Three Things to Look for in the Right Splitting Maul

A maul works far better than an axe for splitting firewood, but you need to consider weight, design, and balance before you make your purchase.

pile of chopped wood
The more wood you chop, the more important it becomes to select the right splitting maul.Unsplashed

There is something very satisfying about swinging down on a dry piece of firewood and splitting it cleanly in two. A heavy axe can do this, but a splitting maul can do it more easily. Their greater weight equates to much more splitting power than an axe. Plus, you don’t have to worry about keeping a maul sharp because they’re designed to break through wood fibers (as opposed to “cutting” through fibers like an axe). How do you choose a good splitting maul from the crowd of models available? Here are three key things to consider.

Choose The Right Handle

Husqvarna 32" Wooden Splitting Maul
This splitting axe has a 32-inch hickory handle and a lighter 1.5-kg head, so it's very easy to swing.Husqvarna

Traditional hickory or composite handle? Both have their virtues. Composite (and fiberglass) handles are generally lighter, grip better when wet, and dampen shock and vibration. Wooden handles, however, are still very tough, but they are far easier to replace as composite handles are usually bonded to the maul head. And wood naturally looks better.

Head Weight Counts

Fiskars Super Splitting Axe
This maul weighs just 5.85 pounds. Its convex blade geometry makes it easier to remove from wood.Fiskars

The average maul weighs 8 pounds with heads weighing from 4 pounds to 12 pounds. The heavier the head, the more inertia (and splitting power) it will deliver, but heavier heads also require a lot more muscle on the splitter's part—something to consider if you plan on splitting wood all day. With today's innovative wedge designs, you can probably give a little ground on weight and make up for it with a wedge design that splits more efficiently. And don't forget to compare the steel in the head. Better steels will cost more, but they're worth it.

Check For Balance

Gransfors Bruk Splitting Maul
This maul has it all—high-quality steel, hand-craftsmanship and amazing balance.Gransfors Bruks

Balance is a key consideration when choosing a maul. You get good balance when the head is weighted in perfect ratio to the handle’s length and design. What balances well for one person, however, may not work for another. “Try before you buy” is the only way you’ll get a feel for what balances best in your hands.