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maul, axe, wedges

Post in 'The Gear' started by woodsie8, Apr 5, 2008.

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  1. woodsie8

    woodsie8 Member

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    Obviously new........... looked on line and there are a ton of mauls, different weights and lengths. I guess I need a lesson on the equipment.
    I weigh approx. 100 lbs and less than 5'tall. Not to wissy, tho.
    What the heck should I invest in?

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  2. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Fiskars...you'll be splitting mostly softwoods, so you don't really need anything heavy duty. Fiskars axes are exceptionally well made, light, pretty much indestructible, and razor sharp. Some of the nicest tools I've ever owned. BTW...there's a whole other forum on this site named "The Gear" where all this sort of stuff is discussed ad nauseum...this thread you just started is likely to be moved over there shortly (and rightfully so), I'd guess. Rick
  3. SlyFerret

    SlyFerret Minister of Fire

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    I'm a little rusty on my physics formulas, so somebody may have to corroborate my next statement...

    The force of the maul when it strikes the wood is only directly proportional to the mass, but is proportional to the square of the velocity.

    Basically, what this means is that the weight of the maul isn't as important as how fast you can swing it.

    Somebody your size would probably do much better with a 6 lb maul instead of an 8 lb maul for instance.

    -SF
  4. Ncountry

    Ncountry Member

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    I would have to agree with you .I weigh 230# and having split many cord over the years, my favorite mauls were 4-6# . When it was time to replace the handle i would try to find a 2"-3" longer handle ,the extra length = extra velocity. Starting out selling firewood there was nothing that couldn't be split if you hit it enough times . I quickly ...well maybe not that quick... learned that it was easier to set aside these mean pieces and when the pile became big enough , rent a splitter.
  5. Rich M

    Rich M New Member

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    Wedges and an 8lb sledge hammer are for hardwood that has lots of knots and crotches, you probably won't need them. If you accumulate a pile of tough pieces then you can buy a wedge and sledge, otherwise save your money (and your back). A cheap 6lb or 8lb maul from your local hardware will work fine. I've done dozens of cords with a $20 maul. There is a trade off between the two - you have to swing a 6lb a lot faster to get it to split, an 8lb requires less speed in the swing but is obviously heavier so more tiring in that sense. I prefer an 8lb over a 6lb, some pieces you only have to raise it up and drop it for a complete split, much less tiring and easier on the hands than swinging a 6lb with all your might. Which ever one you get (or get both, they are not very expensive) get it with a yellow fiberglass handle. Wood handles will get damaged while you learn how to strike accurately, fiberglass won't and will last much longer. Safety glasses, steel toe boots and leather gloves are a must too.
  6. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    I would think the young man could split that fir wood with a 6lb mall as long as the length was 18" or less. Last week someone here was saying tamarack was the most difficult soft wood to split though...hope you don't have much of that to split.
  7. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Tamarack is tough. I just got some, and I may have to resort to my maul. I've never yet been able to get my hands on any Madrone, but I understand it's a fairly tough wood too. I don't like to swing any more weight than necessary to get the job done. When I'm splitting Pine, which is what I split the most of, I've found that my Fiskars splitting axes do a terrific job. There are two different axes available, one's only about 2+ pounds, the other is twice that. I have both. The lighter one of the two is my most used splitting tool. It's a pleasure to use, and I can swing it all day long...which I most certainly wouldn't want to have to do with a 6 pounder. Even the four pounder feels heavy to me when I have to use it, because I've become so accustomed to the little 2 pound beauty. They have 28" handles, shorter than you might expect, but I got used to that quickly and now it feels just right to me. The heads have integral wedges, and the edges are sharp as a razor. For softwoods, they work like a charm. Fiskars also makes a 16" splitting hatchet, which makes quick and easy work of splitting kindling. My old axes, wedges, hatchets and maul have been relegated to the back room storage rack...my Fiskars tools are on center stage ready to go to work anytime. No, I don't sell them, but I wish I did, 'cause then I'd get a discount. Rick
  8. woodsie8

    woodsie8 Member

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    Wow, lots of great information........... Rick, up I'm actually up in the Mt Hood area, so you probably get some different wood than we do, here. BTW, savageactor7, 48 year old woman but wish I had to strength and the energy of a young man :)
    I think I am going to go look at Fiskars, today, Rick.
    Kim
  9. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, I'm 5'-9", 190, and I'll turn 60 in December...I, too, wish I had the strength of a young man (used to...where did it go?). I bought my Fiskars tools from a number of places. Got a splitting axe (don't really know whether I'll ever use it much), and both my splitting axes from 3rd party sellers through Amazon.com. Bought a little hatchet on eBay, and found the really useful hatchet right here in Bend at High Desert Ranch & Home, where I've done some other business. Don't know if this whole address will paste in here, but this is my very favorite:

    http://www.amazon.com/Fiskars-Pro-S...d_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1207428328&sr=8-1

    Good luck to you! Rick
  10. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Oops, I meant it was a chopping axe that I don't know if I'll ever use much...I use my splitting axes all the time. It's more than just the strength of a young man that begins to disappear at some point. Rick
  11. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    I really should add that I mostly buy CSD (cut,split, & delivered) firewood. What I've found is that most suppliers of such wood won't bother to split anything smaller than about 8"-10" rounds, and oftentimes when they split a large round, they only split it in half or thirds, or whatever. The result is, that even with a couple-cord load of CSD, I've a good deal of splitting to do before stacking it to get it all to sizes that we're comfortable handling and loading into our stoves. So, what I'm trying to clarify, is that I don't go out and fell, limb, buck and split my wood from the forest. If I did, I'd need some heavier duty equipment (not to mention some bionics). If you're going to get wood in large rounds, then you may well need something heavier than the Fiskars splitting axes to get you started on them, then switch to the lighter tools as you get the wood into smaller splits. Rick
  12. Gene K.

    Gene K. New Member

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    I've experimented with a variety of splitting options, and here is what I have learned to use.

    First, buy a Fiskar's splitting axe. This will indubitably handle 95% of your splitting work and puts a splitting maul to shame.

    Next, buy the heaviest sledge hammer your money can buy as well as a a few "wood grenade" splitters. On the toughest, gnarliest pieces, or those with a knot or two, this will help.

    Regarding the "mass" contention: Yes, speed squared is more important, but there is a rub: Most of the time, the speed will be predominately determined by gravity, because the least-tiring way of splitting for any long period of time is to raise the splitting tool high and let it fall, using your hands to guide. Now, when one ignores drag, we all know that ALL objects fall at the same rate. Therefore, a heavier object will have higher energy when falling from the same height (m*g*h). The trade-off is, a lot of splitting can tire someone quicker with a heavier tool, because one will be lifting a heavier object more often.


  13. woodsie8

    woodsie8 Member

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    What is a “wood grenade” splitter?
    Thanks!
  14. Gene K.

    Gene K. New Member

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    Here is an article about wood grenades, along with a small photograph.

    I purchased mine at the local hardware store, so I doubt that you would need to order it online.

    By the way, when I say to buy the heaviest sledge hammer possible, I found it possible to special-order a 20-pound sledge. No one sold them locally, but they could order it. The difference in performance is truly amazing. Even grumpy elm capitulates!

  15. woodsie8

    woodsie8 Member

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    Did you add the article with the picture of the wood grenades?
  16. mainemac

    mainemac Member

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    Kinetic Energy = 1/2 (Mass x Velocity squared)


    For Splitting wood KE is good

    Maul for a 5' woman should be lite as the energy is much more dependent on the velocity not the mass

    For Auto accidents KE is bad :(

    35 mph crash KE = 1/2 * 3000 lbs * 1225 = 1,837,500

    70 mph crash KE = 1/2 *3000 lbs * 4900 = 7,350,000


    Tom
  17. Gene K.

    Gene K. New Member

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    When two objects fall from the same height, they will have the same velocity (ignoring air resistance). Thus, the only variable for comparison is the mass. And since, when one is splitting, dropping is the only factor for regular splitting, the mass is the most important factor in this comparison (although I argue that geometry of the splitting tool is far more important, but that's not the subject of this contention).

    Furthermore, many when comparing the speed for kinetic energy ignore one important question: from whence does the energy originate? That's right, the person. It would be a fair assumption to assume that the person would be able to provide the same amount of energy to any tool, and therefore, the velocity comparison is irrelevant, as the same amount of energy is provided in the first place.

    Yes, this does ignore the fact that repeated use is more tiring for a heavy object, which is one of many reasons why I prefer my Fiskar's splitting axe for most usage over my 8-lb. maul. But my bottom line is that the mass/velocity comparison is irrelevant because of falling the amount of energy provided being identical in the first place.

  18. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I am 180-190lbs, 5'9", male, 50, not in the best of shape, but not bad either.

    Most of my splitting is hardwoods, primarily oak and maple (IMHO Oak tends to be easier)

    My #1 go-to weapon for splitting is a 12lb "Monster Maul" clone that I got from Northern. The handle is shorter than I'd like, but it generally gives clean splits with one-or two easy licks per split.

    First fall back is an 8lb Stanley splitting maul that I use almost entirely as a sledge, with an assortment of wedges. Overall best wedge seems to be an Estwing with some extra fins at the top that increase the splitting force. I did just purchase a wood grenade (Truper brand IIRC) from Tractor Supply, and have mixed opinions on it. I've only tried it a couple of times, on really nasty rounds, and not had great results - it was easier to start, but had a tendency to bounce out of the crack rather than biting in deeper. I ended up going to standard wedges each time, and those worked but with great difficulty... Given that the standard wedges were difficult, I don't think it was a fair test for the wood grenade. This is less effort per hit, but I need to give it LOTS of hits, so it's much slower and higher total effort. However I'm generally only using this after I've given up on the Monster, so it's probably a function of being a nasty log to deal with as well...

    IMHO dropping a heavy maul is more effective at splitting than dropping a light axe, however if you are trying to put "english" on the tool and give it a higher velocity, it is easier to accelerate a light weapon than a heavy one, within certain limits (you can only swing so fast before your body mechanics start to limit you) so if you are doing "drop" splitting, you should get the heaviest weight you can safely lift and control, while if doing "speed swing" splitting you should choose a weight that is such that you can't quite get it to your maximum speed before impact.

    For me, I'd like about a 16lb version of the Monster Maul, with a longer handle so that my drop splitting would be more effective. I accellerate my sledge, so it is about right, maybe something about 2lbs heavier might be better, but it's not bad.

    Gooserider
  19. oilstinks

    oilstinks Feeling the Heat

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    Any one tried one of those splitting axes from Lowes and wal-mart. The have a little wedge that progresses as you go up the axe head. How do the do?
  20. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Do the search thing... No personal experience, but I know they've been discussed a few times. IIRC the results were mixed, some folks seemed to have good luck with them and really think they were great, others weren't as thrilled.

    Gooserider
  21. pinewoodburner

    pinewoodburner Feeling the Heat

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    I have the splitting axe from Lowes where the wedge flares out. It does a good job at splitting. The one thing I don't like is that it does throw the wood to the sides, where the maul does not throw the wood. The regular axe will splitt the wood and leave it standing. But, the regular axe gets stuck in the wood if it does not split, and the splitting axe does not stick in the wood. I use the maul to bust the big stuff, then the splitting axe after that. I read one post that recommenced using the splitting axe with an old tire, put the wood in the tire and split it, then you don't have to pick it up each time.
  22. mtarbert

    mtarbert Minister of Fire

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    Splitting tools is a personal preference....always has been ....always will be..HOWEVER.....Please do not porget to (reguarlly) keep the mushroom head off of wedges and other striking tools. I have a friend who lost an eye to a chip flying off of a wedge. This is not a friend of a friend who some guy has heard about. This is a guy I know and see reguarly......Grind them smooth....Please
  23. woodsie8

    woodsie8 Member

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    What is a mushroom head?
  24. oilstinks

    oilstinks Feeling the Heat

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    where the metal starts "mushrooming" out. You'll get jagged pieces that can come off from where the metal is getting squished out. It looks just like old chisels and punches that have been beat to death.
  25. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Not a wood splitting story, but related. When I was a little kid, my dad was using a hammer & chisel to chip out some concrete. My mom was standing there talking with him or watching him...off came flying a chip from the mushroomed chisel head and it went right into her leg. Had to go to the ER & have a doc go in there and dig it out, just like she'd been shot. Striking tools seem like simple things (well, they are simple things), but they're dangerous simple things and should be used & maintained carefully. Rick
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