Posted by Gooserider:
Those who came to the Hearth Party at our house earlier this summer may remember that Web brought along a splitting tool that he had gotten a while back. Since he realized it didnt work well on Pellets
LOL he left it with me. I thought it would be worth posting a review on it to let folks know what I thought
This was a variant of the slide hammer style splitters, I have seen several different brands, and while this review is only of this one tool, Id expect that the others of the same general design would operate the same and give similar results.
The tool is the WoodWiz Splitter made by Easy Motion Inc. The tool is still being made, and you can order it online for $99.95 Their website is quite well done, and includes an owners page with repair instructions.
The splitter is basically a 4 length of 1/2 gas pipe with a rubber bicycle handgrip on one end and a 4lb. spring loaded steel wedge tip on the other, with a 4lb. sliding steel hammer peice in the middle. The tip has some ridges milled into it that are supposed to prevent it from bouncing out of the log, and the spring is supposed to isolate the tip from the handle. The basic operation is to place the point of the tip on the log (they reccomend using a natural crack) then, while holding the handle with one hand, pick up and drop or throw the weight down with the other until the log splits.
How does it work? I would say that I have mixed opinions about it, but have actually found it to be a tool that Im using quite often. I have split a little bit of elm with it, and a quite a bit of oak. It isnt replacing my monster maul or my sledge and wedges, but it has a useful niche.
It WILL split logs, but it is considerably slower at it, and takes more work than my monster maul. Compared to the sledge and wedge its a bit more of a tossup, but still it is not my first choice for splitting from the start. The 4lb hammer just doesnt pack enough oomph per blow, and so it takes a lot of picking it up and tossing it down to get through a log.
I also find that the tool is LOUD compared to even the sledge and wedge - it makes a loud crack noise every time the weight hits the tip which sounds louder than my sledge and wedge, not sure just why, but its borderline on needing hearing protection.
So what is it good for? I find it has a few areas that it works well at - all use particular properties of the tool to advantage.
Because the tip is placed on the log and then driven in, it is incredibly accurate, ideal for those times when wanting to split in a particular place. This is good for when the monster maul has started a split but not gone all the way through and separated the chunks. The Wood Wiz works well as a finishing tool it allows a follow up split into the exact same crack that the maul made.
If the crack goes fairly deep, the fact that the hammer is the same diameter as the tip makes it possible to hit the tip after it is buried inside the log, long after it would no longer have been possible to hit a wedge with a sledge.
When dealing with a partial split that just doesnt want to come apart, the long handle gives extra leverage to pry the split open. However you need to be careful not to apply to much force as the pipe handle WILL bend - (I know from doing it....) However the website gives repair instructions on how to replace the handle with another piece of pipe, so it would be a reasonably low cost thing to fix.
Lastly, I find the Wood Wiz to be good for those odd rounds that have angled ends, or are bent so that they dont want to stand up on the block. The Wood Wiz can be started while propping the log up any way you can, and once started the handle lets you hold the log upright while hitting it.
The tool would also be useful for those who dont feel comfortable swinging a heavy sledge or maul, or lack the strength to do so. While I feel it takes more work per split than my other tools, it is mostly because it takes more hits to make the split, but each hit is a very low effort task - its the number of reps thats tiring. I would also consider this a quite safe tool. Aside from dropping it on ones toe, about the only real risk is pinching your hand between the hammer and the tip. All the moving bits are well constrained, and Ive never seen it send a split flying the way my maul sometimes will, or have a wedge come bouncing out of the round.
Bottom line -
Is it useful? Yes.
Could I live without it? Probably
Does it make a good addition to the hand splitters arsenal? Yes
Is it worth the price? Probably not $99.95 plus shipping is more than a Monster Maul, or a Sledge and a few wedges - almost more than the total combined, but is not quite as useful. However if one were to be able to pick one up at a yard sale or other bargain opportunity it would be a good deal.