Felling Axe Vs. Splitting Axe: Know The Differences!

Felling Axe Vs Splitting Axe

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Axes and hatchets are indispensable tools for cutting and shaping wood. Axes differ in their ability to split wood, though most are capable of doing so. Splitting axes and felling axes are both great tools for splitting wood.

However, splitting axes are sometimes confused with felling axes. Both these two axes look almost alike, but they are inherently different. The purpose of this article is to clarify the differences between these two types of axes once and for all. 

So, for a better understanding of splitting axes vs. felling axes, keep reading this article.

What is a Felling Axe

A Felling Axe
Image source: apicalwoodwork

Felling axes also called chopping axes or forest axes, typically have lighter heads than split axes. There is usually a flat edge on the blade for driving split wedges and a beveled edge on both sides for symmetry. With horizontal strokes, these models are designed for chipping away at standing trees. 

Felling axes’ special design allows them to cut across the grain of wood fibers. In contrast to log splitting, when felling and limbing, the axe moves along the grain of the wood. Additionally, felling axes have a sharpened blade and a broader, flatter head than splitting axes. There are many different types of “work axes,” ranging from 2.25 to 3.5 pounds to 5, 6, and even 7 pounds for felling axes.

In the development of these axes, hunters, forest workers, fishermen, hikers, and survival experts have all had a hand in it. There are different sizes and styles of falling axes, as well as various types of axe heads and handles.

Uses of Felling Axe

When you need to cut down a tree, cut a tree limb, or cut large pieces of wood into the best shape to split a log, you need a felling axe.

The reason is that the blade on a felling axe is much sharper than on a split axe since it cuts across the grain. You need a nice, sharp edge when you need to cut wood against its grain. One thing to remember about sharp blades is to sharpen them every time you use them.

A chopping ax will not split wood as easily as a splitting ax, even though the heads weigh the same. It is because a chopping axe is generally lighter all around.

What is a Splitting Axe

A Splitting Axe on some splitting wood.jpg
Image source: conrad.timber

Practically speaking, a splitting ax resembles a splitting maul but is lighter and smaller. The purpose of splitting axes is to split wood. The head of this axe is large and heavy, and the edge is relatively thin and concave. As opposed to felling axes, which cut across the grain of wood fibers, splitting axes cut along the grain of wood fibers.

Because the split axis has a concave shape, the edge penetrates the wood quickly without any difficulty and effectively splits it because the wide section pulls it apart. The ax head’s unique design prevents it from digging into wood as easily as a thin one could.

The handle can easily hit the split log when splitting wood, which provides a lot of pressure on the ax head. It is usually best to split the toughest rounds with an ax that weighs between 6 and 8 pounds. In most cases, you do not need so much strength and weight.

Uses of a Splitting Axe

Although you already have a rough idea of what you can do with a splitting axe. There is no doubt that it is an excellent ax for splitting wood. A splitting axe is ineffective for cutting wood against the grain because of its dull blades, broad head, and heavyweight. Again, for these very reasons, you cannot cut trees with it. While it does not mean you cannot cut down trees with it. It will just take a lot of time and energy to do so.

Split axes are better if you plan to spend hours splitting firewood due to their longer swing time. When splitting wood, you should consider the type because if you’re going to split something very strong, you might need to use a bigger mallet.

Felling Axe Vs. Splitting Axe: Know the Differences!

Both axes look similar and are used for cutting trees or wood. Each tool is designed for a specific job, so you cannot use them for the same purpose. Clearly, there are some differences.

For example:

  • Felling axes fit into tight spaces better than a split mallet because of its size. While a splitting axe has a heavier and lighter head side compared with a split stool.
  • Felling axes have thin heads with less surface area, which means they don’t get stuck as often when cutting knots, tree trunks, or other irregular wood brushes. On the other hand, a splitting axe is best for splitting wood with grain.
  • After using a felling axe, you have to sharpen it before reusing it. But this problem does not arise in the case of splitting the axe. Therefore, it does not require frequent sharpening.
  • Due to its sharp, wide blade, the felling axe is suitable for felling trees or cutting tree trunks. The thin head makes it more likely to get stuck in logs, so you cannot split firewood with it. In the same way, cutting wood with a splitting axe would be foolish.
  • Cutting wood against the grain with a felling axe is labor intensive, whereas splitting wood with a splitting axe is more efficient. But the top-heavy nature of the process makes it labor-intensive.


Is it possible to cut down trees with a splitting axe?

Certainly, you can, but it wouldn’t be a good idea, so we don’t recommend it.

Due to the blade’s narrowness, you won’t cut much of the surface when swinging it.

A split ax cannot be swung other than horizontally and downwards due to its design and shape. The flexibility of a split ax is almost nonexistent, unlike that of a felling axe.

How sharp should an axe be?

When felling, or chopping greenwood, it is safer and more effective to use a sharp axe. Like a shaving razor, a chopping ax should have a good level of sharpness. A splitting axe, however, is not necessarily shaving sharp, but can be very sharp for splitting or cutting dead wood. A sharp edge is equally important as its profile.


We can tell that the felling axes and splitting axes are two different tools just by looking at how they are made. Also, as we’ve talked about in the article, these two tools can be used in different ways. When felling axes help cut wood smoothly, splitting axes makes it easy to break logs apart.

Also, because of how the two axes work, there is a big difference in price between the two. Since felling axes are simple, splitting axes are more complicated and have mechanisms that are contorted.

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