Firewood cutting with a crosscut saw went out of fashion years ago. Its practice eventually became obsolete with the arrival of chainsaw on the market. Following the chopping method to gather firewood is terribly inefficient, as nearly half of the firewood turns into chips and hence, left to rot in the woods, unused.
Splitting wood, however, has now become the trend as it is a marvelous technique of turning long lumbers into small wooden chunks. Plus, there is no scope of getting the wood wasted during the splitting process. It is even easier to do the task, if the wood appears to be straight.
There is a huge difference between splitting and chopping. Both the techniques have different tools to accomplish respective tasks. Using the wrong tool for splitting or chopping might end you up on the hospital bed, considering the worst.
So, here we have done a comparative analysis of both two tools, namely an axe and a maul, while explaining how tool preference differs in chopping and splitting. What type of tool is fit for chopping and what for splitting woods, how an axe differs from maul in respect to chopping and splitting, etc. are also discussed below. So, let’s begin!
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The axe is dedicatedly designed to cut its way through the wood fibers. It features a sharp-edged thin blade. Just a single swing stroke of the tool can slice a wooden chunk into pieces. The eye of the axe head, i.e. the flat back side of the tool is often used as a hammer to separate the wood apart, popping out the wood chips resulting from it.
There are basically two types of axes: a felling axe and a splitting axe. Both the axes function differently.
- Felling Axe
A felling axe, as its name indicates, is solely designed to slice the lumber across its fibers, thereby splitting them apart. First of all, the thin blade of the tool deeply cuts past the wood. Then the axe forces against the wood with continuous pressure to separate the chunk by the flat thick part of the axe head, close to the handle. So, a felling axe is more about chopping, i.e. cutting than splitting.
Contrastingly, a splitting axe is the one that splits apart the wooden chunk (just like a maul does). It is an ideal tool for splitting smaller wood pieces.
Now coming to the splitting maul or simply a maul, it has an axe-like outlook but bigger than an axe. The features of a maul are just the opposite of an axe. A maul is fat and has a dull edge. It is designed to split any wooden lumber into two by forcing parallel to the grain. The blunt edge of the maul head exploits cracks between the wood fibers. Then the V-shaped edge of the tool force split the crack with consistent pressure.
Coming to the appearance of the maul, it has a pretty long haft or handle and has a logical reason behind it. What? Well, since a maul is a bigger axe-like tool, it has some substantial weight which is powered by its long handle during splitting work. The heavy splitting edge of the tool is swung along its long handle with a gaining momentum that force splits the wood into pieces. So, that was the scientific reason behind its long handle. A maul usually weighs between (6 to 8) pounds, which is (3 to 4) pounds more than the weight of an axe.
Essentially, a maul is more like a sledgehammer which breaks apart the wood crack through sheer force. Overall, the maul is an ideal tool for splitting large pieces of wood.
Handle of Axe Vs Maul
Concerning the handle of an axe and a maul, the former has a shorter handle than the latter one. This again contributes to the weight factor of both the tools. The longer handle of the maul adds more weight to it. Whereas the shorter handle of the axe makes it easy to carry and work with for longer.
When to Use an Axe or a Maul?
A maul is the bigger version of an axe, however, different from an “axe” in terms of appearance and characteristics. So, it is used for splitting bigger blocks of wood or lumber. The heavy weight of the maul adds extra power to the wood splitting efficiency of the user. This indirectly speeds up the work to be completed within less time than required. But sometimes what is advantageous to us could also be disadvantageous at a time. There are many users to whom the tool weight is a great factor while determining a purchase. Most buyers look for a tool that is easy to carry for prolonged periods of use, which isn’t the case with a maul. So, if weight is your weakness, you might struggle handling the maul while swinging it to split the wood. Try cutting wood (for example a tree trunk) with a splitting maul, the blunt edge of it will bounce back to you with great force, causing you potential injury. This is where a saw- a felling saw, to be precise- should be employed for the task.
Talking about the smaller wooden chunks, an axe is just enough to get the splitting work done. As the tool is lightweight, you can handle it for splitting woods for long hours without getting a fatigue feeling. The contemporary versions of splitting axes feature both composite and wooden material based handles, making it even easier to carry the tool. The traditional users cum buyers may find the wooden-handle version of modern axe more preferable.
There is no clear winner or runner up to consider between an axe and a maul. It solely depends on the buyer’s personal preference, size, type, and the quantity of wood he/she deals with. A maul is fit for splitting large wooden chunks as its heavy weight adds more power to the splitting. This saves much time in completing the task. However, the maul’s weight becomes a limiting factor for those users who cannot handle the tool weight for longer. On the other hand, an axe is ideal for splitting small wood pieces as its lightweight makes it easy to swing and split around the wood edges. Overall, it will be an excellent contrast of tools to keep for your wood splitting requirements. But, if you want to settle for only one them, simply consider two factors:
- your capability to handle the tool weight,
- the type of wood splitting tasks that you mostly deal with.