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How do I split the big stuff?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by rudysmallfry, Jun 9, 2006.

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  1. rudysmallfry

    rudysmallfry Feeling the Heat

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    I successfully split up the smaller stuff of the Poplar tree I had taken down a few months back. Now what I've got left is the really big stump section. The thing is 26" across, a very big puppy. I used an 8' maul for the thinner stuff, but am not sure how to proceed with the fat ones. Can I get away with working at them by splitting off outer sections until I get into the middle? I remember someone mentioning using wedges, but am unsure of what various types and sizes are available. I'm pretty accurate with the maul, but not the strongest chick on the block. I asked the guys who cut up the tree to cut the big pieces in 12" sections, but of course some of them are considerably longer. Any help on how to tackle these would be welcome.

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  2. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    Find a crack and have at it

    I split a Red Oak about 30" across all with an 8lb maul

    Wack it till it cracks.
    If you can hit near the edge in one spot often enough she'll go
  3. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    Babalu87 is right on here. I cut a poplar a couple weeks ago, but more lit 10"-12" across. The bigger stuff gets pretty soft and pulpy, but if you work at the outter edges it will split pretty easily, and just keep wacking peices off around the edge. That poplar is awfully wet stuff when fresh cut. I found that hitting it a couple times caused the bark to pop off. The fresh wood underneath was actually hard to stack other wood on, cause it was so wet and slick.
  4. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I would go with the edge method too, if it looks like no progress is being made by wacking it down the middle. The shorter the piece the easier, in my limited experience. I haven't had much luck with the wedge method: you have to get the thing started, swinging a sledge with one hand. A couple times I said the heck with it and cut a particularly gnarly piece lengthwise with a chainsaw too.
  5. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Just to give you a little peptalk, every time you are able to whack a piece from a block, it weakens the entire block, so it should get easier as you progress. As the others said, start outside and work your way around the outside. That approach should work well with poplar.
  6. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I would become obsessed at times, to an unhealthy degree, trying to spit it down the middle! At some point you say, this is NOT going to work. :)
    PS: The "unhealthy" part could result in tennis elbow, or the like. :)
  7. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Rent a log splitter?
  8. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    For one piece of Poplar? I dun tink so Lucy!

    Just keep slicing "steaks" off of the outer edges to release the tension in the inner part and it will come apart. I had 37" inch butt piece a few years ago just like it to hand split. Once the outside starts coming off it is an easy slide to home plate from there.

    Don't try to cut wedge shaped splits from the outer portion. Split flat slabs off of it all the way around.
  9. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Hey Rudy, kudos for being in the spirit of things. It sounds like you may be splitting big wood more than once. If so, you might want to go and buy an 8" steel wedge. It will be hefty, prolly weigh about 8#. You'll find it handy for persuading nasty big pieces to split. I have a couple wedges and have split huge pieces this way. If you start a crack or if there is already a split starting, insert the wedge and pound it in. If you're lucky, the block will split. If it doesn't, then take your maul and strike ahead, but in line with the crack. Most often, due to the wedge's pressure, the seam will just pop apart.

    http://www2.northerntool.com/product-1/200310855.htm
  10. Turner-n-Burner

    Turner-n-Burner New Member

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    I like the grenade style wedges... Maybe I'm a slow learner, but there is something satisfying about popping open a 20+" round from the center. I just set the wedge in the center, though I'd certainly use a crack if one was already there. I choke up my grip on the sledge and use it like a big hammer to start the wedge, then go to full blows...

    I really like the grenade for the large rounds...

    -Dan
  11. DriftWood

    DriftWood Minister of Fire

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    I have seven steel wedges now. And one SEARS CRAFTSMAN sledge hammer. Why 8? So I can find one when I need one! Why a SEARS CRAFTSMAN sledge hammer? Because they replace them free when the head is mashed or the handle brakes.

    I’m using steel wedges on almost every thing I split now. I have split logs for split rail fencing on my property with wedges; it was driftwood tamarack and cedar I pulled out of the river. I can line up three or more wedges across a round (center and one at each edge) and make it split where I want it to. Then split the halves in to any size I want through knots or across them the hard way to get the size peaces I want.

    For really big stuff I can not saw through, over 48 inches round I chain saw as deep as I can then split out peaces to the cut. Then again chain saw as deep as I can then split out peaces to the cut.

    I'm find it takes less pounding with wedges than with my Monster malls.
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