* Prices may differ from that shown
As stated in previous reviews, I live in the sticks with a solid multi-fuel burner for heating so I use anthracite nuggets and a lot of wood, both hard and soft. The wood is delivered to me and I then chop a lot of it up and stack it inside by my burner to dry out.
I have a variety of hand axes and splitters etc and this is my cheapie "get the job done fast" splitting axe for larger chunks of wood that need cutting up to fit the grate of my burner.
This is a decent enough axe, not top of the range and probably will not last forever but it does the job reasonably well and is priced accordingly at around £ 25.
B&Q are a long established company and offer a range of axes, splitters and hatchets. They offer a decent guarantee and money back scheme too which is great if you are not happy with their product.
Their website states: "This product has been made to our demanding, high quality standards. Complete satisfaction or your money back. "
This axe/ splitter features a chunky forged steel 6lb head which is doubled faced. The head is durable and easy to sharpen with a whetstone and oil ( and pretty fair to say that all axes will need re-sharpening at some point). The dual head can be used both for striking wood or for cutting it which is useful. The handle is fibreglass and has a special soft grip surface which adds comfort and more importantly safety when chopping up wood. Although I prefer traditional wood handled axes and splitters, the fibreglass seems strong and sturdy.
It is fairly heavy for me as I have a few health issues so I only tend to use this after taking strong painkillers. Unless you have similar issues, this should not be an consideration for most people. The design is such that it swings easily and the tool is balanced and feels secure when in use. Fibreglass will not rot so this should last a while even if stored in a damp cold shed or workshop, although I would advise that you do oil the head to stop rust. I store mine by the front door and funnily enough I am rarely bothered by cold callers.....
Due to the nature of this product there are age restrictions in place ( ie you must be over 21 and could be asked for ID)
It comes with B&Q's guarantee and the website states "This product has been made to our demanding, high quality standards. Complete satisfaction or your money back. "
Overall length: 830mm, Overall size of head: (T) 58mm x (W)90mm x (L) 220mm
Overall size of striking face: (W) 35mm x (L) 38mm
Overall size of eye:(W) 32mm x (L) 40mm
Exposed length of handle: 785mm
Total weight: 3550g
In conclusion - A decent enough price for a basic tool. Well made and suitable for most household wood chopping tasks. Keeps cold callers away....
In films of days long gone, when the King or the Lord of the Manor was sat in his hall, the big feature was the huge open fireplace where great logs would spit and flare to produce a roaring fire to warm the backsides of the great and the good. Few of us have a home that boasts such a feature and, indeed, few of us have homes with open fires any more. At best we have a flame effect gas or electric "fire" that suggests warmth much more than produces it.
We were lucky when we moved to our current home: it had an open fire in the lounge although this was fitted with just such a flame effect gas fire. We used it from time to time during the winter although, at an at best 10% efficiency it was a very expensive way to warm the room! Most of the heat, and our money, went up the chimney. It was, however, easy to remove.
If you read my recent chainsaw review you will know that I was lucky enough this winter to lay my hands cheaply on a couple of tons of logs off of a team of tree surgeons removing firs from a property nearby. They delivered them for me but still in some fairly sizeable logs, far too big to simply toss onto the fire. I needed to reduce them to usable sizes. The smaller logs I could reduce to reasonable lengths with a bow saw but each then needed to be split into thinner chunks the easier to burn. What I needed was a log splitting axe.
I checked out B&Q, on OAP Wednesday, when we ancient citizens get our 10% discount, and discovered that they had several types of axes. The type I needed was a long-handled kind. Of these there are two types, one with a thin, broad, sharp blade, used for felling trees and a heavier one with a narrow, wedge-shaped head. This type is also known as a maul. This was the type I needed. With my discount I got it for around £25; that does still sound a lot for what is essentially a lump of steel on the end of a long fibreglass handle!
Now, you might ask why I didn't simply split the logs with the chainsaw. Well, for one, I hadn't yet bought one and in any case a chainsaw does waste a lot of wood in the form of sawdust. A chainsaw is great for cutting across the grain but an axe is far better for splitting wood down the grain. Chopping wood is also very cathartic. You just think of all those you would like to see at the receiving end and imagine the log is them!
Chopping wood is not quite as dangerous as using a chainsaw but even so, great care should be taken. Safety goggles are a must and gloves are strongly recommended. The log to be chopped should also be off of the ground. I usually stand them on top of a thick two foot high log stood on end. That way, if the axe goes clean through it only buries itself in the log below rather than ruining the edge by hitting the ground.
Wielding an axe does also require a degree of manual skill. You may not go clean through in one go and so a couple of blows may be required. The skill is in trying to ensure that the second blow is as close as possible to where the first landed. You aren't trying to hack it to death! Practice makes perfect. Also, if the wood is somewhat damp, as newly cut wood will be, the blade will almost certainly get wedged in the end of the log and will need to be wrestled free. Often, if the log isn't too heavy I simply leave the blade embedded and whack the whole lot down onto the chopping block, progressively driving the blade further and further through the log.
The other problem is with logs that have branches growing out of them. If the branch is any sort of a decent thickness then it will be certain the it will have originally started growing at what is now quite a depth inside the log. The trunk, as it grew, will have surrounded the base of the branch, which will appear like a peg in the wood. The problem is that it tends to hold the grain together and inhibit it from splitting.
I'm getting quite good at it now. The axe has proved to be a good tool for the job. I have a goodly stock of ready chopped wood, even discounting that which we have already burned, and loads more logs which will now probably not get used until next winter, by which time they should have dried out a treat. Maybe just a few more?
OK Mr Blair. I've got just the solution for you!