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Photo courtesy of Vipukirves.

The Axe Reinvented — Sipoo, Finland

by Anne Miltenburg

In use since prehistoric times, the axe has been refined over time. Still, the average axe has serious disadvantages, as any woodchopper can tell you: it’s hard on your back and risky for your legs. When it strikes a log off-centre it can rebound dangerously, so the safest bet is to strike the log in the centre, where it is unfortunately the most difficult to split. While clearing trees on his plot in Sipoo, Finland, retired air-traffic controller Heikki Kärnä experienced these problems first-hand and became obsessed with solving them. After years of trial and error, Kärnä launched the Vipukirves leveraxe. After its blade penetrates the surface of the wood the head rotates to the side, creating a leverage effect that splits the wood. The rotation also leaves the axe head flat on the top of the log, steadying it and keeping it positioned for the next strike.

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