The best felling axes are 32 to 36 inches long and weigh 4 to 5 pounds. They are made from high quality steel and American hickory for the handle. Their head profile is very thin to penetrate more deeply into the wood.
If you’re felling trees – not just splitting dried logs or rounds of wood, making kindling for a fire, or cutting off branches – you need to choose the right type of axe for it. Felling axes need a thin profile for deep cuts that bite big chips of wood out of the tree. They also need to be big and hefty for those high-power swings. That’s because felling a tree is hard work, and smaller axes, with less heft in their axehead and less punch behind each swing, just aren’t very practical for bigger trees (especially when they’re hardwoods).
This is an in-depth guide to the best felling axes you can find on the market and order from almost any part of the United States or beyond. I judged them based on price, build quality, size, and how well they fell trees. I tested each axe by felling a dead oak tree on my land.
Best Felling Axe
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Table of Contents
1. Gransfors Bruks American Felling axe
- 31-inch Hickory Handle
- Hand Forged 3.3 lb Axehead
- 20 Year Warranty
- Made in Sweden from the World's Premier Forge
The Gransfors Bruks American felling axe is the cream of the crop of felling axes. While not as large as some felling axes on the market (it comes in at a length of 31 inches or 79 cm), the ultra-sharp bite of the hand-forged 3.3 lb axehead (with a total axe weight of 5.5 lbs) allowed me to fell even very large hardwoods, and make short work out of softer resinous trees such as pine and spruce. I also felled a large maple tree with this straight out of the box, without it noticeably losing its edge.
I noticed it takes and holds a sharp edge very well, and its 31-inch straight handle gives you the most efficient power per swing (curved handles are fine, but make you exert slightly more with each swing to put the same amount of force into it). If anything breaks, Gransfors Bruks provides a 20-year guarantee on each axe and a copy of its “axe book” – a manual of handling and caring for your axes. That’s not to mention the full-grain, exquisitely-crafted leather sheath that it comes with.
Those are all nice extras. But the axe simply works perfectly – it’s an example of the best craftsmanship. Grain orientation on the American hickory handle has been reported as being consistently straight, which makes me think that their quality control is stringent and that they don’t let any axe handles with wonky grain orientation through to be sold.
This is one of the more expensive open-market felling axes for a good reason. You’ll most likely never have to buy another felling axe again and can go through trees easily. The steel of the axehead is hand-made and it both takes and holds an edge well. No sharpening is necessary after a single tree or two. The price is the main obstacle for many, but it’s clear that this is a premium tool – you get what you pay for!
- It can handle both hardwood and softwood trees, maintaining its sharp edge even after extensive use.
- Stringent quality control ensures that axes with wonky grain orientation do not reach the market.
- The axe is designed to be long-lasting, with the ability to maintain its sharp edge even after felling large trees. This durability is supported by a 20-year guarantee from Gransfors Bruks.
- The 31-inch straight handle design offers efficient power per swing.
- The axe comes with a full-grain leather sheath and an “axe book” for proper handling and care.
- The Gransfors Bruks American felling axe is a premium tool with a premium price tag.
- The straight handle design, while efficient for power per swing, does not provide the flexibility of use that curved handles offer.
- Given its high quality and price, the axe may be more than what a casual or infrequent person needs.
- Based on its high demand and quality control, there are sometimes supply issues or waiting times.
If you can afford it and appreciate a fine tool, I highly recommend the Gransfors American felling axe.
2. Council Tool Dayton Pattern Felling Axe
Council Tool is a great American company that has made excellent axes for many years and continues to do so. The Dayton Pattern felling axe is no exception – this beast of an axe, weighing in at over 5 lbs, is designed for and totally suited to taking on big, hard trees that would take ages to chop down with smaller axes. The 36-inch American hickory handle allowed me to really get that swing in, bite deep into the wood and take massive chips out at a fast pace.
The American steel axehead is of a very high quality and takes an edge well, and comes painted red to protect it from rust and make sure that you won’t lose sight of it wherever you place it. The handle comes unvarnished, which is good – most lacquers or varnishes make the handle more slippery than it should be, and I didn’t want a beast like this slipping out of my grip. A couple of coats of vegetable oil rubbed into the handle will seal it fine. The poll of the axehead is flat, so you can hammer wedges into the tree you’re felling.
The only drawback that some have reported is the grain on some handles being off, but since this is a handmade product from the USA, you will surely get great customer service and a replacement if that does happen. I didn’t have any problems with my model.
- Its powerful size, weight and 36-inch American hickory handle allow for deep cuts and a fast work pace.
- The axe features a high-quality American steel axehead that takes an edge well, promising durability and reliable performance over time.
- The handle comes unvarnished, reducing the risk of slippage during use.
- The axehead’s flat poll also allows it to be used as a hammer for wedges, increasing its utility.
- The red paint on the axehead serves a dual purpose, protecting the steel from rust and making the axe easier to locate.
- There have been reports of some handles having off-grain orientation, which can potentially impact durability and performance.
- The substantial weight of the axe, while beneficial for felling larger trees, might make it less suitable or harder to handle for smaller tasks or for users with less physical strength.
- The handle requires additional treatment with oil for sealing, which adds an extra step of maintenance.
At this price point, this is a great value tool for the money – a very good, durable, made-in-USA workhorse.
3. Council Tool Classic Jersey felling axe
The Council Tool Classic Jersey is another excellent felling axe from Council Tool. I noticed it is slightly lighter than the Dayton Pattern felling axe, and has a slightly different axehead design – it has an obtuse-angled “lug”, a feature meant for added stability of the handle’s attachment to the axehead. It also has two curves forged into the axehead behind the hardened edge – this helped prevent the axe getting stuck in a tree.
The edge is hardened to between 48-55 Rc at least 1 ¼ inches back from the cutting edge, which will ensure that you don’t have to resharpen it after every felling session as you would have to with cheap Mexican or Chinese axes. Made with pride in the Council Tool North Carolina factory, this is a versatile tool that you can use for many jobs, including (in a pinch) splitting tasks.
I used it to fell a small, dead oak tree and then processed it into firewood, and was impressed with its performance.
It’s a felling axe in design and heart, though, and will serve you well. The only drawback I found is that it doesn’t come razor sharp out of the box, but very few axes other than Gransfors and Hults Bruks do. Sharpening the Council Tool Jersey is a straightforward and simple task. Finally, it also comes in a curved-handle variant for those who prefer such a handle.
- It comes with several thoughtful design features, such as an obtuse-angled lug for handle stability and curves behind the hardened edge to prevent the axe from getting stuck in a tree.
- The axe’s edge is hardened significantly back from the cutting edge, ensuring durability and reducing the need for frequent resharpening compared to cheaper axes.
- This felling axe is versatile and can be used for a variety of tasks, including splitting tasks when needed.
- The axe is produced in the Council Tool factory in North Carolina, supporting domestic manufacturing and providing assurance of quality control.
- The axe is available in both straight and curved handle variants, offering a choice to suit different user preferences.
- Mine didn’t arrive razor sharp, necessitating initial sharpening before use. This could be inconvenient for some users.
- Potential Overkill for Casual Users: Given its high-quality design and durability, this axe might be more than what a casual or infrequent user needs.
- Although lighter than the Dayton Pattern felling axe, this tool might still be quite heavy for some users, potentially limiting its ease of use for those with less physical strength.
Another highly recommended tool.
4. Universal Forestry Axe Ochsenkopf
The Universal forestry axe is made by Ochsenkopf, a German company with a long, rich history whose roots date back to 1781 – they’ve been making axes in the same part of western Germany since then. That’s over 200 years of experience, which is nothing to sneeze at. The Ochsenkopf Universal proves it – this model comes in two weights. One axehead is 2.7 lbs (1250 grams), the other is 3.5 lbs (1600 grams). Both fit on a handle that is 31.5 inches long, made of American hickory with a great grain orientation extra durability and resistance to use (or abuse).
The steel is fine German steel, which they also have a great tradition of just as in the US and Sweden. I was dissapointed that the axe didn’t come very sharp out of the box but it does take an edge exceptionally well – people have reported cutting through the sheath that came with the axe after sharpening it.
- Ochsenkopf is a company with over 200 years of experience in making axes, ensuring high-quality craftsmanship and design.
- The axe is made of fine German steel, known for its durability and quality. The handle is made of American hickory with a great grain orientation.
- Despite not being very sharp out of the box, I found that the axe sharpens well and holds a keen edge.
- The axe comes with a sheath, providing added protection during storage and transportation.
- The axe does not come very sharp out of the box, which means users will need to sharpen it before first use.
- The axe is available with only one handle length (31.5 inches), which won’t suit everyone’s needs and preferences.
- The axe takes a keen edge, which, while beneficial for cutting, could pose a risk of accidental cuts.
It affords the same treatment to trees, with a thin profile and 4.7 inch cutting edge, allowing you to bite big chunks out of trees with each swing. All in all, a great tool from a reputable and historic European axemaker.
5. Hults Bruk Kalix Felling Axe
Hults Bruk is another Swedish axe-making company with a history dating back to 1697 (over 300 years!) that make premium-grade axes that come ready to use straight out of the box – razor-sharp, no need to re-profile them or do anything else to make them work better. The Kalix felling axe is slightly smaller than the Gransfors American felling axe because softwoods such as pine and fir dominate the Swedish treescape, so larger, heavier axes aren’t as necessary.
Tell you what, though – the fact that the Kalix is smaller and lighter doesn’t mean it has less bite. It’s a premium-quality tool, and in my experience it will easily go through most trees you’ll ever find, including tough hardwoods such as oak, maple, or apple. That’s because the hand-forged Swedish steel axehead has a tempered edge that allows this axe to hold a razor-sharp edge for a long time. Whereas with cheaper axe you might even need to resharpen your axe in the middle of felling a tough tree, you won’t have any such problems with the Kalix.
The only potential drawbacks I noticed are that since it is a lighter, shorter axe, it’s not suited for felling truly massive trees (the axehead weighs only 2.2 lbs or 900 grams, total weight – 3.6 lbs or 1.6 kilos). I did have to take extra swings to get through a particularly knarly oak tree.
I have also heard report that the quality control at the factory, according to some reports, isn’t as good as at Gransfors, with some defective axes occasionally sent out. Since it’s a legitimate European company with a US branch, they guarantee a replacement in case of manufacturer’s defects and will replace them quickly.
- The Hults Bruk Kalix felling axe comes ready to use straight out of the box.
- The hand-forged Swedish steel axehead and tempered edge ensure longevity and performance.
- Despite its smaller size, the Kalix is capable of cutting through a variety of tree types, including tough hardwoods.
- The lighter, smaller design of the Kalix can make it more manageable and less tiring to use.
- In case of manufacturer’s defects, the company offers quick replacements, ensuring peace of mind for the customers.
- Due to its lighter and shorter design, the Kalix might not be suitable for felling extremely large trees.
- There have been some reports of defective axes being sent out, suggesting possible quality control issues at the factory.
Hults Bruk axes generally cost less than Gransfors – there’s less hype and marketing about them, so you can get practically the same quality for 20 to 30% less. Words don’t do it justice – check out the video below to see the fine craftsmanship on the Kalix!
6. WoodlandPro Fallers Axe
The WoodlandPro Fallers axe is a rare thing nowadays – a sturdy and reliable tool produced in the USA and sold for a reasonable price. It has a straight 28-inch American hickory handle and the weighs 5 pounds – it’s a hefty workhorse, specifically designed for logging and woodfelling duties. The classic Dayton-style head allowed me to drive in wedges with the hardened back face of the axehead. Bailey’s harden the Fallers axe to RC 48-55 and paint it with red enamel and clear lacquer to protect it from rust, which is handy when I took it out in wet weather for several days at a time, and in general (you can always strip it off if you don’t like it).
This is a true felling axe, and if you want to support a family-owned company with its origins in the Northern California forests, you won’t go wrong with the WoodlandPro Fallers Axe. It can be had for just about $50, a steal for a US-made tool of such quality. The only potential downside I experienced is that the handle is straight, not curved, which some people might prefer. The answer to that, though, is that Bailey’s also sell replacement handles at a very fair price, so you can swap them if you wish.
- The WoodlandPro Fallers axe is a domestically produced axe, ensuring high-quality standards.
- Despite its high quality, the axe is sold at a reasonable price, making it an excellent value-for-money choice.
- The axe is painted with red enamel and clear lacquer to protect it from rust, making it durable and suitable for use in all weather conditions.
- The classic Dayton-style head with a hardened back face allows for driving in wedges, adding to the axe’s versatility.
- The straight handle design is less comfortable than a curved handle.
- The 28-inch handle is shorter than I prefer, particularly for larger tasks.
All in all, a great American-made felling axe.
7. Husqvarna Multipurpose axe
The Husqvarna Multipurpose 26-inch axe is not a “true” felling axe. At 26 inches in length, it’s slightly shorter than most true felling axes, and the relatively light weight of its head (1.75 lbs) means that swings will have less force behind them than those of felling axes with heavier heads.
Turn how you look at these specs around, and they can easily be seen as positives. After all, you most likely won’t be felling gargantuan old-growth trees regularly. If you’re looking for something to take on day hikes or short overnight excursions, you’ll appreciate the Husqvarna’s lighter weight. The reason why I included this axe in this list, though, is because of the profile of its bit. It is quite thin, which is what you want in a felling axe – and the Husqvarna bites aggressively and deeply.
In that sense, it’s more suited to felling trees or removing their limbs than it is for splitting wood, as thin bit profiles tend to get stuck a bit more, and that’s a necessary trade-off for felling axes (and if your technique is good, it’s a rare occurrence anyway), but is a real pain if the work you’re going to be doing is splitting dry logs or rounds of wood. In any case, the Husqvarna 26-inch multipurpose axe is a very good general-use tool, and will allow you to fell trees, cut off their limbs, and split wood, too.
- This axe is a good general-use tool, capable of handling various jobs including felling trees, removing limbs, and splitting wood.
- Its relatively light weight and shorter length make it ideal for carrying on day hikes or short overnight excursions.
- Despite its smaller size, I found that the thin profile of the axe’s bit allows for aggressive and deep bites.
- The design and size of this axe are well-suited for felling smaller trees, which is more common for many people than tackling large, old-growth trees.
- I noticed that the lighter weight of the axehead means swings have less force behind them.
- The thin bit profile, while beneficial for felling tasks, caused the axe to get stuck more often when splitting wood, which was frustrating.
All for a very reasonable price (around $60) for the good craftsmanship (the same company makes the highly-regarded, premium Hults Bruk line of axes).
8. Hults Bruk Akka Forester’s axe
The Hults Bruk Akka Forester’s axe is more of an honorable mention than a true felling axe, but it’s a great companion to any felling axe. That’s because it’s lighter and smaller (coming in at 1.5 lbs for the axehead and 24 inches for the handle), but that makes it much more maneuverable than the big beasts such as the Council Tool 36-inchers and the Gransfors American felling axe.
When I took it out to test, it made short work of any small trees – up to a foot in a diameter, if you have a bit of time to spare – but it really shines in limbing work. If you fell a large tree you’ll probably have to deal with big, thick limbs. A large felling axe often doesn’t do great in the awkward positions the you have to cut in in those situations. The Hults Bruk Akka excels – it took big chips out with every bite and was light enough to use comfortably when bent over or contorted to avoid hitting something on the backswing.
As with other Hults Bruk axes, it’s got two types of steel – high carbon 1095 steel in the main body and tempered 5160-series steel for the cutting edge.
- With its lighter weight and smaller size, this axe is more maneuverable than larger axes, making it more versatile.
- I found it was particularly effective for limbing work and is light enough to be used comfortably in awkward positions.
- It is not a traditional felling axe due to its lighter weight and smaller size, which limits its effectiveness for heavy-duty felling tasks.
- The lighter axehead weight may result in less force per swing, requiring more effort.
All in all, a great, premium companion axe to your larger felling axe.
How long should a felling axe be?
The two standards for felling axes are 31 to 32-inch handles and 35 to 36-inch handles. The main difference is how much force you can put into each swing. With longer handles, the potential force of each swing is obviously higher. That might sound good, but remember that axes with longer handles usually have heavier axeheads and are bulkier, allowing for less maneuverability.
Axe handles 35 to 36 inches in length became popular among American lumberjacks and foresters who had to fell very large, tough, old hardwoods such as oak, maple, hickory and similar trees. Axes with shorter handles were popular in Europe, where old, large oak trees (for example) were a rarity already in the Middle Ages. In the north of Europe (such as Sweden), where many homes and buildings were built of wood, softwoods such as pine and fir were the norm. That meant that you didn’t need felling axes to be as large and heavy, with as big of a bite as possible – you could do just fine with smaller, lighter felling axes.
If you’re not an experienced forester or looking to cut down many large, tough trees, you should start with a smaller felling axe. Small is relative, of course – a 32-inch axe is still large and hefty compared to a trail axe or hatchet – but it’ll be easier for you to use in the bush or the woods. If you’re looking to fell, say, 18-inch pine trees, a heavy, 36-inch felling axe would be a bit overkill. So take into account your needs and what you will use the axe for, and make an informed decision.
I actually use a 28-inch Hults Bruk Kalix, and it serves me just fine in most situations. It has a sharp bite and is light and short enough that carrying it around and using it for limbing a tree after felling it is easy enough and not too tiring. If I’d be limbing a tree in addition to felling it with a 36-inch Council Tool Dayton pattern feller, for example, I’d be exhausted at the end.
To sum up – unless you’re sure that you need a heavy-duty felling axe for tough jobs, I recommend starting with something lighter, yet of a high quality – such as the Ochsenkopf Universal Forestry axe or even the 28-inch Hults Bruk Kalix felling axe.
What’s the Difference Between a Felling Axe and a Splitting Axe?
Felling axes are specifically designed to cut across the grain of the wood to penetrate more deeply into the wood which will fell the tree in fewer strikes. A splitting axe is designed to cut with the grain of the wood and force the fibers apart. This is done by increasing the width of the bit’s cheeks so that it is thicker than a felling axe.