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THE TALE OF VIPUKIRVES™

Users guide

 

 

 

 

 

 


Vipukirveen terä pysähtyy halkaistavan puun päälle eikä jatka matkaansa kohti maata tai lyöjän jalkaa.

 

 

Leveraxe is the fast, easy, safe, ecological and fun way of chopping your firewood!

THE HISTORY OF LEVERAXE

Chopping firewood with traditional axes is often a laborious and even dangerous task. There is always the risk of hitting your own leg with the axe. From this imperfect situation began the pursuit to develop a better axe.

It took several years, thinking and testing different exotic methods of chopping wood that were available for purchase at the time, before the idea was born. The traditional axe uses a wedge-shaped head to split the wood, but could this mechanism be improved by using leverage? From this idea the new axe was born, the Leveraxe.

Read the tale of Leveraxe’s history in more detail.

PRINCIPLE OF OPERATION

Principle of Leveraxe

The operational principles of the traditional axe and Leveraxe

Traditional axe is based on the wedge

The traditional axe is simply a heavy wedge that is swung at the wood. If it has enough momentum, it penetrates into the wood, spreads it and thus splits the wood. 

In designing the traditional axe the challenge is to find the optimal wedge shape which both penetrates into the wood and splits it. Too shallow an angle and the axe will not split the wood and too wide and the axe will not penetrate.

In practice, everybody who has tried splitting wood with a traditional axe knows that it takes a lot of power to penetrate and split the wood. Consequently, women and children may have serious trouble operating the traditional axe.

In addition, the traditional axe is quite dangerous. While hitting with full force the head of the axe has a lot of kinetic energy and is hard to control. It is frequently possible to miss the wood entirely. The axe might bounce from the wood or sometimes the axe might penetrate a weaker part of wood with surprising ease and continue its swinging trajectory at high speed. In all these cases the axe can be travelling at your body and cause severe pain and injury.

When using a traditional axe the work is quite slow. It happens quite often that the axe penetrates into the wood but does not have enough energy to split it. The reason is that there is an enormous amount of friction when the wedge penetrates the wood and tries to split it and this friction consumes the axe’s energy. As a result, you have a log that has the axe stuck firmly inside it. Removing it can be quite challenging at times.

The other reason for the slow progress with the traditional axe is that actually a lot of time is used for lifting the split wood back onto the splitting block. With a traditional axe you are forced to always hit in the middle of the wood. Thus both split woods fall to the ground and you need to lift them up to continue splitting the first one and then the second one. It is quite laborious and straining for the back.

Leveraxe is based on a lever mechanism and rotational action

The operational principle of the Leveraxe is totally different from the traditional axe.

The Leveraxe is of a brilliant new design. The axe head is attached to the handle from the side and not through the center. This results in the centre of the gravity of the axe head being to one side of  the center line of strike.

Leveraxe head is eccentric by design and thus the center of gravity is to one side of the handle and the line of strike.

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 axe’s 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 widening of the axe edge helps in initiating the rotating motion and prevents the axe from getting stuck inside the wood.

The 1,9kg axe head has a significant amount of kinetic energy when it begins the rotational movement. While the centre of gravity of the head continues first to the right and then downwards the edge moves in a rotational direction to the left. This movement uses the rotational torque to split a log and push it away from the wood. In total the edge opens the wood by 8 cm.

When the axe has rotated sideways it has used most of its energy and ends on top of the log on the in a sideways fashion. This safety feature ensures that the axe does not continue towards your legs and the axe remains totally in control. In addition, the axe holds the log steady on the chopping block ready for the next swing.

The Leveraxe is used just like an ordinary axe but with the difference that the handle should not be squeezed with full grip when the axe hits the wood. This loose grip on the handle allows for the rotational movement to happen and avoids straining hands.

Due to the gradual slowing of the axe via the rotational movement there is no such abrupt shock as with traditional axes. The energy is turned from a downward motion and deflected into a rotational motion, making the Leveraxe much more comfortable for your hands.

With the Leveraxe you can chop wood without using the chopping block even on stones or cliff which is not possible with traditional axes without damaging the axe edge. This is especially handy if you have very large woos that are too heavy to be lifted onto the chopping block.

One final advantage of the Leveraxe is that the chopping block remains in good condition. With traditional axes the block is on the receiving end and suffers constant damage. With Leveraxe, the axe never touches the chopping block and you can preserve your best chopping block for several years if you just keep it dry and protected.

Each swing of the axe splits a piece of wood. The axe does not get stuck in the wood and holds it steady for the next swing.

See the high-speed slow motion video of Leveraxe in practice:

 

HOW TO TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF THE INNOVATIVE DESIGN OF LEVERAXE

With Leveraxe you can hit near the edge of the log

With the traditional axe you are almost always required to strike near the middle of the log. Hitting closer to the edge would be dangerous because it is too easy to miss the log or the axe will bounce wildly from a non-centred strike. In both situations the results can be dangerous. Unfortunately, as we all know, splitting a whole log when hit in the centre is the most challenging task. When you have been able to split it in two, the rest will go much more easily.

With Leveraxe you won’t need to take the whole log head on by striking in the middle. Instead, you can easily and safely start splitting suitably sized logs from the sides by striking closer to edges. No more needing the futile first heavy strikes just to get the log split in two.

Build a chopping block with a log-holding tire

When splitting wood with the Leveraxe, it is highly recommended to build a chopping block with a log-holding tire set on top. It allows for dramatically increased speed and better ergonomics. It holds the logs together allowing for faster chopping. They won’t fall to ground. They are easy to move to transport or store at one move. For smaller woods, you can insert several into the tire at one time and make for a very efficient batch process.

With a traditional axe using the tire on top the chop would be awkward and dangerous. It does not stop on top of the log and therefore either the handle can hit back on your hands or even break when hitting other logs or the tire.

Read the instructions on how to build the chopping block >>

THE ADVANTAGES OF LEVERAXE

Leveraxe is fast, efficient, safe and fun to work with.

Traditional wedge shaped chopping axes require a lot of muscle power, are laborious and prone to accidents.

There is also a wide variety of specialised exotic splitting tools, which are safer than the traditional axe but usually always quite slow or otherwise impractical.

There are also electrical hydraulic splitters. They are handy in the way that one needs to only hold a handle and press the button and the machine takes care of the rest. Despite this obvious advantage, they are not without shortcomings. They can only be operated where electricity is available and often require long electrical extension cords and for the sake of safety also a residual current circuit breaker (RCCB) should be used. Due to the requirement of providing strong pressure and also as a safety aspect they are slow to operate as most of the time is spent waiting for the piston to traverse. Because they have a hydraulic mechanism they can not be used in cold temperatures (recommended operating temperature over +5 degrees of Celsius). Also, they don’t provide the joy of chopping the wood with kinetic energy that axes do.

Leveraxe is fast and efficient

Logs are split usually with the first strike. The axe won’t get stuck inside the wood. Time is not wasted lifting the woods back on the chopping block as the axe holds the log steady for the next strike.

When using a chopping block with a tire setup you can achieve a burst of strikes at a frequency of 100 strikes a minute. Thus, as an example, using 10 strikes to chop a log would take 6 seconds. This level of speed does require acquiring certain practice using the Leveraxe, of course.

Leveraxe can handle also the large and difficult logs

You no longer need to aim the first attempts at the centre of the log and try to split it in half. With the leveraxe you can start from the edges and easily chop away the easiest pieces first, reducing a large log to small pieces with ease. This way it does not actually matter how large the log is.


Leveraxe is faster than a hydraulic splitter. See the video:


Leveraxe is safe to use

Safety has been one of the principal design principles of the Leveraxe. Thus it can even be put in the hands of women and children for whom a traditional axe would be hard and dangerous to use.

With Leveraxe, it is impossible to strike through the log, because Leveraxe will stop on top of the log. The Leveraxe also does not bounce wildly as might happen with traditional axe. The axe changes the kinetic energy to rotational motion and is much easier to control. It is much rarer that you would totally miss the log, because the sideways wing on top of the axe and the stopping knob beneath it ensure the axe will catch the log even if the striking edge would miss it. Of course, it can not help you if you miss the log by a mile, but that rarely happens.

The length of Leveraxe handle (90 cm) is longer than in traditional axes. This provides more kinetic energy but is also an important safety feature. Even if the axe would continue past the log the trajectory will guide it to hit the ground before you instead of hitting your legs.

Leveraxe principle
Traditional Axe with short handle       Leveraxe with the long handle

The long handle makes it easier to achieve high kinetic energy while protecting your feet from getting hit by the axe in case of missing the log totally.

In traditional axes it has sometimes happened that the axe head has been able to detach from the handle and has taken off on a ballistic trajectory with dangerous consequences. With Leveraxe, one of the design principles was to eliminate this possibility. This has been achieved by making the design of the axe handle hole and the handle asymmetric and inserting the handle through the axe from opposite direction than normally done. This safety feature does not allow the axehead to separate from the handle during normal use; it will actually seat itself more firmly with more use.

The Leveraxe head cannot go ballistic.

Leveraxe priciple

Leveraxe is the most enjoyable way of chopping logs

With a proper tool chopping wood is pure pleasure. With Leveraxe you can experience the traditional enjoyable feeling of being able to able to harvest nature’s energy resources with your own muscle power while doing it with a very refined special tool.

Leveraxe is a high quality Finnish tool

Leveraxe is truly exemplary of the high Finnish quality. It is a patented innovation and received the InnoFinland honorary award in 2005. It is manufactured of the best materials ensuring that it will last from father to son.

The axe head

The operating principle of the Leveraxe is theoretically relatively straightforward but in practice has required a lot of careful design, testing and refinement to achieve the best possible result. The critical aspects of the design are the eccentric shape with the point of gravity well off the strike line, the edge stopper and lever, and the sideways wing and the knob. Manufacturing this kind of shape is not possible with traditional methods so the axe needs to be precision cast.

The manufacturer of the axe head is Sacotec Components Ltd in Riihimäki, Finland. They are specialised in manufacturing the most demanding cast metal products. The final industrial design of the axe head and the cast molds were designed together with Sacotec.

The axe head is homogeneously tempered to correct hardness. Not one has been broken during the history of the Leveraxe and we are happy to give the axe head a 10-year manufacturing defect guarantee.

The axe head has been painted and finished to a polished product by Lainisalo Oy, Helsinki, Finland.

Protection for the handle

Leveraxe principle
The protective sleeve for the handle is designed to prevent damage to the handle from possible missed strikes. The high endurance plastic protective sleeve can withstand hits even in  temperatures of minus 50 degrees Celsius.

Leather sheath

Leveraxe principle
The sheath for the axe edge is made of high quality long-lasting leather. It is meant to protect both the axe edge and humans, objects and materials during transport and storage.

Handle

The material chosen for the handle is Finnish birch. It dampens the effect of impact to your hands by absorbing the vibrations. The natural wood is warm to the hands during cold periods. In addition, it is the traditional material used in Finnish axe and tool handles.

Handles are manufactured by a Finnish wood turning company specialised in manufacturing handles for tools. Wood is dried properly and painted with black and yellow safety colours. This way the total colours for the axe are red, black and yellow, making it easy to spot even in places with high and dense undergrowth. In addition, the handle is wax-treated to increase its longevity and to ease the rotation in your hands.

Leveraxe principle

Distinct colours help spotting the axe especially in areas with high and dense undergrowth.

N.B. Notice that the axe is also available with a natural coloured ash handle. The price is slightly more but it is a popular alternative, especially if the axe is meant as a gift.

Details

Length 90 cm
Total weight 2,5 kg
Axe head weight 1,9 kg
Guarantee: axe head 10 years

 

FAQ:

Question 1: Can VIPUKIRVES™ be used by a woman?

Answer: Yes it can. VIPUKIRVES™ has gained its success because its blade doesn’t lodge in the log. VIPUKIRVES™ has a long handle, allowing a wide grip stance thereby making it easier to swing.

Question 2: What is the function of the axe’s special design?

Answer: The function of the axe is based on the blade’s one-sided design. When the blade strikes a log, it begins to incline, creating torque, which multiplies the splitting force and enables the blade to detach the log wood. Kinetic energy ends on top of the log so the blade will not slip.

Question 3: Can I use VIPUKIRVES™ like a regular axe?

Answer: You can use VIPUKIRVES in the same way as a conventional axe, but you must loosen your grip when the axe hits the log to allow its levering movement. It is essential to let the handle of the axe turn in your hands. VIPUKIRVES is a special tool designed for chopping firewood, not appropriate for carpentry or for use as a striking tool.

Question 4: Why does VIPUKIRVES™ have a wooden handle?

Answer: The birch handle has been proven to be the best material for absorbing impact. It prevents the impact force of the blade upon the wood to be transferred to the hands. The wooden handle does not freeze in the winter and is not slippery when wet.

Question 5: Why is the handle so long?

Answer: The handle’s length is primarily a matter of safety. A long handle (90 cm/3 ft) assures that the stroke will not hit your leg even if you miss the log and strike the ground. A long handle also gives more speed and precision to the blow.

Question 6: Will the blade stay attached to the handle if it dries out?

Answer: There doesn’t seem to be any wedges on the handle. Due to unique fastening, the blade of the VIPUKIRVES will not detach, even if the handle dries out. The handle’s top end is a thick wedge by itself and it fits perfectly into the hole on the blade. There is elastic glue between the handle and the blade. Detaching the blade through use is very unlikely. The handle may move a bit if it has been left in dry conditions for a long period, but the matter will fix itself in a few days after the VIPUKIRVES is used in the moist outdoors.
Still, if the handle feels loose inside the blade, you should do the following: Wrap a wet towel around the blade and put the axe in a plastic bag. Close the bag tightly so moisture cannot get out. Leave the axe in the bag for a couple of days until the handle is swollen and tight. Store the VIPUKIRVES in naturally moist locations such as a shed, sauna or other outdoor structure.

Question 7: Is the axe suitable for left handed people?

Answer: Through experiments, we found there is no difference in using the axe with the right or left hand.

Question 8: Does the axe concentrate a lot of strain on the wrists by constantly levering to the side? Does is strain the arms as much as a traditional axe?

Answer: The technique of using the VIPUKIRVES is unique, as the grip is loosened when the blade strikes the log. The blade automatically creates a levering movement and detaches chopped wood with more force than the traditional axe. The handle doesn’t jolt in the user’s hands during the hewing. The handle just turns in the user’s hands and the laws of physics work to your advantage. You shouldn’t restrain or force the movement. The VIPUKIRVES doesn’t slip upon striking the log because its kinetic energy stops when it hits the wood. Like everyone who has ever chopped firewood knows, a traditional axe jolts occasionally and injure the user’s wrists. This tool was developed to address that disadvantage.

Question 9: Can it cut a branchy spruce or do I have to use a maul and a sledgehammer? How about a cross-branched spruce that doesn’t split when hit in a wrong place?

Answer: The VIPUKIRVES chops branchy birches and spruces with ease. When using the VIPUKIRVES, mauls and sledgehammers are not necessary. The VIPUKIRVES wedges the crack open 6-8 cm (2.3-3.2 inches), splitting even the hardest trees easily. A traditional axe spreads the crack only the thickness of the blade and axe’s motion seizes due to friction.
As you have likely learned from experience, spruces’ branches reach all the way to the base. The correct way of chopping a spruce is to split it in half and then chop in a shape of a sector toward the tree’s center between the branches. If the tree is very large, you should chop pieces from between the branches to reduce the tension. This will make it easier to split the tree and chop it into pieces.

Question 10: How about large logs? I have a 120 cm (4 feet) poplar waiting to be chopped. It has huge branches so it’s a tricky one. Will VIPUKIRVES™ work on that? I also have a big spruce that is rotten on the inside and only the outside is not destroyed.

Answer: A 120 cm wide poplar is a tricky scenario for a regular axe, but not for the VIPUKIRVES. You can begin chopping from the edge and continue around the tree. Don't strike straight at the big branches but chop at an angle on both sides, thinning the cross section and reducing tension. It is then easy to chop the branch, as you can strike the axe to the very edge without fear of the blade striking to your leg. As mentioned, a large tree like that is difficult to chop, but VIPUKIRVES is suitable for all kinds of tricky cases, even if the tree has a 2 meter (6.5 foot) radius and weighs over 200 kilograms (400 pounds). Due to the ingenious design of VIPUKIRVES, you can chop wood at any site.
A rotting interior is typical of old spruces. I've chopped many of them after several dry summers.

Don't strike at the rotten part of the tree. Try to chop off another part first to relieve the tension. Then all you have to do is to chop off one piece at a time moving around the tree. Don't try to chop a considerably rotten tree, because VIPUKIRVES needs more resistance in order to split the tree correctly.

Question 11: Do I always need to put a car tire around the chopping block?

Answer: No, because you can start chopping safely from the outer edge. You can chop on rock or asphalt, because the blade does not penetrate to tree all the way. The best location is a half a meter (1.6 feet) tall chopping block. You can improve the result by using a tire in conjunction with the chopping block. You can fill the tire with logs and start chopping them one by one. This way the logs will stay stationary while chopping and you can lift them all at once and move them to dry in a pile. By using the tire technique you'll save time, trouble and your back. It is best to use an extra wide tire in order to fit more and larger logs in it.

Question 12: I only have 10 cm (4 inches) wide trees. How do I split them?

Answer: Put them vertically and hit in the middle. With VIPUKIRVES you must strike the middle of the log, not on the edges, for the splitting mechanism to work properly. Use of a chopping block in conjunction with a tire is the best way to save time chopping smaller trees, because you can keep more logs in queue, making chopping more efficient. Chopping is thus more efficient.

Question 13: How often do I need to sharpen the blade?

Answer: You can sharpen the VIPUKIRVES with the grinding stone or wheel. If using a wheel, you can finish it off with grindstone. You don't have to sharpen it too frequently, because it works perfectly even when a bit dull.

Question 14: Will the blade rust in the rain?

Answer: Take good care of your VIPUKIRVES. Cover the blade after use and store it in a covered dry location. The paint will wear off from the parts that touch the wood, but this is normal. Oil the blade occasionally to prevent rust.

Question 15: Pretty colorful device. Is it meant to scare rabbits away?

Answer: Maybe out of the log's way! The real reason of the color is that you’ll find your VIPUKIRVES easily if it is left it in the bushes or the snow on a coffee break. The colors on the VIPUKIRVES are the same as in traffic signs, because they are easily noticeable, adding to the safety of the axe. You’ll notice it right away and you won't step or trip on it.

 

 


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