maul head design

If you have a wood burning stove, chances are you will want to split wood yourself. I mean, it's part of the experience, right? 

Plus, as they say, wood splitting warms you twice, once as you are actually wood splitting and later on when you burn it! 

There are many choices of splitting mauls out there...a heavy splitting maul, a lighter one...some with a hickory handle, other mauls with fiberglass handles. Some mauls feature curved handles...and the list goes on!

And while they're all designed to split wood, all these different aspects can get confusing. 

But never fear! With 40+ years of splitting maul experience, I'll go over what I consider to be the best splitting mauls and why!

What is wood splitting maul?

A wood-splitting maul is a cross between an ax and a sledgehammer. This heavy sledgehammer with wedgelike head and a long handle. It is used to split logs with clean, square edges

Splitting Maul Vs Splitting Axes vs Hatchets

An ax is much lighter than a splitting maul and is more of a hybrid tool. It can be used to split smaller pieces of firewood, but can also be used to chop down trees or cut branches. Its sharp blade edges can be used to cut cross-grain on wood.

And this point is a really important distinction to make. A maul is not designed to cut's designed to split or separate the grain.

splitting mauls split along the grain

Mauls split along the grain (see it peeling?) not cut across it

So splitting mauls are not designed to be sharp. Which is important to know! In many of the splitting maul reviews I read, over 90% of negative reviews came from people complaining that the maul wasn't sharp.  It's not supposed to be! (And my job here is to help you see through the ignorance of many reviewers!)

Splitting mauls are designed to induce blunt force trauma on a piece of firewood. Its heavy head and long handle generate more power. When the head strikes parallel to the grain, it splits the grain giving you two smaller pieces of wood where there was just one!

And power is generated not just from strength but from proper technique as well.  Fine tune your technique from my post on splitting wood!

A "Felling Axe" is used to actually chop down the tree. (Although if you're heating your whole house with wood I'd recommend a chain saw. Using a felling axe in modern times is like trying to cut down a tree with a herring).

And a hatchet is just a small version of an ax...often used in camping because of its smaller size and greater portability. (Although...I use a hatchet to split kindling at home!)

hatched instead of a splitting maul

My handy dandy kindling splitting hatchet

A "splitting axe" is designed as a hybrid tool. It has a sharp edge for cutting fibers, but also some heft and a wedge-shaped head tapering away to split wood. While one would think that having one tool is convenient, remember that a splitting axe, as opposed to a maul, would both cut and split...but not particularly well.

Benefits of Using A Splitting Maul


Brute force.

Remember physics? Force=Mass times acceleration.

An ax doesn't have much mass to create force. While, because of its lighter weight, you might be able to accelerate the head a bit more, but not enough to create the necessary force.

The heavy head of a splitting maul can generate enough force to split larger rounds of hardwood. 

In addition, the weight of a splitting maul helps absorb the shock of the blow better...keeping it from racking your wrists, arms, and shoulders in pain! Which is useful when trying to split a cord of wood or more!

What To Look For In A Splitting Maul?

The best splitting mauls balance weight, design, durability, price, and comfort.


Because of the force applied when splitting firewood, a durable splitting maul handle is a must. I used to be in the traditional camp of "I need a real wood handle for my maul." And, if you insist on wood be sure that it's hickory or ash, or something hard and strong. 

However, even hardwood breaks over time. And I've found that fiberglass handles are lighter and stronger.   (Although it took 20 years, I did finally break the fiberglass handle of my old splitting maul!)

Broken fiberglass maul handle

Took 20 years to break!

"But you said mass provides power!"


But when the mass is evenly distributed through the head and the handle, it's harder to use leverage to create momentum. A slightly lighter handle helps you use your wrists as a fulcrum and whip the heavy head in a circle generating force.

So I like the weight to strength ratio of fiberglass handles. Because, even if they're made of hickory, a wooden splitting maul will break significantly faster than a composite handled one. Period.

Also...with the leverage factor in mind, I like a slight curve to the handle with a little nub right at the end. This allows me to keep my hands right at the end of the handle where I can get more leverage, yet reduces the risk of the maul slipping out of my hands and going through the back window of my truck.


There are two basic designs for splitting maul heads. One simply looks like a wider ax head.

The other kind, however, has concave "v" added to the head which helps drive the grains apart. This design feature not only increases splitting power also helps prevent the maul head from binding and getting stuck in the firewood if you don't manage to split all the way through. This saves time and aggravation when you have a whole pile of firewood to get through! 

maul head design

See the wings on the side?


As I have said...weight is a significant factor in force. But you have to find the balance between "heavy enough to generate force" and "light enough that I can actually swing the darn thing." 


Having a handle break on a beautiful fall day that you've allocated for splitting firewood is a drag. So durability is a significant factor for me. 


Honestly, the price is almost insignificant. Most splitting mauls are around the same price (Except for the Gransfors Bruk artisan brand). And the money you're saving by splitting your own firewood will pay for the maul in one day.


If you plan on splitting most of your firewood by hand, you need a comfortable tool. And, quite frankly, poor quality splitting mauls can lead to overuse injury. The shock of impacting a piece of hardwood over and over with an 8-pound piece of metal can do a number on your shoulders and wrists. 

So if you plan on splitting a sizeable amount of firewood, opt for a shock-absorbing handle. (Believe me...I've had rotator cuff makes a difference!)

Best Splitting Maul Overall

Fiskars IsoCore Maul

The Fiskars iso core splitting maul is the best maul for splitting wood out there. It has all the features to make it efficient, safe, and comfortable.


The splitting maul head uses "optimized blade geometry," which means it has the "wings" on the side of the head to drive wood fibers apart and keep the splitting wedge from getting stuck in stubborn logs.


I also really like the fiberglass handle on the Fiskars maul. The 36" heavy duty handle boasts a patented "isocore shock control system," which means that blow after blow on large logs, the vibrations from the shock are absorbed into the composite handle and not shooting through your arms, wrists, and shoulders.

This splitting maul also has a handle flare, which I deem absolutely necessary in a good splitting maul. Not only does this enhance safety by reducing the chances of it flying out of your hands but also increases the velocity in which you can impart on the maul head. 

By using the flare as a pivot point, you can better use the centripetal force to drive the maul head while splitting wood.

Finally, the soft-grip and textured handle make wood splitting more comfortable...and transfers "2X less shock and vibration" than a wooden handle.

Handle Length: 36"

Maul Blade: Forged, high carbon steel

Head Weight: Not listed

Total Weight: 10.4 Pounds


The iso core handle and head design will make this your favorite splitting maul.

Best Value for the Money

Tabor Tools Splitting Maul

This splitting maul has many of the features of the Fiskars, but at about half the price.


It, too, has a concave maul head good for splitting wood wide open, thus reducing binding while wood splitting. 

The steel splitting maul head also has a protective coating to protect it from rust and the cutting edge "can be easily resharpened with a file"...even though it's totally unnecessary! 

Although the Tabor Tools splitting maul doesn't have the shock-absorbing technology of the Fiskars, it does have the other design features that I like.


It has a handle length of 32"...which is a little shorter than the Fiskars. This shorter handle length will make it slightly easier to handle, but not give you as much leveraged force.

The fiberglass handle has a cushioned rubber non-slip handle grip has a "cushioned rubber non-slip handle grip" which will help absorb a lot of the shock and vibration you would expect from a heavy maul. 

It also has a flare at the end of the handle, which, as I have said, I like for safety and increasing centripetal force!

Handle Length: 32"

Maul Blade: Forged, high carbon steel

Head Weight: Not listed

Total Weight: 8.95 Pounds

Best Splitting Maul For Black Tie (and dress) Dinner

Helko Werk Vario 2000 Heavy Log Splitter

The Vario 2000 heavy log wooden splitter is by far the prettiest splitting maul I've seen.

But that's not to say it's wimpy. Just more of a traditional splitting maul.

And it's not cheap...

But, for those who prefer spending a bit extra to get a traditional maul handmade in Germany...the Vario 2000 heavy log splitter is the one for you.


The carbon forged steel head has a similar double steel wedge design like the Fiskars and Tabor Tool...but just a little different. The wedges are wider, spreading the binding force out over a larger area.

What's really unique about this "splitting maul axe" is the wedge-shaped design. 

It has a patented "bolt-on fastening" system making it easy to replace the wooden handle should it break, or even if you want to swap out different wooden handles.


This wooden splitting maul has a 30"  hickory wood handle with a slight curve to it. (I find I can generate more head velocity with a curved handle than with a straight handle). 

The hickory handle has a matte lacquer finish and a black-dipped grip.

Because it is a lighter maul than other splitting mauls, it wouldn't be the best splitting maul for splitting wood that is large, knotty, and hard. However, for splitting logs medium-sized and down, this splitting maul would work well.

This splitting maul also comes with a bottle of protective oil and a leather sheath. 

Handle Length: 30"

Maul Blade: Forged, high carbon steel

Head Weight: 3.25 Pounds

Total Weight: 7 Pounds

Best Splitting Maul for Bam Bam (from the Flintstones)

Wilton B.A.S.H Splitting Maul

Are you a breaker of tools? You get things done...but you often occasionally revert to brute strength and impose your will on stubborn, stuck things?

(If they break they needed replacing anyway!)

Then this heavy splitting maul is for you.


Weighing in at a whopping 8 pounds, the massive head of this heavy-duty splitting maul will require some strength to get it moving.

But once it begins accelerating, you'll have much more force than a traditional splitting maul with a smaller head weight.


The composite handle has "molten steel bars" for reinforcement, a "no-slip" grip, and an anti-vibrational neck. 

Wilton is so confident that it will this heavy-duty splitting maul will outperform a fiberglass handle or wooden handles that it offers a 2-year $1000 cash back if the handle breaks from normal wear and tear.

Maybe this one qualifies as a "super splitting axe?" 

Handle Length: 36"

Blade: Forged, 46 HRC steel

Head Weight: 8 Pounds

Total Weight: 10 Pounds

Best Splitting Maul for Tyrian of Game of Thrones

Estwing Fireside Friend

If you spend a lot of time camping...and sitting around the fire is a SIGNIFICANT part of your camping experience, you might want a special portable splitting maul instead of a hatchet for chopping firewood.

The Estwing Fireside Friend splitting maul is hatchet sized (kind of) but gives you the weight and design for more efficient wood splitting.

This splitting maul is a hybrid...more of a true "splitting maul axe." The thin blade at the cutting edge makes it possible to cut fibers...if you wanted to lop off a tree branch, for example.

But the head spreads out for splitting as well, and, as 4 pounds will give you additional force.

Be advised, though, that trying to cut through branches (rather than splitting rounds) is tiring work even with a smaller 4-pound splitting axe. As always, hybrids are good at several things but not great at anything.

The 14 inch handle is metal (the whole tool is one piece so you'd have to run over it with a truck to break it!) and is covered with a vinyl grip for shock absorption.

Best Splitting Maul That's Overpriced

Gransfors Bruk Splitting Maul

Okay...completely admit my bias here. And confess that I haven't actually used it. (Almost $300 is a third of the cost of a cheap woodsplitter!)

But, for me, that seems like a high price to pay for a wood-splitting maul. 

Most reviewers love it, however.


It has a head just under six pounds with a unique design. The blade actually has a sharp edge to it. Then, the cutting edge stays thin for several inches before spreading out like other wood splitting mauls. 

And for you environmentalists, according to the Gransfors Bruk splitting maul website, their axe heads are from forged steel selected from Ovako, a recycling company in Sweden that creates carbon steel solely from recycled material.

Gransfors Bruk splitting mauls also come with a leather sheath.


The Gransfors Bruk splitting maul has a 31 1/2" hickory handle with a protective steel collar to help reduce the chances of the handle breaking. 

The hickory handle is straight, with grooves cut into the handle for grip.

Handle Length: 31.5"

Blade: Forged, Carbon Steel

Head Weight: 5 1/2 Pounds

Total Weight: 7 Pounds

Even though the price tag is as heavy-duty as the splitting maul itself, reviewers love it. They say that "If you haven't spent years splitting wood the hard way with cheaper mauls before you buy this, I almost feel sorry for you. You won't really be able to appreciate how awesome this tool is."

Maybe the leather edge cover is extra special.

So there you go.

Husqvarna Splitting Mauls

So I feel compelled to review this one. (even though Husqvarna refers to it as a "splitting axe" instead of a splitting maul.)

Mostly because I'm biased...I have a lot of Husqvarna stuff. My saws are Husqi's, my chaps, my helmet...the list goes on.


The Husqvarna splitting maul, excuse me, splitting "axe," has a forged steel head that is more of a traditional wedge design than the other splitting mauls with "wings" on the head.

The head comes with a leather sheath.


The Husqvarna splitting maul comes with a suitable handle length of 30 inches and is made from hickory.

Final Thoughts

Splitting wood can be difficult work. So choosing the best splitting maul increases the odds that you split wood and not your rotator cuff!

The "best" splitting mauls really vary depending on your size, how much wood you split, and what kind of wood you split. I hope this has been helpful in making your choice.

People Also Ask

Q. What's the best weight for a splitting maul?

A. It depends on your size and strength. The heavier the splitting maul, the more potential force you can create, but you need the strength to accelerate the head. Generally, the 6-8 pound range works well for most people.

Q. What is the heaviest maul?

A. The Wilton BASH splitting tool is the heaviest one I've seen at 10 pounds

Q. How heavy is a splitting maul?

A. Splitting mauls can range anywhere from 4 to 10 pounds. 

Q. Can I use a maul to split wood?

A. Indeed, you can.


{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}