How to Split Wood? Learn More Here
Woods with large diameters are less useful as they aren't convenient to carry. Even if you are to burn cut firewood, it won't get fitted on a wood stove properly, let alone doing other stuff with it. Knowing how to split wood will make the job easier.
Even a person with skinny arms will find cutting wood easy by following the proper technique. He will do the job more efficiently and quickly.
Now, let’s get the tactics of cutting wood.
Table of Contents
- Now learn how to split wood - three tactics of splitting hardwood & firewood
- Required accessories:
- Method Number 1:
- Method Number 2:
- Method Number 3:
- Final Words:
Now learn how to split wood - three tactics of splitting hardwood & firewood
1. One heavy maul or axe (prefer a good one)
2. One chainsaw (or any other means-of-cutting your logs)
Method Number 1:
1: Use of maul or splitting wedges
A maul is thicker, basically wedge-shaped, used for splitting wood along the grain. The blade back is a blunt sledgehammer, usually put on weight more than an axe. Those extra pounds on the maul makes the splitting easier.
Axes are for chopping, not splitting. So, I’d prefer splitting wedges or a maul for the splitting job.
Splitting wedges are of metal wedges for driving through the hardwood with a sledgehammer. While splitting with the wedge, you can keep the wedge along the wood grain & go it till split.
No doubt that you have to cut in length before splitting. Splitting is more comfortable with a short log. It would help if you determined the size convenient to carry, store, and work application. The small fireplaces & the wood stoves need wood of 16-20 inches that is 40-50 cm.
Try to make the wood ends flat & square, as you will make them stand on it while splitting.
3: Setting-up a chopping-block
Choose the large surface area of the tree’s trunk for splitting as it will accelerate your swinging and reducing the back strain. A wood exterior about 6″ off the soil level is reliable for separating.
Beware of the block height. It shouldn’t be too short or too high.
Choose block, neither concrete nor the ground, as it will be tiresome to lift the heavy object too high from the bottom.
4: Ensuring a safe location
Choose a weed or debris-free zone to work.
Wood dividing jobs are efficient on cold-days for aged woods. The wood pieces divide right apart on those days with real tactics
5: Exact protective gear
Prepare yourself with solid boots (preferable steel-toe), safety glasses, and quality gloves to save the hands from splinters. At least have one companion who can aid at times of an accident.
Method Number 2:
Using a maul for wood splitting:
1: Placing log on chopping-block
Place the trunk on the block in a stable position right at the center.
Swinging maul on an unstable block his deadly act. The wood can fly off at a dangerous projectile motion, or a sudden blow can take your leg.
2: Pre-examining of wood before dividing
Notice the hairline cracks on the log’s surface. Run the maul in a similar direction to the gaps.
Woods have different splitting ways. Like Oak splits through the center, Maple split towards the edges of the grain-end easily.
Look out for the giant knots where removal of limb took place while cutting. Avoid the knots.
Choose your splitting location and put the maul resting at this point, setting feet at the square. Tap an indentation into the hardwood for a visual cue for maul guiding.
4: Moving the maul in up-&-down motion
No need to swing the maul or put the maul end behind the head while splitting. Cradle your maul with the dominant hand while holding the handle by non-writing hand at the end. Put the dominant hand right below the maul head. Extend the arms straightly, flex the knees, and lift the maul head above your head.
Don’t swing the maul wildly
Splitting needs exact tactics more than strength
Slide the dominant hand down close to the other, gripping the handle end, then flick the wrists after bringing a hand down, letting the earth gravity accomplish the job.
5: Pulling the axe up from log while you fail to split at first swing
Apply pulling and hard twisting for getting the axe back if the stuck depth is significant. Move the axe bit up-&-down for working out of the hardwood.
An alternative way is to treat the stuck maul as a wedge for splitting, hitting the blunt maul end with a sledgehammer. It’s better to profit from the failure instead of losing energy on it.
6: Repetition of swing till the wood divides
Repeat striking on the first crack or in the length direction any damage appeared due to your first hit.
Split the woodblock into smaller to your desired size. The process is to half the blocks and again half the halved blocks. Continue the process until the pieces are 6″ to 8″ 15cm to 20cm at its broadest cross-section.
Air will season the split woods if you stack them. Seasoning works fantastically for woods before burning. Cover the stacked wood to prevent getting wet from the rain; otherwise, the timbers will rot. Ensure the covering in such a manner that doesn’t block the air circulation.
Method Number 3:
Use Wedges for wood splitting:
1: Having several wedges
Wedges are pretty useful for extensive diameter woods or knotty spots of woods as it can drive deep even without splitting. It would be wise to have some backup wedges.
Want to split with wedges? Make a combo impact of sharp starter & blunt wider wedge on the wood. The sharp one will bite the hardwood and create a space to start. The blunt one will continue the later job of splitting through opening.
2: Tapping the wedges to the grain using a sledgehammer
Depending on log size, a short-handled sledgehammer would be fine. Made the wedge work like a giant nail and tap in through the wood with the sledgehammer till it stands itself.
3: Hammering with sledgehammer
Apply straight-solid blows upon the wedge with the hammer to go into the log along with wood grain till splitting occurs. If the attempt fails, repeat it with other wedges along the similar crack but put it closer to the edge. This way, the damage will get longer and eventually, splitting will occur.
Beware of your stance to avoid popping of wedge at your feet. Stand perpendicularly to the wedge and splitting log while hammering.
4: Ending the job
Use a maul or an axe for splitting remaining connected wood-fibre into smaller-manageable pieces. A wedge isn’t for separating smaller wood sections.
1. Always have the gloves, safety glasses, & wear boots while splitting the wood.
2. Some woodworkers claim that it’s easier to split wood from the lower end to the wood’s top.
3. If the wood is for cooking, then split more into smaller sticks to catch fire easily.
4. A lighter-maul will swing faster, and the feature is more crucial than mass when it comes to splitting woods.
5. Don’t get too exhausted. It’s always the one-last-piece to chop that may get you injured.
6. Get two tires on your chopping-block and put the log inside it so that the tires could hold the pieces for your next chopping blow.
7. As your axe tends to swing towards yourself, it’s dangerous to miss it. While riding, the axe can twist the wrists & can get slip out of the hands.
8. One could also break the axe-handle due to carelessness and harm yourself if one goes past the front edge.
9. Beginners casually break the handles while hitting it to the woods. A massive and all-metal-splitting maul will solve the problem.
10. Some woods have anti-splitting strength like winged elm, pecan, and sweet gum. The process of cutting them is a bit different. Keep their lengths no longer than your firebox’s size and keep them un-spilt.
11. Sometimes hitting the front edge cut face of log gives a better chance of swinging & dividing extensive woods, leaving the whole log splitting.
12. In case the axe-head gets stuck with the wood, don’t lift them over the head if wood and block are against each other. The stuck piece might fall from the axe-head causing severe damage or even death.
13. Some woods split without difficulties when it’s out of moisture. Whereas, some other woods split when they are green or have enough water like black Birch, Beech, and Black Oak from the foothills of California. They should be cut right after falling for better results.
14. The forward force will take your swing a little ahead from the target point, so aim a little back from the target center.
15. It’s common for humans to apply side-to-side force on an axe-handle if it gets stuck with wood but avoids it. This movement will weaken the head-handle joint. Try rock the axe up-&-down motion of the blade.
16. A sledgehammer is useful for driving the maul through a wood plank but don’t apply that for an axe. The hammer will lose the handle. Axe and maul have a different head-handle connection.
Don’t be alone during the job. Be with someone or have any phone nearby for calling during an issue.
Avoid having any by-standers in front or behind you within some distance. If the shaft slip out of the hands or the axe head comes off, the consequences will be deadly.
Have a proper stance and split wood carefully so that the axe won’t target your foot/leg if it misses the wood’s target. Lower your body while lowering the axe as it will create a downward force; if the target misses, the hitting target would be the chopping block instead of your shin.
“How to split wood”- isn’t something too hard but can have deadly consequences due to a lack of technique and skill. As a worker, you can pick any of the tactics. As a newbie, have a guardian or companion along with you for upcoming difficulties.