If your trusty old wood-splitter just hasn’t been cutting it lately, give Heikki Kärnä’s invention a try. The now-retired Finnish air controller’s cleverly simple wood-chopping device is called the Vipukirves 2. Technically, it’s just an axe, though it probably doesn’t look like any axe you’ve seen before. That wonky, cherry-red axe head is not only bizarrely shaped, but the unconventional design gives it the power to tear a log a new one. Many new ones, in fact.
Here’s how it works. After the downswing and just after the blade pierces through the wood fibers, the counterweight on the right side of the head forces the axe to fall sideways. This creates a prying force that splits the fibers of the wood apart. Unlike a regular axe, you don’t need to jam the wedge of the axe head into the cut you’ve just made, and keep swinging in the same spot to wedge the pieces of wood apart. You just turn the handle a little and the head applies enough lever force to break the log apart easily. Compared to a traditional axe, it requires far less raw force to split wood. And of course, fewer bone-shaking, sweat-soaked hours spent prepping your fire fuel.
Kärnä developed the first Vipukirves axe years ago, and he sells both it and the updated Vipukirves 2 design through his company, Leveraxe. The popularity of his axes exploded once English-speaking bloggers began posting YouTube videos of a Vipukirves-wielding Kärnä blowing through hardwood rounds, splitting them into three-inch pieces in mere seconds.