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Safer ways of manually chopping wood

 
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:
The safest way to split kindling that I know is to NOT really swing the hatchet at all.  What I do is hold the piece to be made into kindling with one hand and the hatchet in the other... But what I do is to Carefully and Gently place the hatchet on the chunk of wood that I am holding, exactly where I want the split to be made and then I lift both the chunk of wood with one hand and the hatchet in the other but together as one unit, and tap it down on the chopping block to set the hatchet head's blade into the wood.  The combo is then lifted again (but higher this time) and dropped as a unit onto the chopping block (and I use a higher chopping block for kindling for better ergonomics), and the splitting is done, or repeated until it is done, without the need for any holding of the wood dangerously while swinging a hatchet. [/i] On top of this, the hand that is holding the wood is used only as a guide for the larger lift and drop (or for smaller pieces-not used at all) and can be released from the wood a split second before impact, which, with very little practice, is naturally done.


This is exactly the way I was taught to split wood and it has served me well.  It was safe from the beginning and the skill involved learning to read the grain to choose which would be the easiest place to split.  Of all the Finnish wood splitting tools in this thread, Fiskars hatchet will always be my choice.  I also have a preference for using the tools I already have.  As a caveat, hardwood grows so slowly in Finland that birch and alder are the hardest spieces anyone would be splitting to burn.  I can imagine this method not being so breezy with hardwood.  That also might explain the ease of use in some of the demonstrations.  Further caveat: I've never had the need to split anything as large in diameter as some of these examples, especially the ones with a cord face.  Maybe it's just a difference in management due to climate.
 
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I agree Stephanie, if you're aiming to split wood of a healthy size without a power wood splitter, using a tire is the way to go.  I made mine even better for my circumstances by raising the tire above the block by a few inches.  Then the chunks of wood can't tip out of it either and the bits of bark can slip out between the top of the block and the bottom of the tire.

Not my pic but here's an idea:
 
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I used an old solid steel head and handle mail that weighed a ton for years until I tried a fiskars splitting axe and I've never looked back.
 
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paul wheaton wrote:


How long did it take to get the routine for that arrangement? You clearly look comfortable doing it but do you have to be careful and not hit the chain?
Thanks!
 
Mike Haasl
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The planets are coming into alignment.  Sean over at Edible Acres just posted a video about splitting wood with a tire and then using a kindling cracker to make smaller stuff.  I like my arrangement with the tire several inches above the chopping block but it's permanent the way I did it.  Sean can remove his as needed.

 
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:
The safest way to split kindling that I know is to NOT really swing the hatchet at all.  What I do is hold the piece to be made into kindling with one hand and the hatchet in the other... But what I do is to Carefully and Gently place the hatchet on the chunk of wood that I am holding, exactly where I want the split to be made and then I lift both the chunk of wood with one hand and the hatchet in the other but together as one unit, and tap it down on the chopping block to set the hatchet head's blade into the wood.  The combo is then lifted again (but higher this time) and dropped as a unit onto the chopping block (and I use a higher chopping block for kindling for better ergonomics), and the splitting is done, or repeated until it is done, without the need for any holding of the wood dangerously while swinging a hatchet. [/i] On top of this, the hand that is holding the wood is used only as a guide for the larger lift and drop (or for smaller pieces-not used at all) and can be released from the wood a split second before impact, which, with very little practice, is naturally done.



I think my way is safer because neither hand is near the wood.
Place a heavy cleaver or a hatchet on the place for the split holding the handle with the non dominant hand. With the dominant hand use a weighted plastic or rubber mallet to tap the splitter down. I get nice even thin slabs that way which I can then split finer just by pushing down. As I split the slabs off at the edge of the chopping block they fall into a bin. I then move that bin to the other side and split the slabs into another bin.  My results are strips about 1/2 inch thickness.
 
Mike Haasl
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Just don't do this with your kindling cracker...  https://www.reddit.com/r/WinStupidPrizes/comments/lj6e0b/ouch/

 
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A quick scan of this thread did not bring up a simple and safe method I sometimes employ for splitting wood with an axe:


Get on your knees!




If you're splitting wood while kneeling, the axe has very little to no chance of extending past the wood and into yourself. It should hit the ground only.
 
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It is exactly like a post hole digger. I love mine and yes it works even better if you get a step higher. But I will caution you to make absolutely certain your feet are nowhere near the striking path. Or say goodbye to your toes. I decided to get mine after speaking with a guy in a wheelchair that was able to use it sideways in his chair. Awesome tool!
 
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I have a sliding hammer log splitter and it's perfect for me (logmatics type - actually made by Friskars) I've lost too much strength in the last few years to use a wedge, and swinging even my lightweight "ladies'" axe would now make me worry about my articulations, and I also lack strength for that. As some have pointed out, even children could use it. There are no doubt similar manual apparatus that don't require strength or accuacy, but this is what I have. It's suitable for someone who doesn't require a huge quantitiy of wood to be split, and doesn't have much strength. For harder and knotty woods, yes, it takes longer. If they're too knotty I let them rot in the garden and make lovely soil. Otherwise, I use wood from prunings - my own and wood I pick up from neighbours, which is just the right diametre. If I needed more heat from wood I'd use a wood chip stove or boiler and get the wood chips delivered by the tonne from a local woodcutter, as I do now my logs -  my logging days are over.
 
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