SPLITTING FIREWOOD

I guess I should eat a little crow. Hydraulic log splitters have been around for years and years I was pretty negative on them. I thought the expense of purchasing one was a waste of money. Just another machine around for maintenance and repair. On top of the cost of the gadget I felt using one to split the cord wood for winter would slow down the process. The hydraulic ram moves slowly compared to a blow with a splitting maul and you have to wait as long for it to return to position before splitting the next piece.

After a winter in the toboggan shop it is wonderful to spend time outdoors in the warm Springtime. One of the pleasantries of making firewood in Spring is listening to the chorus of singing frogs and the songs on the returning birds. Why would anyone want to have a blasted motor running while splitting firewood? I had no attraction to a mechanical log splitter.

Well this has all changed the past few years. For one thing, that young back of mine and physical soundness is passing. Swinging a splitting maul was effortless almost. Now it feels risky with shoulder issues. I think back in my prime I could split a cord of wood in less time than it takes with a hydraulic splitter but I was working a lot harder and at a much faster pace than today.

A hydrolic wood-splitter, beside a stack of freshly cut wood.

 What I’ve learned about using a power splitter is there is much less bending and wood handling. With the axe you set a block of wood on the splitting block and with one swing …hopefully…you split it in half. Now you have two pieces from the same block lying on the ground that you have to pick up one at a time and split again to make 4 pieces of split wood out of one block. With larger trees it may require 8 or more blows to get the firewood pieces down to stove wood size…a lot of picking up pieces to set on the splitting block… and every so often there is the block that has bad grain from limbs that will take numerous blows to finally split.

With the hydraulic splitter you set one block on the splitter once. If you're splitting to 4 pieces you first split it in half, then rotate the block 90 degrees, and then split both pieces in half again at the same time…toss them in the wheelbarrow and you’re done. Also the head of the mechanical splitter is fashioned so that on most logs you only need to run the ram into the block a little ways to pop it in half. Thus, a short forward stroke and a short return stroke. I’ve routinely split larger blocks of firewood into 9 pieces without removing the log from the splitter table/platform. Using a mechanical splitter eliminates a lot of bending and picking up pieces for splitting a second or third or fourth time. And I haven’t ran into a log yet that it wouldn’t split…no more wasted blows with the maul.

Oh, and in regards to my noise concern, this splitter has a 6.5 hp Honda motor on it that runs at perhaps half throttle or less when I’m splitting…it’s a quiet running motor and I can still hear the frogs! It is similar to making wooden toboggans, the craft continues but electric tools helps automate some of the manual and less skilled aspects of the project.

I’m afraid now-a days I really don’t have much use for my splitting maul…

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