Lets talk splitting by hand

basswidow Posted By basswidow, Apr 3, 2009 at 7:15 PM

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  1. Mass. Wine Guy

    Mass. Wine Guy
    Feeling the Heat

    Nov 23, 2007
    Northeastern Massachusetts
    There's another discussion in the Gear forum about the Fiskars splitting axe. Like I said there, I use that a lot, along with my 8 lb. maul. There are some pieces that the maul is just better at starting, but I really like the Fiskars.
  2. Fi-Q

    Feeling the Heat

    Mar 5, 2009
    Bonaventure, Quebec
    We're using my uncle splitter now..... but I use to use my Grandfather old home made splitting axe. And the best is to wait til the wood is frozen... it's amazing how well it split..... Before me & my brother were old enough to help. My dad was splitting for a month... but a little at the time... 15 min in the morning before going to work, and 15 min in the evening coming back from work.... he said it keep him in shape.

    But as me & my brother are now getting houses, we're starting to gattered the stuff to build the splitter (Already got a 8 in x 8 foot H beam + 2 wheel/bearing assembly for 2 face cord of larch).
  3. Creek-Chub

    New Member

    Nov 13, 2007
    Niles, MI

    I understand the sentiment, but you really ought to try the Fiskars before dismissing it as a gadget. I'm sure you do just fine with your maul. I'm equally sure that your productivity would increase substantially with the Fiskars. Tough to believe it until you see it, but I just picked one up today and tried it out on a few rounds a little while ago. WAY easier than the 8lb maul, and faster too. It's also, while more work, substantially faster than my folks 27-ton splitter. The splitter still has a place - the maul, however, is going to get retired to the shop for 99% of my splitting needs. To each his own, but you really owe it to yourself (and your back) to try one.
  4. DBoon

    Minister of Fire

    Jan 14, 2009
    Central NY
    For most of my splitting, I use a splitting axe with a fiberglass handle that I bought at Lowes. This works great. It looks similar in design to the Fiskars Super Splitting axe (at least from the side) - it is not a conventional splitting axe, but has a curve to the head that does a great job of pushing the wood apart at the split point. It weighs in the neighborhood of 4-6 lbs - I could swing this all day. If that's what Gerry100 is talking about, then I agree that you don't need the Fiskars product.

    For really big rounds, I have a Monster Maul. This is a 10-12 lb. beast. You definitely have to be standing on solid, non-slippery ground or you are wishing for some problems here. Once, my foot slipped just a little when it was coming down, and I pulled a groin muscle that took months to heal. You also have to have technique right - swing it fluidly, let the weight do the work, don't try to muscle it - just guide it. By the way, I'm 150 lbs. and what would be considered a slight build. It's all in the technique. The less you try to muscle this thing (or any axe, for that matter), the longer you can do it.

    It's been years since I used a maul and wedge. Frankly, I've had too many times where things go flying everywhere - a glancing blow from the maul to the wedge makes the maul move unpredictably, or the wedge comes flying out of the log. I don't miss using these two tools.

    I don't use a rubber tire to hold the wood - just too much of an extra step. Plus, the wood is sitting too low for me. I have a 20" high Elm splitting round that I put my wood on to split. This is the right height for me. It takes the blows of the splitter without splitting itself. I have a backup spare Elm splitting round if I ever get lucky and split my main round :)

    Hockey injuries to each shoulder (torn labrum, partial separation) don't keep me from doing this. Actually, swinging an axe is a great way to keep them loose the muscles around the shoulder strong so the joint stays nicely held together. It seems counterintuitive, but it's only when I don't do work using my shoulders that some aches and pains recur.

    Realistically, nowadays, my father-in-laws hydraulic splitter comes in pretty handy for knocking big rounds down to 8-10" or so pieces right away when green so that it can dry and season faster. Then I split the remainder by hand throughout the winter. I like the exercise in the winter time, and a hydraulic splitter takes too long to make smaller pieces for my 1.6 cu ft. stove. With the hydraulic splitter, I definitely need a buddy to make it most productive, someone who has run a splitter before, pays attention, and works the lever to make it lower and raise. Then I can concentrate on moving wood over and out. Any OSHA lovers on this site won't like to hear that, and it violates all the "safety" warnings on the splitter, but it is about 3-4x faster than running one solo. My father-in-law works great as the buddy since he can just sit in a chair and push a lever up and down. Wife has helped out on occasion also, but her attention can wander (not what I want with a 20+ ton hydraulic wedge moving around). Still, she helps out, and I can't complain. Not everyone is so lucky, I've read.
  5. Alan Gage

    Alan Gage

    Oct 8, 2008
    NW Iowa

    The other thing I've found that makes hand splitting much more enjoyable is to not worry about the knotty, twisted, and crotch pieces. I split about 7 cords of whatever I could get last year (with the above axe) as I hurriedly got ready for my first year of burning. I burned less than I expected so now I've got an abundance of wood. Now I'm much pickier about what wood I scrounge. It's just plain fun splitting nice big clean rounds. With a 3.5 lb axe it seems I never get tired of swinging it.

    I've found most of my wood splits remarkably easy (white oak, ash, sugar maple, silver maple, locust, and walnut) and don't see any need for anything heavier. I'm also very happy with my wood handle, never cared for the way fiberglass felt. I think the light head makes it much less prone to break on a miss hit, plus with a shorter handle accuracy seems to be better, making for fewer miss hits. I've split nearly 10 cords with it now and there's nothing more than a few chips out of it.

  6. Ncountry

    Feeling the Heat

    Feb 11, 2008
    northern NY

    I had a rule that if it took more than two hits to split then I would roll it to the side. It always seemed that those mean pieces that only made up 10% of the pile took 90% of the work. After my cull pile was large enough to rent a splitter I would rent one and split it up.
  7. 68 Couper

    68 Couper
    New Member

    Feb 14, 2009
    NW Indiana
    For the 3' + rounds or the crotch splits I'll pull out the 036. It will take minutes and I like a good runnin' saw.

  8. Dakotas Dad

    Dakotas Dad
    Minister of Fire

    Mar 19, 2009
    Central Kentucky
    Split by hand always. Don't use a wedge and sledge, scary to me. Pulled a chunk of wedge out of my thigh once, never again. Recent convert to the Fiskars.. used a 8 lb maul till then. Have promised myself I will split by hand until at least 55. Then I will decide on a splitter.
  9. flyingcow

    Minister of Fire

    Jun 4, 2008
    northern-half of maine
    It was posted here, but last year a fellow up my way had a piece break off the mall or wedge, and cut a major artery in his leg and he bled to death before he could get help. Sad story, nice guy.
  10. LLigetfa

    Minister of Fire

    Nov 9, 2008
    NW Ontario
    Saw a guy that was pounding on a wedge and a sliver of steel flew off and stuck right in his willie.
  11. hoot gibson

    hoot gibson
    New Member

    Jan 25, 2008
    my problem with splitting is having to bend over and set the round back on the splitting block everytime i split a piece off . but i fixed that problem . did the tire trick tonight . it works like a charm . h
  12. Backroads

    Feeling the Heat

    Jun 19, 2008
    Small Town, RI
    I'm still using my old maul. I swore I'd use it till it broke and then get the splitting axe. As for wedges, no thanks. I'd rather just borrow my friends splitter for anything I can't defeat with the maul.
  13. jotul8e2

    Feeling the Heat

    Feb 2, 2008
    Like another poster above, I always used a double bit ax - for nearly 40 years, in fact. I got a Stihl maul and am very, very pleased. I hadn't thought of the FernCo modification, though - good idea. The weight of the Stihl is just right for me - I can easily split half a cord at a time without any strain.

    I have really, really tried to think through the whole hydraulic splitter thing, but I just can't see it for me. I would have to cut the wood up into pieces that I can carry to a trailer, haul it up to one of the few level spots on my acreage, unload it, feed the splitter, pick it up, and at least half the time load it back in the trailer to haul it to a place to stack it. I can almost always hand split where my tree is, pick up smaller pieces, and either stack it on the spot for retrieval as needed, or load it just once on the trailer to haul to the main woodpile. And it isn't like I'm spending huge amounts of time spitting wood anyway.

  14. caber

    New Member

    Feb 6, 2008
    Western Maryland
    I use an old beat up 8 lb maul i got years and years ago. never found anything I could not split with it. Not matter the size of the round, I give it a couple hits right in the middle. If I can't get it to split I start working the edges. That never fails.
  15. gibson

    New Member

    Apr 29, 2008
    Lincoln, RI
  16. Sidekick

    New Member

    Mar 22, 2009
    I use an 18 lb. monster maul for the big stuff, a 9lb maul for everything else. I have one steel wedge. The others I cut out of 4x4 boards or cut on the spot from whatever I'm working on. But I seldom use a wedge. Personally I like my monster maul. I can blast through just about anything with it. I suppose in another 10 or 15 years I may change my mind (I'm 40 now) but I use it for at least half of my splitting. As another poster noted, wait for a cold day to split and it works MUCH easier. If you can see frost on your rounds they'll bust right apart, usually.
  17. DBoon

    Minister of Fire

    Jan 14, 2009
    Central NY
    Jeez, I make sure I wear safety glasses when I split, and now I have to wear a cup also. Pretty soon I'll be wearing my hockey shinguards also...

    These are the reasons that the maul and wedges stay in the garage.
  18. Jeff S

    Jeff S
    Feeling the Heat

    Aug 31, 2008
    This is basically the way I do it also,I will load my saw,fuel,oil and Fiskars axe in my trailer that I pull with the tractor and head for the woods where I do my cutting,splitting then loaded on the trailer then back to my storage where it is stacked.This method works for me,I do small batches at a time usually 1 - 2 face cord.I'm always caught up with all phases of the process and never feel over whelmed with a ton of spitting to do.
  19. mbcijim


    Mar 10, 2008
    Schuylkill County, Pa
    I started a similar thread a few months ago. The guys here talked me into a Fiskar's. I'd say I'd split 4 cords so far. I love it. I was splitting with an 8# generic maul before. I won't go back.
  20. ccwhite


    Oct 14, 2008
    Steubenville, OH
    I grew up using a Chopper #1. I have two of 'em. Have never owned or used a wedge. I always liked splitting with the Chopper #1 and never felt the need for anything else until I got the wild hair to build a splitter. Now the Choppers are resting for the first time in 33 years.
  21. Dune

    Minister of Fire

    Jan 14, 2008
    Commonwealth Of Massachussetts

    This is a terible thing to read. The only way I can see this happening is with a wedge that has been mushroomed over, from being struck too many times without being dressed. All struck tools (cold chisels, punches, nail sets, splitting wedges, etc.) must be dressed when used heavily. Proper dressing of a struck or "set" tool involves grinding all of the mushroomed area off, continuing to grind any cracks which remain, then beveling the struck end of the tool at a 45 degree angle. Do not be shy about the beveling process, as this prevents future mushrooming. After the dressed tool has been used for some time, the beveled area will have been pounded flat, and now requires rebeveling, long before it can be curled over and send a split off chip flying with hazardous or fatal results. Remember, this aplies to ALL struck tools. If you need to know what a properly dressed tool looks like, look at a new cold chisel.
  22. Got Wood

    Got Wood
    Minister of Fire

    Oct 22, 2008
    Dutchess Cty, NY
    I have hand split approx 12 cords since Oct 08. It has become a great exercise routine. I use weekends to scrounge, buck and cart rounds to my splitting area, then spend 30-60/most days splitting. Doing this has been great for me physically as I am losing wieght & getting stronger. It is also a great stress reliever - nothing like beating the crap out of a round. I am also a Fiskars convert, using it on 95% of what I split - also use a 6lb maul and sledge/wedge on the nasty pieces. An earlier post mentioned spending 90% of the time on 10% of the rounds - so true! I also, have learned to put those nasty pieces in my pile for the day I have a splitter here.
  23. billb3

    Minister of Fire

    Dec 14, 2007
    SE Mass
    I just did a cord+ of red oak with just a wedge (2 actually) and a maul. No swinging (once or twice for a real gnarly piece I was too stubborn to give up on).
    I just didn't feel like swinging.
    Had a few rounds I split into 16 pieces keeping the whole round attached to the end.
    No flying splits. No unneccessary bending over.

    Got a wedge shot in the ankle once. Should not have been wearing loafers.

    Keep looking at 23 ton splitters, though. :)
  24. Huskurdu


    Jun 10, 2008
    Southwestern NY
    I love my Fiskars splitting axe. I've done about 6 full cord in the last month. One thing I like is that it doesn't stick in the wood like a common axe. It doesn't tire you out like a heavy go-devil or maul either. I bought a load of logs this year instead of dropping trees...it's so much easier this year. The load that I got has a lot of ash in it...you can split the stuff with one hand!!!! I've also got some birch and elm (i think)..it splits harder but still splits nice after a couple hits. I don't bother to take my wedge and go-devil any more just the Fiskars. If I get a real tough knotty one I'll just 'soften' it up with the chainsaw a little.
    The Fiskars was worth the money in my opinion.
  25. Risser09

    New Member

    Jun 26, 2008
    Lancaster, Pennsylvania
    I'd love to see you guys swinging a Fiskars axe into some of the Hackberry, Sycamore or Gum rounds that I've done with my STIHL maul. You would either be bouncing right off or never get your tool back. In this case you need something significantly wedge shaped to even come close enough to splitting the fibers apart.

    just sayin'.....
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