Thursday 23 May 2013 16:33 UTC
This is the place for anything not connected with aviation. Strict rules of engagement apply. The moderators' decision is final.
The death of two eucalypts has left me blessed with a a couple of cubic yards of wood sawn into rings. More than slightly too big for the fireplace.
I've stayed away from axes to date on the basis of (a) general clumsiness (b) preferring to remain attached to my limbs, so what would the forum suggest for the splitting novice?
(And yes, I do know how quickly eucalypts burn...).
Last edited by Pete L on Mon Dec 31, 2012 6:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Cheering up a bit with grumpy spells later
I use a 26" hickory shafted felling axe.
But then I used to be a Boy Scout.
Quicker and easier than any other way but only should be done if you know what you are doing or if you wish to donate your feet to medical science.
nb - a hatchet isn't an axe. It's safer than an axe but its short handle means that there is no strength in the cut.
Don't follow leaders
Certainly not a poleaxe! But also I'd say "none of the above".
For splitting medium sized wood that's just a bit too big, I'd use a smallish felling axe.
A splitting axe is only really for very big stuff, and can be a pain to use unless you have a lot of strength behind it, and a fair bit of skill.
A hatchet is on the small side for splitting.
Most importantly of-all however, you want a good solid chopping block to cut onto. A section of tree, say 18" in diameter, maybe 2' long, sliced straight through at both ends is perfect. It provides a good solid base for cutting onto, and will absorb the axe blade as it goes through without damaging the blade.
The other really obvious statement - or at-least obvious if you've used axes a lot, is wear good solid shoes or boots - ideally steel toecapped, whilst cutting. Blades slip, and your feet are the closest to the ground!
Less obvious, is an old rule of thumb for using an axe - can you straight arm it? Hold it right at the end of the handle, edge up, and hold the axe horizontal with your arm out in front of you straight. Then count to 10 out loud. If you can't do that, you're not strong enough to handle that axe. Nothing to be ashamed of, but safest to admit it rather than do damage trying to wield an axe too heavy for your personal strength.
Absolutely. In addition to the solid boots, get somebody who is well versed in using an axe to teach you - it's not difficult, but not necessarily intuitive either.
Forget axes, get a hydraulic log splitter from Machine Mart - if you are into wood burners and use a lot of whoopee sized logs.
Antagonise no man, for you never know the hour when you may have need of him.
I was taught to chop rings into logs with an axe that is waist high to me. Once chopped, kindling can be made from those logs by a small chopper of around 18 inches in length.
Some rules that might be useful to help keep your limbs and to make sure you make some progress:
1. Don't stand too far from what you're chopping. If you do, and you miss, it'll swing through into your shin. Make sure you line up each strike with the axe resting on the log before you lift it.
2. Don't stand too close. If you do you won't get the swing right and will loose power by trying to come down too vertically. Once again, make sure you line up each strike with the axe touching the log before you lift it.
3. Practice the swing. Hold axe at very end of handle with left hand and 10 inches from the head with right hand. Lift the axe with 90% of the weight being taken by the right hand. The downward swing should be started with applying downward force with the right hand to supply the power, whilst the left hand acts as the central swing-point. As the axe swings down, your right hand should slide down the shaft towards your left hand and it should meet the left hand as it strikes the log.
4. The log being chopped MUST be mounted on a large ring of wood that stands around 8-12 inches tall. You'll soon realise why this is if you try without it.
5. The whole thing is 90% technique and 10% strength. To start with, you won't want to lift the axe too far over you're head, and you'll have to rely on physical strength to provide the downward 'head speed'. You'll soon realise that if you lift the axe nice and high, that its own weight will provide a good downward force as it speeds up on its way down.
6. Make sure you clear any logs that split and go near you. It's dangerous to have them around your feet when chopping, especially behind you as you step backwards.
7. Ignore sections of the rings with knots in. You'll never break them, no matter how hard you try!!!
8. You will get the axe stuck at some point. Removing it is easier than it seems at first if you lift the axe (attached to the log) up vertically and let it fall back onto the chopping ring at an awkward angle that is in line with the split. This usually clears it.
9. Do wear safety glasses (or sunglasses if you want to look cool...!!) The chips can ping off at quite a rate.
10. When you first chop into a new ring, don't go for the middle. Go for the edge. This'll allow it to split more easily and the second swing will then fully split it. If you go for the middle, it'll probably get stuck and you'll spend ages trying to get it out.
11. When you get tired, have a break. I've only hurt myself once and it was when I was worn out after doing it for a few hours.
Hope this helps.
I love chopping logs and do enough each year to last us a winter with two log fires and a wood burner. I always wait for a day when it's cold and I'm in a bad mood about something, as it's a great energy release and you'll get very hot!!
Nothing to it really, chopping would is relatively straight forward for anyone with some common sense.
I have a basic axe with a plastic handle which was inexpensive and have used it to chop 3 tonnes per year over the last 4, it will probably out last me. I try to let the weight of the axe do the work, only driving it down for the more stubborn logs.
The only word of caution I would add is to be strict about not lifting the axe above your head complete with log which the blade has stuck in. Likewise ensure the head and shaft remain secured to each other.
For safety's sake it does no harm to have someone else around.
I just love this place, expertise and experience all over it!
Is it possible to have a question or topic no one here can answer? (and I don't mean about overhead joins)
Can't help about the axe, just got an expensive gas "real log" fire installed...
Chaps - thanks very much for the detailed advice - as Jim said, if you want to know something, ask the Forum.
Off to Browns (Leighton Buzzard) on Saturday for implement. I have the safety gear already for the brushcutter (two-stroke) - that really does throw stuff a long way at odd angles - and brush-axe / bill / slasher (manual).
Cheering up a bit with grumpy spells later
I appreciate the thread title was eucalypts, but:-
When I rebuilt my Luton Minor I made a new instrument panel which I covered with a Eucalyptus veneer. I looked at a lot of woods before making this choice. I am now rebuilding a 1935 BSA Scout car and this will be completed in almost matching colours to the Minor. Brunswick green body but the car wings will be black not silver. I intend making a new instrument panel/dashboard for the car also matching the Minor using Eucalyptus
Much nicer to look at rather than just burn it. Is the size suitable for it to be used by a wood turner?
Who is online
Login / Register