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Wedge Placement to split a large round - softwood this case

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Jerry_NJ, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    I have been cutting some large White Pine trunks of trees blown down by the October Storm Sandy. I plan to split some for firewood even though I have been spoiled by hardwood on the NE coast USA.

    I have some rounds that are about 20" in diameter that I have cut to about 18" length. These are too large to split in my small electric or manual hydraulic splitters, besides these rounds are really too heavy to be tossing/moving around. I figured one approach is to split some at least in half with manual methods, maul and wedges. I have spit three and have concluded I really don't know where to place the first wedge (lets say a chisel style, not a triangular) on the face of the round. I'll guess anywhere near the center is not good as that area will just swallow the wedge with the fiber rings simply expanding to let the wedge in, double true for a triangular cone shaped wedge. So, I figure put the first wedge on a radial line from the center and about 3/4th the way toward the edge. This places the chisel line perpendicular to the growth rings.

    Is this about right, something better? I don't see any chance of making a split with a (I'll estimate 8 pound) maul.This wood has been down about 3 months but was cut into rounds only a few days ago..the temperatures in NJ have been warm, upper 40s some days, this pine is really wet and sticky.

    Any thoughts on seasoning and burning White Pine in an modern fireplace insert (wood stove)?

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  2. oldogy

    oldogy Member

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    I hate to split pine. I've found if you knock splits from around the edge of the round, you'll find that works about as well as any other method. IOW, place the flat blade of the wedge parallel to the edge of the round, a couple three inches in and have at it. Go around the round this way, decreasing the size of the round as you go. Good luck. Did I say I hate to split pine by hand.
    Backwoods Savage and ScotO like this.
  3. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    Big rounds, I do like Oldogy said, start the wedge on the edge of the round. try to get it busted once and it should go from there alot easier. Trouble with pine is all those branches.....those knots are a beeotch to bust up. I save all the pine I keep for the log splitter.....
    Backwoods Savage and oldogy like this.
  4. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Like peeling a onion? Good thing I asked, this would not have occurred to me. If the round doesn't have any branch nodes, split it the "normal" way?

    Any advice on seasoning pine, is one year enough? NJ hot and sometime humid summers.
    ScotO likes this.
  5. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    you split that small to medium (3x3 to 5x5"), get 'er split and stacked in a breezy location, and she'll be ready by next winter...
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  6. jdp1152

    jdp1152 Minister of Fire

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    I do this with most wood. You get some nice flat pieces which make filling the stove easier when you get up around burn tubes.

    Edit: Think I misread your post. Bigger rounds without knots, I'll work a circle around the round with the fiskars basically shaving it with somewhat flat pieces coming off. Reduces the tension and then I'll give it a go with the wedges or even the fiskars
  7. oldogy

    oldogy Member

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    I have found any large round busts up easier when pieces are taken off the outside edge, branches or no. And like said, next years wood if allowed to dry in the air and sun.:)
    ScotO and pen like this.
  8. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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  9. Shane N

    Shane N Feeling the Heat

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    I think there are one, maybe two, threads on the Fiskars in the gear forum...
  10. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Yep, I did a search on Fiskar, there are some long ones many pages, more that I want to read. But, seems that axe has many fans.
  11. ArsenalDon

    ArsenalDon Minister of Fire

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    Get it! IT has saved me! And almost all we have is pine out here....peel it off in 4-6 inch strips from the edge..the pieces come off flat and make it easy to stack in the stove...wife loves how easy they are to handle.
  12. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    I have an x27, and it's a fine tool. I haven't used it on pine, but I have split some 2' rounds of black locust with it. It usually takes multiple hits in a line to fracture a piece of that size.
  13. ArsenalDon

    ArsenalDon Minister of Fire

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    Well with no house.....I could see why you need all of that wood to keep you warm..:ZZZ;)
    Shane N likes this.
  14. ArsenalDon

    ArsenalDon Minister of Fire

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    If you go to split from the center it will take more hits, but if you go from the edges you will save a lot of time and engergy...never split or seen black locust cept up on the hills as we drove through PA....even then did not know what I was lookin at.
  15. tcassavaugh

    tcassavaugh Minister of Fire

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    i do like most also, start from the outside and work in....thats with most BIG rounds. sometimes, if they have no branch, ill split down the middle and i i can get it done in about three wacks....one on the far side, one on the near side and one in the middile and it pops right open. i seldom use a wedge though unless the round has some branches or knots in it, but then if it doesn't split, i use the splitter.
    i like the fiskars but i think its over rated and touted as a tool of wonder. i've had just as good luck with my maul....i have to admit though that the ax is lighter. Now, i keep it in the woodshed, right next to the chopping block and use it to split my splits again on those that might be a little too big for my little jotul or if i just want smaller splits for a smaller/faster fire.

    cass
  16. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    Agreed, I hit on the same strategy and it helped a lot. For some reason the very centers of some locust rounds were especially difficult to break up -- probably because they were laced with small branches from when the tree was young, but they also seemed stringy even where there were no knots.

    Lightness is a big part of what I like about the x27. I only weigh 160# soaking wet, and an 8# maul can feel like it's swinging me.
    Senatormofo likes this.
  17. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Well, thanks !

    I'm a senior citizen and still learning. I am not a heat-with-wood guy, more a supplement heat with wood, never more than two cords of hardwood a year. I purchase 80% (est) split and dumped in my driveway, now that's the way to get it split if you can afford it. Most of what I split is under 12" diameter and the electric splitter (new a year ago) does a great job on those. Now, with large rounds (took some learning and a new log jack to cut) some distance from the house and too heavy to cart around more than once (like stacking splits) so electric is out. Sorry if I repeat.

    Another lesson I picked up is the wedge and even the maul need to be sharp. I have never sharpened either. I get the message that is an absolute with the Fiskar given its light weight. I had decided I'd at least sharpen my wedge (have only one chisel style) and maul (which for now is being used as a sledge) my bullet/cone shaped wedge has a point, no sharpening seems to be appropriate. I'll do that first: peel from the outside in, and use a sharp wedge. I also have a manual hydraulic splitter which is painfully slow.

    From the rave reviews for the Fiskar it seem worth a try. I have learned too the long 36" handle (for some reason called the X27 I think) is a must, maybe more so for a guy my size, about 6'5". I can say (senior citizen noted) swinging the 8# maul/sledge has me breathless in a couple of rounds. That's what brought me to this forum for advice.

    Thanks too for the pine experience. I associate the NW USA with mostly conifers, but not so much pine. We have a lot of pine in central NJ, and a lot of hard wood too. The Sandy storm reduced the number of pine in my area. I have white pine, spruce and cedar and (not sure what, not pine) other evergreen that didn't lose as much as a branch, even some weak willow along a brook, small branches down. Seems there were some hot spots/strips where the wind was well into the hurricane strength, even though the storm itself was not classified a hurricane. The shore, which I have been down to look at, is a mess from the storm surge.
    oldogy likes this.
  18. jdp1152

    jdp1152 Minister of Fire

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  19. ArsenalDon

    ArsenalDon Minister of Fire

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    Yeah...you think they would have called it the X36 but you do want the X27. I was swinging an 8 lb maul before the X27. I can now go longer without fatigue and it just works better. The X27 does not get stuck in wood like the maul did.
  20. ArsenalDon

    ArsenalDon Minister of Fire

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    Pine seasons faster than hardwood. One good year should do it. Here in CA we can only take dead trees so often if the tree has been dead for a couple years I can use the wood in 3 months after splitting.
  21. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Thanks all, and "jdp..." great looking textbook, I'll study further, keep a copy on my computer.
  22. jdp1152

    jdp1152 Minister of Fire

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    Only takes a little time of bouncing a maul off a big round before I started googling. That was a very helpful site for me.
  23. jatoxico

    jatoxico Minister of Fire

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    Not really adding much to what's already been said but I just used my X25 (yes 25 :)) on some pine yesterday. They were 16" or so and I hit the edge closest to me then the far edge. If I don't get that sound, I move 90 degrees or so till I do. Then take it apart like you guys have said. BTW I find the X25 to be more than sufficient. I think that was the original ax Fiskars came up with.
  24. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Evidently you have not read my review on the Fiskars. Plain and simple; I think it is a gimmick. The reason for my feeling this way is that I have tried one and right away wondered why all the fuss about it. Not only did I try one, I tried it on one of the easiest splitting woods that there is; white ash.

    For what it is worth, up to about 20 or so years ago I did all our splitting by hand using a single bit axe. A double bitted axe. A sledge and wedges. And a splitting maul. I started with the single bitted axe when I was a little boy and used the sledge and wedges on the stuff I could not split. As I grew I started using the double bitted axe and, of course, the sledge and wedges. Some time, I think in the 70's I got our first splitting maul. Then in the 80's, after an injury I graduated to hydraulics. Point is, I've split a lot of wood over a course of 60+ years so I do know a little bit about splitting. Even though I no longer split by hand, every year it seems I do split a few logs by hand even though I should not. So one day a friend came with a brand new Fiskars. Ah ha! My chance to try one. I could not believe how poorly that thing performed. Sorry folks. Many seem to love them but I've also noticed that most are fairly new to the splitting game and just happened to find that they could indeed split some wood. My thoughts are that they could do a whole lot better for a whole lot lesser amount of dollars spent. But I don't really blame them; after all, they spent big dollars for the tool so they should like it. However, I will not give a thumbs up to it. I'd much rather use a simple single bitted axe and do just as good of a job and perhaps better. Better yet is the splitting maul if you don't get a really heavy one. 6 lb should do nicely.
  25. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Don't feel bad Jerry. I've never sharpened a wedge either. Sharpened edges are nice on an axe.

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