Fiskars Ax Pros and Cons

By , May 3, 2018

My last post on this subject, “New Fangled” Axes for the Homestead, got too long. Now, here’s some observations on the company’s High Performance Splitter, our most recent acquisition.

The company claims that this ax’s design allows for faster, harder strikes, leading to fewer swings to chop a round. The sharp blade flares quickly into a wide wedge shape, and that’s exactly how it addresses the round. It hits like a battering ram, and blasts through the wood impressively. I’ve moved away from using splitting mauls over the last few years. With this ax, I may never need one again!

I will need to gain some experience with this tool before I function well with it, however. At 36″, it’s longer than most axes I’ve used. The balance seems a little off to me, because of that length, and the lightness of the composite handle.

I also learned pretty quickly not to use the ax quite the same as my older ones. If my stroke sticks in the round, I commonly flip it upside down and strike the back of the blade against the block, allowing the round’s weight to help split the round. I don’t know if it’s the wider wedge shape of the blade, or the no-stick coating on it, but a few rounds fell off the blade when I did this. One round nearly sprained my wrist, but left me with bruises and cuts. Another one barely missed cutting my cheek before falling on my shoulder and leaving a gash.

chopping nicks

The pain is a bit annoying; more so is the shape of the higher scab. I see it as a biting mosquito several times each day! (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

The blade is sharper than most splitting axes or mauls. I knew this before I bought the ax, but a recent incident reminded me of this in graphic fashion. While splitting a long log up in the forest, a swing slid along the log and down onto my foot, cutting a nasty slash in the toe of my boot!

ax-cut boot

This was a rude wake up call! Luckily, it didn’t slice completely through the boot, and I’m uninjured (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Luckily, I wore a particular pair of boots that day, one I still consider “new,” having owned them for less than a year. Of all the footwear I own, I can’t imagine any other pair of shoes holding up as well as this one did. Even so, I’ll need to squirt a lot of sealant into the gash to continue using the boots on the homestead.

I’ve made bad swings in the past, whiffing swings between my ankles, or bouncing off my toes. I’ve never come this close to injuring myself while chopping before!

Fiskars makes it sound like the ax will never need sharpening, but that’s not true. Both the axes are very sharp, but the steel is somewhat soft. Both the tools’ edges got nicked and warped after a single day’s work—without any bad swings into rocks or other non-wood surfaces. I didn’t even tackle any knots! Considering that our local conifers are so soft that most wood stove books don’t consider them adequate fuel, this makes me wonder what someone trying to chop hardwood fuel, like maple or oak, might experience?

nicked ax head

The Fiskar X27 after a day’s work (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Still, a little work with a bastard file and a Lansky puck cleaned them right up, ready for the next day’s work. I don’t seem to have compromised the no-stick coating by sharpening the blade.

I’ve been here before; it’s the cost of doing business (see How to Repair a Damaged Ax Blade).

All in all, I’m pretty happy with the Fiskars axes. The pros far outweigh the cons from the start, and will likely do so even more as I become comfortable with the tools.

4 Responses to “Fiskars Ax Pros and Cons”

  1. Dick Pilz says:

    Mark,

    Now you know why loggers don’t like steel-toed boots – they dull the ax.

    Dick in PDX

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Dick, I don’t know whether I should laugh at this, or not! I find it funny, but all-too-true!

    On reflection, I guess personally I’d rather touch up my edge than try to find my toes on the forest floor . . . .

  3. Dave Z says:

    Hi Mark,

    I just got my first tast of the Fiskars Splitter at Baranof Wilderness Lodge, this winter. Pretty much the same observations, though my edge held up better… different run of metal?

    All in all, I was quite impressed. I can buck up a tree and up-end rounds left and right, then just walk the line splitting halves, bam bam bam. Pretty rare that I’d need a second blow on any.

    Dave Z

  4. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi Dave, hard to say about the run of metal. I’ve heard that they might be high carbon steel, which might fit with my observations. Also, if you’re splitting rounds where they lie, that may explain it. most of mine were on a chopping block, so less forgiving base, perhaps?

    Or, is it that you lack the muscle, Older Brother? I only make that taunt because there are miles between us, protecting me from a well-deserved ass whuppin’!

    Love and miss you. Fair winds this summer, and always!

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