Wood Maul Vs Axe: What’s The Difference Between An Axe And A Maul?

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Are you a first-time homeowner looking to build your set of essential tools to keep around the house?

Maybe you’ve just moved into a new home with a wood-burning stove, and you’re trying to figure out what you need. 

A splitting axe or maul? A splitting maul or axe?

It can sound a little complicated.

Whatever the case may be, you might be wondering what the difference between a maul vs an axe even is. 

Mauls and axes look a lot the same—they are both composed of a long wooden handle with a tapered, steel head at the top. However, some key differences lend themselves to different applications.

What Is A Maul?

best way to split wood

A maul, sometimes known as a splitting maul or a firewood maul, is a long-handled hammer-like tool that also sports a narrow edge on one end of the head.

Think something like a sledgehammer if one end of the head looked like an axe.

What Is a Maul Used For?

A maul, while it can have other uses, is mainly used for splitting wood.

Splitting wood with a maul is the best and safest way to split wood by hand, whether you’re splitting oak, birch, or another type of firewood.

What Are the Parts of a Maul?

First, there’s the narrow edge of the maul’s head that looks a lot like an axe.

This narrow edge is meant to be driven into the wood parallel with the wood grain to get the process of splitting going. 

A maul’s head is narrow at one end and wide like a hammer at the other end, much like a wedge. 

To use it, you bury the narrow edge of the maul into the top of the log to get things going, and then slowly split the wood by driving the maul through the log by hitting the flat end of the maul head with a hammer or even a second maul. 

What Is An Axe?

Axes can fell trees, but it's slow hard work

Axes are a common tool around the house, and they’re pretty ubiquitous with the image of the rugged outdoors.

Axes consist of a long wooden handle with a light metal head that is sharpened on one end. 

What Is an Axe Used For?

Axes are used for all sorts of applications, from chopping firewood and felling trees to rescue missions when used by firefighters and other first responders. 

What Are the Parts of an Axe?

Axes, like mauls, have a long wooden handle, and at the top, there’s a steel head that serves as the business end of the tool.

An axe’s handle is often curved to allow for a more ergonomic grip when being used. There are a few different shapes, but usually, it’ll follow a very subtle, gentle s-curve to help keep your swings even and consistent. 

The head of an axe is usually slim and angular, with a flat end on one side and a very sharp cutting edge on the other. 

The Difference Between An Axe And Maul

splitting axe vs maul

So, what is the difference between maul and axe?

Even though they might look similar in some respects, axes and mauls are very different tools with very different and specific purposes.

Let’s go over the differences between a splitting maul and an axe.

First of all, the handle shape and length are very different.

Maul handles are often longer than axe handles and are usually straight, whereas axe handles are curved. The straight handle of a maul is much better suited to its blunt-force nature as opposed to the finesse that an axe’s curved handle allows. 

Secondly, the head of a maul and the head of an axe are also very different.

While they share a somewhat similar profile—one sharp or narrow end and one flat end—the maul has a much beefier, heavier head to allow it to split the wood.

Axes have a lighter, slimmer head with a much sharper edge that’s made for cutting wood against the grain, rather than splitting the wood with the grain. 

Types Of Axes And Mauls

There are several variations of both axes and mauls.

While mauls are built for splitting wood and should not be replaced with your everyday axe, there are some types of axes that are good for splitting wood in some circumstances.

Splitting Maul Vs Splitting Axe

Choosing a splitting axe vs splitting maul might sound strange since they both have “splitting” in the name. 

Splitting mauls are heavy and best suited for splitting large logs into more manageable chunks of wood. When you want to split these smaller chunks of wood into firewood, a splitting axe is the way to go.

A splitting axe vs maul is smaller and much lighter, and closely resembles a hatchet.

Rapid Maul Vs Splitting Maul

Rapid mauls are a lot like the best splitting mauls, but their head has a slimmer, more axe-like shape.

The back of the head isn’t quite as beefy, but they’re still a great option for splitting wood. 

Should You Use A Maul Or Axe For Splitting Wood?

You might be wondering, should you use an axe or maul for splitting wood?

It really depends on the size of the wood you’re looking to split.  

Splitting wood refers to the action of forcing the wood apart along the grain, rather than cutting against the grain like you would if you were chopping down a tree.

Therefore, when choosing an axe vs maul for splitting wood, you’ll want to go with a maul due to its wedge-like head. A wood splitting maul vs axe will efficiently split the wood without getting stuck as an axe would. 

When you’re ready to make firewood out of the wood you split with your maul, a good splitting axe can take those chunks of wood, and easily make them even smaller.

Maul Vs Axe

When it comes to picking an axe vs maul, it would behoove you to get both!

Axes and mauls are two different tools with different uses, and they shouldn’t be used interchangeably.

If you have both, then you’ll have all of your bases are covered! You’ll be prepared to split and chop all the firewood you could ever want for cozy nights by the fireplace in the winter or relaxing nights by the campfire in the summer.

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