It is biting cold and you notice that your firewood reserve would not last another day or the firewood pieces you collected are too large for your fireplace. This means you will need to prepare more firewood to keep you and your loved ones warm during the cold day. The best way to prepare such firewood is to use a splitting maul.
A splitting maul, also know to some as sledge ax, a blockbuster or go-devil, is a heavy, often long handled ax used to split (or reduce the side of) large, hard and cumbersome logs. It has a head (usually V-shaped) and typically weighs about 8 pounds. A mega maul for splitting wood may weigh tens of pounds. This design enables splitting mauls to take advantage of cracks inside wood fibers and separate with utmost accuracy.
This cutting efficiency makes splitting mauls the ideal choice for many professional loggers. It is even better choice homeowners who want an easy, effortless, efficient and affordable way to prepare firewood from logs. In this article, we will share with you how to split wood with a maul.
Part 1: Preparing To Split Wood
If you want to succeed in your wood-chopping process, you must prepare adequately. This will not only make the work easier for you but also ensure your safety. Here is how to prepare for the job:
Reduce the Size of the Logs
Shorter logs are easier to split with a good maul. Most standard homes have fireplaces that can only accommodate wood pieces only 10 inches to 20 inches in size. Since you cannot measure each piece you chop, it is important for you to have some idea of the wood sizes your fireplace can accommodate. Strive to cut flat and square pieces to make it easier for you to split them while standing.
Find a Suitable Chopping Block
A chopping block provides you with the surface to place the log to be split. A good choice would be a large section of the trunk of a tree. The chopping block should be of the right height to prevent recoils that might pose danger to you. Avoid splitting from the ground because this will exhaust you faster as you will need to lift the heavy maul much higher to strike a blow. Do not use concrete either to avoid damaging your maul.
Provide For Your Safety
Splitting wood is a risky undertaking. Therefore, you must take the utmost precaution to prevent unnecessary accidents. Always choose an open field for the job. The area you choose must not be slippery or have hanging branches that might entangle your maul.
During the chopping process, wood splinters commonly fly. This can pose danger to you if you are not wearing any protective gear. Make sure you wear safety glasses, boots, and apron. Some people go as far as using helmets and hand gloves.
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Part 2: Using A Maul to Split Wood
After you have successfully completed the first part, you begin the wood splitting properly. Using a maul is a straightforward process that does not require any special skills. You just need to follow a few easy steps and the process will be a success:
Step 1: Lay the Wood Correctly On the Chopping Block
You must first ensure the chopping block is stable. Using a shaky one could result in you inadvertently striking your leg with the maul or sending wood splinters flying in the air to endanger not only you but also other people or animals that might be close to you. Lay the log you want to split right at the center of the chopping block.
Step 2: Study the Log Carefully
Remember our earlier discussion that referred to how a splitting maul works. Well, this tool takes advantage of wood fibers and existent cracks. Take your time to study the log so you can identify hairline cracks. Aiming in the direction of these cracks will enable the wood to split with ease. You also need to keep in mind the fact that different strains of wood break differently. For instance, maple tree breaks apart at the end of the grain while oak tree dismantles at the center.
Step 3: Aim Correctly
After determining the appropriate place to hit, then take correct aim, stand and rest the maul head in that area. A good way to ensure you split the wood at the correct place is to mark the target with an indentation to act as a guide.
Step 4: Spilt the Log in Up-Down Direction
Instead of swinging the splitting maul, experts encourage you to move it in the up-down direction. Holding the maul is your choice. If you are right-handed, hold the end of the maul with your left hand with your right hand offering support. The reverse is true with left-handed individuals. Lift the maul above your head and bend your knees slightly. While doing this, slide your dominant hand close to the weak one.
Step 5: Finishing
Try to cut the logs into smaller pieces of approximately 6 to 8 inches. A clever way is to place the chopped pieces in increasingly smaller stacks in order to promote air circulation. Repeat the same process until the wood you want to split is done. Using the proper technique will enable you to complete the job successfully with few repeats.
Related reading: Picking The Right Wood To Build A Fire In The Wild
A Few Considerations
Some wood types are extremely tenacious and so they will not split easily. This means you may fail in your first try. You should not worry but try doing a few more times. An alternative when it comes to a hardwood is to turn your maul into a wedge. Once you drive the maul into the wood and it sticks, hit its blunt end with a sled and this will complete parting process. A mega maul for splitting wood might also work well on hardwoods.
You also need to remember that moisture affects the ease of splitting when it comes to various types of woods. Examples of woods that will split easily when wet include black oak, birch, and birch. Another good advice is to cut logs and let them dry or age for up to a year before splitting them. This will make the process of splitting very easy.
As you can appreciate, using a splitting maul is a simple process. However, you have to get everything right in order to make the process as successful as possible. You need to take care to avoid accidents resulting from wrong technique or failure to take the necessary precautions. The quality of the maul you are using also matters. So, you must do your research to find the best splitting maul in the market.