Japanese splitting axes have a different head shape from most European and American axes, splitting hammers and mauls. Evolved for the smaller oriental stature, they tend to have slightly lighter heads compensated for by longer handles, and are therefore less fatiguing to use. At the business end, the energy of the swing and the mass of the head is all focussed on a small convex ground beak at the tip of the tool that forces the wood fibres apart at the bottom of the split, concave ground cheeks prevent the head from becoming lodged in the timber, while a substantial eye and poll store the energy of the swing. It works extremely well - popping open green or well seasoned rounds with great efficiency.
One small note on technique, this axe is designed to strike the timber with the top of the edge, it is better to stand a little further back and risk striking the chopping block than to overreach and have the head fall over the far side of the log. As with all axes, it is better to take a few gentle practice swings until you get used to it.
With many Japanese tools, the final step of preparation for use is left for the new owner to complete and these axes are no exception. The handle must be properly secured by the user before use.
A couple of sharp blows with a hammer on the base of the handle (with the axe held in the air) to fully seat the head, soak the head in water for 20 minutes and then drive the wedge home. You may notice some blackening of the wood after soaking, this is just the tannin in the oak reacting with the iron and is completely normal.
Wood swells and contracts with seasonal changes in humidity, so it is good practice to check the head of any axe before use. If any movement is found, follow the above steps to properly secure it.
Never hit an axe with a metal hammer.
Never use an axe as a hammer.
Always wear appropriate protection (safety specs).
Always keep people and animals clear of your working area.
- Handle length: 900mm (35-1/2")
- Head weight: 1370g (3lb)
- Overall weight: 2140g (4lb 10oz) approx
- Cutting edge: 70mm (2-3/4")