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View Full Version : Best Splitting Axe?



Travis Scott
10-13-2008, 09:02 AM
I don't have a log splitter, I enjoy splitting wood by hand. Which axe would you guys recommend? My current walmart version is on it's last leg.

moho
10-13-2008, 09:25 AM
If you don't have to carry it someplace, I'd get a maul and a wedge. I just use my axe for small stuff and kindling.

Songdog
10-13-2008, 10:14 AM
Gransfors Bruks Large Splitting Axe. It's not a maul and not an axe. It's 3.5lbs and it splits more with speed than with raw weight. The poll isn't hardened so you don't sink it and then follow up with a sledge. If you want that approach go for a regular spliting maul (GB makes one if you want). After swinging this axe I'll never go back to a wedge/maul and sledge.

For 24" oak rounds I have a hydraulic splitter. For anything 16" or so an under (oak, pine, etc.) the GB comes out. Feels great on a cool fall day.

The one on the far left has been through the better part of 10+ cords. Steel collar is very nice to have as well.

http://home.pacbell.net/jniednag/5_axes.JPG

Songdog
10-13-2008, 10:53 AM
Here's the GB splitting axe vs. the GB Scandanavian Forest axe (splitter was in use yesterday and needs a little cleaning and sharpening).

http://home.pacbell.net/jniednag/GB_LSA_vs_SFA.jpg
http://home.pacbell.net/jniednag/GB_LSA_vs_SFA_profile_comparison.jpg

...and a wall of oak for good measure

http://home.pacbell.net/jniednag/GB_and_cordwood.jpg

Pointshoot
10-13-2008, 11:09 AM
Songdog - - Great pics and info ! Could you please tell us where you bought your GB Splitting axe ?
I've got axes from Gransfors and Wetterlings & need a splitting maul or axe. Of course, all the local ones are made in China or India or some such place. Given how long a guy can have good tools I figure it can be worthwhile to buy something decent to start with. Regards, - -
P.S. - anyone see where they can buy a Wetterlings splitting maul ?

Songdog
10-13-2008, 11:13 AM
I've had that one for a while and honestly can't remember where I got it. Mail order somewhere as nobody around here has anything like that. There is a guy on eBay who deals in GB axes and generally has all the various models in stock (including the felling axes). Not cheap. I think that Ragweed Forge also has them.

Pointshoot
10-13-2008, 11:22 AM
Thanks - I know what you mean. I have gear that I've had & used for awhile and can't for the life of me remember where I bought them. I do recall that I bought my Wetterlings Hunters Axe from Ragweed. Regards, - -

FlatbowMB
10-13-2008, 12:02 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Pointshoot</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> Could you please tell us where you bought your GB Splitting axe ?
</div></div>

Lee Valley (http://www.leevalley.com/garden/page.aspx?c=2&p=20129&cat=2,45794&ap=1) carries them. I don't have a GB spitting axe, but I do own 2 other GB products (mini hatchet & small forest axe), which are amazingly well made tools that are well worth the extra money.

snakey2
10-13-2008, 12:49 PM
+1 on the GB. The head shape makes it split like nothing else I've ever used.

Pointshoot
10-13-2008, 08:30 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: FlatbowMB</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Pointshoot</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> Could you please tell us where you bought your GB Splitting axe ?
</div></div>

Lee Valley (http://www.leevalley.com/garden/page.aspx?c=2&p=20129&cat=2,45794&ap=1) carries them. I don't have a GB spitting axe, but I do own 2 other GB products (mini hatchet & small forest axe), which are amazingly well made tools that are well worth the extra money. </div></div>

Thanks. I actually got a new Lee Valley catalog with an order I placed recently. Hadn't had a chance to look through it yet, but I'll have to look in the axe section. Regards, - -

RWS
10-13-2008, 11:57 PM
I've been spliting wood for heating my house siunce 1982 and found that monster mauls are to heavy and some of the pricy splitting axes have to narrow of blade and get stuck in the pine that I use here in Montana. The best for use around the house is a fiberglass handle 8lb splitting maul from your local hardware store. My friends are after me to get a power splitter but I enjoy it and it's great exersize as long as I can still do it. Have fun....

elmbow
10-14-2008, 01:53 PM
here's one for the Gb splitting axe, it is amazing how it splits chuncks. Good design worth the money.

rambler_wannabe
10-14-2008, 05:40 PM
What kind of wood?

One of my favorites for knarly, knotty hardwood is a wood grenade wedge http://www.lehmans.com/jump.jsp?itemType=PRODUCT&itemID=3334

It is available cheaper elsewhere, including Ace and walmart.

The thing is amazing--a couple light taps to start it in the center of a log, then drive it home. You can actually get it to split the wood into 4 quarters with the one shot! Never really gets too stuck, either.

elmbow
10-14-2008, 07:14 PM
I split pinyon, ponderosa, gambel oak. I cut logs to 22" lengths to fit my Dutchwest stove and when they are cured the GB splitting axe goes through 'em like butter. Can't speak to them "hard woods" you folks out east grow in "lots".

Bushcraft
10-14-2008, 07:33 PM
I was just about ready to ask for a cross section picture of the maul.

Thanks Jonathan. I've got some standing cordage that will need to be converted to stacked cordage later this winter. Looks like just the ticket.

snakey2
10-15-2008, 08:56 AM
I split fir and maple mostly and the GB seems to make easy work with either. Just finished a cord of maple (just before the rains come) and now that tree thinning season has started a lot of fir will need splitting.

Ken
10-19-2008, 12:58 PM
I'm another GB fan...I've got the splitting maul. I also use the aforementioned wood grenade and 12 lb sledge when necessary. I gave up beating on the back of the $100 maul as I was mushrooming the poll with the big hammer. If the chunk is THAT gnarly and I can't get it to crack with the GB, I pop it with the wood grenade/sledge, then switch back to the GB. I did alot of filing on the wood grenade and pointed up the tip so that it sticks a bit quicker into the rounds...I got sick of it bouncing back out of the round with the blunt tip it came with.

For kindling, I use the GB small splitter, which is another slick tool.

My only reservation with the GB maul is it COULD be a bit longer and heavier for my tastes. A 2" longer handle with a 8 lb head would be perfect IMHO.

Busto963
10-19-2008, 01:43 PM
The best wedge I have used is the Lee Valley Spiral Splitting Wedge.

I have seen the wood grenades break the tip. The Lee Vally wedge will not.

http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=1&p=41142&cat=1,41131

Ken
10-19-2008, 06:29 PM
Sounds kinda like the Gransfors wedges...I believe they twist as well...much better price though. Thanks for the tip!

Scoutin' Wyo
10-20-2008, 03:56 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Ken</div><div class="ubbcode-body">

For kindling, I use the GB small splitter, which is another slick tool.

</div></div>

Ken,
I've been wondering if that small splitter would be slick enough to justify the price tag for some time now. Every night in the winter I head into the garage and grab a big arm load of wood and usually need to make up some quick kindling. For the past 6 years I have just used my little Gerber hatchet which works, but not great. The Gerber likes much smaller pieces, or very straight grained pieces, if I don't want it to get stuck in the wood.

Is this small splitter a one or two handed tool when making kindling?

Thanks for the heads up.
Brian

Ken
10-20-2008, 05:45 PM
It's a one hander for some stuff...I tend to pick thru the wood box to find the straight grained pieces for making kindling. Usually the axe will stick enough with the first swing for me to pick up block and all and two hand it thru on the second.

I mulled over getting one for quite a while, then noticed last year that a store in VT had them advertised at $86 while everyone else was well over $100 with the '08 pricing. I called to check and they still had some for $86, so I snagged one. Glad I did...Between the 2 stoves I use a pretty fair amount of kindling, and the small splitter is perfect for that task.

Ralph
10-20-2008, 08:03 PM
The classic kindling splitter (also for shakes, shingles and clapboards) is the froe, struck with a froe club - that's what it's called BTW, never a baton or maul.

If you want to try your hand at blacksmithing the froe is a great first project.

Huntsman22
10-20-2008, 08:16 PM
And if ya don't wanna be a 'smithy, just order one from Lee Valley.......

rambler_wannabe
10-20-2008, 08:20 PM
smithy? All you need is a leaf spring top leaf (the one with the bushing eye), a small one for a trailer works. Knock the bushing out, cut to length, grind an edge, fit a handle.

Learned that from the woodwright shop back when PBS taught useful stuff.

Busto963
10-21-2008, 03:54 AM
Ken, Brian

I own two of the GB and two of the LV spiral wedges. The GB (at least the ones I own) do not spiral.

Both designs have a place in the tool box. For straight grained wood, you cannot beet the GB. For gnarly, interlocked, or sporal grained wood you cannot beat the Lee Valley wedge.

I bucked a huge double stem red oak that each stem was 42"+ in diameter for the sections above the third floor windows on my house. The crotch of the tree where the two "trees" split was above my roofs gutter!

Smokepole
10-21-2008, 05:08 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: elmbow</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I split pinyon, ponderosa, gambel oak. I cut logs to 22" lengths to fit my Dutchwest stove and when they are cured the GB splitting axe goes through 'em like butter. Can't speak to them "hard woods" you folks out east grow in "lots". </div></div>

elmbow, you cure your wood before splitting it? We split a lot of hardwood back east (worked for a tree service+low man on totem pole), mostly red oak and white oak, some of it up to and over 24". We always found that it split easier and better before curing, i.e., when it was still full of moisture.

Ken
10-21-2008, 05:38 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Smokepole</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> We always found that it split easier and better before curing, i.e., when it was still full of moisture. </div></div>

Interesting...I had some wood laying around this spring that had sat out for a year and thought it split easier than green with the GB...I wondered if maybe the head shape/taper might have something to do with it. I've got over 1/2 of next years wood all cut up and stacked, ready to be split it next spring. I DO like how the bark falls off when dry splitting...less mess in the house while carrying it in etc.

Smokepole
10-21-2008, 06:02 AM
I believe it's hydrostatic. Moisture conveys the impulse from the blow better than no moisture, at least with certain kinds of wood, maybe not all wood though.

elmbow
10-21-2008, 07:24 AM
The oak and maple splits easiest when fresh cut. I genrally split pine wood when its green too, although its more work handling the wood because of its weight. Smaller than 10" pine, when cured and not knotty, splits like butter with the GB splitting maul.

Ken
10-21-2008, 07:32 AM
I can buy into that line of reasoning.

The one thing I noticed when I show others my splitter is most of the 'old timers' look at the Gransfors shape and sharpness as possibly a detriment as it appears that the axe would 'stick' more in the wood. After splitting 2-3 full chord of dry wood, I wonder if the lack of moisture causes less friction, allowing the head to penetrate quicker/further, which allows the GB head to 'pop' the dry wood better. The typical edge shape for splitters is rather blunt compared to the GB, which in turn might be why most people like to split the green wood with the traditional mauls.

I'll have to get some green wood together for some side by side splitting next year for comparisons sake.

Thanks for the input on the twisted wedges Busto...I'll have to give one a try. So far I've been happy with the grenades, but if theres something better...

Big Dipper
10-21-2008, 08:08 AM
I have found that frozen vs. not frozen makes as much of a difference as dry vs. green.

At least that is the case with birch. Frozen, green birch will split about the same as dry birch. Where unfrozen, green birch will cause almost any tool I use to "stick".

Ken
10-21-2008, 08:43 AM
I haven't tried frozen green wood with the GB yet. I suspect it will work pretty good.

Maybe frozen dry wood will be the way to go for me... /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/grin.gif ...not having to pound away in the heat sweating bullets certainly has got to count for something.

Ralph
10-21-2008, 10:01 AM
Well to remember that some trees, maple and cherry birch come to mind, have a very high sugar content in the sap that makes the green wood sticky. Rubbing grease on the axehead helps some.

If you want a truly miserable wood to split, try elm - the tangled grain makes it darn near impossible. Burns okay, but you practically have to saw it into chunks.

Songdog
10-21-2008, 07:55 PM
Each wood is different. The pine around here is so wet when it's green that it will spray water when you try and sink a splitting axe into it. On the other hand, once dry it's the easiest splitting wood I've ever found.

Our live oak is way easier to split green than dry. Makes great stove wood. This splitter runs on Cheerios.

http://home.pacbell.net/jniednag/PJ_hunters_axe.JPG
http://home.pacbell.net/jniednag/PJ_hunters_axe_2.JPG

Eucalyptus is virtually unsplittable unless dry. I've stalled several small to mid sized hydraulics on green Euc.

We get a lot of citrus wood from the orchards around here (orange, lemon and grapefruit). It's normally fairly small so splitting isn't that big of an issue but green is definitely easier than dry. Best part about this wood is that the spiders don't seem to like the citric acid in the wood. Nothing worse than reaching for the next piece of wood only to have a big 8 legged critter work its way past your glove to your bare arm...

snakey2
10-22-2008, 10:04 AM
I have always split hardwoods green and softwoods dry. Seems to work and easy to keep track of.