The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Chopper1 axe at a yard sale

chopper1 axe animation with LucyWe found a Chopper1 axe at a yard sale today for just 10 bucks.

Bob Kolonia invented it back in 1975. What makes it unique is the rotating levers on each side of the axe's head. The levers swing out, directing the downward chopping force outward and exploding the log apart from the inside. His website has a nice animation that explains the process better. Ours is missing one of the return springs and pin that holds the spring. I'm sure I can rig something up before winter sets in. Stay tuned to see how well this baby chops wood compared to our Super Splitter.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Can't wait to see how it works once you rig up the missing part. In theory it looks pretty cool, but how well will it do in practice... ?
Comment by Everett Sun Jul 26 18:14:17 2009
We'll definitely keep you posted. I'm with you --- if it's as awesome as it sounds, why isn't everyone using one?
Comment by anna Mon Jul 27 07:26:35 2009
I split a lot of wood using one back in the late 70's at my grandfather's house in UP Michigan. It worked pretty well but you have to chase the split pieces since it does have a tendency to throw them further than a regular splitting maul. However the chopper 1 did not get wedged nearly as often as the maul.
Comment by Darryl Sat Aug 22 09:18:03 2009
Good to hear from someone who's used it! We'll definitely have to give it a shot, but be prepared for flying chunks of wood. :-)
Comment by anna Sun Aug 23 19:10:12 2009
just borrowed chopper 1 from my neighbor and WOW did it ever work dave in pa
Comment by Anonymous Fri Sep 4 17:25:15 2009
Awesome! Now I'm actually looking forward to wood chopping. :-)
Comment by anna Fri Sep 4 20:20:55 2009
They stopped making these for many years, but they're back selling direct over the internet. I have two of the Chopper 1's a wood handle and one like you with the fiberglass. They work great, you won't be disappointed!!!!
Comment by Anonymous Sun Nov 8 18:45:59 2009
Thanks for commenting! It sounds like the Chopper has quite a following. Now I'm excited to give it a try!
Comment by anna Mon Nov 9 14:11:11 2009
I've been using the Chopper 1 since purchasing it new in the 70's. The best splitting axe ever invented. Just watch out for exploding wood flying through the air. It works that good. Highly recommended.In fact i'm needing to find one for a friend who saw it in action.
Comment by Airflyter2@ Sat Jan 2 19:25:53 2010
I'm glad to hear another testimonial --- it sounds like it's a great tool! Now that it's splitting time, we need to hurry up and get our Chopper fixed to replace our old ax.
Comment by anna Sat Jan 2 20:23:02 2010
Hi Mark: Just to let you know - my husband is the inventor of the Chopper 1 Axe - Bob Kolonia. We were happy to see so many loyal followers of our axe, as well as your blog. Thanks for putting it on there. With fans like you, we'll be able to make others believers!
Comment by Joan Kolonia Sat Jan 9 21:23:59 2010
Joan --- thanks so much for commenting! It sounds like your husband and my husband would get along --- they both like to invent. We just ordered our springs and plan to give it a shot this week.
Comment by anna Sun Jan 10 07:58:41 2010
purchased the axe in the late seventys in my home country of new zealand, way down under. its the best splitting axe i have ever used, it will blow apart knotty pine as well as oak, bluegum, and wattle. if you have onlookers stand them in front of you if they stand to the side they could be struck by a flying piece of wood traverling about 200 miles per hour [ hurt hurt hurt] no much to go wrong with it, as handle is carbon fibre spring do brake sometimes, 2 for me in 30 years. folks go out a buy yourself one, they are bloody great//
Comment by noel Sat Apr 10 19:21:58 2010
I am stunned by this ax's following! But I guess I shouldn't be --- when Mark started using it this winter, he got a silly grin on his face. I'd come out and see him chopping wood when he was supposed to be playing. "It's just so much fun!" he said.
Comment by anna Sun Apr 11 08:24:10 2010

Some tips i learned from U tube, one method for keeping wood upright and from flying away is to use an old tire on a stump for those stubborn log rounds or to just do them one at a time. What i like to do is lay my rounds on the ground about three or four deep, depending on how big they are, in a row in front of where i stack and tie a rope with a bungee cord a round them to hold them up while splitting them down. Saves allot of bending over to pick things up again to make smaller splits while u work around the edges of the big rounds as axe instructions show. hope this helps u all some

Comment by Frank Zimmermann Mon Jul 26 11:48:28 2010
We'll have to give those a shot. Thanks, Frank!
Comment by anna Mon Jul 26 16:02:18 2010
Hi, I'm living in Belgium and I used one in Canada this summer. It was amazing how this beauty works. Sorry for me, we can't buy them over here in Europe.
Comment by steve Tue Oct 19 09:28:27 2010
Sounds like you need to turn into the Chopper 1 importer to Europe.... :-)
Comment by anna Tue Oct 19 13:49:37 2010
A friend of mine has one of these, it is crazy how well it works. I will be looking around to try to find one. If nothing else, I will order a new one.
Comment by Jerry P. Wed Jan 5 03:18:57 2011
Mark swears by his. He was just saying yesterday how lucky he was to find it by the side of the road!
Comment by anna Wed Jan 5 08:56:51 2011

I just caught an episode of "Ask This Old House" and they covered way to split wood. I was surprised this style of maul was not even mentioned. Dumbfounded I ran to the internet and I had trouble even finding a picture of one. Then i stumbled on this post. Personally I've been using one of these to split wood at my dads house in Missouri for the last 20 years. Although I can't guarantee its a chopper 1, his is black and silver. I'll dig it up next time I'm back in St.Louis. All I can say is "they are not a gimmick"! Once you have used one with the mechanical head you won't use another maul to split. I personally like how it throws the wood out and away. If you have the log elevated a bit you can keep on splitting and not worry about clearing out your swing space. They are hard to find.

Comment by Chris Wed Mar 16 21:40:01 2011
Mark totally agrees with you, and so have several other visitors. (If you come to our farm, we often trick you into chopping wood...) The chopper 1 is definitely a keeper!
Comment by anna Thu Mar 17 08:55:25 2011
I am looking for the website for the Chopper 1 axe. I have one but am in need of a replacement part. Any suggestions? Thanks!
Comment by keith Mon Jul 23 07:21:07 2012
Keith --- If you follow the first link in this post, you'll go straight to their website. We've ordered springs from them multiple times.
Comment by anna Mon Jul 23 15:49:15 2012
I had one of these splitting mauls it worked so wonderful untill it was stolen......... As a female it is so much easyer to use and I loved to split wood with it. The frist time we realy broke the old one I had in was on iron oak and it did the job well just watch out for flying peaces!
Comment by Amanda Sun Jan 13 19:12:05 2013

We bought one of these shortly after they hit the market in the late 70's. Dad had just built a place at Lake Tahoe, and we had 26 trees that had been felled for the construction. This thing was incredible! Like so many have said, everyone had to learn to work LESS hard to keep the split pieces from flying too far. ;0> I remember old, hard oak that no one was willing to deal with being no match for the Chopper1 with two hands - and the pine at Tahoe could literally be done with ONE hand. Yes, it WAS fun!!

The speed, quietness and less lifting made hydraulic splitters obsolete - not to mention that moving one of those back & forth 200 miles is a lot harder than throwing the Chopper1 in the trunk or behind the seat... I've seen some units on the web with 'fiber core' handles and they're black, but I'd swear that ours was yellow. More to the point, though, I wonder why they only sell 'em now with hickory handles?

Comment by Mark Thu Apr 11 19:35:05 2013
I have used my Chopper1 Axe since the mid 70's It is the best chopping axe I have come across. I sell log benches, chainsaws and chainsaw sharpeners so I am always cutting wood and have tried many axes looking for one to add to my sales range. The only problem with the Chopper 1 is that it is too expensive to import and market here in the UK. I would need to demonstrate it before people would be convinced to buy.
Comment by hugh David Sat Dec 28 09:21:35 2013
I went to school with your son Bobby. I remember him talking about his dad inventing it when we were in 3rd grade in Holland Twsp school. He may have brought one in for show & tell. Thank you Scott Esposito.
Comment by Scott Esposito Mon Jan 6 11:31:41 2014
Scott --- We're not the makers of the Chopper 1 --- head here to go straight to the source: Interesting to hear about your link to the inventor, though!
Comment by anna Mon Jan 6 17:38:37 2014
I just went on chopper 1 site and ordered replacement parts,it’s easy to fix yourself, they send a diagram w/the parts.Not expensive at all. Try that, takes about 4 weeks to get the parts. Hope I’ve helped.
Comment by Jerry Wed Jun 20 17:36:14 2018

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