Making metal-on-wood contact with this ax felt as satisfying as hitting a line drive. Perfectly balanced, with a four-pound head that's slice-your-finger-sharp out of the box, it split and chopped everything from white oak to blue spruce with ease. Minor flaw: a slightly unforgiving handle, but this is still our best-in-class pick. [$170; counciltool.com]
Gear of the Year
The best tools, tech, and toys of 2013.
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