Honestly, the Vipukirves Leveraxe initially intrigued me because the guy holding it in one of the above photos is wearing black-and-white gloves that sort of make him look like he has a hook hand, and I thought perhaps this reinvention of the axe was created just for people with hook hands like myself. But the Finnish design improvement on an ancient woodcutting and zombie slaying tool is actually intended for all types of people, even those with fingers.
As the name suggests, Vipukirves’ Leveraxe modification of the traditional axe head seeks to incorporate more stability and leverage into the woodchopping process. It also appears to make the work go exponentially faster, while maintaining the same admirable striking accuracy of Paul Bunyan himself. For example, when using a chopping block with a tire setup, Leveraxe swingers can achieve a strike frequency of up to 100 per minute, or use 10 strikes to chop a log in 6 seconds. Note: Achieving these numbers requires a certain level of proficiency and sobriety.
The first change Leveraxe made to the age-old model’s design was to attach the axe head to the handle from the side instead of through the center, shifting the tool’s center of gravity to one side of the center line of strike. I’ll let the Vipukirves people who, despite being from Finland, speak better English than I do, take it from here:
Upon hitting the top of the log and penetrating it slightly, the leading edge of the axe head begins to slow down. Where the axe blade widens sharply it stops the axes penetration. However, the mass of the axe head still has kinetic energy and the off line center of gravity forces it to rotate eccentrically down towards the wood. This rotational movement causes the leading edge, or sharp edge of 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 axehead. The widening blade edge also has a benefit in that it helps to prevent the axe from penetrating into the wood and getting stuck there as is often the case with traditional axes.
The Leveraxe’s rotational torque also supplies some added safety features–once the head has completed its rotation, it comes to rest lying sideways on top of the log in a manner that precludes the blade from continuing downward towards the user’s leg. This stopping position also holds the log in place and steady, ready immediately for the next swing.
Leveraxe usage is similar to that of a standard axe, but Vipukirves recommends not squeezing the handle with a full grip upon wood impact to facilitate the head’s rotation.