If you’ve never heard of it, the maul is a tool you use to split larger logs into smaller bits.
It goes by other names such as sledge axe, splitting axe, hamaxe, go-devil, blockbuster, and block splitter. There are mechanical splitters, but those are a topic for another day.
What is a Splitting Maul and how does it compare to an axe?
The maul is quite heavy and the metallic head is bigger than an axe’s. On closer examination, you will realize that it looks like a sledgehammer whose one end has a wedge used to split logs.
The hammer end is struck with another object if the maul gets stuck in a log and you intend to split it all the way through.
The question is: “how different is the maul from an axe?”
First, a sledge axe (note the synonyms listed above) is bigger than an axe. It is also heavier and it has a sledgehammer at the back of the wedge.
The head of a maul has a larger angle than that of the axe. They don’t just differ in appearance. They are used for different purposes:
A maul is used to split big logs into smaller sections by opening up the grain.
On the other hand, an axe is used to split the small sections into kindling that can be used to light a fire.
There are various types of wood that are best suited for use as kindling, and a maul axe will work very well on all of them.
The axe is lighter and sharper than its bigger and burlier counterpart. While you can still use an axe to split bigger logs, it would be a lot of work as you would need a lot more energy in the swing to compensate for its lighter weight.
In this case, you would be better off taking advantage of the heavier maul to minimize the effort used. It’s perfect when clearing down small trees in your garden.
In fact, the best form to adopt when using a maul is hoisting it, directing it towards the log, and letting it drop, letting its weight to do most of the job.
Its also a good way to cut wood without the use of a chainsaw.
Choosing a splitting maul
Now that we are all up to speed with what a splitting maul is, we should now determine what you will be looking out for when you go shopping for a maul.
A proper maul should do many years of honest work. The ones made by the most competitive brands are built sturdy and with high-quality materials. There are a few things to look out for in a splitting maul, as listed below.
American made tools have a good reputation, but they are not the only ones on the market.
The Weight of the Head
When we examine the head of the maul, the most important factor here is the weight.
Since you will be splitting logs by hand, you need something that has the optimum weight to make the job easy. There are different weight categories of heads ranging from 4 pounds to 12 pounds.
You should balance between too heavy – that needs more energy to lift – and too light – needs more energy to augment the swing while you split the logs.
8 pounds is a healthy compromise for the average-built person. However, depending on your strength, you should pick something that you will be comfortable with.
When it comes to picking the handle, there are a few factors in play here:
- How it is fixed to the head
- The length of the handle
- The material of the handle
The way the handle is fastened to the head determines how safe the tool is. There’s no easy way of determining this. You should find someone who knows a great deal about mauls to help you examine that.
When it comes to the material of the handle, you can either go with fiberglass, composite, or wooden handles.
Most people prefer wood because it is perfectly weighted (relatively heavier than the others) for splitting purposes. Hickory (wooden) is the most popular material.
Of course, there are disadvantages to using wood. For example, wood splits and rots if you fail to take care of it. You must be sure to carefully store your tools correctly for winter.
The length of the handle should be relative to your height – or the height of the user if the tool is meant for someone else. Find a maul with a handle of the correct length to ensure safety.
You can only buy something if the economic aspect of it makes sense to you. If you find a maul that lives up to all your technical requirements, it should also be an economically sound investment. You will realize that household brand names go for more money.
Splitting your logs by hand is one of the few activities that we all love about living in the countryside. If you are to enjoy doing it, a good splitting maul will go a long way.
When you head out to buy one, pay attention to these important details and you will purchase a tool that will serve you for a couple of years diligently.