Six years ago, my wife and I slipped the surly bonds of suburbia and sought refuge in significantly less densely populated components. We settled in a log house in the woods. The northern woods in winter are wonderful but cold. Maintaining warm led to a discovery: propane is pricey. So in the interest of fiscal duty, we henceforth heated our house by the sweat of my brow.
The particulars of felling trees, limbing, bucking logs, and hauling billets belong to a tale for a further day. My story now issues splitting wood: the experiences of a smooth-handed greenhorn minimizing billets of wood into pieces that will stack and dry effectively and then be conveniently handled as they are fed into a wood stove.
I started my wood splitting journey with the heritage of my fathers: two axes, a single inherited from my father, and a single inherited from my father-in-law. The planes of my father’s axe are concave, tapering gently up to the eye exactly where the head of the axe surrounds the manage. The planes of my father-in law’s axe have a tendency toward the convex, curving far more promptly outward toward its maximum width as it sweeps up toward the eye. These qualities make my dad’s axe a felling axe, and my father-in-law’s axe a splitting axe.
The felling axe cuts deeply but spreads small. This tends to make it great for cutting across the grain of the wood. The splitting axe widens the cleft abruptly, ahead of the power of the blow can be dissipated by the friction of penetration. This tends to make it great for forcing the billet apart as it explosively creates a cleft parallel with the grain of the wood.
Despite the fact that it is old, my father-in-law’s axe is a finely crafted and very helpful tool. I have subsequently employed several unique splitting tools, but I was blessed to commence my wood splitting journey with a single of the ideal.
Lots of a fine splitting tool may perhaps be located at a garage sale or thrift shop, overlooked by most and sold for a fraction of the expense of a newer tool. Old tools are usually amongst the ideal, goods of an age when wood splitting was a matter of significance and widespread knowledge.
Wood and Fiberglass Handles
Like several other tasks, there are a host of incorrect strategies to split wood. Lots of of these incorrect strategies involve hitting the billet of wood with the manage rather than the head of the axe. As a outcome, inexperienced customers can be pretty tough on axe handles. Following I had broken two rather good wooden handles in fairly speedy succession, I decided it could be worth although to give a fiberglass manage a attempt.
The union of my father-in-law’s axe head and a fiberglass manage is a satisfied a single. They are nevertheless functioning harmoniously collectively several years just after initial becoming joined. I think this is partly due to the superior strength of fiberglass as compared to wood. I also flatter myself that higher knowledge has created me significantly less of a hazard to the manage than I was previously.
Primarily based on this initial achievement, I subsequently united fiberglass handles with splitting maul heads. These unions have been not as satisfied. The heavier heads placed higher strain on the epoxy that joined the heads to the handles. These stresses steadily cracked the epoxy, resulting in repeated separations and eventual divorces.
These at times spectacular separations emphasized a further vital lesson of wood splitting: be conscious of what you are splitting toward. A lost axe head may perhaps split some thing you do not intend to split. This difficulty was partly accountable for the establishment of the cities of refuge in ancient Israel. As we are told in Deuteronomy 19:five, “As when a man goeth into the wood with his neighbour to hew wood, and his hand fetcheth a stroke with the axe to reduce down the tree, and the head slippeth from the helve, and lighteth upon his neighbour, that he die he shall flee unto a single of these cities, and live”.
When a smooth-handed greenhorn splits wood, he promptly becomes interested in the query of gloves: which ones deliver the ideal protection, are the most comfy, put on the longest, and expense the least. Gloves are a very private topic matter that excites strongly held opinions. It is as a result with some trepidation that I assert that some synthetic components hold up to the stresses of splitting much better than genuine leather. I suspect that there may perhaps be some dispute on this point. I purchased my existing favored gloves just after they have been placed on clearance at a regional hardware shop. I am hoping to come across a appropriate replacement ahead of the complete provide that I secured by way of that clearance sale wears out.
What you have beneath a billet of wood although you split it is nearly as vital as what you are splitting it with. An particularly firm surface that will not harm the edge of the tool is vitally vital.
By satisfied coincidence, I required to fell a 100 foot tough maple tree suitable in the location exactly where I preferred to concentrate my wood splitting efforts (the tree was shading our garden). The deeply rooted stump gives a completely strong base for my splitting. Given that the billets I split typical about 16 inches in length, I reduce the stump level at about 20 inches above the ground. This areas the tops of the billets at a hassle-free height for splitting.
I located early on that I could expend a good deal of power choosing up split pieces of wood off the ground. Splitting inside an old tire placed on major of the stump commonly keeps the split pieces inside the tire. This is a far more hassle-free place for collecting them and putting them into a wheel barrow for transport to the wood stack. The tire can also assist to assistance billets that otherwise could be unstable and tip more than.
The sidewalls are reduce away from the underside of the tire to preserve from collecting rain water. There are adequate mosquitoes in the woods with out delivering them with a prime web page for laying their eggs.
The Eight Pound Splitting Maul
Despite the fact that my father-in-law’s splitting axe is an fantastic tool, it is not heavy adequate for some of the far more complicated splits. An eight pound splitting maul can apply significantly far more force at the point of effect than a splitting axe. My eight pound maul initially came with a wooden manage. When I ultimately broke that manage, I attempted to join the head to a fiberglass manage developed for a sledge hammer. This was a single of the unhappy unions described above. Following repeated separations, that work was abandoned.
I lastly replaced the fiberglass manage with a wooden choose manage. This has been a satisfied and enduring union.
The 4 and a Half Pound Splitting Maul
Swinging an eight pound splitting maul can come to be tiring. This reality led me to obtain a 4 and a half pound splitting maul. It is an helpful intermediate tool for splits that are also complicated for a splitting axe, but which do not need the complete force of an eight pound maul. I ultimately noticed a flaw in the style of the smaller sized maul. The strain of supporting the moderately heavy head is also good for the epoxy that joins it to the fiberglass manage. The epoxy ultimately fails. Following re-gluing the manage a quantity of instances, I took benefit of the maul’s 5 year warranty to replace it.
Th epoxy on the replacement maul is now also displaying indicators of upcoming failure. When these prophecies are fulfilled, I program to replace the existing manage with a wooden choose manage.
God’s word tells us in Ecclesiastes 10:10, “If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then ought to he place to far more strength: but wisdom is lucrative to direct.” Taking great care of tools significantly increases their effectiveness. Each and every time I place my splitting tools away, I execute 3 standard upkeep tasks. Initially, I clean the head of the tool with a wire brush. This removes any excess dirt and vegetable matter that may perhaps retain moisture and as a result encourage corrosion.
Second, I take a sharpening stone and gently hone the edge of the blade about 20 strokes on every single side. This smooths away any dings or dents that may perhaps be establishing on the edge.
Lastly, I spread a thin layer of motor oil more than the head, and polish it with a rag till it is no longer visible to the eye. This gives some corrosion resistance although the tool is in storage.
The Sledge and Wedge
I also inherited some wedges and a sledge hammer from my father. This can be an helpful set of tools for particularly complicated splits, considering the fact that the wedge does not will need to be withdrawn from the cleft amongst every single stroke like the head of a splitting axe or maul demands to be withdrawn. Hence no power is wasted by removing the head or by reopening the cleft for the duration of the subsequent stroke. The procedure of employing the wedge and sledge, nevertheless, is noisy and tiring. I do not commonly will need to put on hearing protection although splitting wood, but it may perhaps be advisable to do so when employing the sledge and wedge.
I have come to the point exactly where I hardly ever invest work in a billet that is so complicated as to need the use of the sledge and wedge. I have adequate great billets to split with out wasting my time on the most complicated ones. As an alternative, I commonly just burn particularly complicated pieces in my outdoors fire pit.
(To be concluded tomorrow, in Aspect two.)