The ax — or axe, if you’re slightly European — isn’t typically something we think of as modern or revolutionary. It’s one of the oldest tools in the prehistoric human toolbox.
But some guys at Vipukirves in Finland have discovered a huge flaw with the tool: it’s really hard to use. As a matter of physics and engineering, splitting wood with an axe requires a huge amount of power to drive the wedge into the wood and split it without getting the ax stuck. Traditional axes can also be dangerous since they can hit your leg if you miss the target. This is why using an ax is such a macho test of strength, and not a simple household task you can assign to a child.
One day, some guy thought to himself, “Eureka! I need to work on this!” (According to the history of Vipukirves). After testing out a few different methods, the company realised that leverage was the answer to the problem. A regular ax uses virtually no leverage — it simply strikes the wood at a 90 degree angle like a sharp hammer. Leverage — in which a shallow angle is used to maximise the force of the weight on the other end of the lever creating the angle — is a more efficient way of transferring force.
And so the Leveraxe was born.
The traditional axe is based on using a wedge that requires enough momentum to split the wood. This is why lumberjacks tend to be buff, ripped men. The Leveraxe, on the other hand, is based on a lever mechanism and a rotational action. The head is attached from the side, not the center, which alters its center of gravity. There’s also a wider edge. When the ax hits the wood, the head twists in your hands and for a brief moment the sharp edge of the ax becomes a lever, breaking off whatever chunk of wood is at the side of the blade.
Logs simply collapse into slices as a result:
Watching a log get demolished by a Leveraxe with a few swift chops is an oddly pleasing and mesmerising experience, and there’s a video of that happening at the bottom of this post.
According to Vipukirves, each swing of the Leveraxe splits a piece of wood, and the axe will not get stuck.
And because it requires minimal force to use, even kids can split wood with the Leveraxe.
The traditional axe may take loads of effort and time, but Vipukirves’ solution makes it easier to end up with as much wood as this guy.
To see the Leveraxe in action, watch this video:
(Spoiler alert: he kind of does the same thing over and over, so you may not need to watch all seven minutes.)