Splitting or chopping of wood is something that is commonly featured in movies and on several television programs. What is more, when you watch others engaged in this activity it does appear to be quite simple and straightforward. However, this could not be farther from the truth, because in reality, splitting wood is neither as simple nor as easy as it appears on the television screen.
Like all manual wood-cutting chores, there is a certain method to splitting wood and awareness is a must if you are keen to get this right. This is one task which can yield great results if done well, and can also prove to be a complete waste of time and energy if not handled correctly. Worse still, you might even sustain serious injuries owing to faulty handling of the implements.
Following are the steps that you must follow in order to be able to easily split wood of any size –
Ensure Your Personal Safety
Given the nature of the task, it is imperative to have adequate safety measures in place, particularly in terms of clothing. Therefore, before splitting wood, you must –
- Shield your eyes with eye goggles or sunglasses to protect them against flying shards of wood;
- Wear full-length trousers and work-boots so that your feet are duly protected and also remain firmly planted on the ground;
- Cover your hands in work-gloves so that they don’t suffer from wielding of various implements and also provide a firm grip which is not hindered with sweat;
- Sheath your torso and arms in a long-sleeved shirt;
- Use a face shield is a must, especially while using a chain-saw and if you are uncomfortable with the ensuing noise, then use ear-muffs too;
Before you embark on the task, there are some basic considerations that need to be met which pertain to –
Tools – Having the right tools is a must for your attempt at splitting wood to succeed. For example, while choosing an axe, ‘eight is great’ is a phrase often applied by professionals because anything more than eight would tire you out and less than this figure would be too light to provide worthy results.
Types of Wood – When it comes to wood, there are different varieties and each is unique in terms of properties and usage. On your part, being aware of the type of wood would help to judge its suitability as firewood, for cooking and so on. Basically you should be able to distinguish between hardwood and softwood, the various species of trees and whether their attributes render them worthy of splitting.
Chopping block/stump – It need not be anything fancy – just a big round stump of a tree measuring minimum 12 inches in diameter, raised at a height of 14-16 inches above the ground and sufficiently flat to provide a stable cutting surface would work well. An added benefit is that it would save your back from aches resulting from bending over too much. Using a chopping block would also prevent your axe’s edge from suffering the damage that it could incur from hitting the ground or even soft dirt.
Practice – If you have never used these implements before, then practicing beforehand is a must. Not only will it enable you to cultivate physical stamina required for this task but also improve your accuracy, which is half the battle won.
Split Wood as You Want
How you split a log of wood would depend on the size.
Suppose the log that you wish to split is medium-sized, you could start placing it on the chopping block and driving a maul right through the center. This would serve to halve the log and then you could further divide it into quarters and even smaller pieces depending on your requirement.
In the event of the log being bigger, a good way to start would be to use a knife and cut small chunks from the outer edge and gradually move inward. As you successively shave off pieces, your log will get progressively smaller, till you are able to split it into half. This method will save you a lot of effort and will also preserve your knife, not to mention providing you with plenty of shavings to build a fire.
Veterans in the field often refer to an old adage which claims that it is twice that split wood warms you – the first time while splitting it and the second time when it is burned as firewood. So if you learn how to split wood easily, you will not just have cultivated tough muscles and a sturdy physique but also found a way to build a fire. Few jobs in this world are equally rewarding, considering the effort involved.