How to split big rounds

neverbilly

Member
Dec 27, 2015
120
Louisiana, USA
Splitting 30"+ DBH oak rounds by hand. This is water oak, I think it's a type of red oak. I have two Fiskars, one is an Isocore maul type and the other is x27. This wood is so heavy for me, I need to quarter the big rounds to even move them to my nearby splitter. When I split the rounds with the Fiskars, the pieces are still stuck together with strings and sections of wood, and the bark. It's a lot of work to get these quarters separated. I have health issues and can't mandhandle these rounds like I could when I was young. Is there any technique you have found to get them separated easier? I keep whacking them with the maul after each split is achieved but each swing takes its toll on me, lol. I haven't figured out a way to do it better, if there is one except that I recall seeing someone had made a tool... it was all steel, a steel handle and then a 'blade' at the bottom that was sharpened on bottom and the blade was real heavy duty, pretty thick, and you could punch down through the stringy wood strands. That would work if I had one. I wonder if anyone sells anything like that. Might also be some technique I don't know.
 

Jags

Moderate Moderator
Staff member
Aug 2, 2006
18,149
Northern IL
Use your chainsaw to noodle them into manageable sizes. By far the easiest way I have found.
 

Corey

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2005
2,484
Midwest
Possibly your Fiskars are broken? To hear others talk, simply dropping the head under gravity should split the log - in four quarters - with one shot! ;)

Any chance you could bolt a small winch on or near the splitter, snag the rounds and just drag them in? I'd think a 900-1000 pound winch could easily handle the rounds and you can find those for $25-$30.

Another possibility might be a cant hook - or two - and just roll the rounds over to the splitter, depending on how 'round' the 'rounds' are. The hook would at least give you a big mechanical advantage.

The last option, quartering is probably the absolute worst way to go about splitting. You have to split across the grain on every single shot. If you can cleave slabs of wood off the outer circumference of the wood, you can work parallel to the grain which often helps ease the splitting. Might be much easier to cleave some large slabs off the outside to get down to a manageable 'core' of the wood. Also, be aware and work with any natural cracks opening up in the wood. There is no law requiring perfect quarters.
 

Lakeside

Minister of Fire
Feb 6, 2009
536
Mike's World
I have had some good results with Fiskers and the strap tied around the diameter. I use a shingle method start on the outside working in.
Also like other have said -- chainsaw noddle helps a lot too.. Note splitting a lot by hand can cause carpal tunnel. Be Safe

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andym

Member
Feb 6, 2020
156
Hicksville, Ohio
If you are in a (very) rural area you could drill a hole in the end grain of each round, place a 1/2 pound of Tannerite (or TNT) in the hole, back up a ways, and ........have a blast!
I've never tried it, but it should work! Oh, yeah, make sure to post the video on YouTube. You know it didn't happen unless it's on YouTube, right?
 
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Alpine1

Feeling the Heat
Apr 27, 2017
355
Eastern Alps, Italy
Do not hit the rounds in the center, hit the border instead. Always worked for me.
 

lsucet

Minister of Fire
May 14, 2015
1,631
San Ysidro, New Mexico
I will go with the above idea of using the chainsaw. I get some cottonwood also sometimes with those diameter and way bigger than that, fresh cut and too moist plus with knots and twist it the only way to go is to cut them with the chainsaw. I like the curly shaving coming out of it. I use the shaving for the horses bedding after drying it.
 

blades

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2008
3,520
WI, Leroy
Do not use oak shavings for animal bedding. I forget why.
 

JimBear

Feeling the Heat
Dec 15, 2017
485
Iowa
If you are in a (very) rural area you could drill a hole in the end grain of each round, place a 1/2 pound of Tannerite (or TNT) in the hole, back up a ways, and ........have a blast!
I've never tried it, but it should work! Oh, yeah, make sure to post the video on YouTube. You know it didn't happen unless it's on YouTube, right?
I like the way you think but sounds more like a good way to make kindling that stove size splits.
 
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Roundgunner

Feeling the Heat
Nov 26, 2013
333
Rural CT
I go with the chainsaw. I work them mostly by myself and at 62 I don't want to bust anything but the wood. I'm not sure but I think some of these are +600 pounders. I'm also wrestling them into a splitter. I'm also trying to buck them at 24" They are a pain in the butt.
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Roundgunner

Feeling the Heat
Nov 26, 2013
333
Rural CT
Yeah, free. It's not as bad as it looks, I have a dump body and a Kubota.
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Lakeside

Minister of Fire
Feb 6, 2009
536
Mike's World
Well when you got the right tools as you do -- the numbers add up to lots of heat.. Say warm -- almost make one wish for a real winter. Well done.

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hobbyheater

Minister of Fire
Nov 14, 2011
1,139
Way back when in my teenage years when splitting by hand would always have a supply of 3 to 5 inch maple rounds made into wedges when green then seasoned ,would start the split with the metal wedge and finish it with the wooden wedge.
 

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Over the past two months, I've been scrounging and finding lots of free wood on Craigslist. Problem is, by the time I can get to the wood, all of the smaller pieces are gone and mostly the larger butts and oversized pieces are left. I usually take a wedge and maul with me and try to split them manually into manageable size pieces. I had some 30" maple rounds that no matter where I put the wedge, would just reject the wedge after a few licks-extremely spongy wood. I cut a few pieces with my saw until it would split (noodle is the term mentioned above-new to me). I also found a house who had cut down a large ash tree with rather large rounds. The owner of the house helped me load the pieces in my truck, but once I got home, I had to get them unloaded by myself which was a real chore-not to mention getting them to the splitter. The ash I split was just like the OP mentions-extremely stringy and didn't want to come apart. I used a maul to separate most pieces.

I have found no easy way to deal with the stringy wood splitting other than finishing up the split with an ax or maul. I try to get as much oak as I can and rarely have the stringy issue with that. White oak is sometimes a little tougher, but nothing like maple or ash. In my younger years, a long time friend and old timer who I used to cut wood with would always tell me when splitting "take em apart like they were put together". He basically looked at the grain and adjusted accordingly and always looked for the mini splits in the cross pieces and split them along those lines. He always worked a log down doing the easiest areas first and saving the knots and crooked grain to the last.
 

gggvan

Member
Dec 6, 2012
68
I'm with anyone saying work the outsides off first. Works very well for me.
These rounds i have only work so far around the edges. About 4" in, I get dead blows, which is not healthy on the arms/shoulders. The maul may be heavier, but its a safer workout.
 
Feb 2, 2020
128
Madison, WI
I'm in the group of people who use the wedge and sledge method to break the wood down to manageable sizes. I've had to deal with rounds over 40" around thanks to the unpredictable nature of what the tree guys will drop at my house. If the wedge can't get it apart, I assume I'm dealing with knotty/twisted grained stuff so the saw comes out to get it apart. Basically anything to make it easier to haul over to the splitter!

Also have a question about the blue/black coloring in the middle of the rounds as seen in Roundgunners photos (post #14). I have many large bur oak rounds I'm currently splitting that have that same color in the middle. My metal detecting wand isn't going off so I'm thinking it's not discoloration from metal in the wood. Anyone know what it might be?
 
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Roundgunner

Feeling the Heat
Nov 26, 2013
333
Rural CT
I found some metal in this but not by the discoloration.

It was really bad in spots and I cut thru, the chips were all gray. Wierd.