Ok, please understand that I'm new to all of this "wood" stuff having grown up in brooklyn without a fireplace in a concrete city.
I have a bunch of wood (maple and oak) that I've been chopping with my new axe. It probably takes me twice as long as it should because I don't know proper technique. Also, I have trouble getting my pieces down to a decent small size of 2x3x16 or so. Typically I end up with decent pieces for a fireplace but they tend to be too big for my casa90. Getting them smaller with my axe is no easy task. I looked at a fire splitter but that seems expensive. Any suggestions or helpful hints? (and it's ok to decribe the process in very simple terms since I really have no experience with this).
Splitting wood is a lot easier with a wedge (about $8) - this looks like an axe blade but has not handle. Use the back of your axe blade (needs to be single sided axe) as a handle and tap it into a spot where you have previously struck the wood, then have at it with harder blows (again with the back of your axe).
I use a hatchet, a wedge and a small sledge hammer to split wood. Cutting it to length is tougher...
I just put piece of wood on end, then place the hatchet where I want the split to occur (usually I find it easiest to make the wood split perpendicular to the outside/bark, making triangles of wood). Then I tap it in with the small sledge. If it does not split, I pull out the hatchet (sometimes this is tough) and put in the larger wedge and go to work with the sledge again...
If I had to cut to length, I think I would use my table saw!!
(Originally from Florida, so I understand the dilemna!)
Splitting wood is fun; it's good exercise; and it let's you work out some of those deep seeded issues -- on something that doesn't mind. I think an axe or wedge with a sledge hammer both work very well. Good and good for you.
Hi ho, hi ho, to Home Depot I go.
To get the length right, you've got to go with a chainsaw.
Arthur, you definitely get to catch up on the "fire thing" with your oven. It's a lot better than a fireplace.
Great advice all.
since i burn wood in a 1936 Kalamazoo cook stove; my wood has to be short and fairly small in diameter. i've been lucky enough to find a supplier thats a logger and sells me his shorts. I but it unsplit which is a lot cheaper. What i use is a splitting maul and and axe. I have a piece thats about 16 inches in diameter thats my chopping block. the maul is used to split the pieces to a managable size. Its quite heavy behind the splitting edge and has a long handle. No squatting..bending..trying to pull out a wedge. just a lift over the head and the weight of the maul does the work. If i need pieces even smaller then i use the axe which easily splits the smaller pieces. Before i found my current supplier and the wood was too long i just slpit it and used a reciprocating saw with an agressive demolition blade to shorten the lengths. And yes James its good for the mind and the body..Happy Splitting :D
How to split wood, a primer
(M) Try this URL for a primer on how to split wood:
(M) Here is a short extract from that site:
How to split wood
Editor's note: This article was written and sent to us by Anne and David, two visitors to woodheat.org. We appreciate their contribution and hope you enjoy it.
Size and strength are not as important in effective wood splitting as determination and technique. The co-authors regularly split wood together. Anne is 34 years old, 130 pounds and relatively new to splitting. David is 61 years of age, 200 pounds and has decades of experience splitting wood. The only concession made for the difference in size and strength is that Anne's rounds are cut two-thirds as long (proportionate to our weight difference).
We thoroughly enjoy splitting firewood - a rare art and skill in this technological age. Our intent here is to present ideas that might refine or accelerate the learning process for someone and make wood splitting more enjoyable and effective for them."
(M) The article continues with more details.
(M) Sorry but I gotta "split" now but I think you got my drift.
Now that Marcel has split the scene, I might as well add a few thoughts on wood splitting. First of all, I have heated my house with wood, using an 1820s Scottish cast iron, six-plate stove that I lined with firebricks, etc. Second, I also have a fireplace, mainly for aesthetic reasons. It is decidedly non-tech in design. Third, my brick oven hearth is four feet deep and three wide. Each has different requirements for wood cutting and splitting. The stove has a fairly long and narrow box, so I tend to cut my pieces at about sixteen-seventeen inches. Split hard wood is best for this, once the draft is going nicely. The firebox on my fireplace is not that deep, nor wide, so I cut a bit shorter for it, about fourteen inches. For it, I use both split and limb wood. A maul is probably sufficient for this, unless you encounter a lot of knotty stuff (see below for tools).
The oven is a different story. I like to use a lot of limb wood for it, mostly maple, but also poplar, box elder, birch, beech, locust and white cedar, up to about four to five inches in diameter. I, too, know an arborist, and he occasionally dumps an uncut load in my yard. Because of the size of the hearth, I cut the pieces fairly long, about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 feet, so the fire burns from the front of the hearth, all the way to the back. That way I get an even burn, and I don't have to mess with the fire very much. With wood this long, though, if the pieces are more than about 6 inches in diameter, they must be split. At this length, you can't do it with a maul, especially with knotty maple limbs or white cedar.
For all three operations, here's a list of the tools I use: a Husqvarna 61 chainsaw with an 18" bar, a splitting maul, an old Stanley carpenter's hatchet (for kindling), an 8 lb. sledgehammer, and two splitting wedges. The wedges are German, made from tempered aluminum, which sounds odd, but this material is used so any peened over chips on the wedge heads fall downwards, rather than jump upwards as steel chips do, hitting you squarely in the eye. I have two wedges, because if one gets jammed, I can free it with the other, working down a split line, leapfrogging. For fun, have a look at www.leevalley.com for high-end wedges, mauls, axes and hatchets(blackmith made, Swedish, very cool). There are many, many other sources.
The size of the chainsaw has to do with the fact that I also fell trees in winter, and I don't think oven users here need such a beast. A small chain saw (12" bar) would probably be just fine. I don't think much of electric chainsaws, no torque, no power. With any chainsaw, it's very wise to be respectful and careful; they can hurt you in the blink of an eye. Part of this is to learn how to sharpen and adjust the chain, then be vigilant about both. Loose and dull chains contribute to more chainsaw accidents than anything else. Learn about, and use, high quality mix oil and bar oil: Stihl, Husqvarna, Castrol. Follow the maintenance instructions in the saw manual.
Wood, especially green hardwood, splits best in cold weather, about 25 F is fine, because the sap has frozen. Even knarly woods benefit from lower temps.
Right now, I have accumlated a large pile of maple and white cedar up to 10 inches in diameter. When this pile gets just a bit bigger, I will be renting a hydraulic splitter from my local rent-all joint. They're not far away, and they will drop the thing off and pick it up. I can rent it by the half day, too, so I'll get two friends over, buy a box of beer, make some sandwiches and get the job done quickly. There's only so much my back can handle.
Burning seasoned wood is essential. For wood in the round, this can take up to a year if it was cut green, with leaves on. Best to cut in late fall, early winter, when the sap is down in the roots, and your cure time will be cut to six months. Split wood cures much faster than round, about three months, depending on type. Split white cedar, for example, is ready to burn in about eight weeks. Always be on the look-out for standing-dead wood; it's ready to go as soon as you cut it up.
Now it's time for me to split. If it would only stop raining here, I should go cut wood.
Look for check marks in the end grain of the log.
I know what you mean about cutting wood to length. I use a compound miter saw and a 17" bandsaw for some of my big wood, but I understand not everyone has the room for these tools.
An inexpensive circular saw may work. Just be careful how you hold the work piece. Failing that, an even cheaper camp bow saw makes easy work of cutting firewood.
I think that I have just the opposite problem, our wood is thin, and not
thick by any means. We use 1 1/2 half inch branches and that seems to
be what folks here use to boil rice, their main staple food. They then fry
dried salted fish on the same fire, it goes out and they either remove the
ashes or use the stubbs from the fire for the next meal. I see very
few logs here, used as firewood.
I believe that the problem I am having is using too little wood that is
far too small as far as actual fuel or heating mass.
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