Physics Just Made the Axe Cooler

By swapping out the traditional wedge-shape for a lever, a new take on the 8,000 year old axe makes the tool more powerful. An added bonus is that the LeverAxe will never getting stuck in wood as it’s being used.

A video of a revised version of the axe has been making the rounds on the internet. The LeverAxe is a decided improvement on the tool that has served humanity (relatively unchanged) for 8,000 years. It uses physics to make the axe safer, more efficient, and that much cooler.

Everybody knows what a traditional axe looks like. It’s basically a wedge on a handle. The wedge is symmetric, with the weight evenly distributed or centered over the blade. As the blade strikes the wood, the axe’s force is transmitted to the wood across the wedge shape, and, if you swing hard enough, the wood will split. It’s pretty straightforward.

The LeverAxe uses principles of the lever to split wood more efficiently. The axe’s weight is set off center, so as the axe strikes the wood, it penetrates the wood a little and expels the rest of the gravitational energy by rotating and splitting the wood in the same way you would with a lever. This design requires less force than a traditional axe to split wood.

Those who have split wood using a traditional axe know that it’s not easy. It’s a tiring job that we only do because the reward is greater than the work. The LeverAxe requires less brute force as it transfers most of the energy it uses to the wood, unlike a traditional axe that will transfer a lot of energy back to the wood-chopper.

This axe update gets even better. Because it splits wood using a lever instead of a brute-force wedge, the tool never gets stuck in the wood. That means the days of wedging your axe in a knot are over.

Heikki Kärnä, the man who invented the LeverAxe, describes it in action: “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.” Currently, a LeverAxe costs more than $200, so they aren’t cheap, but if you chop a lot of wood, it might be worth the investment.


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