Chopping Axe vs. Splitting Axe – A Comparison Guide

About Chopping Axe vs. Splitting Axe, Selecting the right axe is important because, for a simple tool, axes come in different shapes and sizes.

While the chopping axe vs. splitting axe is the most common, you can easily mistake one for the other because they share similarities.

Although both axes may look similar, choosing the wrong one would make work harder. 

This guide compares chopping axes vs. splitting axes. You will discover how to identify each axe, the similarities, differences, and the best scenario for using each axe.

What is the difference between a chopping axe and a splitting axe?

Cutting wood into firewood using a splitting axe

Cutting wood into firewood using a splitting axe

Splitting axes have wide cheeks. This axe is best employed for chopping upright logs into kindling and firewood. 

You can easily chop along wood grains with their wide cheeks because they force wood fibers apart.

Swing Motion

You must use more energy, strength, and force to swing a chopping axe to fell timber.

This is because gravity present in the up and down motion when using splitting axes is absent here because of the horizontal swings.

Horizontal swings are dependent on force and the skill of its user.

Otherwise known as felling axes, chopping axes find usefulness in cutting horizontal logs into manageable pieces.

Splitting axes are mostly raised over the head and brought down vertically.

The up-and-down movement pulls the head of the axe downwards. This helps you deliver very powerful strikes to the wood, precisely splitting it.

Number of Swings

Splitting a log in one strike

Splitting a log in one strike

When splitting wood, the aim is to deliver one-strike blows by working with the grain.

This makes the process of making firewood easy without any stress.

The number of swings you need for specific types of wood differ. 

You must take several swings for seasoned elm, while willow requires less force to split.

Due to the usual challenges of working through the fibers of wood/trees, a chopping axe rarely splits with one swing. The number of swings you must make depends on the trunk size and grain design.

You will need hundreds of swings to cut through a large oak in contrast with firewood.

Head Design

Splitting axes have distinct qualities that make them very efficient in cutting firewood. These unique features include:

Axe Head Weight => 2-4 pounds

The Axe Head Shape => Sharp & Thick profile

Axe Total Weight => 3-5 pounds

Axe Handle Length => 28-32 inches

A splitting axe has thick cheeks and a wide blade. When in use, the blade of the splitting axe makes the first contact during usage, while the wide profile sustains the action. The wide profile also disperses wood with great efficiency.

A chopping axe is the preferred option if you want to cut through wood efficiently without getting stuck in the fibers. This axe has unique qualities that make it ideal for this purpose. They include:

Axe Head Weight => 2-4 pounds

The Axe Head Shape => Sharp & Thin profile

Axe Total Weight => 3-5 pounds

Axe Handle Length => 28-32 inches

Can I Use Chopping Axes and Splitting Axes Interchangeably

While it is possible to use each type of axe instead of the other, it is essential to use the respective tool for its specific purpose.

A chopping axe will usually get stuck when cutting through firewood, and getting the axe head out of wood will frustrate you.

Cutting a wooden tree

Cutting a wooden tree

A splitting axe’s thick cheeks will stop the blade from cutting deep when cutting a wood tree. It will require considerable amounts of swings to finally fall the tree.

Felling a tree with a chopping axe

Felling a tree with a chopping axe

Quick Comparison Table: Chopping Axe vs. Splitting Axe

FeaturesChoppingSplitting Axe
Swing MotionHorizontal or VerticalVertical
Number of SwingsSeveral strikesOne or more strikes
Blade ProfileVery sharp and thinSharp and thick
UsageFor felling trees and bucking wood/logsFor splitting logs for firewood and kindling

Which axe is right for me?

The right tool helps you achieve the right results. Buy a splitting axe if you need to split firewood; consider buying a chopping axe if you need to fall trees and convert the logs into smaller rounds.