Splitting firewood

urspiderSeptember 28, 2005

We had a tree cut down last year and saved some of the wood. I called Home Depot to see about renting a splitter. It is pricey. Check out the picture below. Do you think that a regular old axe would do the trick or are these pieces too large?

Also, in terms of seasoning the wood, once we split the wood, do the pieces have to sit outside for another year, or does the past year count?

Any advice appreciated...

Here is a link that might be useful: Logs to split

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It all depends on your physical abilities, but I would split that with a maul or wedge. It looks like it's ready to burn too.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 10:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

DH had back surgery a few years ago, so I'll be the one swinging the axe. I think I'm pretty strong but then again I've never split wood before so I guess I'll find out pretty fast!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 10:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'd use an 8lb. maul. Perhaps a local teenager could do the work for a small fee?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 3:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree with tommy. An 8# maul is probably the best way to split wood. A lot depends on the kind of wood you have. Some wood, such as maple, cherry and even oak are fairly easy to split by hand. Others, like american elm and locust, are almost impossible. Straight grained wood (no knots) is the easiest. Start with a short, small log (4" to 6" diameter) that did not have any branches to build your confidence. Don't be discouraged if you miss the log or hit the log with the maul handle. We've all done that. The ones that refuse to split are "Yule logs" in our home.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 5:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have split many a locust, elm, poplar etc. with a wedge and a 8 lb or 10 lb (I forget) sledge hammer.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2005 at 11:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Don't try to do it all at once. A few logs or a half hour at a time & they will be split in no time
It's good exercise if you don't injure your back again, so don't push it.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2005 at 12:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Just looking at the picture I would guess that the tree was a silver maple. If it is then it is not the toughest but not the easiest to split.

I would agree with using the 8 lb maul. It will work much better than an Axe.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2005 at 6:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Its hard to tell, but it looks like some of that is small enough that it doesn't need to be split. If you fire is hot enough, even the big ones will burn. Don't think you need to split it all!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2005 at 9:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree with gzec it doesnt need split. BURN IT!! He He He He.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2005 at 8:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Couple of things . . .

Many types of wood get harder to split as they age.

The longer the pieces, the harder to split. At 12-16 inches, piece of cake. If they're 24 inches, it's gonna be tough.

The rentable log splitters come in a wide range of quality. I've seen ones that work quickly, and you can split a cord in a few hours. I've also seen "safe" ones that are so darned slow that it will take you all day to split a cord.

Do not use an axe. An axe will stick in the split and be a real __itch to get out.

Split on hard ground. Best yet, bury a 20 inch long log that is big (foot across) 19 inches in the ground. Then split on top of the log.

Finally - pace yourself. Once you get going, you can go all day.

Have fun, good luck.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2005 at 10:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just got done splitting a pile of very thick Maple. It laughed at my axe, but the 8lb maul did a nice job and made easy work of it. I'm a 110 pound chick, so it didn't take as much physical ability as you might think.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 7:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The results are in!

I bought an 8lb maul at Home Depot. The salesguy's eyes couldn't conceal his surprise when I asked for the tool by name! (I didn't let him know that "maul" had been in my lexicon for a mere 72 hrs. prior to purchase)

My first few swings were tentative, to say the least. I have lots of wood chips from my failed attempts. It didn't take long to learn to look for the cracks in the wood. Some really large pieces with cracks were easier than smaller pieces without cracks. I had a mixture of cherry and maple in the wood pile. The maple was easier to split than the cherry.

I swung the maul by starting above my head and coming straight down. Not very effective... I was worried about my aim. Later on, my DH reminded me of the laws of physics and encouraged me to try the pendulum swing (down up and over). I couldn't believe what a difference it made! Another issue is the placement of my hands. I noticed that it is more effective when my hands were together at the bottom of the maul's handle, but I didn't feel comfortable doing that so I still split my hands.

The palm of my right hand is hurting from the impact. I'm going to take a few days' rest and try again on Saturday.

Thanks to all of you who gave me tips.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 8:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Another tip. Burn the cherry when you have family or friends over. It smells so good.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2005 at 10:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you rent a splitter and have a choice the vertical ones require less work. You don't need to pick the log up in order to put it on the splitter. Just roll it over and upend it. That may not sound like much when you think of it one by one but if you're doing enough for the winter & have to get the splitter back or pay more...

    Bookmark   October 8, 2005 at 2:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is a very encouraging thread to me.

We are having two ash trees and an apple tree taken down. My fiancé in his infinite wisdom decided we should cut and season the wood. BTW, that "we" is an imperial we. I thought I might be able to get my 6Â4", 17 year old son and a few of his friends to give it a whack :-P but was unsure if I wanted the aggravation.

It looks like I might be able to do this myself. If it doesnÂt work, I will go with my alternative; freecycle.org.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2005 at 9:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ash is really easy to split.

I remember taking down an ash tree once that was about 3.5 feet in diameter. We cut it in about 16" rounds, although they were more like disks.

I was able to split each disk with 2 or 3 blows from a maul.

After that, one light swing would shoot off another piece. 20 swings later, the disc was split, and 20 pieces of firewood were waiting for the stack.

Sweet memory.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2005 at 10:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Don't rent a splitter. Almost all are horizontal and require you to hoist the log up onto its fixed sled. If you're going to hoist the entire log up, you'll sweat and your back will feel it. You might as well just get an 8# maul (do NOT use an ax!), and one or two splitting wedges. Start on the end (not in the middle), and try to strike where a check (drying split) has formed. If you have trouble with the log staying on end, get an old car/truck tire (obviously off the wheel) and put the log inside. It'll hold up the log while you strike it and will continue to hold up the split pieces so you can split them further, if you need to.

One more thing ... if your muscles are sore the next day and you've more wood to split, go split just a little. It'll take the ache from your muscles.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 1:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We just got some freshly cut willow a couple weeks ago from some neighbors who said they don't burn it in their woodstove. We are thinking we will try it, since we are more optimistic as we don't have the wood stove put in yet. :-) I think we should split it now before it is really cold. Hubby says wood splits best when frozen, but I hate being out in the cold. I just read that wood splits best when just cut. So is it better to wait or do it now? We are probably getting a Hearthstone soapstone stove.


    Bookmark   November 9, 2005 at 11:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You can split it now, but you can't burn it until next year.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2005 at 12:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I use a 12lb maul.

Previous poster wrote about burying a log in the ground to split on. Good advice. I split on a ground-cut stump.

Splitting in mid-winter is easier, as the wood is frozen and pops apart.

For large logs, if you can't split it down the middle, try taking about a third off one side. Then walk around the log and take another slice off the edge.

Glad it's working out for you. A pair of gloves may help prevent blisters and sore hands.

Pace yourself and enjoy!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2005 at 12:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I grew up doing farm chores. I was the only girl in a big family. My technique was to take the maul out to the woodpile and start to split logs. My brothers and their friends would invariably have to show me "how it's done".

Even though I'm middle aged now, I was back on the farm this summer to fell and cut up a few small trees for my Mom. Sure enough, all I had to do was rev the chainsaw and my brothers and their pals showed up. (They're all married with their own homes and families... it's some kind of weird synchronocity.)

    Bookmark   November 12, 2005 at 1:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Before I met my DH I split my wood myself. Now he does most of it, and I almost miss it! I even helped him out the other day. As for aim, I found that it really does help to visualize the axe (or maul) going into the wood exactly where you want it to go, even before you swing. I know it sounds whoo-whoo, but try it! The previous posters gave some good advice, but I would add one more tool: an axe with a flared head. I just tried to find a picture of it, but couldn't find one quickly. It is much lighter than the maul and easier to swing. The flare keeps the axe from getting stuck in the wood. I find it much easier to use for the smaller pieces, though I still need the maul for the larger pieces.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2005 at 11:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'd recommend wearing safety glasses. Don't want a splinter in your eye.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2005 at 12:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I bought a woodsplitter from home depot, and it was the best thing I did about splitting wood. You have to be an artist with a double bladed axe to split the different kinds of wood. Plus if you don't know what you are doing with an axe, it could be a bad thing for your leg.

Forget the maul, and axe, and buy a woodsplitter, especially if you are going to be burning wood from now on.

Drying wood is best done by stacking outside so wind can blow thru. Moisture will drop fast to 22%, consitered dry, in about 90 days. I use this recommendation from the Cornell Extension Service, and it works perfect every time.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2005 at 10:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would add a sledge hammer to the toolkit. When I have a log that's too large or too gnarled to just swing & split with the maul, I swing hard until the maul "sticks", and then drive it in with a sledge.

I prefer this to using splitting wedges, though I confess I've never had one of those twisted-shank wedges that's supposed to be great at popping a log open as you drive it in.

There is a real pleasure in getting a tough log to finally "pop". I split a wind-thrown hard maple this fall, and the lowest sections of trunk yielded some very hard, tight-grained wood. I had to use sledge and maul to do most of those sections. The sound of the log finally yielding was a sharp, almost metallic ring. Neat!


    Bookmark   November 19, 2005 at 8:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

21 years ago, DH decided he had to move from the "estates" to an old, dilapidated farm. Supposedly we would fix it up after we got settled. Well, we've relied on the woodstove as our only source of heat for 21 years now, and it takes both of us to get all the cutting, splitting and stacking done. DH has dead aim, and can open a hole with an ax, then hit the exact same spot on the second swing to complete the split. I can't. I have 2 wedges and a maul, and make good progress that way.

Really, though, from the picture you posted, the smaller logs in the middle of the stack don't need to be split, and the only real reason to split the bigger ones is (1) to get them to light faster or (2) if your woodstove isn't big enough to maneuver a larger log onto the fire.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 22, 2005 at 12:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

URSpider got her wood split and this thread continues.
Way to go URSpider!
I'll bet that you are burning some today.
A few good points made here.
Using some type of eye protection especially when striking a metal wedge with a maul or sledge.
When splitting bigger wood, to split off pieces at the sides and work in as opposed to trying to plit it in half to begin with.
And the best tip that I was given for splitting wood with an axe or maul was to split it from the top down.
That is, strike the piece of wood to be split with the narrow end up.
Even if the wood size is very similar, with practice you can tell how it should be by the bark or knot.
The reason being that it is easier (and safer) is that the axe or maul you use to split follows the grain of the wood.
If it is upside down, then the tool has a tendancy to split off to the side. Sometimes if you strike on the edge you will get just a sliver or the wood does not split full length.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2005 at 8:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

20 years ago I purchased the super-split for about $1500 and everyone thought I was crazy and should have rented one when needed. After using it to split over 100 cords of wood their thoughts are different now. When only a few log need splitting I use the monster maul. It never get stuck in the log and only one or two hit are needed most times

    Bookmark   December 5, 2005 at 9:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Find a person like me I rent me,log splitter and tracker by the rank Good luck with a maul

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 5:07PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
freestanding gas stove flaming out- vent problem?
I have a free standing direct vented gas stove vented...
Gas fireplace- fan or no fan?
Looking at a Mendota and a Heat N Glo full view single...
Can woodstove clog a chimney in a month??
We had a Quadrafire 5100 woodburning stove insert installed...
best way to clean a brick hearth?
i have tried washing the brick, but it still looks...
Semi-detached home shared flue fireplace
Hi this is my first post to this forum so forgive me...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™