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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Guest Post: Splitting Wood by DW

Stuck Wedge

Preferred Wodd Splitting Tools
Preferred Wood Splitting Tools
     During a crisis or collapse, many would have to return to using wood for heating and cooking needs.
     The chainsaws and wood splitters would run until the gasoline was gone.  After that it would be done like my grandfather had to do it, by hand.

     There is good and bad about splitting wood by hand, mostly bad.

     The good thing is that it is excellent exercise.  President Reagan used to split wood by hand.  Some say that the larger muscles in his chest, from splitting wood,  stopped the bullet and saved his life when Hinckley shot him.

     One of the bad things is stuck splitting wedges.  In the first photo, the wedge has been pounded all the way down and is countersunk about an inch.  It is not always possible to cut only easy splitting wood, like clear oak or birch.  Sometimes a tree dies or is blown down in a storm.  They get cut up and the bigger pieces need to be split.

     In order to get that stuck wedge out, we are going to need another wedge.  Hopefully only one.  Drive the second wedge in close to the first.  Hopefully at some point the piece will split and both wedges will be free.  If not, time for another wedge.

     In my experience, Elm is the nastiest, absolute worst wood to split.  It is gnarly and stringy.  Several times I have had four wedges stuck in the same piece of wood.  Box Elder and Willow are bad as well.  Willow is what you see in the photo.

     Another bad thing about splitting (during a collapse) is the amount of calories used.  Good when we need the exercise and have plenty of food.  Bad when food may be limited or everyone is already dead tired from all the other work.

     The second photo shows my personal choice for splitting tools:
  • Sledge hammer with fiberglass handle.  When I first started splitting by hand, I was a teenager,  my Dad had a sledge with a  wooden handle.  Sometimes when new to splitting or tired out from that particular splitting session,  you will over shoot the wedge.  Instead of metal to metal contact, you have wood to metal contact.  After a few of those, it's time for a new handle.  The fiberglass handles are very very strong.  I have never broken one. (yet)
  • Ear muff hearing protection.
  • Goggles for eye protection.  Sometimes little chips of steel come flying off the wedge.  No thank you!
  • Wood grenade splitting wedges.  The tip got broken off of the red one, but I can still use it if I get a wedge stuck.  I need for there to be about a half inch split in the wood to get it in.  The wood grenades are the best!  Since they are roughly circular, they apply pressure equally to the piece and it splits at its weakest points.  The only disadvantage is that the tips break off.
  • Standard splitting wedge.  Usefull if you need for the piece to split a certain way.  They are also cheaper and easier to find in stores.
     Other splitting tools that have limited use are:
  • Hatchet.  Good for splitting boards into kindling.
  • Axe.  For smaller, easier to split pieces.
  • Splitting maul.  Like a sledge hammer with a wedge on one end.  Sometimes it works  good on bigger pieces that are easy to split.  It will still get stuck in the wood occasionally and then you are going to have to wrestle it free.  I never liked them.
     When using standard wedges, tap them a few times to get them started firmly  into the piece to be split.  This is very  important!  If you hit it a glancing blow, with your first full strike, it will come flying off, and will be just like a miniature hatchet head.   Seems like they are always aimed at your shins.

     At a minimum use work boots,  heavy long pants, goggles, and hearing protection when splitting.

     Make sure to take your time when splitting.  Work into a rhythm.  Stop after a set time to avoid becoming fatigued.  With fatigue comes the possibility of injury.

     I assume no responsibility for anyone acting on this post.

     I want to thank Andrew for allowing me to post this article at Daily Survival.

     If you liked this article,please visit:
     New Dawn Survival

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