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Silent Splitting: version 2.0

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by lumbering on, Apr 20, 2013.

  1. lumbering on

    lumbering on Feeling the Heat

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    Ok, so new attitude and approach to the (not so) silent splitting deserves a new thread.

    This is my weekend to get a lot of splitting done.
    I will be using the new Fiskars x27 as well as a few cheap big box store mauls that I picked up including a 4.5 pound, 6 pound, and 8 pound. (I love new toys).

    Inevitably I will be using the wedges for the monster sized rounds, and I did not order any of the fancy plastic sledgehammers yet.

    Here's my question. I've got an old 8 pound sledge I've been using, and it requires lots of whacks on the wedge to get the job done.

    Is it worth it to go out and purchase, say an inexpensive 16 pound sledgehammer? Will it drive the wood with fewer whacks and thus reduce the noise pollution given off for each big round that I split?

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  2. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    You got any pics of the wood you are splitting?
    Wedges & needing a 16 lb hammer, gotta be really tough wood.

    The 6 lb maul should bust it upmost everything & the 8 lb for sure.
    Might be faster, safer & easier to noodle the big tough ones ;)

    Sometimes it's not how hard you hit it, but where & how!
    Backwoods Savage and raybonz like this.
  3. Gark

    Gark Minister of Fire

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    I'd suppose that the loud metal-on-metal TINK! of hitting a wedge would be more irritating to sensitive neighbors than the softer thuk of a maul with no wedge.Can the edges of these big rounds be taken off with your fleet of mauls? Work your way splitting from the outer perimeter towards the center of the rounds?
    Joful and Woody Stover like this.
  4. mywaynow

    mywaynow Minister of Fire

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    Wrap the maul end with a few rounds of duct tape. You will need to repeat often, but that will stop the metal to metal contact. I have had to do the same with a hammer/chisel combo and it worked well.
  5. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    This may not be the best long-term plan, but because I don't own a real sledge (just a 4# mechanic's hammer) to drive my steel wedge, I've recently split a bunch of really difficult cherry by dropping a round of wood on the wedge. It's like hitting the wedge with a big wooden mallet, only the mallet has no handle -- effective, and no steel-on-steel ringing noise. Just keep your toes out of the way.
  6. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    That sounds like you have twice as many tools as you really need. I've always favored a 6 or 8 lb maul and would not like swinging a 16 pounder for sure! I also do not think it would cut down on noise. Better to stick with the lighter tools and also learn the best way to split different types of wood.
  7. lumbering on

    lumbering on Feeling the Heat

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    I do like my new toys, and the mauls were pretty cheap. But I spent most of the day swinging the 6 pounder.

    But am I doing something wrong? I have these 3 ft + diameter oak rounds (21" in length) that I had to hit like 20 times with the 8 lb maul before they would budge. It seemed easier with the wedges.

    How does everyone else split these big rounds? Wedges or mauls?
  8. Snigg

    Snigg Member

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    As stated above, start by skimming around the edge first, then move towards the middle.
    Adios Pantalones likes this.
  9. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    Can your stove take shorter lengths loaded north/south (end of the wood pointing toward the front door?) I think most oak should split reasonably well even at 21 inches long, but with the difficult pieces - such as knots, Ys, etc., a shorter length would make splitting a lot easier. I like loading my stove north south some of the time, so having some shorter pieces is convenient.
  10. red oak

    red oak Minister of Fire

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    Oak, if straight, should split pretty easily, even at 36" diameter. I've split some that big with just a maul - and I certainly don't think you need a 16lb sledge. I think you'll tire quickly and then your aim may go off - so it may not take any less swings in the long run....
    Applesister likes this.
  11. Nick Mystic

    Nick Mystic Minister of Fire

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    That 32" oak that I worked up a few weeks ago split pretty well with the 12 lb. maul I used. Most of my rounds were around 20" in length. On some I had to do the first split with a wedge and sledge hammer, but I could usually finish up the rest of the splits with just the maul. On wood that doesn't split with two or three good blows of the maul I think you use less energy switching over to a wedge and sledge. You have to swing a maul a lot harder to split a log than you have to swing a sledge hammer to hit a wedge. You do more blows with the hammer, but they don't take as much out of you.
    lumbering on likes this.
  12. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    Unless you can swing the 16lb'er at the same velocity as the 8lb'er, I doubt it. 16 lb sledge is good for getting tired, and that's about it IMO. They work good for busting concrete up, but I wouldn't want to try to split wood with one.
  13. Reckless

    Reckless Feeling the Heat

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    Remebering back to 1.0 and just a question.The splitter i just inherited is quieter than a lawn mower, why cant you use a gas splitter again? Not tryin to be an ass and sorry if I come across like one.
  14. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I've spent roughly 30 years off and on splitting by hand, most of that time with wedge and sledge, and in the last few years by maul. Here are a few random thoughts:

    1. Anything can be split with a maul, but it's not always the most efficient tool for super big stuff. You can pare in from the edge, as I had suggested in your other thread, and Gark mentions again above. It works.

    2. If you're looking to quarter real big stuff, rather than working in from the edge, the wedge and sledge are superior. But, is it really necessary? See item 3.

    3. I often find it easier (and a heck of a lot more fun) to noodle the big stuff down to a size where I can more quickly tackle it with the maul. Turn the round on its side, and lay into it with the saw. You will go thru it like a hot knife thru butter, and watch those long noodle shavings fly!

    An aside on sledge weight: Steel-on-steel collisions are elastic (Physics 101), and therefore conservation of kinetic energy applies. Assuming the wedge is "at rest" before striking, and the hammer is nearly "at rest" after striking, you have m1*v1^2 = m2*v2^2. In theory, head velocity is much more important than mass, as the velocity component is squared. Of course, there are factors not considered here, such as the assumption that you're able to swing the 8 lb. sledge faster than the 16 lb. sledge, by enough margin to overcome the 2x difference in mass. I am not convinced that assumption is valid.

    My father always split with an enormous sledge, which I have today, although I do not recall its weight. I have always split with a standard 8 lb. sledge, as my aim suffers too much with the big sledge to make it practical for nailing wedges. It does seem to me dad was more efficient with that big sledge than with a small one, though... which leads me to think that he couldn't swing a smaller one that much faster than the big one.
    lumbering on likes this.
  15. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    Agree, but we're not talking about one strike...we're talking about hundreds through the course of a splitting session. Fatigue is going to play a big factor when the reps get high, probably resulting in the 16lb'er going half as fast as the 8. I can swing a 16 about the same speed as an 8 a couple times, then I get tired, my aim goes to hell, and I have to slow down to hit where I want to hit.

    This is a good lesson in applied physics, where theory and reality collide.
    Joful likes this.
  16. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I couldn't say it better myself. Those are the words I was seeking.
  17. lumbering on

    lumbering on Feeling the Heat

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    Lots of good thoughts this morning, good stuff.

    So I split all weekend with the mauls.
    I found that on the big 3' rounds I actually split better with the 6 pound maul than the 8 pound maul, which is probably because I was generating more speed with the 6 pounder. I didn't use the Fiskars on these because they are on the ground, too heavy to lift, and I didn't want to risk dulling the blade.

    As far as why no gas or electric splitter: Two reasons. The village ordinance is quite specific about motorized tools. But more importantly I enjoy the splitting and its my new/first/only exercise program!

    As for noodling: I also don't own a chain saw, and running one would just magnify the sound problem I'm having.

    Regarding speed of the sledgehammer: Hitting a wedge is a smaller target, thus a tendency I think to slow my swing to ensure better aim. The 16 pounder has a much bigger striking area, and I thought more force if swung at slower speeds.

    But using the logic that the 6 pound maul is better for me than the 8 lb, should I try a 6 pound sledge?
    Joful likes this.
  18. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    Worth a shot. I personally do not like 6 lb mauls because I have just as good aim and velocity with an 8lb, but sounds like that's not the same for you.

    But, on the other hand, you are hitting it harder with the 6 so it may be louder which entirely defeats the purpose of using the smaller sledge.
  19. lumbering on

    lumbering on Feeling the Heat

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    Does handle length have anything to do with it? The 6 pound has a 36" handle and the 8 pound only a 34" ??
  20. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    Handle length will impact velocity. "Theoretically" you can swing a long handled tool faster than a short, but you have to be strong enough to do it.
  21. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Longer handle with the same angular velocity = more head speed.

    I find I am more effective with my 8 lb. maul than with my 13 lb. maul. I guess I should try a 6 lb., 4 lb., etc. There is almost certainly a "sweet spot," where the product of head speed * mass is maximized. Unfortunately, I'm sure that changes throughout the day, as you get tired or get a second wind, to the point where it's easier to just stick with the one you like swinging best.
  22. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    I've always liked a 10lb sledge personally. Also remember, that not all mauls (despite their look) were made for metal to metal contact with a wedge. If the maul you have wasn't meant to drive a wedge, it will take a beating pretty quickly.

    Also, why again aren't you using an electric splitter if being quiet is what you are trying to do?

    pen
  23. lumbering on

    lumbering on Feeling the Heat

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    I simply enjoy manually splitting, and the exercise it provides.

    Also, I checked a few out on you tube, the electric motor was still a bit noisy. And clips I should view instead?
  24. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    lumbering on likes this.
  25. scooby074

    scooby074 Feeling the Heat

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    Hmm.. I think in your case Lumbering, we may have to redefine "noisy" ;)

    I have a chinese electric that has a significant "hydraulic whine" when operating. Its not what Id class as "noisy", you certainly dont need earmuffs or anything, just more of an annoyance. The motor itself it silent, but its the pump making the noise.

    There are some euro manufacturers who make electrics that are considerably quieter, dare I say "silent". I do not know if they are available here because we mostly just use gas engines, but electrics are much more common in europe. Here are some videos

    I dont think you'll find much quieter than this companies electrics http://www.growi-maschinenbau.de/show.php , its considerably quieter than my chinese electric.



    Heres a larger one with conveyor. There are actually 2 splitters and a conveyor running in this vid. Very quiet!

    lumbering on likes this.

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