Manual tools only

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old school 6lb maul with curved wooden axe handle. Hands down winner for cheapest and best at the same time.
honestly the X27 is much much easier to use with the side slabbing technique, but the bigger maul is just straight up fun, even if using the flat side to hammer a wedge. I just need to watch it because my elbows end up killing me. I have the copper sleeves that help but I never remember to put them on for some reason.
I have the same Stihl maul, but only use it now when my Fiskars X27 doesn't cut it. I see it as one of the best mauls I've owned, especially for the price I paid some years ago.
I guess it depends on each persons situation, but I have a heavier maul which wears me out in a short period of time and the older you get the harder it is to use it. These days, I use my log splitter mostly, but there are times when it is much quicker and less straining to just split by hand. I have no doubt that the Fiskars & Stihl splitters are great, but I believe there are some cheaper options that generally work pretty good if you are on a budget. I bought the Husky splitting axe (under $40) and it has really worked well for me. When splitting oak, unless there is a major knot, one blow and it is split. With the lighter weight, it doesn't wear me out like a 6-8 pound maul would.
Earlier this thread mentioned safety glasses.
This is why.

The metal that came off my sledge (hitting a wedge) hit my safety glasses right in the center. I didn't see it coming so turning my head was not in the works. It would have severely injured my right eye.

Manual tools only
I’m glad you had them on! Lowes sells polarized safety glasses. I have a few pairs floating around my house and truck. It takes away the excuse not to wear them if they’re your regular sun glasses.

Taking a file or grinder to the mushrooms on the sledge and wedge will stop a lot of the pieces from flying off.
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Yes, I have polarized ("sun") and normal safety glasses.
Indeed I wear them in the car too. They're cheap.
With antifog coating too (I have ground some cinder blocks, I wear a mask then and fogged glasses are a safety issue too).

Yes,. I've quite meticulously kept my wedges in shape with cubitron grinding disks. The sledge was not mushroomed much, I thought. Turns out different metal chips sooner.
That sledge is mushroomed for sure. At the forge they always wanted no mushrooming at all. Grind it flat.
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I did (now), even slightly tapered, i.e. beyond flat.
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