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Maul swinging techniquie

Post in 'The Gear' started by wg_bent, Mar 23, 2006.

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  1. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    Just curious what you all feel is the best technique for swinging a maul. Mine is a 6 lb (I think I need an 8 now especially with all the Elm I have). Generally I drop the maul over my right shoulder, and swing. With tougher peices I'll step back a 1/2 step and step into the swing also. For the really tough, I'll start with the maul at about chest high, and get more of a round about swing that makes a full circle, but my accuracy goes down with that. I've also tried a more centerline swing with the maul start position straight behind my back so both arms make almost an identical path. This last seems the weakest swing, but is a bit easier on the right elbow.

    Any other technique suggestions?

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  2. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    Get an 8lb Collins axe
    I have become alot more efficient with that axe and the shape of the handle is easier on my hands

    I bring the maul straight back over my head and touch it to the small of my back then bring it up to about horizontal, then with all the anger of a rabid Wolverine I swing with great and furious anger upon the wicked beast all the while concentrating on the exact spot where I want the steel to unleash its power and exact my revenge.

    ;)

    I generally swing for the fences with the Red Oak I have to split
  3. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    not that big a person, So inorder to get the power and distance. I have a slight inside out swing I drive with a slight draw using the overspin to gain added running distance , Got to get that monster titanium head club. Woops wrong forum got confused with swing technique
  4. carpniels

    carpniels Minister of Fire

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    Hi Babalu,

    Do you really mean axe or did you plan to say Maul? I saw that Collins stuff (both 6#, 8# and different axes) at my local Ace hardware. Pretty cheap. (max $30).

    I was thinking about getting the 8# maul to add to my collection of axes. Should be more useful than my 3# Fiskars maul.

    Carpniels
  5. martel

    martel Member

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    all these sound good- the big thing I have change due to a past thread is I stopped using a chopping block. I am splitting everything on the ground now and it make a world of a difference with the increased velocity. I am considering sinking RR ties in the ground to make a 2x2' area at ground level for splitting. This will not only create a hard surface to keep all of force in the splitting verses going into the dirt (yes, i am not the 'physics' type)- and it will keep my maul from diggin up the dirt.

    also, been using a 8# cheapo true value maul with a fiberglass handle. seems to work great.
  6. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    I'll have to post a pic later, suprised but a quick search didnt net a good picture

    Its head is a little wider than a regular maul and the handle is flatter than a standard maul handle

    True Value calls it a Collins axe, sounds like what Ace has is what I have
  7. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    I use an 8 lb maul.

    With torn right rotator cuff, I cannot swing from behind my back.

    I lift the thing so its directly over my head. Left hand in front of right hand. (I am right handed)

    With elbows close together, I peer through that area between my forearms and whack away.

    This technique evolved on its own, because its the least painfull to my shoulder.
  8. NWfuel

    NWfuel Minister of Fire

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    I use the 6lb collin wood handle. Hit it where it lays. Alternate from side to side. This means hit one on the left side then up over the head and back down hitting one on the right side. This is a art all of its own. I only do this with green Alder. This stuff splits just looking at it.
    Thomas
  9. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    I use an 8 pounder, swing from left to right. Right hand at base of maul, left hand slides down during swing. Start with handle horizontal maul head behind back, up over left shoulder, then pull down and in a bit to drive head into log. I'm right handed, BTW.

    I definitely tend to 'swing for the fences' but that's mostly because I hate the results of a failed attempt - dislodging the maul from the log, maul bouncing (elm, anyone), or resetting the log onthe block. One swing, one split.

    Steve
  10. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    Elm is the bane of my existance Steve. The good part is that I have access to a lot of dead elm, the bad part is that elm is mother natures cruel joke. Hey, lets grow lots of trees, then give them a plague (Dutch elm disease) and kill them all so wood burners think they hit the lottery. Then i'll make the wood impossible to split. Then when they burn it, it will stick to the bottom of their stoves with coal like klinker thingies. Ha Ha Ha. suckers!!!!! Did I ever mention how much I hate elm?
  11. yukiginger

    yukiginger Member

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    To me, speed of the maul head is what matters, so I keep the thing moving and try for hard acceleration on the downswing, of course. For me, my method is far superior to raising straight over head, and back near your shoulder blades. Here is what I do (I'm right handed): with my right hand near the end of the handle and maul hanging down just off the right of my right leg I begin a clocklike motion from right to left swinging to my left by twisting at the torso, pointing my right shoulder in straight at the round (and thus, my left shoulder back). The maul is going to be swept up just slightly behind my left shoulder. As the head gets waist high I grab the handle with my left hand, loosely, at mid-handle, continuing the swing to get the head just above mine. At the top of the swing my wrist is almost touching the top of my head. When the head is straight above my head I begin the downward stroke, accelerating as best I can through the strike. My left hand slides as the maul comes down.

    I hope the description is clear enough. I find this easier on the body and back. It requires little bending. I find myself rocking off my right foot a bit on the swing, but otherwise the stance stays strong. Last year I hand split 6 cords myself this way, but in the fall I bought a splitter, so I won't be doing much maul-swinging again (I hope). See this attached message below for an interesting technique.

    MarkG




    Here is a message posted over on the Arboristsite.com website, in the firewood and heating with wood forum. Seems really interesting, though I've never tried it. Posted by Mister Moe:


    **********************
    Sure - here's a splitting tip - my buddy taught me how to REALLY split with a maul some years ago.

    I watched in amazement as he laid open a two foot diameter chunk of oak with three hits! Then he showed me the secret: just as the maul head is about to hit wood, twist the head so that it's actually at an angle. Two things will happen: the maul will not get stuck in the wood, it will just bounce off. Also, the force is not just directed perpendicular to the wood leaving only the shape of maul head to split the wood apart but rather, the maul head is entering the wood at an angle and the force is directed sideways - now not only is the maul head wedging the wood apart, but the sideways force is also working for you. If it's a larger piece, say larger than a foot diameter, don't try to split it all at once, hit it two or three times. You'll find you can split it anywhere you want with this technique but for demonstration, let's say you want to split in half: hit the chunk in the center but towards one side then hit towards the other side - both of these hits should not be full out hits, just half-hearted hits to prime the wood. Then, on your last hit, just HIT it in the center and the chunk will explode in half like you wouldn't believe.

    This technique does require some practice but once you get the idea, you'll be amazed at the efficiency of it. Now I can easily split two foot diameter sections with three hits. I have a splitter but I actually prefer to split by hand (I too need the exercise). If the chunk doesn't go after a few hits I'll just kick it aside for the splitter along with the really knotted pieces. Oh - one more thing - I find that maple and oak split best when green.

    Hope this helps

    Moe
  12. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I'm continually amazed and relieved to learn that I'm not the only guy left on the planet who prefers to split his wood by hand.

    I lift the maul head directly up over my head so that the wedge and my face are both basically facing the same direction. Then I simply pull straight down--hard. This allows you to aim much better, while getting enough speed to get the job done. I don't see what you accomplish by pulling the maul head from behind your back, up over your head and then down onto the block of wood. Any gain in speed you might attain will be more than offset by inaccuracy in where you hit the chunk, and extra effort required to move the maul head the extra distance.

    Maybe if I split more wood I would have a different method, but after more than 30 years of trying different techniques, this is the one that works best for me. Also, a dull, blunt-edged maul is much better than a narrower, sharp one.
  13. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    This is very timely for me since I will be doing it again soon.
    I remember doing that wrist twist thing many years ago and that it worked.
    I also remember that keeping your feet far apart was a good thing.
  14. cbrodsky

    cbrodsky Member

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    I use a combination of some of the ideas mentioned here - I start with the maul near my feet and take a full 270 degree swing with the maul to my side. Just before I hit the wood, I make a slight twist and relax my grip. Much like a good golf swing, you should be letting the club (maul) head do all the work. If you grip a golf club really hard, and you try to hit the ball hard, you find that it just doesn't work that well. On the other hand, it is quite miraculous how a well coordinated relaxed swing can deliver incredible force and a great shot with no pain or effort. I think the same principles apply to splitting wood - a long swing arc to build speed, and by the end (follow-through) make sure you're not choking down on the maul. Otherwise your body's inertia interferes with the maul's growing momentum. When you get the flow going, it's very satisfying and very efficient!

    Funny thing is that I split wood a lot better than I hit golf balls...
  15. G-rott

    G-rott Member

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    Great discription Yukiginger, I'm also right handed but have the same swing but the handing is reversed.
  16. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Lots of ways to swing a maul and get to the same result. I have always found that little wrist flick at the point of contact to make a world of difference though.

    These days my preferred splitting motion is to spread my feet apart about two feet, lean down, grab the start rope handle and pull. Splitter ususally starts on the first pull. If not, rinse and repeat.
  17. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    I think I get more head speed with starting from behind my back, but I agree it's not as accurate, but for most swings it's good enough. Many times I swing just as you said Eric, if it's a peice of wood I know will split reasonably easy. Just remember how much of what I split and burn is elm. May of my hits do not even crack the wood, and know I'm hitting it very hard.

    Hey Craig, any chance there's a way to up load some mpeg's somewhere to the site? Be kinda cool to be able to show motion of splitting technique. My digital can do mpeg's. Perhaps a special permission would be needed for each upload from you? (Just trying to keep the space and uploads of that kind of stuff to a min)
  18. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I don't understand what you gain by swinging from behind your back. It seems to me it would take twice as much energy for little or no force advantage. Remember, you have to exert enough force to swing the maul in a big arc from behind your back up to where it's over your head, then pull down as it descends toward the block you're trying to split. When you do it my way, the only force you're exerting is on the downstroke. Getting the maul head up into the air is simply a matter of lifting it straight up.

    By that measure (which I'm not saying is necessarily correct), the behind-the-back method:

    1.) requires greater exertion
    2.) yields less accuracy
    3.) may or may not deliver more force

    I like the Mpeg idea, by the way. I think we'd all learn something from watching the other guy split.
  19. cbrodsky

    cbrodsky Member

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    One advantage of a full swing is that by the time the maul is coming over your head, it is already moving quite fast and will continue to accelerate from that point rather than from a dead stop. This in principle gives you more opportunity to hit with more momentum.

    To beat the golf analogy to death, it would be like a golfer only taking a 1/4 swing back.

    In fact, I do take 1/4 swings for smaller easier pieces of wood, and golfers take 1/4 swings for short chip shots - so both have their place :)
  20. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    I was thinking of making a short clip and posting it too.

    I was going to get one of those shots of me splitting that 30" diameter Red Oak in half, with one swing...............NOT, some split in 6 some take upwards of twenty shots.

    I feel that touching it to my back keeps all the muscles stretched out.
    I really only accelerate once its above my head, sort of like swinging a golf club for me.

    I over did it a bit today, those 500 foot walks with a full wheel barrow take their toll
  21. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, I hear ya Bruce. The other day I split almost 1/2 a cord of elm and my forearms were killing me.
  22. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    o.k. so for the past day or so I've been trying a straight over the head technique. Start with the maul directly behind me, and touching my butt, and just pull hard through the wood. Eric is right (again) in that the increase in accuracy is much better. repeated strikes are now almost 100% better, so that I can split even Elm in two shots most of the time. Also much easier on the elbows. Thanks once again for the splitting technique tips Eric.
  23. michaelthomas

    michaelthomas New Member

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    I place the round horizontally open the valve and watch as the precision cutting edge on my splitter pushes the round into 2 pieces, all while holding a frosty cold one in my non operating hand. Much easier on the old rotator cuff.
  24. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    So is your splitter powered through burning wood and steam power? Or does it have a Hemi? :) If this isn't a properly green and hearthnet energy policy approved device you will be labled and enemy of the state. The beating with a wet wood pellet will begin immediately. :)
  25. mtarbert

    mtarbert Minister of Fire

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    Guys,
    Many years ago (30) I knew a man with only 1 arm who split all his winters supply of wood with an axe. The old guy would twist the handle just as the blade hit the surface and POW two pieces. So don't let those sore shoulders slow you down.
    Mike
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