The beauty of an axe lies within its simplicity. It’s nothing more than a forged blade and a stick, yet in the right hands, it becomes a useful tool that hasn’t changed for centuries. It hasn’t changed for the same reason sharks haven’t changed: it’s nearly perfect. It accomplishes what it needs to with an efficiency that can’t be improved upon. Or can it?
I’ve been using axes for so long that it never occurs to me that it could be improved. Maybe it can’t. I haven’t personally used any of these, but I’m fascinated by them. It’s bold to take such a basic, established tool and try to make it better. You’re sure to encounter a lot of huffing and puffing from people who have an ax in their hands on a daily basis. They (who also haven’t used it) will have ten reasons in ten seconds why the axe is garbage.
“It’ll get stuck,” they’ll say.
“It will never work on real wood with knots,” is what they’ll tell you with confidence.
Perhaps. But maybe these folks are onto to something that could leave you with just a little more energy after you fill the woodshed. If that’s the case I’ll gladly get in line with a hand of cash.
The Cross Axe
This thing looks like someone should be swinging it around in Lord of the Rings. It’s also the most ambitious design here. “Hey, why am I only splitting in two? Why not finish twice as fast and crack a beer?” Good question. The bad news here is that this is a DIY axe. You’ll need some decent metal working skills to create one of these. You can find the clever fella and how he did it on Instructables.
The Leveraxe is strange looking indeed. It’s made in Finland, weighs about five pounds, and is guaranteed for ten years. The Leveraxe produces a levering action and requires less effort to split wood. It also requires less force and is thus a little easier on your body. Plenty of users with bad lower backs have reported being able to use them with ease. In those cases, some people are happy to pay the $239 price tag. If you want to give one a go you can get them on Amazon.
The Chopper 1
The Chopper 1 has splitting levers built into the axe head that engage and help to separate the wood with each swing. Some users report easier splitting, and use the Chopper 1 as their main splitting axe. The design is interesting, but my main concern is the loss of downward inertia and the possibility of energy being directed outward too soon. The loss might indeed be worth it, and the price isn’t awful in comparison to the Leveraxe. It’s $99 on their website.
I know. This has “Kickstarter Multi-tool Axe Thingy” written all over it. That’s because that’s what it was. The Klax was successfully funded on Kickstarter a few years ago. Some people really dig this thing. In my experience multi-tools like this end up doing a bunch of different things poorly. It’s not heavy enough to split wood, and it would be awkward to use as a knife (that’s a knife edge on the bottom). Still, for some people the idea of tossing a little gadget like this in their pack is appealing. I’ve never needed hex wrenches at the campsite, but hey – to each their own.
The Stone Axe
Ok – this isn’t an advanced design, but it would change the way you cut wood and it IS unique. This article is all about strange axes, and if you had the time and desire you could turn the clock back about a million years and give this a shot. I’d be willing to bet that after three swings with this thing you’d be happy to pay $500 for any of axes shown above. Also, this clip comes from the Primitive Technology Youtube channel and you should check it out.