force created by the head will split the wood for you.
One thing to remember with splitting axes is that for a long time they were the best option for splitting wood. This does give them a long history that can’t be ignored and should at least be shown some respect for the number of people they have helped over the years.
What Is A Splitting Maul?
When looking at a splitting maul, you might mistake it for a splitting axe as they are similar. The splitting maul also has a metal head, but it weighs more at 6 to 8 pounds. The head of the maul will be wedge-shaped and wider than the head of the splitting axe which makes it better at splitting wood. The shape of the head will ensure that the splitting maul does not stick in the wood when it is splitting it and will prevent any jamming.
Splitting mauls, in my opinion, have a lot more engineering put into them making more efficient at splitting wood. This is one of the reasons that splitting mauls are so highly recommended and one of the first options people consider now when they want to split wood.
Axe Versus Splitting Maul Pros And Cons
When looking at the splitting axe and the splitting maul, you need to know what the differences are. There are 4 differences that you need to take into account when you choose between these tools. These are as follows:
- Weight – Weight of the tool and head make a big difference when you’re splitting wood and can make the biggest difference in which one is right for you. Heavier the head the easier it is to split but the more fatigue you will get when using it.
- Design – Without a doubt, the head of these two types of equipment is the biggest difference and where the biggest pros and cons are in my opinion.
- Handle – There is a lot of different variations in the handles of mauls and axes that mainly affect the grip you have on the tool itself, which can affect comfort and how long you will be splitting for.
- Price – This is a hotly contested issue in the wood splitting forums as some people can’t tell the difference between two items that are the same price but different qualities.
Weight Of The Splitting Tool
The weight of the tool is the first difference. The splitting maul is heavier than the splitting axe and you need to remember this. The difference in weight does make a difference in how the tools can be used. The lighter weight of the axe allows you to use it for other purposes as well as splitting wood.
However, the heavier weight of the splitting maul does make it more efficient when it comes to the primary task of splitting wood. The heavier the head of the axe, the more power it can generate to split through tougher logs. While the lighter axes can be used quicker and by less physically strong people. Either option is a great form of exercise.
Something that you should consider is that if you do go with a heavier maul or axe you’re going to get more fatigued. You might not notice after a few swings but when you’re splitting wood for long periods you will tire out quickly so it’s worth remembering this before you buy either tool.
The design of the head is perhaps the biggest difference between these two tools. The splitting axe offers a tapered head with a sharper blade which makes it able to split and cut wood. Splitting mauls have a fatter and blunter head with a wider wedge which makes it extremely effective when splitting large wood.
However, the blunt head means that you do have to pure more effort in when using the maul, but if you have the right technique splitting wood will actually be easier. Fewer swings for more results is always going to be positive. Just make sure the maul is not too heavy for you to use repetitively.
Axe Handle Or Maul Handle?
The design and material of the handle will also differ between the splitting axe and the splitting maul. The splitting maul will generally have a longer handle which can be used to guide the tool into the ground after it has split the wood and not back to your feet.
This is a very important feature as it increases the safety of using the tool and will lower the risks of injury. The splitting axe has a shorter handle which makes it capable of splitting and chopping wood but at the risk of slipping into your body greater.
The material of the splitting axe handle will generally be wood. However, more modern brands are moving to composite materials. Splitting mauls will generally have handles made from fibreglass, plastic or hickory. However, it is possible to find them with wooden handles as well.
The Price Point
The last difference between the splitting axe and maul is the price. While it is possible to get a splitting axe and maul for the same price, the quality of the maul will generally be lower. If you are looking for the same quality, you will need to pay more for the splitting maul than you would have to for the splitting axe.
The maul is a larger tool that uses more materials so it’s going to take not only more material to make but also more time. This is why they generally cost more and why it’s best to avoid a cheaper maul that’s the same price as a splitting axe.
Maul Or Axe For Splitting Wood?
For most people, the choice between the splitting axe vs splitting maul comes down to personal preferences. The greatest determinants will be the amount of work you have at hand and the size of the wood you are working with. When working with large pieces of wood, a maul would be better than an axe. This is due to the fact that you will be able to split quicker, but you have to consider that you will tire faster because of the weight of the splitting maul.
If you have smaller pieces of wood, a splitting axe will generally be the better solution. The splitting axe is also a better choice for people who are smaller and not able to lift the heavier weight of the splitting maul. You should also look at a splitting axe if you are going to be chopping wood as well as splitting it.
The bottom line is the larger the workload, opt for the maul. Lighter day to day tasks to keep the firewood turning over, stick with the axe. More family members would also be able to contribute with the axe than the splitting maul due to size and weight. So less weight on your shoulders so to speak.
An Alternative Option For Those Who Want To Take Splitting Wood More Seriously
However, if you are serious about wood splitting and plan to keep the house warm this season with firewood. Have you considered a log splitter? For about $1000 (Or less) you can pick up a high powered gas log splitter that will change your opinion on splitting logs forever.
Know How Much You’re Splitting Beforehand
Something that often gets overlooked is how much you will actually be splitting. The more you will need to split the more effort you will need to exert and need to work out if any of these splitting tools are the best of doing this.
By working out how much you need to split will give you a bit of an idea of what tool will be the best for your needs. If you need to split a lot of wood and need to do so consistently and you’re in good shape a splitting maul is a great option but you will get tired after long periods.
If you have the money and will be splitting a lot of logs then I would highly recommend a log splitter. I understand this tools are expensive but they will save you not only a lot of time but will also help save your body in the long run.
Splitting axes are great for those who need to only do a little bit of splitting since they don’t weigh as much as a splitting maul does. This does make them a good choice for these smaller tasks when you don’t need to split for long periods of time.
Whether you go with a splitting maul or a splitting axe you will get a tool that will make your life easier when you need to split wood. They’re great tools that don’t cost thousands like a log splitter can which isn’t for everyone since they’re so expensive.
So either choice will help you which is one of the reasons I’m such a fan of them and highly recommend them. I couldn’t actually choose something that I prefer since they do have different uses and what works for me won’t necessarily work for you.
While I prefer a splitting maul since I find that they split wood much easier than a splitting axe. This is not to say axes are bad since that would be doing a disservice to the year’s axes were all we had. Mauls have more engineering in them that make them more efficient in my opinion.