How to Split Logs

What-Size-Log-Splitter-For-Hard-Oak-Wood

The word log splitter brings to mind manual and electric log splitters that are readily available on the market. While it’s true that they are the best equipment to quickly and efficiently split logs, there are other procedures you can employ for wood splitting. This article with explain explain how to split logs the most efficient way possible, and meet your budget needs.

Learning how to split logs by hand is a great way to save money because the necessary tools are cheaper than machine splitters. It’s also a healthier wood splitting option because you work up a good sweat burning calories, and can even get some killer abs.

How to Split logs By Hand

The best tools to use to split wood by hand are with a splitting maul, axe, wedge and hammer.

  1. Splitting Maul

Splitting mauls are heavier than axes, and have a wider head, making it so much easier to split wood. An axe can get dangerous because it can cause accidents. They are better for cutting wood, against the wood fibres.

Mauls usually come with an eight-pound head, but there are also lighter ones which are better for smaller pieces of wood. Mauls also have longer handles than axes, usually measuring 36”. Longer handles ensure the maul is long enough to hit the ground after the strike instead of your foot.

The idea behind using mauls to split wood is to create a momentum so that the blade makes way through the wood. It is the momentum of the swing that makes the split because mauls don’t have sharp blades. The other side of the head is flat and is used for driving in a wedge.

  1. Splitting axe

Different types of axes are used for cutting, felling, splitting and shaping wood where splitting axes are designed to split wood fibres. This is unlike cutting and felling axes which cut through wood fibres to cut or fell tree trunks. This is why you should not use felling or cutting axes to split wood. You’ll only end up frustrated and lose your patience!

They are ideal to split small and dry pieces of wood. It weighs between 3 to 6 pounds and has a tapered head. While it’s sharper than the maul, it’s lighter, making it difficult to generate the required momentum to split larger and heavier wood. In other words, axes are best used only for lighter wood jobs.

  1. Wedge and hammer

A wedge and hammer together can help split wood. They are best used for difficult to split wood like knotty or thick pieces of wood, and where the maul is too cumbersome or heavy to haul around.

The wedge’s triangular shape helps start a seam along the wood by placing it along the wood grain and giving it a tap. Once it’s firmly in place, give a firm blow with the hammer and the wood nicely splits into two. However, you need some knack and coordination to do this and two people because it’s difficult getting the wedge placed perfectly.

  1. Gas powered log splitter

Splitting wood by hand is indeed a healthy and cost-effective proposition. However, it can get tiring, and take up lots of time if there’s lots of wood. This is why an electrical or gas powered log splitter is better if there’s lots of work to do.

It will help you split all the wood within a day, which you would need a few days to achieve by hand. They are however expensive, and worth the investment only if you have lots of work to do. It’s otherwise better renting one for a day or two to get all your work done. For more information about Gas powered Log splitters, click here.

Some Useful Tips on How to Split Logs

There’s no steadfast rule because wood splitting requires practice, and each person develops a technique that works best for them. While you have to find the best technique for yourself these tips should help you with your quest.

  • Large pieces of wood

It is better to use a maul to split wood larger than 7 to 8 inches. A wedge is better in case of wood larger than 9 or 10 inches. Placing the wedge where there’s a hairline crack increases the crack size and successfully splits wood on the first try.

  • Small pieces of wood

While it’s satisfying splitting a small piece of wood with an axe, it needs practice because there is the risk of the axe getting stuck. The axe edge is sharper than the maul. While it easily drives deep into the wood to split it, it’s not good news if the wood doesn’t split.

You end up wasting lots of energy either pulling the axe out of the wood or pounding it and driving the axe all the way through. An axe is useful only if you manage to split the wood at the first attempt.

  • Knotted wood

It’s a bit difficult splitting knotted wood with its fibres going in all directions. It’s better to start with a wedge, preferably at the end without the knot first. This helps to get the spilt going after which you can use your momentum to work through the knotty parts.

  • A chopping block helps

Manually split wood is easier if the wood is raised by placing it on a chopping block. This way you needn’t bend much and it puts minimal strain to your back. However don’t use too high a block, especially if you are using a maul because you height will prevent you from getting enough momentum.

  • Don’t split wood on cement

It’s better to split wood on soft ground or a wood block under the log, and not on cement. This is because a maul or axe will hit the cement after splitting the wood, to quickly wear out the blade. There’s also the risk of the blade bouncing off the cement and hitting you.

  • Stubborn wood

There are always some wood pieces that just won’t split. Wood pieces differ because of the different tree species. So while some pieces split effortlessly, others are so hard, it’s better using an electric or gas-powered log splitter.

While an electric log splitter is a quiet and easy option, it’s rather slow and works with minimal capacity. It’s better renting gas-powered log splitters to effortlessly split any sized log at home.