Before any outdoor job, you need to make sure you have the right axe. If you’re cutting down trees and branches, the best felling axes can help you get the job done effortlessly and effectively.
A felling axe excels at chopping down trees because of its mid-weight, narrow head, or “bit.” The bit of a felling axe also has an extra sharp blade, allowing it to cut fibers against the grain of the wood (Source).
In contrast, a splitting axe has a heavier bit, creating force that allows it to cut with the grain of the wood. A felling axe bit is usually between 2.5 and 4 pounds, and is made of steel.
Typically, the handle of a felling axe is between 2 and 3 feet long for sufficient leverage. While most felling axe handles are made of sturdy woods like hickory or mahogany, some are crafted with reinforced plastic or metal.
If you own a lot of wooded land, a felling axe is a great way to chop down dead trees, prune branches, and limb logs (Source). With the proper instruction and safety precautions, they’re easy enough for anyone to use.
Prior to purchasing a felling axe, you’ll need to consider the weight and shape of the axe bit. You’ll also need to consider the material and length of the handle. You should also think about whether you want a single bit or double bit felling axe.
If you have trees to chop, get started with these top rated felling axes.
What Is a Felling Axe and What Is It Used for?
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is a Felling Axe and What Is It Used for?
- 2 Comparing The Best Felling Axes
- 3 1. Hultafors Hand-Forged Swedish Felling Axe – Best Overall
- 4 2. Hults Bruk Kalix Felling Axe – Cheapest Option
- 5 3. 1844 Helko Werk Felling Axe – Best for Medium Felling Work
- 6 4. Hults Bruk Kisa Felling Axe – Best Lightweight Option
- 7 5. Council Tool Velvicut Four Pound Felling Axe – Best Full Size Axe
- 8 Felling Axe Safety Tips
- 9 How to Sharpen a Felling Axe
- 10 Felling Axe vs Splitting Axe
- 11 Things to Consider Before Buying a Felling Axe
- 12 Ready To Buy The Best Felling Axe?
A felling axe is used for cutting down trees and branches rather than chopping logs or splitting wood. You should look for top wood splitting mauls if you intend to split wood.
This axe is intended to cut wood fibers, not to split them. It is also great for limbing trees and creating stumps. Felling axes are designed specifically to chop across the wood grain. To make a deep cut in the grain, they come with a thin and very sharp blade.
The blade is slightly rounded whereas the head is a bit pointed to create a low cutting-edge angle. Such a design allows you to to get the job done effectively and quickly.
Comparing The Best Felling Axes
|Hultafors Hand-Forged Swedish Felling Axe|
|Hults Bruk Kalik Felling Axe|
|1844 Helko Werk Felling Axe|
|Hults Bruk Kisa Felling Axe|
|Council Tool Velvicut Four Pound Felling Axe|
1. Hultafors Hand-Forged Swedish Felling Axe – Best Overall
It comes with a solid and strong hickory handle. It has very nice wood grain on the handle. The hickory material offers a strong grip that will not slip off easily. The handle is also fitted with a hole for your loop.
The head is secured into the handle by a wooden wedge with a solid metal circular pin. The pin holds the head firmly to prevent it from coming off during heavy use. The cutting edge is also remarkably sharp and would retain sharpness after use.
2. Hults Bruk Kalix Felling Axe – Cheapest Option
With a 28-inch handle and a 2.25-pound head, the Hults Bruk Kalik is slightly shorter and lightweight, but it produces a remarkable force with each swing. It can be used in remarkably large project of felling trees.
What you would like most about the Hults Bruk Kalik is its ability to retain sharpness, even after a heavy cutting project. Not to mention that the Swedish steel head is built to last years of usage.
3. 1844 Helko Werk Felling Axe – Best for Medium Felling Work
The handle is designed from high quality American hickory material, which is chosen for density, grain orientation, and strength. The handle has boiled linseed oil finish and it is one hundred and fifty grit smooth sanded.
The 31 inch handle is fairly straight with a small curve towards the top. This shape makes it easy for you to hold the handle. Not to mention that it provides a strong grip that allows for powerful swings.
4. Hults Bruk Kisa Felling Axe – Best Lightweight Option
The axe has a head weight of 2 pounds. The head is engineered from solid Swedish steel that is durable and sharp. The steel used is struck several times, thus increasing the density of the head, making the axe more durable.
It is fitted with a 26 inch long handle that is designed from high quality hickory. The handle features linseed oil finish. It is strong and very capable of producing enough swing force for felling, chopping among other cutting chores.
5. Council Tool Velvicut Four Pound Felling Axe – Best Full Size Axe
The four-pound head is hand forged in a robotic work cell. Then again, it is expertly sharpened by a professional craftsman by using fine abrasives. The sharpening process is completed with leather stropping.
This is the longest felling axe in this listing with a 36 inch handle. This remarkably long handle is designed from top quality hickory, which has superior density and greater orientation.
Felling Axe Safety Tips
When it comes to cutting down trees, safety should be your top concern. This is a dangerous job that can easily put your life at risk. That is why you should be very careful when using a felling axe.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when working with a felling axe:
- Take short breaks often – It is important that you take a break whenever your arms get weak. Sore and weak arms increase the risk of the axe slipping from your hands. The last thing you want is an axe that goes flying.
- Use the sheath: Most felling axes come with a sheath. Once you are done using your axe, bring it back to the sheath for secure storage.
- Don’t use a felling axe with a varnished handle. As said earlier, varnish on the handle is not considered a good feature. While varnish can make your axe look sleek, it will also make it slippery as your palms start sweating.
How to Sharpen a Felling Axe
It depends on how the axe head is worn out. With a fine-tooth flat file, you can file both sides whilst maintaining the original shape of the edge. In the event of minor damage, you will be able to sharpen your axe with a coarse handheld sharpener.
Here are some tips on how to sharpen a felling axe:
- Move your axe back and forth in order to evenly ground its edge.
- Remove any burr or feather edge on the side with a whetstone. It’s best to hone the edge in a repeated circular motion.
- Keep turning your axe to ensure that both sides are sharpened equally.
Felling Axe vs Splitting Axe
Felling axes are often confused with splitting axes. That’s because they look so much alike. Here are two basic differences between a felling and splitting ax:
- Shape – Splitting axes are designed with a concave-shaped heavy and large head that has a very thin edge. Felling axes, on the other hand, come with a gradually tapered head that features an extremely sharp blade.
- Intended use – Splitting axes are meant to cut wood by splitting it along the grain. Felling axes cut wood fibers by chopping across the grain and they are mainly used for cutting down trees.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Felling Axe
There are a variety of felling axes out there. What you need to consider as a woodsman is what needs your axe must fulfil, what types of woods are most commonly found in your area, and how much weight you are willing to carry.
The larger the felling axe, the safer it will be to handle; it will take less inertia to remove material and will require a lighter, more controlled swing. With that said, you have to choose the appropriate head size and handle length among other features.
The most important section of a felling axe is the head. For the ax to function competently, the cutting edge must have a bit that is properly sharpened. It should be able to bite into the wood and at the same time resist breaking and chipping.
You should know that the finest cutting edge requires an axe head made of high quality steel. There is no doubt that you can easily replace an axe’s handle if it is of cheap quality and breaks. However, you can do nothing concerning a head made of cheap or poor steel.
When buying a new felling axe, we recommend you to avoid the ones found in hardware store. As an alternative, you should consider buying from the most reputable brands that are well-known for manufacturing high quality tools.
You would probably pay more for quality, but it is best for you to incur a significant cost once than dealing with the flaws of a cheap felling axe.
Single Bit or Double Bit
Single bit axes are the mainstay of many users, in part because an axe with one bit somehow seems twice as safe as an ax with two edges. You only have to worry about the one cutting edge.
Most felling axes are single bit. They are effective at cutting down or pruning trees. They can also be used to cut or trim logs and heavy brush, or split and cut wood. But if you’re also looking for top pruning saws, see this list.
This type of axe has a steel head attached by wedges to a long, slightly curved handle. The head has a flat face at one end. At the other end is the cutting edge or single bit.
A double bit axe has two symmetrically opposed cutting edges. Traditionally, one bit is sharp ended to a fine taper to make deep cuts for felling trees and chopping through logs. The other bit is honed with a stouter edge for working on branches from downed trees.
The single bit ax differs from the double bit not only in shape of its head, but also by the fact that its handle is usually curved. While the single bit axe handle gives the appearance of greater comfort and ease of use, a curved handle requires more wood than does a straight handle.
Weight of the Head
This is a very important consideration when buying the best felling axe. Normally, most people would settle for the heaviest head for its superior force. This is why, in most cutting competitions, 3 to 4 pound heads are used.
However, if you are new to felling axes, you should consider settle for an ax head that does not weigh more than 3 pounds. You should know that heavier axes deliver more force, but would probably result into poor accuracy if you are not strong enough.
According to research, you are advised to start off with a three-pound ax head when handling a full size felling axe for the first time. You can always adjust the weight as you get stronger as well as more experienced with felling tools.
Length of the Handle
Felling axes come in a variety of handle lengths. Most people would settle for a felling axe with a longer handle, since it is capable of producing more force. However, it is usually better to also consider a slightly shorter handle.
Theoretically, the longer the handle of the axe, the more force you would be able to deliver. However, there would come a time when you would not be able to control the long handle as you would want to.
When choosing the ideal length, you should look for a good spot between accuracy and force. If you are new to felling axes, you should consider a shorter handle. This will allow you the control you need for effecting cutting.
The length of an axe handle is mostly measured from the knob at the axe’s bottom to the top of the edge. Normally, axe handles are available in two standard lengths: boy’s ax and full-size.
The standard length of a felling axe handle is usually 36 inches, which may still be too long for some individuals. Instead, you should consider a handle length of 31 inches, which will provide you with adequate force as well as control.
If you are not planning of using your felling axe on larger trees, consider a boy’s axe, which is typically 28 inches long. This option may be shorter, but it is the perfect choice of an average grown man.
When looking for a felling axe, be sure to consider handle material. It has a great impact on the feel and overall experience. There are three main options to choose from:
- Wooden handle – Most people prefer a wooden handle and most axes come with such a handle. Not only does it looks nice, but it’s also comfortable to hold and easy to replace. If you opt for a wooden handle, make sure it is not varnished. That’s because the varnish will make your axe slippery due to the sweat from your hands.
- Metal handle – It’s very sturdy and reliable. The downside is that metal handles are hard to replace and quite heavy. As a result, your arms will get tired quickly because of muscle fatigue.
- Reinforced plastic handle – It is much sturdier than wood and often lighter too. However, reinforced plastic does not wear down in a natural way. That makes the handle a bit uncomfortable to hold, which is especially true when it gets nicked or damaged. Plus, you will have difficulty replacing plastic.
Curved or Straight Handle
There is always a discussion as to whether curved handles are better than straight handles. Traditionally, most people would prefer straight handles. However, with time, curved handles have become more fashionable.
A great number of single bit felling axes are equipped with curved handle because it produces a more natural swing, which delivers more impact with each swing. On the other hand, most double bit axes are equipped with straight handles.
Ready To Buy The Best Felling Axe?
There is a lot to take into consideration when buying a felling axe. Therefore, you should not be too fast to settle for a model which may turn out to be a big disappointment. So, take your time and factor in all the aforementioned buying tips.
According to our findings, the best felling axe is one that comes with the appropriate head weight and handle length. As for the single bit or double bit, you are the one to decide which one is more convenient and versatile.