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Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by mbcijim, Jan 16, 2009.
Easy now. . . some of those pansies are really sensitive.
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Thanks everyone for all your recommendations!
Couple of more comments/followup.
I am hitting for the middle of the log. So, it sounds like I shouldn't be doing that! I'll try it your guys way.
Most of the logs are mid-thigh, so I can and should cut a smaller round.
Do regular eyeglasses cut it as safety glasses?
It's very possible my logs are frozen. It's been below freezing for over a month, and my wood isn't covered.
I'll have to luck at buying some new equipment per your advice.
And to familyguy... I could buy a splitter tomorrow if I wanted to. If speedy production where my goal, I'd own one. I sit on my ass most days. This is my excercise. For some of us, this is fun.
So I juist went outside and cut wood for an hour and a half. It went much better with your tips! I cut my base log (the one I sit the log on to be split) down to 4" or so. It lowered everything.
I stopped aiming for the middle. And I did modify my swing to aim through the log and my hand position.
Wow do knots suck! I started putting them to the side... I have a friend with an OWB, he might get a donation!
Yes, hitting the center of the log is generally not very productive except for very small rounds. My general rule of thumb is to look at how many splits I want to end up with - If the round is small enough that I want to get 2-4 splits, then I'll go for the center. If I want more than that, go for the side and slab it off.... I don't know why, but it seems that the first split on a round is always the worst, (except for crotches and other gnarly bits) so it really helps to knock a chunk or two off the sides and break up the structure of the round.
As to safety glasses - it's a mixed bag. OSHA would say that standard glasses don't cut it, that you should be wearing ANSI approved safety glasses w/ side shields, etc... From the standpoint of maximizing safety, they are right, but IMHO those kinds of glasses are uncomfortable, and look like crap if you aren't actually doing work that needs them - so the tendency is not to use them! I would also say that the standard postage stamp size light weight plastic lenses on many glasses are better than nothing, but not by much....
I try to hit a compromise... I use the regular prescription eyeglasses that I wear essentially all the time anyway as safety glasses, but I chose them knowing that I would be using them for that purpose, so I've ended up with something that gives me reasonably good protection that I actually wear. (Remember, the best safety gear in the world does you no good if it's sitting on the shelf somewhere!) I picked the largest "aviator" style frames the optician had that would fit my face, and had them made with poly-carbonate lenses - the result is coverage as good or better than ANSI glasses, minus the side shields, with the advantage that I'm always wearing them, and staying at least somewhat fashionable...
I agree, it sounds like you might want a slightly shorter splitting block, and that your logs are frozen (however there is mixed evidence about how much easier or harder frozen logs are to split. I've only done frozen wood with a hydraulic, and I can't say that I've noticed any real difference in how hard the splitter works, or the way the wood comes out.)
Woah. Someone needs a decaf soy latte...
Some of us did MAN up and work a little overtime to buy our Hydraulic Splitters
For any log less than about 16" around, I find using an axe, swung at high speed, works much better, and is a lot less tiring than a maul. I bust out the maul and wedges for the big stuff, or the logs with knots.
I think the 2 best pieces of advice for hand splitting were mentioned here. Those are...
1. Don't try to split 24" long pieces. Bring your splitter to where you are cutting and do a test piece at 16". If it splits easy then try longer. The shorter it is the easier it is to split.
2. Don't try to split in the middle. Go for the sides it'll be much easier.
I got one of these 20 or so years ago, seems to work well. My buddy says it works better than his monster maul.
Use one round as your splitting platform instead of trying to split on the ground (preferably the largest round you have). That way your maul makes contact with the log at about stomach height and with the handle parallel to the ground. Depends on the wood - some of the good twisty hardwoods (Red Oak, Locust etc) are tough to split - especially on the first swing.
I aim for the center (instead of the edge) and rotate it around a couple times so the maul marks make a Y in the top of the log. When it finally splits I get 3 or 4 pieces instead of 2.
It takes some work - you will feel it in your pecs (especially if you are poorly muscled up top like me...). I'll takt it back with two hands spread apart (top / bottom of the handle) and then accellerate it over my head by bringing my hands together and driving through the log - karate is a good example - I am always trying to put the maul at least halfway through the log.
I have been toying with the idea of a hydraulic splitter but each year I end up getting out the wedges and maul. Yes I swing with a maul. The best situation I have found is cut rounds and let them sit for a year or two. They seem to blow apart pretty easily after that.
Use a round as a platform to break the others. I like to have the split round at hip height or a little lower, use roundhouse blows and watch for recoil. It helps to bend the knees, kind of like a tee shot. When I get tired I switch to the double bit axe.
I've always wondered about using the back of a maul as a sledge. What worries me is that this leaves the pointed end to bounce back at me. I always use a real sledge hammer instead. I find that it's better to have the round on the ground if I'm driving a wedge in, but better to have it on my "splitting stump" (really a 24' round of some hardwood or other, 'bout 18" high) if I'm splitting w/ axe or maul ("super splitter). My last sledge, a 6-pounder, "died" of a shattered handle. I'm planning to try an 8# sledge w/ fiberlass handle ... but not 'till my back is better (back injury was from lifting oversize rounds, not splitting).
At the moment, due to back injury, the only splitting I can do is with the WoodWiz, and that's mainly resplitting splits for kindling or "in-between" sizes.
I wind up renting a 20-something ton splitter for really big rounds or really nasty wood (like elm, eukie, or gum).
Update: I went out and bought a Fisker's. I've only been able to cut for about an hour with it. I had a stack of unsplittable's with the maul. It split about 3/4 of the splittable ones. Some where Y's, or had a 30 degree plus angle on the end and aren't splitable with anything but a splitter.
I like the Fiskar's. I could see using the maul on some, the Fiskar's on other. They're defintely different tools, each with it's own appropriate use.
If you don't mind spending $80 on an axe - try the chopper. It's good bang for the pound and not too many people have one (novelty value).