Warwood Tool Perfect Axe, by Thomas Christianson

Editor’s Introductory Note:  This article was written in February 2024. That was several months before I contacted Warwood Tool, to set up an affiliate advertising contract.  Full disclosure:  We earn a modest commission on the sales of any Wawood Tools that are derived from visits to the Warwood Tool site, from clicks on the affiliate ad at SurvivalBlog.

The Warwood Tool Perfect Axe is a contemporary version of a classic and highly effective American axe design. The Kelly Perfect Axe was first patented in 1885, and remained in production until about 2016. The most notable features of a Perfect Axe are the distinctively shaped bevels near the edge that help to keep the blade from becoming stuck in the split or cut made by the axe.

The new Warwood Tool Perfect Axe comes as either a house axe with a 19-inch handle or as a boy’s axe with a 28-inch handle. The head weighs 2.25 pounds.

The boy’s axe version that I tested would make an outstanding camp axe, and would also serve as an excellent splitting axe for a smaller-framed person. A larger-framed person will likely prefer something with a longer handle and a heavier head. Fortunately, Warwood Tool plans to release up to three different versions of the Perfect Axe in varying sizes. I hope that one of them has a 36-inch handle and a roughly 4 pound head, since that combination seems to be the sweet spot for a wood-splitting axe for me.

With a waxed hickory handle, a blade made of 5160 high-carbon steel, and a nice leather sheath included, the American-made Perfect Axe cost $179 at the time of this writing at the Warwood Tool website.


My wife, “Kari”, and I moved from suburbia into a more rural setting about 11 years ago now. Our first winter in the woods, we discovered that heating with propane could be expensive. We soon turned to wood as a cheaper alternative.

Wood is a less expensive alternative to propane if you harvest and process the wood yourself. I had a steep learning curve in the art of felling, bucking, and splitting firewood. Some of my early lessons are recorded here:

Fortunately for me, I had inherited a True-Temper Kelly Perfect Axe from my Father-in-Law. It is an outstanding wood-splitting tool. When I first began using it, I did not yet fully understand what an effective tool it is.

Over the course of the next few years, I experimented with a host of different axes, mauls, wedges, sledges, and other splitting tools. Only a very few of them were even close to being as effective as the Perfect Axe for splitting wood.

When I finally began to fully appreciate what a wonderful tool the Perfect Axe was, I decided that I should get another as a backup. After all, two is one, and one is none. But I was too late. The Perfect Axe had gone out of production by that time. Prices on used Perfect Axes shot up as they became highly sought-after collector’s items. I was not able to find a backup Perfect Axe at a price that I was willing to pay.

I eventually began using a Fiskars X27 as my primary splitting axe, with the Perfect Axe as my back up. But I continued to wish that some American company would resume production of the Perfect Axe.

Then in December of 2023, I received a message from SurvivalBlog’s Senior Editor, James Wesley, Rawles. He recommended that I take a look at Warwood Tool. He noted that they are an American company characterized by true “Old School” craftsmanship. In fact, some of their trip hammers and other equipment have been in constant use by them since World War 1. I went to the Warwood Tool website and was overjoyed to discover that they were beginning a production run of Perfect Axes in January of 2024.

I contacted Warwood Tool, and they were kind enough to agree to provide me with a sample of their new Perfect Axe for testing and evaluation.

I awaited the delivery of my Perfect Axe with the degree of eager anticipation displayed by a child awaiting Christmas. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the big day arrived. A UPS truck came up the driveway. (Cue the song, “The Wells Fargo Wagon” from The Music Man). One of the two packages that the UPS truck delivered contained the Perfect Axe.


My daughter, “Rivka”, recently had a huge maple taken down near her house. It was dying and was presenting a danger to the house. The tree was approximately 5 feet in diameter at the base.

The largest sections of the tree were more than we could handle effectively. They were taken away by a professional. But those sections that were approximately 2 feet in diameter or smaller were well within the range of our abilities. I bucked them and hauled them home. We ended up with what I estimate was about 7 or 8 full cords of firewood waiting to be split.

Some of the larger rounds offered a good test for the Perfect Axe. Could a smallish axe split a good-sized round? I found the axe to do a remarkably good job of splitting for its size. But after splitting a couple of wheelbarrow loads with the Perfect Axe, I switched to something larger. I preferred the greater reach and extra power that a longer handle and a heavier head provide.

Although the Perfect Axe did not become my primary splitting axe, it did earn another place in my life. Kare and I were recently at the home of our other daughter, “Ella,” and our son-in-law, “Sam”. While we were there, we planned the first of our summer camping trips. I never bring a full-sized axe on a camping trip. I don’t split enough wood there to justify the extra weight and bulk of a full-sized axe. But the compact size and light weight of the Perfect Axe make it an excellent choice to be our new camp axe.


During the course of the last decade, the power line that leads between the last power pole and the electric mast on our house has broken three different times. After the most recent break, I decided that the time had come to have the line buried safely underground. I contacted the power company, and they sent people out to our house to plan that project. They requested that I take down several small trees in preparation for the execution of the work.

The largest of the three trees provided an excellent test platform for the Perfect Axe. The tree was about 8 inches in diameter at the base. In spite of the modest size of the Perfect Axe, it did an excellent job of felling the tree with just a few minutes of work. Once again, I would have preferred the extra reach and power provided by a longer handle and a heavier head. Also, the shape of the blade of the Perfect Axe is better suited to splitting than to felling. But if I am camping and need to fell a tree, I know that the Perfect Axe will be up to the job.


Warwood Tool

In 1854 Henry Warwood founded Warwood Tool in Martins Ferry, Ohio. The company has historically provided tools for coal mining, gardening, railroad maintenance and construction, and the oil and gas industry. They also manufactured an entrenching mattock that was used extensively for digging foxholes and trenches in both World War I and II.

The company moved from Ohio to West Virginia in 1893, ultimately settling on their present location in the first decade of the 20th century.

Today Warwood Tool continues to produce 100% American made, high-quality, hand-forged tools.

Perfect Axe History

Already in 1876, W.C. Kelly and Company was manufacturing axes in Louisville, Kentucky. By 1885, the company had patented a design with a triangular bevel along the edge of the blade. By 1887 they had modified the shape of the bevel, and began to refer to it as the “Perfect Axe.” By 1921, Kelly had acquired the holdings of the American Axe and Tool Company. This made Kelly the largest manufacturer of axes in the world for a time. In 1930, Kelly was acquired by the American Fork and Hoe Company. American Fork and Hoe eventually changed the name of the axe making division to “The True Temper Corporation.” True Temper continued to manufacture the Kelly Perfect Axe for more than 50 years. The axe that I inherited from my father-in-law was a “True Temper Kelly Perfect Axe” manufactured during this era.

In 1987, True Temper sold the Kelly division to Barco Industries of Reading, Pennsylvania. Barco continued to manufacture Perfect Axes until about 2016 or so.


It is exciting to have an American company once again producing the iconic Perfect Axe. Warwood Tool is to be commended for introducing this highly functional piece of American heritage to a new generation.

I hope that Warwood Tool’s desire to produce additional versions results in a larger axe better suited for use by a bigger-framed person. But as a camp axe or as a splitting axe for a smaller-framed person, the current version of the Warwood Tool Perfect Axe would be hard to beat.


Warwood Tool was kind enough to provide me with a sample of their new Perfect Axe for testing and evaluation. I tried not to allow their kindness to interfere with the objectivity of my review, and feel that I have succeeded. I did not receive any other financial or other inducement to mention any vendor, product, or service in this article.