The best splitting mauls weigh between 6 and 8 pounds, with a 32 to 36-inch handle made from hickory wood or composite materials. They have a flatter profile bit and a neck protector for durability.
The Fiskars Isocore Maul is my top choice because of its shock-absorbing composite handle. It features a hollow profile that improves penetration without getting stuck in the wood. It is ideal as a workhorse splitting maul that will last forever and is great value for money.
Mauls are easily the best tool for splitting wood out there. Unlike most axes, mauls rely on the weight and profile of their axeheads and cutting edges to force apart wood fibers, not cut into them. This leads to more power and energy in each swing and more forceful splits. If you’re processing a lot of wood, or especially hard or knotty wood, this is a good thing – you want those logs or rounds of wood to burst apart.
I took each maul down to my firewood block and tested them out. Each maul was judged based on its performance, balance, comfort, and durability.
- 8 Pound Total Weight
- 36 inch Shock Absorbing Composite Handle
- Optimized Bit Profile to Split Wood Fibers Apart
- Rust-Resistant Heat Treated Steel Axehead
- 32-inch Hickory Wooden Handle
- Hardened Poll for Hammering in Splitting Wedges
- Protected Neck to Avoid Damage
- Includes a Leather Edge Cover
Splitting mauls usually weigh between 6 and 8 lbs. They’re heavy, and need to be, but you should also consider your strength and endurance levels and what kind of wood you’ll be splitting.
An expensive, top-of-the-line, 36-inch 8-pound maul will do you no good if you’re a short person who gets winded fast – in that case, a 32-inch 6-pounder will probably serve you better overall.
But if you’re a tall, strong, regular wood splitter and need to take apart, say, a big round of tough maple or some other hardwood, a long-handled 8-pound maul will probably be the right choice for you.
First and at the top of the list is the Fiskars Isocore maul. There is just so much to love about this thing. The main things are probably the patented shock-absorbing composite handle and the axehead design.
It’s no secret that using such a heavy tool is tough on your arm joints and whole upper body. You might be ok during the splitting, but afterwards feel aches and pains. This is especially the case with wooden handles, and if you ever miss your swing and an overstrike happens (hitting the piece of wood with the handle, not the axehead edge), you can expect quite a shock.
Fiskars were determined to address this and with this design, they did – the Isocore maul is noticeably easier on my arms and joints than other mauls.
I noticed that the axehead has an interesting profile – it has more of a hollow grind than other mauls (that is – a narrower cutting edge, whereas most mauls have wider, “fatter” cheeks). Still, the design improves penetration but doesn’t lead to the maul getting stuck any more than normal mauls do, which is certainly a bonus in my view.
Finally, the Fiskars Isocore maul has some nice perks – it has a plastic oversleeve of sorts on top of the handle (with a steel sleeve beneath it), just beneath the axehead, to prevent damage from overstrikes, a rubber coating on the bottom third of the handle, an oblong-shaped handle (that is also smaller than most wooden maul handles) to prevent rolling in your grip, and a hardened hammer striking face on the back side of the axehead to drive in wedges – you can also strike it with another tool to hammer the maul deeper into the wood.
The main drawback I found is that you can’t easily replace the handle if it does break, but the Isocore maul comes at such a good price that you will definitely get your money’s worth before it does break (if it ever does).
The Fiskars Isocore maul is excellent value for the money, a real workhorse with a polished and very functional design. You can get it in two sizes – 36 inches and 32 inches, with the first weighing 8 lbs and the second – 6 pounds. I give it the top spot on this list and a 9.5 out of 10 rating.
- The shock reduction grip makes the Fiskars Isocore maul easier on the arms and joints, reducing aches and pains associated with heavy use.
- The axehead features a hollow grind that improves penetration without increasing the likelihood of the maul getting stuck.
- The maul has an oversleeve and steel sleeve to prevent damage from overstrikes, a rubber coating on the handle for better grip, an oblong-shaped handle to prevent rolling, and a hardened hammer striking face for driving in wedges.
- Despite its advanced features, the maul comes at a competitive price, making it a high-value purchase.
- If the handle breaks, it can’t be replaced.
- The maul is relatively heavy, which might make it challenging for smaller framed people to handle, especially for prolonged periods.
2. Council Tool 8 Pound Splitting Maul
Another excellent, more traditional splitting maul is the Council Tool sledge-eye splitting maul. Council Tool have been manufacturing axes in the USA for many years, and haven’t moved their operations abroad. That makes the value they provide for the money all the more impressive.
This maul is an 8-pound, wood-handled, 36-inch classic maul with a straight handle. The axehead is hardened and, like with the Fiskars, you can use the poll end to drive wedges or strike it itself. The axehead comes with a clear lacquer to deter rust, and great care has been taken (such as kiln-drying the hickory wood, but also drying the eye section to below 10% moisture to ensure no funny business) to put everything together in a way that will make the maul reliable and safe to use.
I found that this maul does perform well, even with larger hardwood rounds.
The great thing about this maul is that it comes at a low price, but you can be sure of American quality, you’ll be supporting an American business, and, of course, you’ll get great customer support if you do have a problem with it. With a wood handle, of course, you can replace it easily if it ever does break. The Council Tool maul isn’t flashy, but it is an excellent tool that comes at great value for the money. By the way – it also comes in a 6-pound version.
- Council Tool has a long history of manufacturing quality axes in the United States, adding reliability and trust to their products.
- The maul features a hardened axehead and a handle made from kiln-dried hickory wood.
- The wooden handle can easily be replaced if it breaks, extending the product’s lifespan and saving costs in the long run.
- Despite its high-quality construction and features, the maul is priced reasonably.
- Unlike other mauls, this maul lacks advanced features like a shock-absorbing handle or a specially designed axehead.
- While some might appreciate its classic design, others might find it lacking in modern aesthetics or ergonomics.
- Although the handle can be replaced, I think it has a much higher risk of breaking.
3. Husqvarna 32″ Splitting Maul
Husqvarna are a forge owned by Hultafors Group, the same company that own and operate the Hults Bruk forges. More known for their chainsaws and other power tools, Husqvarna nevertheless manufactures some fine axes, and the Husqvarna 32-inch splitting maul is no exception.
Weighing in at just under 7 pounds, this straight-handled maul is hand-forged in Sweden. It comes with everything I want in a maul – a hardened poll end for striking wedges or being struck, an axehead fastened to the handle with both a wooden and steel wedge for that extra bit of security. Its leather cover protects the edge against the elements, which is always a welcome touch.
While not as high-end an axe as what Gransfors Bruks and Hults Bruk offer out of the box, I think it is a very good workhorse that can split wood without needing to improve or polish it when you receive it.
- The Husqvarna maul is hand-forged in Sweden, ensuring top-notch quality and durability.
- The axehead is fastened to the handle with both a wooden and a steel wedge, giving you comfort that the head won’t fly off.
- Despite being a more affordable option, the maul performs effectively.
- Weighing just under 7 pounds, the maul is seriously heavy, and won’t be suitable for most people.
- Compared to brands like Gransfors Bruks and Hults Bruk, the Husqvarna maul might not offer the same quality or craftsmanship.
4. 1844 Helko Werk Traditional Splitting Maul
Helko Werk axes are not widely known in the US, but this is German design and production at its finest, as evidenced by the attention to detail and small features that you didn’t know you needed.
Weighing in at a hefty 8.5 lbs in total, the 36-inch Helko Werk Traditional splitting maul is one of the finer examples of traditional mauls available on the market. I like that the edge of the axehead has a small hook at the bottom to assist in moving and turning logs over. I also appreciate that it has a steel overstrike protector just below the axehead to save the handle in case you miss a swing, reducing damage to the handle and the chance of breakage.
Helko Werk take care to select American hickory with the right grain orientation and density for their handles, further reducing the chance of the handle breaking, and they sand the handle down with 150 grit sandpaper for a smooth and pleasant grip.
The Helko Werk traditional splitting maul also comes with a full-grain leather sheath and a 1-ounce bottle of protective oil for the axehead. Since it doesn’t come that cheap, this is a welcome freebie. But then again, for the quality you’re getting, the price is actually quite good, and considerably less than axe brands such as Gransfors that enjoy more “hype”.
I recommend it for those who want a true finely-crafted tool that will stand the test of time.
- The Helko Werk maul includes valuable details like a small hook at the bottom of the axehead for log manipulation, and a steel overstrike protector to reduce handle damage.
- The maul uses American hickory for the handle, carefully selected for optimal grain orientation and density, ensuring durability.
- The brand’s German design and production ensure high craftsmanship and attention to detail, making this maul a reliable, long-lasting tool.
- Weighing 8.5 lbs, this maul is definitely too heavy for anyone but the strongest axemen.
- Although the quality and the extras included justify the price, the Helko Werk maul is not the cheapest option on the market.
5. Wilton Tools 36″ Maul
The Wilton Tools 36-inch B.A.S.H. splitting maul is the heaviest maul on this list. It has an 8-pound head and a steel core in the handle to make it just about indestructible through regular use. They even offer a $1000 “bounty” for anyone who does manage to break it. Judging by the feedback, nobody has yet.
It has an “anti-vibe” neck to reduce shock to your joints and arms, which is much appreciated as the total weight of this beast is 10 pounds – the less shock you get from each strike, the better. I immediately noticed this reduction in shock after my first strike.
A non-slip grip from vulcanized rubber ensure a secure hold, although some people might not like it. To each their own, but the maul didn’t slip out of my hands, even after I tested it with some water to make it more slippery.
As good mauls do, it has a hardened hammer face on the poll end of the axehead for driving wedges, being struck, or use as a sledgehammer.
The main drawbacks I noticed in this maul are the weight – 10 pounds is a lot to swing – and also the fact that some users report the edge being dull on arrival. That’s nothing you can’t fix with ten or twenty minutes of work with a file, though.
Overall – for a heavy, practically unbreakable maul – the Wilton Tools maul is something you might be interested in.
- The Wilton Tools maul is designed with an 8-pound head and a steel core handle, making it very robust.
- This maul includes an “anti-vibe” neck, reducing shock to your joints
- The handle is coated with vulcanized rubber, ensuring a secure grip and reducing the risk of the maul slipping during use.
- Weighing in at a hefty 10 pounds, this maul is too heavy for anyone but the strongest people.
- Some people have reported the maul arriving with a dull edge, necessitating additional work with a file to sharpen it for effective use. I didn’t notice any problem with my model.
6. Gransfors Bruks 31.5″ Splitting Maul
Gransfors Bruks axes are the cream of the crop, and their 31.5-inch splitting maul is no exception. Everything about this maul says “perfection”, or as close as you can get to it.
While other mauls tend to have duller edges, the Gransfors Bruks splitting maul is meant to be used sharp. The hard, high-quality steel and concave grind attest to that. The steel is way better than almost all other splitting mauls out there, and once you sharpen it (although that isn’t necessary – it comes sharp and absolutely ready to use straight out of the box), it’ll hold an edge for a long time.
I noticed that the balance is excellent, which is important when swinging a heavy maul for hours. Speaking of heavy, the Gransfors splitting maul weighs 7 lbs in total (5.5 lb axehead), so it is a pound lighter than many mauls, which tend to weigh in at 8 pounds, and it also has a shorter handle. Even so, it splits better than almost all bigger mauls. I found it acts like a sharp axe in soft wood even when chopping tough old oak – the sharp edge that holds and holds for many cords of wood certainly helps with that.
Feedback on the axehead geometry is glowing, and I agree – the edge is sharp and digs easily into wood, and the shape of the axehead follows up and blows the fibers apart. It is perfection honed by not just tens, but hundreds of years of axe making.
Carefully-selected straight grain American hickory wood forms the handle, with a very sturdy steel guard just under the axehead protecting it from overstrikes. The fit and finish are top notch, with everything fastened together nice and tight. You should expect no less from one of the world’s oldest and most renowned axe-making forges.
All axeheads are hand-forged and quality inspection on these axes is possibly the best around – Gransfors have a reputation to maintain, and defective axes just won’t do. The Gransfors Bruks splitting maul is pricier than almost all mauls out there, but this is not a middle-of-the-road splitting maul – it is truly premium quality, and will last your lifetime and more with the proper care. The maul comes with a full-grain vegetable-tanned leather sheath.
You get what you pay for, and here you’re paying for tool-making excellence. If you’re ready to invest in tool like this, you’ll not want to go back to anything of a lower quality.
When your body is old and tired and you’re done splitting cords of wood, you’ll be able to hand this off to your descendants or a dear friend and let them discover the joy of splitting wood with a Gransfors. It’s just that good. I give this axe a 10/10, and the only reason that I didn’t put it at the top of the list is because of its price.
Overall, I feel more comfortable recommending the Fiskars Isocore maul because it is much less expensive and you probably won’t hesitate to really go at it with the Fiskars, simply because you won’t be afraid of damaging it as you might be with the tool-slash-work-of-art that is the Gransfors Bruks splitting maul. But between us – the Gransfors is definitely the better maul, it’s in a different class altogether.
- The Gransfors Bruks splitting maul is made from superior steel, which holds an edge for a long time, offering better performance and durability.
- The balance of this maul is noted as exceptional, which is vital for user comfort and efficiency when handling a heavy maul for extended periods.
- Gransfors Bruks, renowned for their axe-making, ensure every piece is hand-forged and undergoes rigorous quality inspection.
- With proper care, this maul can last a lifetime, making it an investment that can be passed down to the next generation.
- The Gransfors Bruks splitting maul is more expensive than other mauls on the market.
- Due to its high cost and premium quality, you might hesitate to use it for fear of causing damage.
Last but not least – enjoy! Wood splitting is something that usually isn’t “necessary” nowadays. But it is great fun in the way that simple, honest physical work can be. It can be calming and meditative, and it’s definitely very satisfying to see raw material – either logs or rounds – turn into what you need them to be. And you can be happy knowing that it was your energy and skill that transformed one into the other.
It would help if you also considered a splitting axe, which has a sharper blade and is better suited for thinner logs or easier-to-cut wood.
Alright – thanks for reading, and get splitting.