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Breaking my mauls

Post in 'The Gear' started by RobinJoe, Oct 3, 2008.

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  1. RobinJoe

    RobinJoe New Member

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    I have bought two Ludell 6 lb (or maybe they are 4 lb) mauls, and I have cracked the heads on both of them within about 4 months of weekend chopping. Probably a total of 40 hours each. 95% of all blows are normal strikes. about 5% were strikes that were then driven in to the wood with a small sledge hammer.

    Home Depot replaced the first one at no charge, I still have the second one.

    The crack is along the seam at the back of the head (where I strike it with the sledge) and wraps around the head to the shaft hole. The head still feels solid on the fiberglass handle, but I'm still concerned it might fly off.

    Are these cracks typical, or am I doing something wrong?

    Thanks,
    Joe

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  2. Rich M

    Rich M New Member

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    Cracks are not typical and are from hitting the head with a sledge. Use a wedge with a sledge, not a maul.
  3. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    I don't think a maul was designed to be used as a wedge. The handle hole makes for a weak point in the metal.
  4. glacialhills

    glacialhills Member

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    Mauls are hardened steel so as to be able to hold an edge for cutting and splitting wood. Wedges are softer and while can not hold a razor sharp edge they can take the hundreds of blows from a sledge or back of a maul and not crack. If you use a wedge for many years you may need to grind off the mushrooming that occurs as the metal flattens on the top but it will not form cracks like a hardened maul being struck with another hardened hammer will.
    Always try to use the maul to split or hit a softer wedge.That's what the flat side is for. Never try to hit it with another hardened metal or it will crack.The occasional blow to get it unstuck is fine but you can not use it as a wedge. Its all a learning experience.Now ya learned what not to do.
  5. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Back in the day and for about 4 years when I hand split I always hit my maul with a sledge when I got a bite into the wood...never broke the maul. That's how my neighbors showed me it was done. Broke plenty of handles over the years...but the maul head survives to this day.

    I'm no engineer but I think it's that cheap Chinese steel...it just doesn't hold up. Sure they can shape steel into a maul head but if it's not heat treated or otherwise cured properly in a time tested way...it's just a hunk metal that looks like a maul.

    RobinJoe I suppose if you want a good maul forget HD, HF, Lowes, TCS, either go to a good construction equipment store or check out Baileys.
  6. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    “It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got”...Sheryl Crow

    Wished I was in Heaven Sitting Down.....Mississippi Fred McDowell
  7. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    technically you're not supposed to hit hardened steel with hardened steel- not only might you damage the tool, but it it chips you could lose an eye. That's more important with a hammer as you use it nearer your face.

    All that said- I abuse mauls etc.- I've never cracked one. Try a different brand.
  8. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

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    I have a ludell maul and it gathers dust. I suggest a different brand as I've found their Mauls to also be less effective than some of the other brands.
  9. RobinJoe

    RobinJoe New Member

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    I have wedges for when I am doing a huge log (20+ inch dia). But sometimes with smaller knotted pieces, I can't use the wedges because everytime I strike it, the log falls over and I need to reposition it. My biggest concern about chopping wood isn't chopping a toe off, my fear is wrenching my back while lifting logs.

    With the maul, I can hold it's handle while striking with my small (10" handle) sledge.

    If I can get a maul that has a reinfored, and maybe wider back side for striking, that would be worth an extra $40 or so. Are there any out there? If not, I'll try to be more consistant about using the wedges.

    Thanks,
    Joe
  10. RobinJoe

    RobinJoe New Member

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    Savage Actor,

    I searched for Baileys Hardware and found a bunch of sites. Do you have a specific store in mind?

    Thanks,
    Joe

  11. RobinJoe

    RobinJoe New Member

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    Never mind, I found it:
    http://tinyurl.com/4cbb5e

    I'll probably go with the 6 lb version:
    http://tinyurl.com/3hzyku

    I'll probably still strike it on occasion, but not as much.

    Thanks for everyone's help.
    BTW, my Lopi Declaration arrives Monday.. lets hope I don't get tired of chopping wood.

    Joe

  12. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    You don't have to pick up a log every time you want to hit it. Split it on it's side... it falls over less.
  13. jeffman3

    jeffman3 New Member

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    I have allot of respect for those guys that split all there wood by hand! I tried doing it that way, but three mauls, 5 handles and several trips to the chiropractor later, I bought a 28 ton splitter. With the gas splitter, I can split rounds I can barely move around, yet alone pick up to put on a splitting stump. I was splitting large dry elm, and gave myself whiplash from the big steel handled monstrosity of a maul hitting the rounds, and just bouncing off. Hand splitting is fun, good exercise and just makes you feel good, but use the tools correctly, and be careful.
  14. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    I still split by hand in the winter...but it's not like I'm making any real production. Mostly it's a woodlot housekeeping kind of thing cutting down dead trees...and I still bash my fav maul with a sledge. I probably went threw 15-20 handles with my favorite maul. I rope the broken handles to my wood splitter for short hops...for longer moves I lay it up and threw the 3PH and away we go.

    Got my best maul at Midstate equipment on Lymoyne av in Syracuse back in the 70's...way before the arrival of big box stores.
  15. myzamboni

    myzamboni Minister of Fire

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    I totally agree. I think mauls should have an odd shaped back end that makes it an unattractive strike zone. Use the right tool for the right application.
  16. DaveBP

    DaveBP Minister of Fire

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    I use a sledge hammer and wedges to break down big stuff so it's light enough to lift up onto my splitter. Years ago when I used them a lot and before I had learned to hit the wedge perfectly in the exact center every single time I glanced one off the corner and blew off a chip that shot off with a high pitched buzzing noice and made two holes through my jeans and a surprisingly clean gash across my kneecap. After thinking a bit about how much softer eyeballs and carotid arteries are than kneecaps you better believe I ground off all the mushroomed edges from those yardsale wedges.

    On a serious note, a fellow upstate here in Maine just a few weeks ago slashed his femoral artery with a chunk of broken wedge and died trying to get a tourniquet on.
  17. gerry100

    gerry100 Minister of Fire

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    Mr Natural sez... " get the right tool for the job"
  18. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    That right there is some scary @$$ stuff.

    I split everything by hand for years. I bought a splitter because it makes splitting 40" wood for the kiln easier, and I get more production now for the house too. However- I pick up the maul for probably 1/4 of the wood I process for the joy of it. I might have some sick dependence thing going on.
  19. pulldownclaw

    pulldownclaw Feeling the Heat

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    RobinJoe, one of the best things I've discovered for hand splitting is using an old tire for placing the logs in, so you don't have to bend over and reset it every time. It is amazing how much quicker it goes, just whack, whack, whack around until it's done. I think the bending over and picking the log back up after every strike is worse for your back than swinging the maul, with correct form of course....

    p.s. just make sure to drill some holes in the tire so in the Summertime you don't have a mosquito brothel :grrr:
  20. RobinJoe

    RobinJoe New Member

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    Thanks everyone for all the advice. I've learned a lot. I'll see if I can track down an old tire from a local tire shop.

    I never tried driving a wedge in to the side of a log. I always tried driving them in to the ends.

    I wonder if anyone's ever tried manufacturing a maul with a replaceable hard-rubber back. They could sell the mauls for $10 and make a bundle selling snap-on rubber backs for $2 a piece. The backs would only last a week or two, but be well worth it.
  21. syd3006

    syd3006 Member

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    The handle on my original maul was getting to the point where I couldn't trust it so I bought a fiberglass handle 6 lb "Yard Works" maul from Canadian Tire. I split 2 cords of ash, about 3 quarters of a cord of birch and half a cord of poplar with it last spring and it performed very well. This fall I cut a big elm on my property, I let it "wither" for 2 weeks then cut into blocks and proceeded to split. Well!!!!! I had to beat on that maul with a 10 lb sledge until I resembled a limp noodle!!!!!! The maul did not survive the project!! The back was starting to mushroom and chip, the adhesive that was holding the handle in was mostly broken out and the head had become loose. I took it back to Canadian Tire with the receipt (it had a 4 year warranty) and they replaced it without batting an eye or asking any questions. I will not be so hard on this one. Actually to say the handle is fiberglass is misleading it seems more like a hard plastic and I think it is a good quality tool. I usually am more reasonable with my equipment but that elm was making me crazy, some of the crotch pieces I could not split! If I had more to split I would rent or buy a splitter.
  22. DaveBP

    DaveBP Minister of Fire

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    If I had to split elm crotches I'd probably use my Husqvarna 2-cycle maul.
  23. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Does anyone else hear Rob Halford of Judas Priest singing "Breaking my mauls" to the tune of "Breaking the Law" when they see this thread title?

    Stuck in my head now

    "Breaking my mauls, breaking my mauls"
  24. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    I was hearing "Maulbreaker" AC/DC
  25. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    "Mother will they try and break- my mauls..." (Floyd)
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