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Timleech
04-19-2008, 02:11 PM
In a recent thread about log splitters, I was admonished for using an axe to split logs & told that I must use a splitting maul.
I went out & spent $50 US on one today, 6lb weight, at a respectable specialist shop.
First impressions are that it's cr*p!! It just bounces off most of the time!
I do wonder about the angle on the edge, as supplied it's an estimated 55 or 60 degrees. I'm very tempted to grind it back a bit to give a finer entry, but no doubt that'll increase the chance of getting it stuck. Any views from those who use them regularly? As it is it might be fine for pine etc., but almost useless for hardwood.
I'll admit that now & then it'll split the logs very satisfyingly and dramatically, but most times it's a struggle to make any impression & several times I resorted to starting a split with my axe & then finishing it with the maul.

I'm definitely going to go ahead with building a hydraulic splitter ;)

Tim

lynnl
04-19-2008, 02:39 PM
What kind of wood are you splitting? That makes a big difference.

Tho I agree 55-60deg sounds pretty blunt. Too blunt, to me.

A couple of years ago I bought just a maul head at a discount/closeout store (asian made) and put a handle in it. The price was good and the handle in a maul I already had was decaying a little.
Well that new one will enter easily enough, but the sides (cheeks) are slightly concave, and I've found that shape tends to get stuck, and not burst the wood apart as well as straight sided or even slightly convex sides would do.

M_C
04-19-2008, 03:37 PM
Wood type does make a big difference.

By the sounds of it you're trying to split wood that's either still too wet, or with lots of knots.
Mauls only really work on wood that's fairly dry, and doesn't have too many knots. If the wood is wet, the maul just sticks.

Timleech
04-19-2008, 04:27 PM
What kind of wood are you splitting? That makes a big difference.



Beech.
I've got an estimated 3 or 4 tons of the stuff to deal with (no idea what that is in cords, we don't use cords in the UK). Half a very large tree fell in a recent storm. I've dealt with maybe half of it up to now.
It's noticeably harder to split after just a couple of weeks' lying around in cheeses.

Tim

bruto
04-19-2008, 04:37 PM
Make sure the edge of the maul is good and sharp, whatever its angle. Many are sold with badly ground edges and a poor transition from edge to wedge. A little regrinding might help, and it won't stick badly if you don't change the basic angle of the main wedge. If you're splitting with a maul you should also always have a sledge hammer handy too, because no matter how well you are doing, eventually you'll get it stuck, and the best way to unstick it is to finish the job rather than trying to pull it out. It's not that hard to break the handle even just yanking up on it.

I'm not so much in agreement with the "never use an axe" school. For smaller wood that splits well, a maul is overkill, and the right axe will work better. In any case, splitting with a maul is rarely what you'd call "fun," and however hard you think you're swinging it, you're probably not swinging it hard enough. There's a reason why there are dozens of patented trick splitting devices, mauls with prongs and fingers and ridges and flutes, mauls with different tapers, magic wedges, wood grenades, and probably homeopathic holistic mauls and maul mantra workshops. It's a nasty job.

edit to add: make sure you do your splitting on a block or stump, not on the ground. It makes a big difference. It's worthwhile taking time to custom cut a piece of that tree as a chopping block if need be.

M_C
04-19-2008, 05:00 PM
From memory Beech is not a nice wood to split by hand, but it's been a while since I've actually had to split any, so I may well be wrong.


I just stick to repairing log splitters now, but that's only occasionally now since we built one that actually works - 18t of real (not marketing!) force, ram extends 2' in about 4sec, and retracts in about 2 sec. Only issue is it has a habit of breaking the 20mm thick x 200mm deep knife at least once a year.

R W
04-19-2008, 06:25 PM
I'm not so much in agreement with the "never use an axe" school.

I am not either, there has been a lot of wood split with an axe over the years,
it is not a good idea to have a new or your best axe on the wood heap,an old one will do.
I take it that what you refer to as a maul I have always called a block buster.

SGW
04-19-2008, 06:28 PM
A cord of wood is a stack 4' x 4' x 8'. Depending on the type of wood and how dry it is, a cord weighs in the neighborhood of about 4,000 pounds. Some wood sellers are very adept at stacking up a 4x4x8 pile that is not very solid!

As others have said, splitting ease depends on the type of wood and other factors. I've never had occasion to split beech, so can't offer any opinion. For small stuff (and even some not-so-small stuff) an axe is okay. For larger chunks I generally used a sledgehammer and wedges. When I was seriously burning wood, I rented a hydraulic log splitter. Any way you do it, even with a log splitter, it's a lot of work.

Tony
04-19-2008, 06:36 PM
I go through alot of wood myself (fireplace) and the best money
I've ever spent was on one of these:

http://www.fiskars.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10001&langId=-1&catalogId=10101&categoryId=10277&productId=10528

don't know how to make the links shorter, sorry.

in fact, I was so impressed with the fiskars line that I replaced
my axe, hatchet, and bush axe and haven't looked back.

-Tony

tattoomike68
04-19-2008, 07:08 PM
Ok I dont want to make you pissed but do you have enough balls to run a splitting maul? its not for runts and wimps. Im not saying you are a puss but you might try to get some big boys to run the sprltting maul.. that helps lots..

brian Rupnow
04-19-2008, 07:11 PM
As a child growing up in Ontario, our house was heated with maple and oak firewood. My dad would never try to split wood when the weather was above freezing. We always kept one year ahead on our wood supply, and the wood for the next winter was always split when the weather had been below freezing for 2 or 3 weeks. This seemed to freeze the sap in the wood, and it would crystalize the wood and make it much easier splitting. We always used a dull axe for splitting, as it worked much better than a really sharp axe, which would just get stuck in the wood.---Of course, being in the U.K. (where you may not get that much below freezing weather)and having time constraints, that is probably not an option for you.---I have seen these wood splitting mauls that you are talking about, and they looked to me like Hernia and sore back time.

lynnl
04-19-2008, 07:45 PM
I totally agree about splitting it when it's frozen.
There's a lot of sweetgum around here, which tho not as good as oak, hickory, maple, etc., does make pretty good firewood when seasoned. So I get a lot of that from the roadside when people are discarding an unwanted tree from their yard.
...BUT, it is virtually impossible to split until it's at least a year or two old. When green you literally have to just chop it apart. But several years ago I discovered that when it's frozen it splits MUCH better.

For stuff like straight grained red oak or ash or maple, an ax does the job fine, with a lot less weight to heft over and over.

A lot of it too is technique. When I was a kid my mother cooked on a wood stove, til I was about 14 or 15, so I was chopping/splitting wood by the time I was 8-10 years old, and got to watch a lot of it done by very experienced people. I'm neither big nor real muscular, but I can split wood better than a bigger person who doesn't know how to swing an ax (or maul) right.

Al Messer
04-19-2008, 07:48 PM
We always used the "sharp" edge of the Maul to make a starting crack for the Wedges and finished the job with them.

mwechtal
04-19-2008, 10:49 PM
Uh, Beech is one of the worst woods to split, and it gets worse yet if it's dry. Beech is what woodcarvers mallets are made of because it doesn't split.

A friend was splitting some seasoned Beech. (It was split for his big woodstove, but he was re-splitting it for his mother's stove.) The hydraulic splitter moaned and groaned and finally with a huge pop the wood split. The pieces flew so far that he made his kid leave the area.

So, get it while it's green, or use a hydraulic splitter.

Mike

andy_b
04-19-2008, 10:50 PM
i used to use a maul and wedges, then i got lazy and bought a hydraulic splitter. here is a trick to using the maul. when you swing it, don't concentrate on the top of the log you are splitting, concentrate on the bottom of the log and the maul passing through it. i am being serious. and as others stated, make sure you have a good stump or base log to split on. don't just split on the ground.

of course, if you are splitting wood with a ton of knots, or stuff that is in between that green and seasoned state, it will be harder with a maul no matter what your technique.

andy b.

snowman
04-19-2008, 11:08 PM
I've split with both. My axe is a gransfors, and I use it for anything from splitting tiny crap for kindling to landscaping. Just put a new edge on it today in fact, my neighbor and I were removing a tree grown in to the chain link and he slipped and hit the wire. Cut the wire but dulled the edge :)

When splitting say oak, 12" diameter, I can fly through it with a maul. When splitting oak, say 6" diameter, I like a hefty axe instead. Firewood for campfire or fireplace, axe...woodstove, maul. I wouldn't even split a 6" piece for the woodstove, just toss it in and bank it, unless I was building my coal bed.

I like my splitting log to be about thigh high. More work in lifting, but less work in swinging. I don't put much umph at all into the swing, the maul does the work. If it doesn't go through in two, I grab a wedge. I do not try to force the maul through, that's how you injure yourself. Cutting wood isn't a race. I personally really enjoy splitting wood, great for anger management.

Mike Burdick
04-19-2008, 11:18 PM
Tim,

Use the worthless maul as the wedge on your new 60 ton log splitter...then it'll work!;)

Timleech
04-20-2008, 03:52 AM
Tim,

Use the worthless maul as the wedge on your new 60 ton log splitter...then it'll work!;)

Great plan :D

Tim

ecortech
04-20-2008, 03:56 AM
Over the years I have split 100's of cords of firewood about ten cords/yr sometimes more, with a maul. I have had numerous mauls, some work better than others, you will know when you have a good one it will split almost any wood near effortlessly. A poor one will bounce on some of the tougher pieces and not easily split much of anything without some serious muscle behind it. I think it is the combination of the proper weight and angle of the edge that makes all the difference. If your having trouble try a few different mauls believe me you will know when you find a good one. I have several all a little different, one is the favorite and only one that gets any use, the others take up space in the shed. They are only used to break in a new helper, when enough sweat has been extracted from your helper, they are then allowed to try the good one.

Ed

Swarf&Sparks
04-20-2008, 06:15 AM
Not sure why why want to split this?

As I recall, beech is a tight grained, top quality timber, much sought-after by cabinetmakers. Also used for wooden planes, mallets, etc.
Why not ring some of the woodworking shops in your area?
I think you're in UK, yes?

Many shops have travel mills, that will come to you, cut the timber and pay you for it.

Timleech
04-20-2008, 07:57 AM
Not sure why why want to split this?

As I recall, beech is a tight grained, top quality timber, much sought-after by cabinetmakers. Also used for wooden planes, mallets, etc.
Why not ring some of the woodworking shops in your area?
I think you're in UK, yes?

Many shops have travel mills, that will come to you, cut the timber and pay you for it.

Very little likely merchantable timber in this tree. Many branched, hollow at the base with the rot at the centre beginning to reach some of the bigger branches.
I'm keeping a few of the best cheeses in case they can be used later.

As for the smart-ar*ed comment from someone else asking whether I was big and butch enough to use a maul, yes I'm still pretty strong for my age, but my main point was that I was actually doing better with my axe than with this particular maul on this particular timber. Others here, as well as a local friend who cuts a lot of firewood, had recommended a maul for the job. Yes I am working on a block of timber, usually two to give a good height, though I might yet cut a special piece from the main trunk which I was going to abandon as 'habitat' for the wildlife or maybe use as a seat though it would need a step up to it ;). It's too big for my saw to cut readily, too knotty and hollow at the base.

Tim

Swarf&Sparks
04-20-2008, 09:02 AM
Tim, I think you may be surprised what's saleable these days, especially to turners.

I'm in WA and have seen containers of local hardwoods, in very small pieces, exported to UK.

Mcgyver
04-20-2008, 09:29 AM
Any way you do it, even with a log splitter, it's a lot of work.

isn't that the truth! the log splitter lets you do 10 or 20x as much in a day but you're just a tired. I can remember before log splitting, or at least before we had access to one, splitting with a wedge and sledge. Spend a few hours doing that then note how dog tired you are and how small the pile is. Shivering all winter starts to look good. Now I'm a city boy with a thermostat and split wood is something that comes from a truck:D

Timleech
04-20-2008, 12:12 PM
Over the years I have split 100's of cords of firewood about ten cords/yr sometimes more, with a maul. I have had numerous mauls, some work better than others, you will know when you have a good one it will split almost any wood near effortlessly. A poor one will bounce on some of the tougher pieces and not easily split much of anything without some serious muscle behind it. I think it is the combination of the proper weight and angle of the edge that makes all the difference. If your having trouble try a few different mauls believe me you will know when you find a good one. I have several all a little different, one is the favorite and only one that gets any use, the others take up space in the shed. They are only used to break in a new helper, when enough sweat has been extracted from your helper, they are then allowed to try the good one.

Ed

Not really much of an option around here to test different samples.
Suppose I took my new one back to the shop & persuaded them it was no good, which of these would you suggest in its place:-

http://shop.visatools.co.uk/log-splitters-24-c.asp.

The Fiskars seems to be twice the price here that I've seen it in the US, dearer than all of these. The Gransfors is about 70 UK pounds, around $140US.

Tim