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Splitting Wood With a Pneumatic Jackhammer

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by seattlepioneer, Mar 19, 2007.

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  1. seattlepioneer

    seattlepioneer New Member

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    I've been splitting wood with a splitting maul, wedges and a ten pound sledgehammer. That's worked pretty well except when a piece of the maul the size of a .38 bullet split off and buried it 4" deep in my thigh. It's still there ---- I'm lucky it didn't hit something more sensitive.


    I have an 80 pound pneumatic jackhammer usually used for breaking up concrete streets. I'm wondering if anyone has used that kind of equipment to split wood. It applies about 40-50 horsepower or so when using 60 cubic feet of air @ 90PSI per minute.


    At present I just have a pointed gad used for breaking concrete, but something more appropriate for splitting wood could either be purchased or forged without too much trouble, I imagine.


    I suppose I should just give it a try and see what happens.



    I also have a smaller clay spade used in place of a pick for breaking up clay and dirt. That's a lot lighter and less powerful, but still probably puts out 20 HP or so. The shovel like tool on the end of that could be sharpened up for splitting wood with a little forging I would bet.



    Has anyone heard of using this kind of equipment for splitting wood?

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  2. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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    Seattle...
    Let me be the first to 'chime in' on this subject...not because I have tried to do this...but it "sounds like a wild idea man". Hopefully you won't "take to much ribbing" for the suggestion (let's all 'play nice' folks)...but I'm curious (so i'll be the first to 'chime in' supporting your idea). I imagine you will probably be trying to split 18" or better...much smaller I don't think it would be 'worthwhile'.
    Trying to "envision" the wedge...I would suggest you take a 'breaker point' tip...grind it down to a 'needle' for the first 3-4"...then weld a 'spade' (arrow tip style to 3 or 4 inches wide) then make a 'wedge' at 90 degrees to the 'spade'...even though a jackhammer has the right amount of 'force'...you gotta spread it out over some length to overcome the strength of the wood fibers.
    I can't see it being a 'feasible' splitting method for the average woodburner (not too many people have an 85lb hammer...and say an old Gardner-Denver air trailer)...and not to many people want to try to split anything bigger than 18"...if you 'build the wedge just-right'....you might be able to split "the smaller stuff" from the side...
    Let us know how you make out...
  3. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy New Member

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    Hey welcome to the forum seattle.. your a little late in the season but better late then never :)

    PM the webmaster so you can get to the industry side of the forum.

    Hearth.com mostly pertains to wood, pellet, and coal, but gas threads do come up.

    I would give the jackhammer idea the boot. Something tells me that would be dangerous.
  4. Corie

    Corie Minister of Fire

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    You could always make a cradle to hold the hammer. There are a lot of things to consider while making said cradle, but its an idea. I'm not sure how practical using a jack hammer would be, because of the noise, vibration, etc.
  5. reaperman

    reaperman Member

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    I'd say anybody who can split wood with a 80lb jackhammer, must look like Hercules. So maybe, treat yourself someday, grab a hydraulic splitter for fun, throw it over your shoulder and carry it to the woods and split wood like the rest of weeklings. Who knows, you may just like it. And, oh yea, you may want to change your screen name to "Bam Bam".
  6. pistonslap

    pistonslap Burning Hunk

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    I don't know about you guys, but I think I would rather drive a piece of metal 4" into my leg than jackhammer a 6-7 cords of wood.
  7. johnsopi

    johnsopi Minister of Fire

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    I'm going to rent a splitter from Ace hardware for 24hrs 65$
  8. TruePatriot

    TruePatriot New Member

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    I've only used a real, full-sized jackhammer once, so I have very little experience.

    I would think it might feel a little too much like work, hanging onto the hammer, through hundreds of linear feet of wood, but that might just be me.

    Having said that, if I had the equipment around, and had thought of it, I think I'd try it, at least once, just for fun.

    Because those hammers are so heavy, (and if you find it works) I would think you'd want to build some sort of a platform to stand on, (the same height as your wood is long, like 18") with a "U-shaped" opening on one side, and sheathing of some type, running from the edge where you are standing, to the ground. That way, you won't have to lift the hammer up on top of the wood each time. You could lean it against a railing on the backside of the platform. (The sheathing, which could be plywood, decking, etc... will prevent you from having to fish the wood out from under the platform).

    Why have a platform?

    Again, you won't have to lift the 90lb. hammer up above your chest height, each time, and also, the hammer won't be falling down onto your feet, as the wood "crumbles"--rather, your feet and the "business end" of the hammer will be at the same level, just like when breaking concrete. As the hammer works, the dangerous point will already be sinking below your feet, rather than onto them.

    I think the biggest problem might be getting rounds and splits stuck on onto your bit or "wedge," and getting injured trying to beat them off of your jackhammer with a sledge, maul, etc.... Of course, that may not be a problem--maybe the hammer will just plow right through all of it, without getting stuck?

    The other consideration is the fuel to power what I'm guessing is a 4 cyl. air compressor--that's got to add up. And the noise--that might be a turnoff for me, personally.

    If you find it works, you can surely have a fab shop weld some wings onto a bit, and you can sharpen them yourself with a grinder. Presumably even a replacement splitter wedge from Northern, Central Tractor etc..., could be welded onto a jackhammer bit.

    Let us know.
  9. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    If he has an air compressor sized to runa jack hammer then why not use it to power a splitter. Lets think about it .Does everbody use a sledge hammer to drive a 4penny finish nail?
    think of the fuel consumption to run the compressor then the task of dragging a 90 lb hammer then the vibrations and noise. and you tell me swinging a 6lb maul is harder?.
    I'm also willing to bet, the chisel gets stuck in the wood then you have to use your maul and wedges to get it out again. No way will a jack hammer beat a maul in splitting and no comparison to the effort involved It plain does not make sense. Can it be done possibly but is it worth the effort I doubt it
  10. restorer

    restorer New Member

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    Biggest drawback to me is the loss of energy. The recoil from the hammer would go to the operator, not the wood. One would use a lot of force to do little work. Building a bracket to hold the hammer would transfer the stress to the body of the hammer, not a design feature. Third would be the huge amount of air you consume for the work done. In your area you should be easily able to locate an air operated splitter for rent that will meet your needs and be relatively inexpensive. May even be able to locate a cheap used one for sale. Not a lot of folks have the air power to run one of them.
  11. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    If you get it to work, we're going to start calling you Leroy Airmaster.
  12. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    I still think Elks "Hydraulic" splitter is the coolest. Is that a Ford or a Case Elk? I forget.
  13. restorer

    restorer New Member

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    Nice thing about air is you don't need a closed system. You can get a great pulse expansion on the ram and an almost immediate release and retraction with a two way piston. Would be jerky, but plenty of force. A little puff or air and the pressure is zero. I'm not advocating the technology for the obvious reason, a 100+ HP Leroi isn't in most peoples budget for splitting wood. Cycle times and sustained pressure would be a problem, but would be a challenge worthy of some of our more creative members.
  14. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I don't know about a jackhammer. But 270 grain solid point .44 magnum hot loads didn't work on red oak. Fun, but not much splitting action.

    One of them did wonders for a DSL router that the guy in Bangladesh couldn't tell us how to get working though.

    "Hello. I have called to try the router to get working again."

    "No thanks. We got tired of messing with it and sat it on a fence post and shot it with a .44 magnum handgun."

    Long pause.

    "You shot the rou-ter?"

    "Yes. Have a nice day. Bye."

    Wish I'd had a jackhammer. That would have been fun too.
  15. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Probably every Hollywood-induced misconception he ever had about Americans has now been confirmed, BB.
  16. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

  17. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I really think all they have to do is cruise through the Forum one time Eric. And try to figure out why people with money to spend on three thousand dollar wood stoves actually buy them and then go out and cut, haul, split and burn firewood when they could be just turning on the gas or electric heat.

    I bet they would be as bumfuzzled by it as my dad was when he came to visit here the first time twenty years ago. "Son, I had to do that to stay warm growing up. You don't have to. Why? The house is new. Is the central heat broken? Get it fixed."
  18. kellog

    kellog New Member

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  19. Gunner

    Gunner New Member

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    That pretty damn neat kellog!

    How does it compare speed wise to a hydraulic splitter.

    Are you taking orders? and how much are they? :coolsmile:
  20. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Hey Kellog, welcome. And thanks for the great link.

    Yes, that is some nice machine work. It would be interesting to see a video of it in operation.
  21. TruePatriot

    TruePatriot New Member

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    kellog:

    Awesome splitter! As I lack your machine skills, I can only dream....

    How loud is it under load? Can you compare it to a gas/hyd. splitter for us, noise-wise, when it's "hammering"? Do you wear earmuffs?

    Because that motor is relatively small, if you had an inverter, solar panels and large battery bank, you could use sunshine to split your "stored sunshine!"

    Thanks!
  22. kellog

    kellog New Member

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    Thanks for the kind words. As far as speed goes, with the change of one sprocket and chain it can run from a 25 second total cycle to a 10 second total cycle. I like the 20 second version myself (I’m too old to keep up with that). Since it hits harder than I can with a maul and it hits 10 times a second, you don’t need very long to split the wood.

    Don't forget that Hydraulic splitters measure cycle time on stage 1 of the 2 stage pump (fastest stage) when in reality they almost always kick into stage 2 during a cycle. This one only has one speed and that is the speed period.

    As far as noise goes, it is about the same as a hydraulic splitter when it is splitting wood but dead silent when not splitting wood. Because of the difference in noise levels it seems louder when splitting. I have never measured the noise level. I always use eye and ear protection when splitting regardless of the type of splitter and you should too.

    The electrical requirements are 6 amps at 110 volts or 660 watts however when starting it is much more (likely 1200 watts or more). I run it off a 15 amp circuit with 100 ft extension cord so 1650 watts is all that I bring to it. Can’t be more than that.

    I am no electrical engineer but I would think a 2000 watt inverter would run it off a car battery but you would need a very significant amount of solar panels to keep it charged if you were to try to run it for any length of time I would imagine.

    As far as “taking orders” goes, I have had such good reaction to this machine that I am seriously thinking of marketing it. I retired 10 months ago, but I am not one to retire anyway.
  23. slowzuki

    slowzuki Feeling the Heat

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    Air powered tools are extremely inefficient and if you've ever wedged a bit into concrete say near rebar, you can imagine how fun removing the bit from a twisted old hardwood log would be.
  24. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Keep us posted Kellog. This is Yankee ingenuity at it's best.

    Out of curiosity have you tested this unit vs an electric 4 ton Ryobi?
  25. Andre B.

    Andre B. New Member

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    The more I look at it the more I like it.

    I do not like using high HP engines for applications that only need power in short pulses, much more elegant and efficient to use a smaller HP engine/motor and a temporary energy storage system, flywheels are great for this kind of thing.

    Nice compact forward reverse feed design, I imagine there is a 90° gearbox under the motor.
    The long guide plate is something that many splitters are lacking, keeps things straight while reducing the forces on the guide bearings be they brass or rollers.

    I prefer a fixed wedge design but that is a simple change.

    If i were you I would think about how much you really need that shark tooth sticking up like that. I can just see tripping and falling and having it planted in my head.
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