Whether used for splitting firewood or bringing down that shaky tree, an ax is a winter necessity. We found the best. To test them out, we took the axes out to the Catskill Mountains to clear white oak, paper birch, blue spruce, and white ash trees that had been felled by Hurricane Sandy. We then tested each ax's splitting ability, comparing the build, balance, and feel. Here are our favorites.
Council Tool Velvicut Premium American Felling Ax
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]