lever 9   Chopping wood doesn’t need to be as much of a chore these days, thanks to inventor Heikki Kärnä. The former air traffic controller moved to a deep forest when he and his wife retired, and as he swung his traditional axe to clear space to build a house, he began to think that there must be a safer, less exhausting way to chop wood.

“Very soon I got angry at traditional axes, because they were so dangerous and hard to work with. The axe struck me more than once,” Kärnä explains. “I started thinking—how can I make a better axe?”

The answer came one day as he used a crowbar to pry rocks free and realized that a lever could be used to make a more efficient axe. He grabbed a notebook and started sketching plans for the new axe, and he fine-tuned the design over time.

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lever 10The result is the Leveraxe, which is based on a lever mechanism and rotational action. This means the axe won’t get stuck inside the wood as you’re using it, and it also makes it fast to use. “Rotational movement causes the blade to turn in a lever action, forcing a split with all the force of the kinetic energy of the axe multiplied by the leverage of the axe head,” say the Leveraxe team.

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The clever design means you create more impact with each whack, making chopping less physically demanding and more satisfying, as you’re channeling all of your energy into productive swings.

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In fact, the axe head doesn’t go far into the log; the counterweight on the side pulls the axe head over, splitting the wood as it falls. You can see the Leveraxe in action here.

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Kärnä and co. have created a new handle made of polyamide engineering compound, and report that it is “characterized by high mechanical strength, stiffness and thermal resistance.” It’s hollow inside, and the lighter axe helps the person wielding it to build up more speed when swinging.

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Safety is also improved with this type of design, as the longer handle and rotational movement mean the axe doesn’t jump around. Trust us: Your shins will thank you.

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As for the business end, the axe head is cast in one piece from iron alloy, which is very durable, and features a side hook that clamps on the log after you swing, so you’ve less chance of hitting yourself.

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The Leveraxe team offer lots of practical tips for chopping wood safely and efficiently, too, such as building a chopping block with a wood base and an old tire attached on top. You place the logs you want to split inside the tire, and it keeps them contained for easier cutting.

They also share a user guide that explains the best swinging technique when you use the Leveraxe and shows Heikki Kärnä himself in wood-splitting action. There’s also a handy guide for the most effective way to cut up different types of wood. If you’re more log-savvy than we are, you may already know that knotty wood requires a different cutting strategy than non-knotty wood, and larger logs should be cut yet another way.

Now all you need is a new lumberjack shirt, and you’re ready to hit the woodpile.