It’s wood splitting season and there’s no better tool to have at your disposal than the best splitting maul.
Makes short work of even the knottiest, twisted wood that you can find. Elm, Hickory, Doug Fir, Cherry, maple, it can go right through most of the stuff that people normally find in this neck of the woods.
It’s blunt. So less risk of injury. Comes with a larger head. Less effort translates into more combustible wood chunks.
‘What about axes then?’
Anyone who feels that axes are better for splitting wood must be sent outside in the biting cold to split a gnarly piece of white oak with their fancy, sharp axe.
Mauls split, axes cut. Period. What part of that is so difficult to comprehend?
Let’s leave the ongoing debate for the messaging-board mongers.
For now, here’s a quick look at the best splitting mauls in 2019.
#1 – Fiskars Iso Core 8 lb Maul
Fiskars just took the classic 8 lb. Maul and gave it a whirl, throwing some of their fancy new tech into it.
The result is the Iso Core Maul, an extremely efficient splitting tool that will cut through thick rounds like a knife through butter.
It features a sharp maul face made from heat-treated steel, that’s designed for splitting through wood. On the opposite side, it has a hammer-face which can be used for driving the edge into twisted knots.
The standout feature though is the shock-absorbent, plastic handle featuring Fiskars Patented ‘IsoCore Shock Control System’. When you swing at the wood making contact, the handle absorbs the shock.
This transfers most of the energy into the wood improving the efficiency of the tool.
Also, this gives a vibration-free splitting experience for the user. Even on the knottiest wood, you just feel a thud as opposed to a vibration. Not to mention that it looks extremely sleek with the two-toned color theme.
The caveat is that ‘if’ it breaks; you can’t fix it on your own. It does come with a lifetime warranty though. So you should receive a replacement from Fiskars unless you have managed to void its somehow.
The handle is 36” and has a non-slip covering all over with a slip-resistant flare towards the end, that makes for comfortable use in all kinds of weather.
Coming to the maul, there are rank newbies who have been able to split their entire season’s rounds at one go without ending up with a sore back or arms.
If you are making do with a twenty-year old maul with a wooden handle, switch over now to the Fiskars Iso Core and you’ll be amazed at the improvement in the performance.
- Stylish, sleek design
- Wedge-shaped splitting face and hammer-face on the other end
- 36” handle with slip-resistant flare
- Chops through 24” rounds with ease
- Shock-absorbent handle makes zero vibration chopping possible
- Lifetime warranty
- Weighs 10.5 lbs. (Not necessarily a con unless you are a petite user)
#2 – Gransfors Bruk Splitting Maul
If swinging a 10.5 lbs. Maul isn’t your idea of soaking in the crisp fall air, then you might want to check out the Gransfors Bruk Splitting Maul.
This weighs just 7 lbs. It is light enough for use by men and women of all physical capacities.
It features a 30” wooden handle that’s comfortable enough to grip even on a wet, humid day.
The circular grooves towards the end ensures that it doesn’t slip and stays firm in your hands throughout the swing.
The bulk of the weight of the maul is centered on the head which weighs 5 ½ lbs., making it very easy to control. It has a very axe-like profile with a concave, razor-sharp edge, which essentially cuts into the wood before the heavier, broad section splits it.
A protective steel collar just below the edge keeps you covered in case of an overstrike. This also ensures that the handle doesn’t snap on you in the middle of a task.
GB is one of the oldest and most trusted brands in the biz. You cannot go wrong with this amazing splitting maul.
- Lightweight maul weighing only 7 lbs.
- Easy to control and swing
- Axe-like head with a concave profile
- Sharp edge allows you to cut through tough logs with ease
- Protective steel collar below the edge
- Comes with a tanned leather sheath for the edge
#3 – 1844 Helko Werk Vario 2000
This German-made Splitting maul from Helko Werk is even lighter than the GB one.
Many users find a heavy maul too difficult to control while swinging.
The Vario 2000 weighs just 6.25 lbs. with a 4.25 head and a 30” handle that brings more momentum and speed into the swing. The result is a controlled, faster swing with less effort as compared to a heavier maul.
But that doesn’t reduce the efficiency of this maul. It even splits green wood with ease.
The head is forged from C50, which is a non-alloy carbon steel commonly used in wrought applications. It is hardened to 53-56 HRC, is extremely durable and very easy to sharpen.
Holds its edge for weeks too.
The shaft is American Hickory, crafted in Switzerland. So you get the best of everything in one affordable package.
The only possible gripe that we have with the Vario 2000 is that the striking face could have been wider allowing the use of a log to drive the maul into the wood. It’s slightly narrow with screws that sort of pop out. Just a tiny quibble and certainly not a deal breaker.
On a positive note, you can swap the handle yourself if it does get damaged.
- German-made, quality splitting maul
- C50 carbon alloy steel hardened to 53-56 HRC
- American hickory handle
- Weighs just 6.25 lbs.
- Easy and fast swings
- Comes with a vegetable tanned leather sheath
- Not a wide striking face
#4 – Husqvarna 32″ Wooden Splitting Maul
This is a classic 6 lbs. splitting maul from Husqvarna that features a forged steel head and an ergonomic 30” hickory handle.
It is manufactured entirely by Hultafors in Sweden and is considered to be the best budget-priced offering in the market currently.
At 6.8 lbs., it is light enough for use by inexperienced users with minimal risk of injury. It has a narrow, concave head with a reasonably sharp edge that splits even tough rounds with ease.
However, being a lightweight maul, it does require you to put your back into the job, else the edge tends to get stuck in the wood. There will also be some vibration upon impact, particularly if you aren’t experienced with it.
The strike face is wide though and you can use it to drive the head into knotty, twisted wood that refuses to split satisfyingly right in the middle. (Oh, you’ll come across a lot of these)
Securing the maul to the handle is a wooden and Steel wedge which increases the safety profile and reduces the risk of the head coming loose after repeated use.
Overall, this is a good quality hand tool that should suffice for most splitting tasks around home.
However, if you are a professional or if you frequently chop heavily knotted wood, we recommend that you use either the Fiskars Iso Core or the GB. Will be a lot more forgiving on your shoulders and back.
- Hand-forged steel head in Sweden
- Hickory handle with ergonomic design
- Budget-priced offering from Husqvarna
- Lightweight at just under 7 lbs.
- Allows an easy swing
- Steel and wooden wedge to secure the head to the handle
- Does tend to vibrate
#5 – Estwing Fireside Friend Axe
A 14” Maul doesn’t really fit the conventional description of the tool.
But this tiny brute of a maul from Estwing is just perfect for those mid-sized logs (kindling) that don’t require a heavy 6-8 lbs. maul to split, but are too big to split with a hatchet.
It’s forged from one piece of steel.
Head, shaft, everything is one piece with the weight centered around the wedge.
Club that with an ergonomic 14” handle that you can grip with both hands and you have great control over the swing. There’s a Shock Reduction Grip thrown in that keeps the swings vibration-free.
The hand-forged head is 2-3/8″ and cuts through the toughest of rounds with ease. On the other side is a striking face that lets you drive it into the wood easily.
Both the size and the weight (less than 0.5 lbs.) make it ideal for backpacking and camping use.
Estwing’s tools are hand crafted in the United States.
If you like camping and the warmth of a crackling fire fueled by kindling, grab this one.
- Compact 14” splitting maul from Estwing
- Crafted from one piece of tempered steel
- Weighs less than 0.5 lbs.
- Shock reduction grip
- Portable for camping use
Things to Consider while Buying the Best Splitting Maul
We can write an entire book about the nuances of splitting wood vs. chopping it with an axe.
But since you’ve made it this far, it’s evident that you have your heart set on the good old splitting maul.
So we’ll get right down to business.
Here are some of the important factors to consider before you shop for one of these protean tools.
The Intended Use
Most people consider the weight of the maul as the most critical deciding factor.
But the intended use of the tool is undoubtedly more important.
Will you be splitting rounds at home or is it just for prepping kindling at the campsite?
Also, what kind of wood will you be splitting?
If it’s mainly softwood, then just about anything with an axe-like head can split through it without breaking a sweat. Pick any maul from this list and it will get the job done.
But if you are going to encounter gnarly, hardwood, you better pick the right tool for the job or end you will end up frustrated and possibly injured.
A lot of this will also be subject to personal preferences and comfort level. But for us, hardwood usually means a 6-8 lbs. maul. It’s tough and it splits the grain open as it drives into it.
If you are looking at stocking cords of woods for the winter gales, then get the best one that you can wield comfortably, which segues into the next factor.
The Size of the Maul (and the User)
A 200 lbs. guy who’s 6’4 can wield an 8 lbs. maul like a toy. They can swing it easily and they can do it all day.
But for a user who’s 5’5 and 140 lbs. that’s nearly 10% of their body weight. And swinging it all day will be excruciatingly tiring, which makes them consider lighter mauls.
The caveat is that the heavier the maul, more the force that you can bring down on the wood, resulting in better and cleaner splits.
A lighter maul will allow you to swing faster, possibly for a longer duration. But you might notice that the head gets stuck in the wood more often that you’d like, especially if it’s hardwood.
At the end of the day, pick something that you are comfortable working with.
Most experienced woodcutters consider the 8 lbs. maul as the gold standard in splitting. Just the right weight for users of all physical capacities. But it’s not a rule written in stone. If you prefer a lightweight maul, go for it by all means.
The best splitting maul will feel balanced right when you pick it up for the first time. The weight should be centered around the edge and it should provide great leverage when you swing.
If you feel that the tool is off-balanced or that the handle is too long for your liking, swap it for a different one.
Most splitting mauls are forged from carbon steel due to the hardness and the corrosion resistance that this type of steel has over stainless.
Hand or drop forged heads offer increased strength and durability.
Typically, splitting maul heads are hardened to 52-58 HRC on the Rockwell scale.
Look at the quality of the handle. Many manufacturers these days offer plastic handles as they are more resistant to corrosion than wood. Ergonomically shaped plastic handles also feature shock absorbent features that minimize vibration.
But there’s nothing like the feel of a classic American hickory handle when you wield a maul. Also, wooden handles can be replaced easily were it to snap or get damaged due to an overstrike.
Pay attention to the wedge as it is one of the likeliest components to fail. Wooden and steel wedges are better than just steel or wood.
That’s it folks. That sums up our list of the best splitting mauls.
To give you a quick recap, our #1 pick is the Fiskars Iso Core 8 lbs. Maul. It is stylish, powerful and crammed to the brim with cutting-edge tech.
The GB and the Vario 2000 are perfect for users who prefer lightweight mauls.
The Husqvarna is our budget-priced pick and the Estwing Fireside Friend is ideal for use around campsites.
What is your personal favorite, best splitting maul? Do let us know.