1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)

Splitting fundamentals

Post in 'The Gear' started by Wood-row Wilson, Oct 28, 2012.

  1. Wood-row Wilson

    Wood-row Wilson Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2011
    Messages:
    34
    Loc:
    SW Michigan
    Dropped by my former employer to check out his deer hanging from hi-low forks and after asking for wasted greenhouse plastic to cover my wood stacks (I was too late! ::-)) this winter, we quickly delved into wood cutting.

    He quickly asked if I had a splitter, which I don't, and proceeded to tell me about some big rounds he needed split. Big was right, but straight and quite apparently red oak.

    As I took my first look at the rounds, I knew it was a simple task--with the right strategy. As I told him it would be easy to bust them up, and with what I would later show him as my Fiskars X27 axe, he thought it to be funny. I walked back to my truck, grabbed the axe, and proceeded make him laugh as I walked up to the rounds. What made me laugh was his story of a friend that uses a 25 lb maul to consistently bust up big rounds...!!!

    The rounds were about 24-30" in diameter but very straight. I started to swing, targeting the outer 5 or so inches of the rounds, and proceeded to successfully pop off the round into slender pieces. He was quite surprised at the ease and even more so at the dissolving need to get a splitter! It was only a matter of minutes and I split 7 of the 10 rounds he had moved.

    If I had taken shots at the middle of the round like he was envisioning, I would certainly have difficulty. However, with the right approach, you can significantly reduce the need for big power tools. Not to mention, he had to LIFT those huge oak rounds into his lawn trailer to get them where they were when I had split them!

    Serves to prove that, a lot of times, it isn't the absence power tools to get the job done--but instead, the approach itself.
    zzr7ky, corey21, gmule and 2 others like this.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2009
    Messages:
    8,426
    Loc:
    So Cent ALASKA
    +1
    even when splitting with hydraulics, I look at the round & split to get the best splits.
    I can get away with a few thing that splitting by hand would be harder to do, but
    if you try to split fighting the grain, knots & defects, it's more difficult.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  3. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2006
    Messages:
    4,899
    Loc:
    Schenectady, NY
    Imagine what you could have done with a sledge and wedge!:p


    It's often much easier to take the tool to the work than vise versa...

    Matt
    albert1029 and Thistle like this.
  4. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
    Messages:
    4,027
    Loc:
    NNJ
    I occasionally rent my splitter out. When delivering I have to bite my tongue and not say what do you need this splitter for?
  5. Wildo

    Wildo Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2011
    Messages:
    323
    Loc:
    jackmanistan, maine
    a fast splittter can make you second guess splitting by hand, although I am a little bit sick and enjoy it. My mother and my aunt like to split cedar with a splitter and I find it hilarious...although I have a scary fast splitter I can almost keep up with them by hand.
  6. Larry in OK

    Larry in OK Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Messages:
    103
    Loc:
    NE Oklahoma
    I do get a sense of satisfaction splitting by hand with a good axe or maul. But, after age 50 and a few injuries unrelated to wood processing I also get a sense of being a crippled old man after too much splitting by hand. I'm very fond of my Huskee splitter
    zzr7ky, Backwoods Savage and Dune like this.
  7. Boog

    Boog Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2012
    Messages:
    592
    Loc:
    NE Ohio
    I'm about getting ready to go the splitter route myself finally. I'm 57, 6'3" and 260 lb and have been swinging that 20 lb Sotz maul for about 40 years (swinging isn't really the right term/methodology, its more like just lift it close to your body, then let it fall out and accelerate its drop ;-) I do use a smaller maul and wedges at times, especially on nice straight grained stuff. But when it comes to the really tough cross grained critters I just let the monster loose.
  8. Thistle

    Thistle Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2010
    Messages:
    4,206
    Loc:
    Central IA
    Am 49,have been splitting manually since I was 17.Am only 5'7" & around 175 lbs.Still own the 15lb Sotz maul I got as a gift in late 1980.The handle was reinforced with a stouter 'outer' handle made from a piece of 1/4" wall galvanized pipe several years ago,bringing the total weight to 20lbs on my (unfortunately) very accurate bathroom scale.Since getting the X25 in May 2011 the big maul can sit for 3-4 months at a time now,its only brought out for those toughest,largest or gnarliest rounds/stumps/crotch pieces.Its faster & much less effort to just take the big Husky to those ugly old beasts instead.Though I'm glad I still have the big monster around .Its NEVER gotten stuck in any wood,it may bounce off if its too much at first,but will NOT get stuck.I cant say that about any of my other tools ;)

    Attached Files:

    corey21 and albert1029 like this.
  9. Boog

    Boog Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2012
    Messages:
    592
    Loc:
    NE Ohio
    Like Wood-Row Wilson first said, its all about the fundamentals. Hand splitting all these years has had a nice secondary effect ..... I can always ring the bell on those games at the county fair every year. I've got teenage daughters (had my first kid when I was 40, another when I was 44) whom I've been winning stuffed animals and such for many years now. I love nothing better than to walk up to the game and watch several tough young bucks trying to impress their girlfriends by winning them something, come up short, sometimes way short. I'll walk up in front of them acting sort of tentative, my daughters (knowing from experience that I'm going to peg the thing) will start saying things like "are you sure you should try this Dad, don't hurt yourself, those big guys couldn't do it, etc." I'll just take that old monster maul swing, vision that the target is a piece of twisted old white oak or pig nut or such, and let her rip. Invariably I peg it with a resounding DING, my girls will pick out a giant toy, and we'll just casually walk away. I'm big, but at 57 I know those younger dudes are stronger than me. Its all about fudamental technique! But I won't argue the point that a smaller maul us generally more usefull than the old Sotz. But like Thistle said, it never gets stuck, just bounces off till you finally destroy what your swinging at.
    PA Fire Bug likes this.
  10. rottiman

    rottiman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2009
    Messages:
    1,102
    Loc:
    Ontario Canada
    I'm just about 63 yo, 6'2 and 280 lbs. I used to use the "good old fashioned maul". Bought my self one of those X 27's, now 80% of what I cut goes thru the 27. For the uglies, hydralic power takes care of it. The old maul.............., well it seems to be enjoying a well deserved retirement. Like my 27 so much, went out and bought his son, the X11. Awesome little splitting hatchet.
    timusp40 likes this.
  11. oldogy

    oldogy Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2012
    Messages:
    61
    Loc:
    SE TN
    Well, at 74 YO I finally decided the old body has had enough shock to the joints, splitting with the mauls. Swisher does the most of it now but I still take a swing just to prove that I still can.:)
  12. corey21

    corey21 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2010
    Messages:
    2,241
    Loc:
    Soutwest VA
    I do all my splitting by hand great workout.
  13. rottiman

    rottiman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2009
    Messages:
    1,102
    Loc:
    Ontario Canada
    Beats gym memberships all to heck.
  14. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    15,657
    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    Now tell the truth . . . with two teen-age daughters you actually visualize that target as some sketchy boy wanting to know if he can stay out later with your daughter! ;) :)
    Boog likes this.
  15. corey21

    corey21 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2010
    Messages:
    2,241
    Loc:
    Soutwest VA
    It sure does.
  16. Boog

    Boog Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2012
    Messages:
    592
    Loc:
    NE Ohio
    Well firefighterjake, no, I never visualized their boyfriends as the target in the past, but the oldest one's current "ex" will sure be a good target for next year! Thank god she finally saw the light and recently ditched him! :cool: Being a semi-delinquent, rebel rouser during the 70's myself, I try and be nonjudgemental about those things and keep my opinion of their friends to myself ...... I know there were a few parents of friends of mine back then who sure didn't want me hanging around them! ::-)

    I checked out those Fiskers X27 axes everyone has been talking about and they look pretty nice. Once I pay the bill for all the 031 AV parts I just bought I think I'm going to pick one up!
    firefighterjake likes this.
  17. bluedogz

    bluedogz Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2011
    Messages:
    1,213
    Loc:
    NE Maryland
    Don't feel bad... I do the same. 'Course, I AM more dependent on the splitter....
  18. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Messages:
    1,721
    Loc:
    Northern NH
    I dropped and split some white birch last weekend. I normally run the saw down the length of the trunk to make sure that the bark releases and doesnt trap moisture in the wood. This works well if the wood is going to sit for awhile in tree length but as I was going to split it right a way, it was a bit of extra work that I think may have turned out to be a way of saving time splitting. Generally the first split on white birch is the most difficult as the outer bark supplies a lot of compressive load on the round that resists splitting. I did some experiments and by doing the first split lined up with the small notch from the saw blade that I didnt have to put as much force into the splitting maul. It was noticible that when I split 90 degrees to the notch that it required a bit more grunt. Once I made the initial split, the wood spltis quick and rarely do I have do a second hit unless its crotch in the tree.

    The biggest birch was about 12" dia at the base, so this stuff wasnt huge, but it sure split quick. I have a sonoma pick up so it doesnt take a lot to max it out with green wood. The next time I drop a maple I am going to try the same thing but I expect it wont be as noticable.
  19. Thistle

    Thistle Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2010
    Messages:
    4,206
    Loc:
    Central IA

    I havent set foot in one since I was 16.
    rkshed likes this.
  20. timusp40

    timusp40 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2010
    Messages:
    266
    Loc:
    Lake Orion, Michigan
    Couldn't agree more with you rottiman. And by the way, turned 67 yesterday.
    Take care,
    Tim
  21. Boog

    Boog Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2012
    Messages:
    592
    Loc:
    NE Ohio
    Yes, I see that. I'm impressed, my hats off to you. Now I won't feel sorry for myself any longer when my really bad left wrist acts up. Several bad injuries to it but its still attached working to a limited degree. I had to sell all my right handed fishing reels last year and switch to left handed ones so I can handle the pole with my good right arm. Seriously, thanks for the perspective bluedogz!
  22. amateur cutter

    amateur cutter Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2010
    Messages:
    1,170
    Loc:
    West Michigan
    I don't know, couple buddy's claim there's nice lookin wimmin in tight shorts at the gym. A C
  23. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    You got me wondering, what's a "hi-low"?

    I use a splitter, my back couldn't handle splitting by hand for any length of time. Dr says many 80yr olds have less arthritis in their backs than I do. I'm about 50 years too young.
  24. rkshed

    rkshed Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2012
    Messages:
    263
    Loc:
    NH
    Same here.
    These days a good workout consists of turning a woodlot into heat for me.

Share This Page