By Ryan Kibbee
I was given the opportunity to try out the Woox Forte axe a couple months back. The Forte was designed to be a multi-use or “best of both worlds” tool. Small and compact to carry most anywhere but with enough weight to it to still get real work done. I’ll skip most of the stats, as you can find that on their website, but the Forte weighs in at about 3lbs and comes with a choice of 22” or 28” American hickory handle, I chose the 22”.
Until recently I would bring a small hatchet and a mid sized camp axe on camping and outdoor trips; both are terrific tools but neither were particularly great at splitting. I was excited at the opportunity of an axe that might do a little better in this department.
First impressions were great and that this was a high quality tool. I was pleasantly surprised to find the head to be securely hung in a “slip-fit” style meaning it would be easier to replace or even improvise a new handle while out in the woods, skipping all the fuss of removing old wedges and step wedges. This should also dramatically reduce the likelihood of the head working loose from any pulling that might occur.
The axe came with a black leather sheath – thick and very durable that snaps tightly shut over the blade and around the handle. The grain orientation of the handle wasn’t dead straight, but very close. The grind of the edge was even and consistent… Overall this axe was assembled with an attention to detail, and looks pretty cool too!
The real test of course is in how it would perform. What good are looks if it can’t do it’s job in the field? I started off splitting some small rounds and found that the weight and shape of the head makes this ideal at processing smaller firewood. I have many species of wood available to me in my area and the Forte handled them all relatively equally. A maul or full sized splitting axe this is not, but it does retain these attributes despite its moderate size. I think it’s safe to say the axe excels in this area due to it’s weight, flared cheeks and thicker grind angle.
I took it a step further and used other hatchets, and battoning sticks to pound the Woox axe through thicker/harder material and to laterally split and pry longer sections of wood apart. The axe also easily withstood repeated drops on its pommel to force the splitting of the log (lodged in a round of wood). The pommel did not deform even after repeated strikes from other metals and hard surfaces. The axe passed all these “tests” quite easily, but I wondered however if this might mean it would struggle with basic chopping tasks.
Now felling a tree, or sectioning firewood by chopping is not an efficient way to go about the task (bring a saw!) but of course I wanted to see how it would do. I don’t find the need to chop all too often, but the research needed to be done!
I did a quick inspection of the edge and was pleased to find no chips or rolls. I then briskly ran sharpening stone across the without changing the grind angle, the steel took it nicely. I then set out to find my chopping subject. I chose a fallen maple to take some whacks at. The tree was dead and dry, but still very solid, and about 8-10” in diameter. I was able to work through the tree in about 15 minutes, which I think is perfectly reasonable amount of time all things considered. The axe sunk nicely into the wood and was able to produce good sized chips with each swing. With a 22” handle and flared axe head, this isn’t my first choice for this specific job, but it was nice to see that it can handle it without any serious extra effort or feeling like I was chopping with a baseball bat.
For me, the Forte has replaced the need for both my small hatchet AND camp axe. As I always have a folding camp saw and full sized fixed blade knife in my wood kit, and I’m happy with this one axe to fill out the remaining duties of wood processing and fire prep. On multiple camping trips since receiving it, I have not yet found myself longing for a different axe.
To conclude, I found this axe to be a very versatile tool for the range of camp duties. It blends the characteristics of splitting axe, with the weight and scale of a hatchet and camp axe.
I wouldn’t hesitate to say this axe is a worthy addition to anyone’s outdoor gear. The price point of $190 (currently on sale for $160 at the time of this review) seems reasonable however places at a comparable price point with some other more well known Scandinavian brands, and also a fair amount higher than some prominent budget brands.
Woox will surely need to continue on its course of building value and trust within the outdoor community to considered comparable with these other known brands, I expect they’ll do just fine in that department.
Some other noteworthy points, not of the axe but rather the company Woox, is their focus on sourcing and manufacturing their products exclusively in the USA and Italy as well as their efforts towards sustainability and reducing waste. Kudos!
These are simply my findings and opinions, but they come from someone who’s used axes and processed wood the majority of his life. You can take a 10% discount by using my code at checkout: FAILSAFE10
Be safe out there!