The Fiskars X17
If you're the type of person who likes to be in touch with the earth and the seasons, you probably prefer to chop your own firewood as summer turns into fall and fall into winter. If you do, or even if you've only ever chopped wood once or twice in your life, then you are probably familiar with standard, traditional axes, with a steel head fastened to a long wooden handle. You may also be familiar with some of the downsides that go with that type of axe: getting less than optimal power out of your swing due to poor balance and weight distribution in the tool; incredible pain and numbness in your hands when a good, hard swing becomes an overstrike; the frustration when you do land a good blow, of seeing the head bury itself inextricably in the log, requiring more work to get it out than it took to wedge it there; the dangers associated with a head that may come loose or even fly off.
Lots of attempts have been made to address these problems, but the Fiskars company, the oldest firm in Finland with 360 years of experience making cutting tools, appears finally to have built a better mousetrap, so to speak. Their new X-Series of axes comes as close to solving these issues as any axes ever made. All members of the X-Series share most of the key features; they differ mostly just in the size and weight of the tool, so let's just take a look at one of the mid-size models, the X17, as an example that's representative of the whole product line.
The Fiskars X17 is an axe designed for small to medium log splitting jobs. It is 23.5 inches long and weighs 3.7 pounds, with the head contributing most of that weight, 2.56 pounds to be exact. The tool is designed to be perfectly balanced, so it takes that weight, and with its power-to-weight ration, it actually increases the speed of your swing, resulting in more power, much like an aluminum baseball bat can produce more powerful swings than a wooden bat.
The handle is made of shock-absorbing FiberComp. The synthetic material is lightweight, allowing for the optimum balance and weight distribution mentioned earlier, but pound for pound it is actually stronger than steel. It is virtually indestructible, so never again will you suffer an overstrike, only to see the sad sight of your axe head dangling from the end of a splintered handle. With the Fiskars X17, overstrike damage is now a thing of the past. In addition, the handle features a nonslip grip, with an advanced design that simultaneously reduces hand strain while actually improving your control of the axe.
But the innovative features don’t stop there. The head of the Fiskars X17 features a unique specially shaped design that Fiskars calls “advanced bevel convex blade geometry". Fancy terminology aside, what that means for you is that the shape of the head actually pushes wood away from the edge of the blade as it powers through a log, which gives your strikes more power and makes it easier to remove the blade from the wood. The blade also features a special nonstick coating that helps its slice through the wood, and also helps keep the blade from getting stuck in the first place.
Of course, anybody who has ever swung an axe knows that none of these other features matter a whit if you don't start out with a good sharp blade that can hold its edge. The Fiskars X17, like all other members of the X-Series, starts with a hardened forged steel blade that will hold its edge longer than just about any other axe out there. Then they apply a proprietary blade-grinding technique to give that hardened blade the sharpest edge possible, so you can dispatch more logs in less time with less effort.
Finally, the head and handle are joined into a "PermaHead" using an insert molding technique that will never loosen, making the two parts into one tough and durable axe. And the included sheath protects both the axe and its user from accidental damage or injury.
To sweeten the pot even more, Fiskars guarantees all X-Series axes and hatchets with a lifetime warranty. If your tool ever gets damaged or breaks, just send them a picture of the damage and they’ll take care of you. Top it all off with a price tag around 40 US dollars and you’ve got a high-tech, wood-chopping bargain.