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What features do I look for when purchasing a maul?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by dwsj12, Nov 13, 2008.

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  1. dwsj12

    dwsj12 New Member

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    I am looking to buy my first maul. I am new to splitting, semi-athletic, mid-30s. I can look online for a maul, but have no idea what features I want – 6 lbs or 8 lbs? Wood or fiberglass handle? Handle length? Maul head shape? Etc?

    I would appreciate any advice out there. Thanks.

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  2. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    [quote author="dwsj12" date="1226553572"]I am looking to buy my first maul. I am new to splitting, semi-athletic, mid-30s. I can look online for a maul, but have no idea what features I want – 6 lbs or 8 lbs? Wood or fiberglass handle? Handle length? Etc?

    I would appreciate any advice out there. Thanks.[/qu
    swing the biggest one you can handle The 8lb will get you through tuffer wood and the 6 is easy to swing and i like the fiberglass handles better seem to last longer because i still tend to miss
  3. Dill

    Dill Feeling the Heat

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    When they say those fiberglass handles are indestructible, they aren't that far from the truth. I got my maul wedged between a tree and my tractor tire, the handle bent almost to 90 degrees with >5500 lbs of tractor on it. I pulled the tractor off and the handle was fine. I like a sharp edge on the head and a quick taper. I have an 8lber and one of those 25 lb all steel jobs.
  4. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    Sharp , heavy , and hard !
  5. SnaykeByte

    SnaykeByte New Member

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    I would try to find one that's at least 8 HP, has a two stage pump, and has vertical capabilities.
  6. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    Decent mauls are cheap. They're so cheap that I have 4 or 5 and only paid for one. Go heft a few at Wal Mart. If it doesn't suit you, take it back. Wal Mart has an excellent return policy. They sell True Temper and Hardman at my local Wal Mart. Both are perfectly serviceable. Don't get talked into a $90 Snow & Healy or some other bullschmidt expensive euro brand.
  7. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I have an 8lb w/ fiberglass handle, which I reccomend - also look for a handle protector collar to help protect the handle if you miss - Some folks claim wood is nicer to use, but it has almost no tolerance for mis-strikes, especially an overstrike on a wedge.

    The maul will work on reasonably straight grained rounds, and the hammer side can be used with a wedge (get at least 3) on the ultra stuborn items.

    I also have a 12 lb, steel handle monster-maul clone from Northern - good for all but the gnarliest of stuff.

    Note that while I'm considerably older - (51 as of today) splitting was also a significant cause of doing in my left elbow - Per doctors orders, I no longer use either of the above to any significant degree - I've replaced them with a 30ton gas powered hydraulic maul from Harbor Freight - much easier and faster, doesn't tear up your joints.

    Gooserider
  8. RedRanger

    RedRanger New Member

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    8 lb wood is fine. that`s what I use. duct-tape the handle near the head of the maul. That way, when you miss and bounce the handle off the chopping block, no damage done.

    But then why take my advice? Been watching the red/green show for too many years= I duct tape everything :)
  9. Risser09

    Risser09 New Member

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    Using those really thick rubber bands also alleviates dents/dings in the wood. They aren't permanent and won't make the handle sticky.
  10. drdoct

    drdoct Feeling the Heat

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    I've got one of those monster maul clones from tractor supply and a 8# sledge along with a 6# wood handle maul. It all sucks. They'll all bounce off hard green wood and your heart will be pumping furiously once you swing the monster maul 20 times just to get one hard round to split. I cant afford a nice hydraulic one right now, but until then it'll be torture. I find it's easier to use the 6# maul and stick it in the wood and then sledge it through for the first split. After that the monster makes short work of getting the rest of it split into burnable pieces. Not much luck on tree crotches though. Wood is good exercise though if you're into torturing yourself.
  11. Dill

    Dill Feeling the Heat

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    If your using a wedge, I'd say don't use a maul, use a sledge hammer.
  12. ansehnlich1

    ansehnlich1 Minister of Fire

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    I've split some wood by hand in my day. My implements of destruction include:

    1. 8 pound maul with yellow fiberglass handle
    2. 6 pound maul with wood handle
    3. sledge hammer with rubber handle boot
    4. 3 wedges various sizes
    5. the "blaster", a large triangular piece of steel that was once the head end of a massive splitting maul
    6. chainsaw, any round that will not split gets a vertical cut about a third of the way into it prior to pounding away with the maul or wedge.

    Nowadays I try real hard to not pick up any of the above :)

    Rather us Ford tractor with 3 pt. hitch hydraulic splitter!
  13. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    Ames makes those True Temper axes and splitters with fiberglass handles. I love mine. I learned with an 8lb maul and eventually broke the handle (because I was missing---hey, I was learning) and then saw this thing at the store and thought I'd give it a try. I freaking love it. If you go to page 49 of their catalog: http://www.ames.com/ATT_FL07_26_50.pdf (in the file it's listed as page 24) the one I have has the handle of "B" and the head of "I". It's super light and splits great! I do have to admit that it gets stuck on occasion and I have to either swing the whole round with the splitter in it, or I keep my maul, with its half-of-a-handle, handy to whack it through.

    At first I felt like some sort of traitor using a fiberglass handle, kinda like using an aluminum bat for baseball, but the more I use it the more I like it. I love how it's forgiving on impact, resistant to weather (at least moreso than wood), and takes the occasional over-swing like a champ.

    just my 2 cents.
  14. Alan Gage

    Alan Gage Member

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    Different strokes for different folks I guess but I can't imagine the need to swing an 8 or even a 6 pound axe for most splitting. I'm 30 years old, 6'1" and weigh about 170. I've got an 8 lb sledge that I use with a wedge for really tough stuff and it's no fun at all. For splitting I use a 3 1/2 pound Gransfors Bruks Large Splitting axe and a 5 1/2 pound Gransfors maul.

    The truth is, in my experience anyway, that 90% of the wood out there splits real easy. I split about 7 cords of maple, oak, locust, walnut, ash and apple this late summer/fall and nearly all of it was with the 3 1/2 pound splitting axe. Some knotty pieces were too much for it to handle but they were far and away the exception. Most days the sledge and wedge weren't needed at all.

    I can comfortably swing a 3 1/2 pound axe for a long time, an 8lb one wears me out quick. What you lose in momentum you make up for in speed and accuracy. I'll take a wood handle any day just for the improved feel. Splitting wood by hand is work and you're going to be doing it for a long time. Find something that feels good in your hands. I think a lot of splitting wood is more about technique rather than brute force.

    See if you can find a regular 3 1/2# axe (just a regular chopping axe) that you can borrow and try splitting some wood with it. Even without the wedge factor of a splitting axe or maul I think you'll find that it does a good job splitting most wood.

    Alan
  15. fishinpa

    fishinpa Member

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    Gooserider, which one did you get, how long have you been using it and what do you think of it? IE: Would you buy the same one again, as well as you impressions of what you have?

    Spill your guts on this one please. You are welcome to PM me if you don't want to spell it all out here.
  16. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I got the 30 ton Harbor Freight - horizontal / vertical (I only use vertical), 9HP Subaru/Robin engine, 16gpm pump, 5" cylinder. I've had it a couple months, split probably about 2-3 cords more or less with it. I've written an extensive review on it in a thread over in the gear area, doing a search on "My HF 30 Ton experience" should find it. If you still have questions after reading that thread, ask me there (rather than hijack this one...)

    In short, the unit has a few bugs, most of them either easy to fix, or that can be lived with, but overall I think is an excellent value for the money. It has a neat design that can greatly reduce the space needed for storing it, I would definitely buy it again, though I'm not sure that's possible - Last time I looked on HF's website they appear to have discontinued the model that I got (#91840) and replaced it with a similar unit that has a different engine - which appears to be a no-name Chinese copy of the Subaru-Robin - same specs, and looks the same in the pictures, but I don't know if the reliability would be as good.

    I think you can still get the 20 ton version with a Subaru-Robin engine (same chassis, smaller engine, pump and cylinder) which would probably do just as well - 30 ton is a bit overkill, it will go through stuff a 20 ton won't but not much, and I haven't found anything a 20 ton wouldn't get if you played with it long enough... The 20 might also have marginally faster cycle times.

    Gooserider
  17. chad3

    chad3 Feeling the Heat

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    Use the old Monster Maul. Steel head, steel handle it is 17 pounds. If they still had these for sale, I would buy a few more just to have sitting somewhere. They still make a few of them in the same style, but not the same weight. I also built one for kindling that is about 2" wide at the back and 4" long. Welded a 2' handle on it and it will chop most I need even splits smaller. If you can get a large chunk of steel, I would be more than happy to take the measurements to make one. It works very well, again, wish I had another one, but this one won't be destroyed any time soon.
  18. sly22guy

    sly22guy New Member

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    One that has a handle at one end and a sharp heavy thing at the other:)
  19. MGC67

    MGC67 New Member

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    Tractor supply has an 8 lb. with a a guard around the head of the maul for the times that I miss, which is 3 out of 5 times. It is 30 bones though.
  20. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    features
    pointy- heavy - much splitty
    breakfast nook
    electric windows
    close to the bathroom
  21. meathead

    meathead Feeling the Heat

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    heavier the better if you can swing it. I have the old monster maul - 15 lb head and 10 lb ish handel for a total of 25lbs. Closest I can find that they still make might be this one:

    http://www.baileysonline.com/itemdetail.asp?item=15780&productid=15780&channelid=SHOPC

    If the 14lb number is for the head.

    You want to be able to let the weight of the maul do the brunt of the work if you're going to be splitting for an extended perior of time. At least an 8lb head and a good set of wedges if you'll be splitting anything green.
  22. gerry100

    gerry100 Minister of Fire

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    I used to use wood with a 6 pounder.

    Have used a 8lb with a plastic handle for 10 years now. Never felt any difference in feel between the wood and fiberglass.

    Two problems with wood-

    - One good mishit and you've got to stop everything, go to the HW store, by a handle(they used to be $7) and install.

    - Wood handles deteriorate with use and moisture etc and loosen ( dangerous).

    Spend the extra money and get a good FG handle maul ( $40 should do it). I leave mine on the ground in the wood shed and it works fine.

    Most guys( and some women) should be able to handle a 6 lb maul for splitting - With Practice

    Practice improves both your accurracy and the efficiency of your swing. What wore you out at the beginning will turn into a nice, medium intensity workout.
  23. MadTripper

    MadTripper New Member

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    I have a Chopper1 that has a fiber handle. It was free so I can't speak for price (included when I bought my property). It works great for me. It is a bit heavy but splits most items with little effort. I have a double bit axe that works great for smaller, dry stuff. When you hit a round right with my Chopper1, the splits just fly. It appears a bit gadgety but I haven't had any issues with it.

    http://www.chopperaxe.com/

    Tripper
  24. Death Blossom

    Death Blossom New Member

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    Since you're asking, I look at mauls the same way as post #13 Alan Gage; I'm going to be using it a lot, so I might as well enjoy the tool used for all the hard work.

    About 8-10 cords a year of lodgepole, tamarack, blue oak and digger pine but I'd recommend Council Tool and Gransfors Bruks for mauls.

    I'm partial to wooden handles but duct tape and butcher block oil learned here on the forums work great. As well as epoxy for the occasional loose head on the fiberglass.

    Handles for me are the longer the better.

    http://www.counciltool.com/product.asp?pg=product&item=PR60M&ID=205
    http://www.gransfors.com/htm_eng/produkter/new_prod/p_slaggyxa.html
  25. ccwhite

    ccwhite Member

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    I see someone else already mentioned it but I must second. Since I was a kid all I ever used for splitting was a Chopper 1. Never had a maul or a wood grenade or a wedge. That Chopper 1 is awesome. I still have 2 of them but they just lean in the corner as all of my splitting these days is done with my homemade 16hp splitter. But if you want the second best splitting device ever invented ( The hydraulic splitter has to come in 1st place) go with a chopper 1 http://www.chopperaxe.com/ Mine have fiberglass handles but it looks like they all come with wood handles now.
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