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.
Craftsman Single-Bit Ax
While the big fiberglass handle is easy to swing and forgiving on mis-hits, this ax was the most uncomfortable to wield, and full-swing aims proved inaccurate. The steel head is sharp, but its thin taper can get it stuck in the lumber you're splitting. Still, it's the most affordable of the ones we tested. [$30; sears.com]