Finnish inventor rethinks design of the axe

April 21, 2014 by Nancy Owano weblog

( —Finnish inventor Heikki Kärnä is the man behind the Vipukirves Leveraxe, which is a precision tool for splitting firewood. He designed the tool to make the job easier and more efficient, with no need for an external source of energy. In short, he has redesigned the axe. This is a lever-based axe. The axe head is attached to the handle from the side and not through the center. This results in the center of gravity of the axe head being to one side of the center line of strike. Leveraxe is based on a lever mechanism and rotational action.

"Everybody who has tried splitting wood with a traditional knows that it takes a lot of power to penetrate and split the wood," according to the axe-maker, but with Kärnä's invention you must loosen your grip when the axe, with its birch handle, hits the log, to allow for its levering movement. Each swing of the axe splits a piece of wood. The axe does not get stuck in the wood and holds it steady for the next swing. "You can easily and safely start splitting suitably sized logs from the sides by striking closer to edges. No more needing the futile first heavy strikes just to get the log split in two."

The log website promotes safety features. The Leveraxe does not bounce wildly as might happen with a traditional axe, said the company. The axe changes the kinetic energy to rotational motion and is easier to control. As important, "the Leveraxe head cannot go ballistic."

Should the axe head of a traditional detach from the handle and take off on a ballistic trajectory, there could be dangerous consequences. The inventor sought to eliminate that possibility, making the axe handle hole and handle asymmetric. He inserted the handle through the axe from the opposite direction than normally done, as a safety feature.

The videos that show his axe demonstrate how wood-splitting is done using a log-holding tire, for better ergonomics. (With a traditional axe, the site noted, using the tire on top the chop would be awkward and dangerous.) "When using a chopping block with a tire setup you can achieve a burst of strikes at a frequency of 100 strikes a minute. Thus, as an example, using 10 strikes to chop a log would take 6 seconds." One of the questions in his FAQ, though, is if one always needs a car tire around the chopping block when using the Leveraxe. The answer is No, one can chop on rock or asphalt."The best location is a half a meter (1.6 feet) tall chopping block. You can improve the result by using a tire in conjunction with the chopping block. You can fill the tire with logs and start chopping them one by one. This way the logs will stay stationary while chopping and you can lift them all at once and move them to dry in a pile. By using the tire technique you'll save time, trouble and your back. It is best to use an extra wide tire in order to fit more and larger logs in it."

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

As for electrical hydraulic splitters, yes, they are handy; one just needs to press a button, but he pointed to their shortcomings, being they require electricity availability and often needing long electrical extension cords and residual current circuit breaker (RCCB).

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Lex Talonis
1.8 / 5 (5) Apr 21, 2014
too bad there is no pictures of a sweaty, hairy chested lumberjack, in tight pants, and big muscles.......

Apr 21, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
5 / 5 (1) Apr 21, 2014
Just what log splitters have been axing for!
5 / 5 (6) Apr 21, 2014
It's actually an old invention by an American inventor called Johnny R. Branson.;f=false

The new axe works the same, except for the addition of the stopping hook which is different enough to allow for a new patent.

Why these axes have never turned very popular is because they don't actually work that much better than regular splitting axes, and because of their special shape they're ill suited for other axe work. Take an equally light regular axe and start swinging at logs surrounded by a car tire, and the result will be more or less the same, except the regular axe doesn't cost $250.
not rated yet Apr 21, 2014
I'll just turn on the gas
not rated yet Apr 21, 2014
There are scene cuts in the first part of the video (without the tire). looks like he gets the axe stuck a few times.
5 / 5 (4) Apr 21, 2014
While even this axe gets stuck, it does so much less often than a regular axe. Also, with a regular axe you tend to use more force, or else it gets stuck every time.

I've actually used one, and the difference was bigger than it looks on screen. If I had a cabin, I'd have two axes. This one for firewood, and a regular one for everything else.

Oh, btw, this is not a competitor for the regular splitting axe either. Just like nobody has only a single screw driver.
not rated yet Apr 21, 2014
There are scene cuts in the first part of the video (without the tire). looks like he gets the axe stuck a few times.

What strikes me more is that the splinters seem to fly off fairly violently without the tire keeping them in place, so you'll end up collecting the wood all over the yard and picking up your log and putting it back up after every hit.
not rated yet Apr 21, 2014
well.. This axe isnt even close to Bransons invention. Stopping hook actually stops axe blade on a head of large log .While in older invention ,it looks like leverweight of axe keeps it moving after it has done its work. Desing of cutting blade of axe seems to be more handy in newest axe , like u can see in picture behind link of Eikka.
not rated yet Apr 21, 2014
I'll point out that my block splitter also serves as a sledge hammer. Very handy when I just can't for the life of me split a hard log. I take the head off my tomahawk hand axe, and use the sledge hammer part of my splitter to hammer in the tomahawk head. This effectively splits a recalcitrant log ready for the block splitter again. While splitting wood can be hard work, it is also damned good exercise. Now if only I could improve my aim!!!!!!
not rated yet Apr 21, 2014
well.. This axe isnt even close to Bransons invention

sawpetrol: Member since: April 21, 2014

You know, Kärnä has a reputation of being a bit of an astroturfer in trying to promote his product. He's been at it for at least a decade.

The forum I found the reference for the older patent from was rife with "0-day" members commenting on how the product was the next best thing to sliced bread. I'm just bringing this up because I believe in honesty in business practices over easy profits from snake oil, and I believe most Finns do as well.
5 / 5 (1) Apr 21, 2014
I would like to try this axe but I have my doubts. I like the axe with the 2 spring loaded levers that push the wood apart as the head penetrates although it is quite noisy.

Lifting wood into the tire ring then back out again is a sure fire way to hurt your back not to mention painfully slow. To save energy splitting wood, try to never lift the wood unless necessary. Split it in place with a maul after standing it up with your foot. If the wood is too tough to split, wait til winter and burn it next season. Wood is way easier to split when frozen solid. Many people confuse chopping axes with splitting axes/mauls. You have to pick the right tool for the job.
not rated yet Apr 21, 2014
This one's on my to-get list, to ad to my axe collection. But they are expensive, and I need a large broadaxe first.
5 / 5 (1) Apr 22, 2014
This one's on my to-get list, to ad to my axe collection. But they are expensive, and I need a large broadaxe first.

Axe collection. I love it. You can never have too many axes!

A left or right handed broad axe?
1 / 5 (1) Apr 24, 2014
not rated yet Apr 24, 2014
I had to create account just to comment 'Eikka'. The whole point of this invention is use energy maximally for splitting force, and minimize wasting it for cutting as with traditional, which loses most of it to friction. Difference is bigger than one may thinnk, before you try for youself. Anybody tried to split big Elm wit traditional axe gets the idea from this http://www.youtub...dvv8wA6w

Being concerned on splinters fly away is mostly badmouthing based on you opininins, not the knowledge, and I think you should simply stop doing that before losing rest of your credibllity.

Eikka what is your motivation? I don't get it and I think I'm not only one..

To see this axe in action, there are plenty of independent user videos. Let users judge, Search you tube with 'leveraxe vipukirves'
3 / 5 (2) Apr 27, 2014
Eikka what is your motivation? I don't get it and I think I'm not only one..

To speak against snakeoil salesmen and using social media for advertizing and false user reviews in selling a product that would otherwise be consigned to the wee hours on the shopping channel alongside with popcorn makers and automatic apple peelers.

Seriously. This is not a new invention, it has appeared in various different forms for at least a century and never caught on. Hyperbole won't help it this time either, Mr. Kärnä.

3 / 5 (2) Apr 27, 2014
I don't get it. Where do you plug it in?
Captain Stumpy
not rated yet Apr 27, 2014
I don't get it. Where do you plug it in?

interesting article

not rated yet Apr 29, 2014
Thanx a lot to Heikki Kärnä who made such a precious tool for splitting firewood and making our jobs easier and more efficient with no use of external energy. I also know The tomahawks axes which are traditionally famous in North America and now also available for sale in other European countries.

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