“Physics-exploiting axe splits wood in record time.” reads the headline. There are some folk that think that 4000 years of development of a traditional  tool can be improved by modern design thinking. I am all in favour of questioning things and sometimes it is true genuine improvements can be made but this axe is all over the internet at the moment and it is simply a gimmick with good marketing. I get so wound up seeing it all over my facebook timeline.

Vipukirves-590x330The theory goes that it is clever and new because it creates a twisting action that is helpful when splitting wood. Well yes it is and all of us that split serious quantities of wood know that and use a twisting action with an ordinary axe. The axe should be swung down vertically but with the head not quite vertical, at impact the off centre weight flicks the edge sideways pushing the fibres apart. Here is a great video of Peter Vido’s daughter using the method. It shows you don’t need a fancy axe or huge strength just good technique and clean straight wood.

and just to show that the twisting/leverage action of log splitting isn’t a new idea here is a vid from the 60’s of a guy working with skill and easy racing against a hydraulic splitter. Notice the way he brings the axe down vertically but the head is always skewed at an angle so that on impact it generates twist or leverage to ping the log apart. I should say that this technique (and no doubt the nasty red axe) only work well on clean straight grained wood, the sort that anyone can split with ease anyway. Once you get onto really gnarly wood you need to bring the axe head down vertically and use more of the wedging action.

There is a really good explanation of the technique in slow motion at 2mins 15 secs into this vid


So if you are in the market for a splitting axe please don’t waste £200 on a horrid red thing, learn good technique and use the axe you have. If you really want to spend money on something extra sexy I love my Gransfors splitting maul.


Author Robin Wood

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