BEST Way to split logs

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by tamilee, Aug 13, 2005.

  1. tamilee

    tamilee Well-Known Member

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    Hi All;
    It's been a while since I posted. Been busy with clearing fallen trees. Can someone tell me the BEST way to split logs; 24" + diameter? I do not have and cannot afford a motorized log splitter. I have to do the work manually, and I have forgotten how I did this 20+ years ago when I cleared the land to build our home. It seems to be next to impossible now. I need some good tips/advice on the best way to approach this. Thanks!
    tamilee
     
  2. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

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    My husband splits these big logs manually like this. First he tries with just the ax and tries to hit a "dry crack". If that does not work he has these wedge things that he places into a tiny crack and then hits with a big maul thing till the wood splits. It is a chore but he always has a smile on his face when he "defeats" the wood!
     

  3. tamilee

    tamilee Well-Known Member

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    Hi Sisterpine;
    Thanks for the prompt reply. Does he start in the middle of the log or on an edge?
    tamilee
     
  4. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

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    he stands it on one end edge and then splits from the other. the log is already the proper length for our wood stove, it think that is 18-20 inches for us. you will have shoulders of steel!
     
  5. tamilee

    tamilee Well-Known Member

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    HI Sisterpines;
    Thanks for the advice. I'll give it a go and see if I am still up to the challenge.
    tamilee
     
  6. CurtisWilliams

    CurtisWilliams Well-Known Member

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    Start on an edge off to either side from the center. Try to hit the wood with the axe 'parallel' to the rings, to seperate the layers. If you hit the wood between you and the center of the log, you will hit it perpindicular to the rings and the axe will bounce. You want to use the layering of the wood to your advantage.
     
  7. tamilee

    tamilee Well-Known Member

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    Hi Curtis;
    Thanks for the advice.
    tamilee
     
  8. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

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    Well, you have taken on a challenge. Assuming that you were no kid 20 years ago you are up against a harder job than you once were.

    First things first:

    If you have not already bucked them into chunks, cut your billets a bit shorter than the max you can use. Short chunks split easier.

    Second, choose your wood. If you have a choice between hackberry, locust and elm, leave out the elm. Hackberry splits like glass, locust splits well and elm will lose your religion. If one type of wood is all you have, deal with it.

    Avoid crotches and knotty pieces. Save them for an outdoor bonfire or cut them up with your chain saw.

    Split from the top down. If you have a chunk upside down and hit near the edge that piece may split off and "throw" your axe or maul so that you hurt yourself.

    Use a splitting maul as large as you can handle, and get at least one wedge. Far superior to trying to split big logs with any kind of axe.

    As noted earlier, if you have a natural crack in the chunk, start there and break the block apart, then proceed. With large logs such as you have mentioned splitting slabs off the side works well, but it works even better if you can first split the block along a natural crack.

    Finally, beg, borrow, marry or rent a splitter. With that you can split in a day what you can split in a month with a maul.
    Ox
     
  9. Cheryl in SD

    Cheryl in SD Living in the Hills Supporter

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    My dh has done all of the above suggetions. One other, if you get a praticularly hard piece of wood, save it for winter. Dh waits until it is one of our below zero days, then it splits much easier. He has even started the crack and filled it with water on those day. Overnight and the freezing water will do a lot to fix a stubborn piece of wood.

    Cheryl
     
  10. tamilee

    tamilee Well-Known Member

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    Hi All;
    Thanks Oxankle. I have only one type of wood, all of the 14 trees were water oaks. They are not true hardwods but have an abundance of foul smelling "water" when they are cut. They do however season well and are suitable for burning. I was 20 the last time I split logs. DH isn't as young as he once was either. He really can't do as much as he used to. I have been lifting weights in order to be strong enough to do what needs to be done. The logs I cut, hauled and stacked last spring are beginning to have natural cracks. I had forgotten about the wedge. I'm sure it's around here somewhere, if not I'll buy one. As with most people who live this lifestyle, money is tight. The rental of a log splitter is a LAST resort. THANKS for the advice.

    Thanks Cheryl. Your husband's method is really good. We seldom get below freezing here, but if I don't/can't get the logs split and we have good hard freeze, I will use your husband's method.
    Appreciate it.

    tamilee
     
  11. woodspirit

    woodspirit Well-Known Member

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    sometimes you can rent one with other people too!
    the easiest way to split wood is to buy some beer and food and get someone else to do it.
    I believe the proper way to pronounce it is thingies. At least thats the word my wife uses for everything. I think it's an adjective, but I'm not sure. I'm the one lacking in communication skills.
     
  12. tamilee

    tamilee Well-Known Member

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    :goodjob: I like the way you think woodspirit! Thanks for making me laugh.
    tamilee
     
  13. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Ask around to see if someone with a wood splitter will do it on shares, such as for half of the split wood. You only end up with half, but they do the work for you likely short of stacking.

    If you rent a splitter, check about weekend rates. You may be able to pick it up on Friday afternoon and return it early Monday and be charged only for one day's rents. As noted above, you can do a LOT of splitting with one of these with the most effort being setting the blocks on the splitter. Any wood 24" in diameter is going to be HEAVY.
     
  14. tamilee

    tamilee Well-Known Member

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    Hi Ken;
    Thanks for the suggestion. Yup, those logs are very heavy. I have been moving them slowly from the yard. The front is clear but I still have three of the 14 that went down a year ago, in Hurricane Charley, in the back covering the garden space. We literally had to cut our way out of the house after that storm. The trees in the back were the largest. I have to roll the logs over to the woodpile one at a time.
    In the 90's most everyone around us went to natural gas or propane and got rid of their woodstoves. My brother-in-law has one but that is a 40 mile one-way drive. His is one that is attached to its own trailer and runs off of gas. Those things really do a number on my asthma.
    Anyway, thanks for the reply. I appreciate it. :)
    tamilee