A maul is a wooden club or hammer that is used for driving stakes or wedges and for safety reasons should be used instead of an ax.
Using an ax instead of a maul exposes the user to the danger of being cut by its sharp edge. Even if the edge is covered by a sheath, a glancing blow can cause the sheath to be ripped off or to be cut through.
The pole of an ax serves as a counterweight to the blade. This counterweight adds to the balance of the ax head and helps to control and increase the force of momentum delivered to the bit. The ax head is shaped in such a way that the momentum of the ax head is delivered through the thin walls of the eye. However, when an ax is being used as a hammer, this same shape causes the eye of the ax head to spread and the handle to loosen.
The flat surface and angular edges of an ax pole makes it difficult to strike a stake squarely. This difficulty in striking a square blow results in most blows delivering some there force sideways, causing the end of the wooden stake to flare and split very quickly. In addition, when the pole of an ax contacts a stake, the metal surface of the pole lacks the ability absorb any of the force of the impact this contributes to the destruction of the stake. A wooden maul, on the other hand, absorbs some of the impact of the initial contact and a maul has no angular edges. Therefore, more of the force of the maul is used to do useful work and less of the force is used up in deforming or splitting the stake.