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The splitting axe is relatively large and heavy. It is a little longer than the Scandinavian Forest Axe and, at approximately 2.5kg (which is the weight of my example), considerably heavier (my Forest Axe weighs about 1.3kg). The origin of the axe head, Gransfors Bruk, is clearly shown, along with the maker's initials. The Ray Mears Bushcraft logo is on the handle. The profile of the head is different from that of a cutting axe. The poll is wider and the cheeks are clearly concave. The axe also has a metal collar around its shoulder. I found the splitting power surprising. I was soon able to proceed with splitting a pile of knotty laburnum rounds from an old and damaged tree, a task which had been beyond my capabilities with the Forest Axe. Although I managed this I discovered that I had to concentrate on ensuring that the blade was properly aligned with the plane of my swing. It is a little more difficult to judge than with a cutting axe because the poll tends to obscure the head from view during that swing. I had thought that I could judge this from the back face of the poll, but actually that is not quite at right angles to the plane of the head. So I learnt to look at the bit and ensure that my grip was correctly positioned before starting work. Having split a tree from my garden I moved on to using the axe with large and rather dry rounds from a grand fir. These were almost as large as the chopping block, which came from the base of another and much bigger laburnum. This took more effort and determination, but split well. It was a task that had previously been completely beyond me. I also tried it splitting relatively long portions of birch, going in from the side and using one hand on the axe handle and the other on one end of the birch stem. The technique for this is clearly explained in the DVD set of Series Two of Ray Mears Bushcraft Survival, on the second disc. It worked very well for this and at last allowed me to start drying stems of birch that had been languishing for some time. The oils in the bark of birch protect the wood from easy drying, so splitting it is especially important for seasoning. I noticed that the bit needed a little sharpening, and that after this it was easier to get correct alignment for the initial penetration of the bark. In summary, the axe is an excellent tool for splitting, probably better suited to the needs of a base camp or home than for camping on the move.
Steve S.2nd June, 2023