Axes may have existed for almost all of human history, but if there’s one thing every handyman knows it’s that there’s always room for improvement. Up until now cutting wood has required a lot of force and a surprising amount of risk, but thanks to Finnish inventor Heikki Kärnä and his Leveraxe that’s no longer true.
Kärnä applied his knowledge of physics to replace the dangerous and labour intensive chopping motion of traditional axes with a levering effect. The Leveraxe’s head is side attached, subtly changing its centre of gravity, while the blade widens abruptly after the point of incision. The effect is a splitting force that multiplies the original kinetic energy of your swing by the lever action of the axe head, and if you know your Archimedes, you’ll know there isn’t much you can’t move with a decent lever. A single blow from the 1.9 kilogram axe head can open an 8cm fissure in a log, easily enough to separate it.
The increased effectiveness of each blow is an impressive benefit of the Leveraxe’s design, but it’s not the only one. The levering effect also has the benefit of preventing the axe from getting stuck after penetration and even lessens the risk of dangerous glancing blows. Plus, because the Leveraxe splits wood without needing to pass all the way through it, there’s less need for a chopping board. The Leveraxe will work just as well on stones or cliff, and when you use a chopping board there’ll be way less wear and tear than using a traditional axe.
The Leveraxe is also much safer to use than a traditional axe. Downward thrust is converted into rotational energy, so there’s no jarring shock passing back up through the user’s arms. The Leveraxe’s design even means that it naturally comes to rest on its side, keeping the blade facing away from the user while also handily stabilising the log.
In a world where gadgets are continually getting smaller it’s great to see some of that scientific know-how applied to making simple, physical tools safer and more efficient. It may be worthwhile to keep an eye out for what Kärnä thinks up next.