You might not always be in a location that is practical for using a gas- or electric-powered log splitter. A remote cabin or campsite comes to mind. Or, you might be up for an upper body workout. If so, splitting wood by hand is the way to go.
Follow these splitting techniques from the experts at DR Power and you’ll get a good workout while stocking up wood for the campfire or fireplace.
Dr Power Equipment offers a full line of high-quality log splitters, as well as products to support work in your woodlot. When purchasing a log splitter, to help make the best buying decision, get your free buyer’s guide here.
#1: The tools
The most common tools are the single-blade splitting axe, a middle size sledgehammer, an 8-pound splitting maul and a pair of 3- to 5-pound steel wedges. At the minimum you’ll need the wedges and the splitting maul. The latter can pull double duty as a splitter and driving tool for the wedges. You’ll also need a pair of safety glasses. Wearing hiking boots or work boots is another plus for safety.
#2: The technique
Brute force is not required to split even the biggest logs. The goal is to size up each log and place a smooth forceful hit on the target. You’ll need a chopping block that is wide enough to place a log at a perpendicular angle. Stand the log on one end. Step back far enough so that both arms extend fully outward. Make sure the splitting maul touches the top of the log. Stand with both feet squarely apart. Raise the tool over the head and forcefully swing downward to split the log. You might be more comfortable swinging the tool back over the shoulder. Just be sure to strike the log with the handle at a 90-degree angle to the standing log.
#3: Check it out
Instead of power chopping like a lumberjack it’s best to take a close look at the log before making the chop. Look for small cracks or “checks” that radiate from the center of the log. Find a check and direct your chop to the log at the near side instead of down the middle. Doing so reduces the odds of getting the maul stuck. The odds are good the log will split on the first chop.
#4: The tough stuff
Use the wedges for halving or cutting down to manageable size a log too thick for the splitting maul. Using the sharp edge of the maul, slice sections off the outside all the way around the log. The center should be small enough to split open. Conquer knots by splitting at right angles to the maul-stopping sections.
#5: Safety first
Work safely. Never chop pieces lying between your legs. Don’t overdo it. Know your limits. It’s not a bad idea to do sit-ups or stretching exercises to tone the muscles and avoid back strains. Always wear safety glasses. One flying wood chip can do irreparable damage to the eyes.