There’s something about using an axe that carries a deep connection to our forefathers in a time long before power tools. Chopping and splitting wood is even therapeutic for some of us. While the basic concept of the axe has remained largely unchanged over the centuries, new technology is having its impact on the classic tool. Consider the DeWalt ExoCore Splitting Axe. This 4.5-pound wood chopping tool claims advantages in both material and physical design.
Hollow Handle: Opting for a fiberglass composite handle over wood, DeWalt goes with a lighter hollow design. There’s also rubber grip around the base of the handle that makes swinging the axe reasonably comfortable and secure, even without gloves.
Carbon Fiber Composite Overstrike: DeWalt uses carbon fiber near the top of the handle to provide additional support where the axe handle hits as you drive through wood and tends to break most often.
Scalloped Cutting Edges: Scalloped edges offer some relief from wood pressing in against the blade. It allows you to drive the edge deeper and release it easier than a standard axe head. Compared to my other axe in this size class, it does make a measurable difference in both the strike depth and release. Don’t mistake it for perfect, though. You’ll still have to work it back and forth in some cases.
Splitting Head Design: As a splitting axe, the 4.5-pound head splays out wider than a 3.5-pound felling axe. This works in concert with the scalloped edges to give you better splitting characteristics than a standard axe head.
The Right Tool For the Job?
If you do much wood splitting, you know that a maul is the best tool for the job – unless you have a log splitter. So can the DeWalt ExoCore Splitting Axe with its splitting design take the place of your maul?
Not really, no. While the design works better for splitting than a felling axe, it’s not as effective as a maul. At least that’s the short answer. Let me back up that claim.
I have a pile of oak to split thanks to Hurricane Irma last year. Considering I’m in Central Florida, we only have a few months of the year that are genuinely pleasant enough for an outdoor fire, so I just split what I need as I need it.
An Axe to Grind
Splitting with my normal ax is an exercise in frustration, with a big emphasis on exercise. You’ll work hard to accomplish whatever you do. The DeWalt ExoCore Splitting Axe genuinely makes the job easier. The head doesn’t get stuck as often or as severely and it takes fewer strikes to get the job done. In general, I can make quick work out of logs 8″ in diameter or less and tackle logs in the 10″ – 12″ range with some extra effort. Anything beyond that – at least splitting oak in the Florida humidity – makes a dentist visit seem more pleasant.
On the other hand, I don’t really want to touch any logs more than 8″ in diameter with my 3.5-pound axe when I’m splitting.
Realistically, you can handle larger wood than that if its good and dry.
While there’s no doubt a maul is a superior tool over a splitting axe for wood splitting, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for the maul. Mauls tend to run in the 6 – 8-pound range and can be a handful for some users. The DeWalt ExoCore Splitting Axe is lighter and sports a 36″ handle. The extra handle length gives you additional force as you swing, closing the gap a bit on the maul.
The Bottom Line
While a maul is still the best hand tool for pure log splitting, the DeWalt ExoCore Splitting Axe offers a compelling blend of splitting and felling capability. It’s a good compromise for users that only need to split wood occasionally, who just want to carry one axe in the truck for those just in case moments, or are looking for something lighter than a maul.
This splitting axe will set you back less than $50. If you’re one of those guys or gals that like the sound of an all-rounder kind of wood cutting solution, I like the combination of quality and price on the ExoCore.
DeWalt Exocore Splitting Axe Key Features
- Carbon Fiber Composite Overstrike for greater durability where handles break most
- Scalloped Cutting Edges to allow for a deep cut and improved release from material
- Hollow Handle for a light and balanced swing
- Optimal Balance and Power Ratio provides a quick swing speed
DeWalt Exocore Splitting Axe Specifications
- Model: DeWalt DWHT56033
Grip Material: Thermoplastic Rubber
- Height: 36″
- Weight: 4.5 lbs.
- Warranty: Lifetime limited
- Price: $86.52