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Best splitting maul?

Post in 'The Gear' started by Nofossil, Oct 29, 2007.

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  1. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    Building off of Axeman's thread on chopping axes, how about some feedback of splitting axes / mauls?

    I borrow a log splitter once a year, but I split lots of stuff by hand. We also get lots of flatland visitors who need a dose of authentic country living, so we fill 'em up with homemade pancakes and send them out to the woodpile to split some rounds.

    Last year, I went through four wooden handles for my splitting maul. Seems like the handles are made of cr*p wood, and they break even without being abused (and much quicker when you do abuse them). I remember splitting wood for several seasons with a single handle in my otherwise mis-spent youth.

    The center axe in the photo below has the last generation of handle-protection technology: 3/16" fiber-reinforced EPDM shock absorption layer, fiberglass tape, formed titanium(!) impact spreading sheet, aircraft cable wrapping. After cracking the handle, my testosterone-poisoned teenager added a layer of duct tape just to be safe :)

    For me, a seven or eight pound head on a 34" or 36" handle is just the right balance. I like the feel of wood handles.

    I bought the cute little Fiskar's splitting axe just for fun. It splits wood with amazingly little effort, and the axe style handle is great. However, it's so short that I can't really use it, and it's a little light for serious splitting. It's the first synthetic handle that I've liked.

    What are people using out there? Is there a source for high quality replacement handles? Is there a make or model that beats the crude and lumpy made-in-India/China models that seem to be the only thing out there now?

    Thanks for any help in this quest.

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  2. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I use a cheap, 8-pound, blunt-edged maul that takes a standard sledge handle. Easier and cheaper to replace. My maul came with a fiberglass handle, but it lasted about 2 weeks. I didn't like the feel of the plastic on my hands, anyway.

    What I do is mix up some epoxy and smear it all over everything before mounting the head to the handle, then use it to seal up the top where it comes through the top of the head. Two things that will kill a maul handle pretty quick (aside from the obvious) are loose heads and moisture. Keep both at bay and your handle will last until you abuse it one time too many. Another trick is to get white ash handles when you can. The hickory handles are too brittle and will split too easily.

    How do I get the remnants of the old handle out of the head? I stick it in the fireplace for about 10 minutes and burn it out. Anneal the head? Doubtful.

    EDIT: Obviously, you don't want to lend your maul to carpniels if you want it to last. Actually, I broke mine last weekend, too, Niels, so I guess we're in the same boat.
  3. carpniels

    carpniels Minister of Fire

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    HI no fossil,

    Good thread. Especially, since I was able to crack the head on my Fiskars this weekend. Yep, you read it, I broke and 'unbreakable' handle. And I didn't even try. I was splitting some pine someone gave me. and I was hacking the branches off. CRACK, and there it was: the handle had a split all the way around the head and somewhat down the shaft.

    Now I got to find the paperwork and receipt to see if I can get a new one.

    Carpniels
  4. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    The maul with the red plastic guard on it was a cheap blunt unit. I was able to dramatically improve its performance by grinding the snot out of the head so that it wasn't quite so blunt. Having used the Fiskars, I'd say I improved the performance from 1 on a scale of 10 to at least 3 out of 10...

    I like the wooden handle, but the tool feels cheap and shoddily made.

    Good heads-up on the Fiskars - I think it's going to be for the use of my vertically challenged helpers, who are less likely to break it.

    I think I want a man-sized version of the Fiskars head mounted on a real replaceable white ash handle.

    When I go to any of the local hardware stores and ask what a maul handle is made of, I think the only answer I'll get is "wood". I have a feeling I'll get a blank stare if I ask for white ash - any suggestions on how to clearly identify the species used in a replacement handle?
  5. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Hickory tends to be darker wood with black or dark brown grain streaks. White ash is a lot lighter, and the grain less pronounced. If it looks like a baseball bat, it's probably white ash. And WA and Hickory are usually your only two options for handles, if you have options at all.

    There are two schools of thought on maul head design. I prefer a blunt edge because I think blunt force trauma is more effective than slicing action when splitting wood.
  6. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    Thanks - I was concerned that some of the handles that appear to be ash might be something else. I've also seen a third wood - white and very close-grained. I think it comes from a tropical rainforest or wherever China/India can get wood most cheaply. It seems to be very common, and it's not hickory or white ash.

    After using a series of mauls that range from very blunt/convex to kinda sharp/straight to razor sharp/concave, I now give much more credence to the 'foot in the door, then crank up the force' school of thought. The Fiskars head is actually concave on both faces. Requires dramatically less force.
  7. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Maybe I'll bring my maul when I stop by with the beer. Then we can see which is actually better.
  8. DriftWood

    DriftWood Minister of Fire

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    Any steel handle maul. I have two Schultz Monster Mauls I bought new in the 1980s. The handles will never brake. And not hitting the the head with anything but wood they should be here in another 30 years.
  9. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    Monster mauls it is . I bought 2 in 89 and have split well over a thousand cord since and no broken handles. Have probably only sharpened each one 3 times. Best investment I ever made being in the firewood business. " If you can't break it open with a monster maul you might as well leave it in the woods"
  10. Mmaul

    Mmaul Minister of Fire

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    I love reading all these questions and answers finally something I can really get into, I use a all steal maul it's 14.5 pounds. This maul was my Dads he used it for many seasons and I inherited it and love it, there is also a matching 8# maul at his house that was my moms, I should try and get my hands on. I also have a fiberglass 8# maul which I dont care much for, the handle need replaced on after only one season. I do also like to use a wood grenade and a sledge just to break big trunk piece in half, this makes it easier to split with the big maul.
  11. titan

    titan Minister of Fire

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    I must check to see if any body carries Monster Mauls up here,I've never seen one in these parts.My Super splitter gets the nod here;I believe it's a 6lb. flared face that allows you to hit rounds with a mean head speed.Works a little better than a regular maul IMO.
  12. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    I found one online that said it was a 4lb head - seems a little light, but the handle's the right length. Do they make more than one model?

    I've used steel handled mauls and really heavy mauls / sledge hammers - I prefer a handle that has a little give to it, and a head that's light enough to get some speed. If the Super Splitter comes in a six pound version, I'll have to give it a try.
  13. titan

    titan Minister of Fire

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    Nofossil,I could be wrong,it's happened before!I thought it was a six pound head,but I never weighed it either.Whatever it is,I've used multiple axes and mauls of varying weights, and I'm more impressed with this WOODEN-HANDLED Super Splitter .
  14. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    What wooden handled super splitter? The only one I could find was a red Ames/True Temper fiberglass model and this antique. Do you know of a source for the one you're talking about? How long is the handle?
  15. Deerlope

    Deerlope New Member

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    The best maul should be in a deep sink hole. I am old school and I was taught to split using a double bit axe. Just a twist of the wrist is all that is necessary. No heavy mauls or brute force.
  16. DriftWood

    DriftWood Minister of Fire

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    Stoltz is out of busness. The design is still for sale.

    http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_6970_200325119_200325119

    http://www.acehardwareoutlet.com/(tey5afnyna2ncozg2pn1eb55)
  17. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    I'm a pretty dedicated axe user, but I find that the thinner head on my chopping axes will bind when trying to split any knotty piece of wood. I'm with you on weight, though. I prefer speed and control to brute force. I take some pride in being able to hit the same spot repeatedly.

    My hope in starting this thread is to discover a range of tools that do a better job of splitting than what I have. I think that an axe-like tool with a slightly thicker, heavier, and differently shaped head might just be the ticket.
  18. WILDSOURDOUGH

    WILDSOURDOUGH New Member

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    I have a maul- but one of my favorite tools is my 18" long x 1/4" thick peice of a leaf spring.
    I sharpened one side of it and use my sledge to pound on the other side- kinda like a splitting froe.
    It works great, and is Very handy for spliting kindling too. Hicory is the only wood for any kind of handle-
    except maybe Coco Bolo- which I have never seen a peice bigger than a foot long.
  19. DiscoInferno

    DiscoInferno Minister of Fire

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    I have a super splitter with a 4lb head and a plastic-coated fiberglass handle, a standard 6lb maul with a hickory (I think) handle, and a 12-lb monster I just picked up this summer. I like the feel and balance of the super splitter, and for a lot of wood it's all that is needed, but it gets stuck far more often than the maul because it's too thin until past halfway back when the wings start. Usually with the maul, it's split or bounce. I don't really have a preference between wood and fiberglass handles, but I don't like the shape of the maul handle (more flat) as much as the super splitter (more round and contoured). The monster I've barely used (no tough wood recently), but it's too heavy for "production" splitting for me.
  20. titan

    titan Minister of Fire

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    Here's what I'm using nofossil,$49.99 @ local hardware store,works well.
    Made by Garant:4 lbs,36" hickory handle.

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  21. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I've become pretty good at hitting the same spot every time (that's the trick, after all), but I like to do it with a heavier head. I have a 6-pound maul that I use from time to time, and it doesn't compare at all to the 8 when it comes to splitting wood.
  22. jqgs214

    jqgs214 Minister of Fire

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    I use the 8# home cheapo yellow FG handle. Works for me. Grew up with a 6 pound wood handle. Worked for me too. I'm not picky. If it dont split the first time just hit it again, and again, and again and again. If it dont split chuck it.
  23. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    Looks great. Appears to be a Canada-only item even Home Depot in Canada has them. No one in the states, though. I guess it will give me an excuse to visit hardware stores on our next trip north...

    Anyone know of a US source for this or a similar item?
  24. kevinlp

    kevinlp New Member

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    I use a Wood Grenade with an 8 lb sledgehammer.
  25. Heartwood

    Heartwood New Member

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    Some of the posts here remind me of an old woodsman's tale that comes to mind whenever I hear of people breathing life into old standby's: "Yep, been using the same axe for 30 years; only ever replaced the handle thrice and the head twice."

    I'm a Schultz monster mauler too, and was sad to hear they're out of buisness, though mines been there and back and there's still paint on the bit. Mauls are subjective though; I've never been able to get through wood with anything as well as with the monster, but I've have friends to camp who split as much as I, and they'd swing that thing and cuss and say it's the damnedest, most awkward piece of junk they'd ever thrown at wood. Then they'd go the shed and get a sledge and wedge.
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