Woodchopping Newbie: Axe, Splitting Maul, eh??

Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 41 total)
  • Woodchopping Newbie: Axe, Splitting Maul, eh??
  • acjim
    Member

    I'm just about to get my gas fire replaced with a wood fire and I have built up a decent amount of wood to burn, but I need to get it into usable shapes and sizes. What tools should I buy?

    note: I'm a typical cyclist with pipecleaner arms so any kind of mechanical assistance will be appreciated!

    Thanks

    Aristotle
    Member

    Wood Grenade (and a sledge hammer):

    Moderate sized axe for versatility :

    (or a splitting maul for splitting only):

    Small hatchet for chopping up small bits in the living room ;):

    acjim
    Member

    So axe and grenade or axe and maul?

    The maul looks like a tool of war!

    glenp
    Member

    Splitting maul is much better than an axe for splitting firewood. It is pretty unlikely that you'll need anything else. Well, you will need a big chunky preferably knotty bit to use as a block.

    Aristotle
    Member

    The grenade(with a hammer) is for splitting logs into random bits.

    The maul pic is a good one. They're not quite as dramatic in the flesh! It's basically a wedge on a handle and you can use a hammer on the back of a maul to drive it through.

    An axe will split logs, but is a tree-felling tool that can cut across the grain if necessary, although a bow saw is probably easier for that.

    A small hatchet is handy for tidying things up and making kindling. Wacking the back with another bit of wood will split quite big pieces though.

    Sharpening an axe is one of those activities that is an antidote to a world of male face cream, male manicures and man-bags.

    Of course, nonchalantly embedding the sharp axe in the chopping block when you've finished is another 😉

    Clong
    Member

    Gransfors axes, expensive but worth it. I use a large splitting axe for splitting everything, but i use axes as part of my work and not weedy armed by anymeans. Splitting mauls are very good, but you might want to get confidence with a lighter head first.

    glenp
    Member

    Boring though it is, almost all splitting can be done with a very modest swing of the maul – just dropping the weight of the head into the right place (which you'll find in time). My dad has got nearly 80 years' experience and he hardly swings the splitter at all. The economy of experience. You can kind of accelerate the head into the wood with little bit of timing/practice.

    If you hold the handle short you can use the same tool to get down to kindling sized pieces. Very small kindling is easier with a hatchet or (better imo because it is versatile) a billhook.

    acjim
    Member

    Reckon I'll start with a medium sized axe and see how I get on. How much should I spend / any particular things to look out for in a good axe?

    (lumberjack shirt and husky arms on order)

    Premier Icon ourmaninthenorth
    Subscriber

    (better imo because it is versatile) a billhook.

    Oh yes, a tool the mere sight of which cause small children to cry and grandmothers to shut the curtains.

    Premier Icon geoffj
    Subscriber

    Splitting maul is much better than an axe for splitting firewood.

    That's the accepted theory, backed up by loads of folk, but not me. Having used both, I prefer a felling axe for splitting. I found a splitting maul unbalanced unwieldy. If you can, try both.

    glenp
    Member

    A splitter is much better, I promise. When you eventually get one you won't use the axe again. You don't need a really heavy one. An axe will get stuck pretty frequently and takes a lot more effort to go through the wood. Axe is also significantly more dangerous (although I suppose you could take that as plus!) and it is surprisingly easy to catch your toe – this is eased significantly by the reduced swing needed on a splitter and the fact that a splitter probably won't have your toe off.

    donald
    Member

    A splitting maul is all you need.

    If you need to cut any significant quantity of wood to length (across the grain) then you may need a chainsaw but that's a serious tool and should not be bought on a whim.

    glenp
    Member

    You need a pretty massive load of wood to cut up before one of these isn't good enough:

    If you can find one get a 36" blade.

    cranberry
    Member

    An important tip when using the maul:

    Don't swing the sledgehammer, miss the maul and hit yourself in the shin – it hurts!

    😥

    TooTall
    Member

    glenp speaks sense – you need logs short enough to fit the fireplace.

    Premier Icon smartay
    Subscriber

    Hi all, maul,axw and hatchet here. however as regards saw I use a prune/ pull saw for cutting down to fire size prior to splitting.

    Out of intrest how long do you leave your wood to season/dry.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    Out of intrest how long do you leave your wood to season/dry.

    Depends on how wet it is, what wood, if it is split etc etc. I found chucking some on a fire was best indication of how dry it was (or was not…)

    Wood grenade, splitting axe, hatchet and bow saw here (and chainsaw…)

    glenp
    Member

    Different wood seasons at different rates. Ash burns well even when green, and seasons really quick. Oak can take a few years. Everything seasons better once split, and is usually easier to split green anyway.

    acjim
    Member

    cheers for all your info – I reckon a trip to a decent tool shop is in order so I can try to lift these "mens" tools.

    woodsman
    Member

    Those wood grenades are pants. Get a wood splitting axe, preferabley one that is a little sharp ended – generally they are blunt by design, and bounce off most logs. BAHCO do a good range, that I'll be investing in no doubt next time.

    A splitting wedge can be useful if splitting large rounds, with knots in, but generally you won't need one.

    So, a splitting axe and a felling axe should see you good!

    mcmoonter
    Member

    http://picasaweb.google.com/mcmoonter/GlassmountWoodPiles#

    Splitting maul for me now. I broke my axe shaft after twenty years service.

    With really knotty Elm, I use the chainsaw to cut logs into stove sized chunks.

    andybach
    Member

    If you are new to firewod – do your practicing on Ash – the grain is very straight and spilts dead easy. Other woods esp Oak can be more twisted and more of a challenge. -Splitting ogs with forks and branches can take a long time and a lot of swearing – Also get yourseld a decent chopping block – I prefer about knee high – this will save a lot of bending and i think means you can be more accurate. Please wear some decent boots – if you go for big swings it will be your feet and/or knees that catch it. Also if you "miss cue" the log can shoot sideways at some speed, So dont chop logs next to a car (sorry Mum).
    Splitters vs Axes – for me the handle is the main issue – felling axes tend to have much nicer handles that "feel" comfortable, splitters tend to have pick axe type handles and are less comfortable and more jarring imho.

    timber
    Member

    Maul – have one at home and at work, work one gets used as sledge too when felling. The weight of it helps it drop through and its width forces the grain without it getting clamped, have been known to split single handed whilst on the phone with the work experience standing the logs up infront of me. Mostly at work we split with an old McConnell 6-ton bench powered by an even older tractor

    No point spending out on a fancy one, it's just a lump of metal, if you're new to it the handle will be the first thing to break regardless of what you pay – AND STAY WELL AWAY FROM THOSE BOUNCY FIBREGLASS SAFETY HANDLES!

    Cut to length with a pruning saw would be my recommendation to you and a hatchet or bill hook will do for kindling

    woffle
    Member

    Roselli hand axe here for coppicing hazel, light chopping and kindling. For proper splitting I've got a bigger felling axe with a decent handle – not sure about the name as it's an old, used buy rather than new. If I had the ££ spare I'd go for a Gransfors felling axe…

    Roselli looks like:

    CountZero
    Member

    If you're going for a small axe as well as a maul then the Granförs ones are really worth the money. They cost around £50-60ish, but if you use good sharpening stones then a literal 'shaving edge' is easily achieved, and it'll last a lifetime kept sharp and oiled. They're hand forged and beautifully made.

    sweepy
    Member

    £20 splitting maul, £7 steel hatchet and a chainsaw has kept me well supplied for 15 years.
    theres no point getting an expensive maul or hatchet for splitting logs or kindling, they wont work better or last longer but youll feel like you should look after them.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    How do you go about seasoning the wood?

    Do you basically just split it and leave it under a shelter to dry or is it more involved than that?

    sweepy
    Member

    thats best GS, tho it can be less involved than that.

    Premier Icon SaxonRider
    Subscriber

    In 30 years spent in Canada, cutting significant amounts of wood in all seasons, I never used anything but an axe and a hatchet.

    Invigourating work it was. Made us into men. Grrrr. 🙄

    Premier Icon Drac
    Subscriber

    I use a splitting maul but also use a sledge hammer and wood grenades when breaking the wood down. The wood grenades are mainly used when we are collecting the wood from a large fallen tree though, as the splitting and cuttting with the chainsaw a big tree can be gone in about a day.

    Seasoning yup in a little shelted and left, easy if already split as dries quicker.

    2hottie
    Member

    I use a Granfors small forest axe for splitting small to medium rounds of wood. However there are times I would like to have the bigger splitting maul but a saw will do for now..

    The Maul is brilliant when you get a knarly twisted lump with knots. For most other stuff it's a waste of time.

    reynard
    Member

    I've been splitting between 5 and 10 tons a year for the last 30 years. We have three woodburners in the house. Last year we had to take down one of the biggest oaks in the county due to ganaderma (fungal root attack) so I split 40 tons over a period of four months.
    Nowadays, I only use a maul. An axe can get jammed in twisted /knotty grain. That breaks up the rhythm of chopping and can be a hassle. Big long section logs require a fast flung axe in order to split, and if you're getting tired and the wood grain is twisted then the axe can skip out. An axe shaft is always weaker than a maul shaft and it can (does) break, eventually; even hickory. The maul shaft can be broken, but it has ~3 times the x sectional area, so it's a lot tougher.
    Wood grenades are a faff, more handling to insert the grenade, then pick the damn thing up afterwards, and handle the log.
    Just get a maul, lift and drop with a bit of speed.
    Safer, more efficient, and if you get your technique right easier on the back.
    3.5 kg, not the 3 kg; that extra 500 grams makes a difference.
    available through ebay
    I'd go for hickory handle, not the fibreglass coated steel shaft.
    just my experience
    happy splitting

    FunkyDunc
    Member

    Reynard,

    So unless I have miss read your post you have talked about splitting. How do you cut across the grain ie the length of the log? Can these Maul things do that?

    I want to get a chainsaw, but the wife is refusing as she says she has to sow too many arms & legs back on / amputate after professionals and DIY'rs have had a go with a chainsaw.

    Premier Icon geoffj
    Subscriber

    I want to get a chainsaw, but the wife is refusing as she says she has to sow too many arms & legs back on / amputate after professionals and DIY'rs have had a go with a chainsaw.

    I have one and hate using it. If you must, get all the safety gear and go on a course.

    Premier Icon ratadog
    Subscriber

    +1 for granfors, I like a company where the craftsman signs his work

    So unless I have miss read your post you have talked about splitting. How do you cut across the grain ie the length of the log? Can these Maul things do that?

    Maul splits with the grain i.e. lengthways. To get down to useable lengths a bowsaw as suggested by glenp. If you find yourself with a huge tree to saw up in short order find someone who has the chainsaw, the protective gear, the training etc. they are nasty things even in experienced hands.

    Salsaboys link for Granfors covers a lot of safety info in a short segment. Mr Mears strikes again.

    Granfors are great but over priced

    Try a Fiskars Super Splitting Axe

    Been splitting firewood / working in forestry for 26 years – hate 'wood grenades, never got on with them, much prefer wedges

    One great tip I came across recently was to get two tyres and wired them together, place on a splitting block and then place the wood to be split inside the tyres. This allows you to use the splitting maul without sending lumps of wood flying from one side of the yard to the other! You're never to old to learn!

    reynard
    Member

    Apologies for the late reply. Yes, I do have a few chainsaws, and I'd agree that they can be dangerous, but are very useful if used with care.
    For the volume of wood that I cut, a chainsaw is pretty well essential. I cross cut to about 18" – 24" length. For stuff over 30" diameter, or severely knotted, I usually run a starter cut with the grain, about 3" deep, which I then 'throw' the maul into. Longitudinal cutting is a little bit more awkward than cross cutting, so best left to experienced users.

    When splitting wood I usually cross cut a load of logs, then stand them up together, in a circle, so that they support each other, big diameter logs evenly throughout the bunch. Then I work my way in from the periphery, moving round the circular bunch. Stop and pick up /throw into the trailer as appropriate.

    bullheart
    Member

    This is the greatest thread I've ever read. Seriously.

Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 41 total)

The topic ‘Woodchopping Newbie: Axe, Splitting Maul, eh??’ is closed to new replies.