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Splitting oak?

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by d.weglarz13, Sep 13, 2012.

  1. d.weglarz13

    d.weglarz13 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 4, 2008
    Okay guys, another funny question. My axe just flies through most wood by me, but i have a few trees that were cut by a chainsaw already into rounds, but they are from oak trees, and also most are about 18" diameter. So, needless to say i am having a hard time splitting these things.

    I just can't cut through these things!!!:eek::eek::eek:

    Should i cut them in half rounds, with my chainsaw, or am i maybe doing something wrong?
    I am putting them on a very low stump at the right height for me, and if i chop down the middle, i can take a hundred chops and still not get through anymore than maybe 2 inches down it. So, so far i have been splitting them by going closer to the side of the round, instead of right down the middle. And, this is working a bit better, since its not as wide closer to the "circumference" of the round, but when it does go through, it bounces off the side, and i can tell its only a matter of time before i get hurt this way, or at least it seems like this, but I am being as safe as i can about it.

    Also, the rounds are too heavy to lift and flip over on the poll of the axe, so not sure what to do with this. Perhaps, the rounds are too tall for me and my power? I am not a big guy, but like i said before, i swing a sledge at work, so i do know what im doing for the most part. Plus, of course i read all the info i can find on the proper way to swing an axe, just to be safer about it. The rounds are about 20"-24" long, so maybe this can be the problem?

    Oh well, i really want to use my axe on these, and my AFA isn't doing enough with these. But, im sure even a larger axe wouldn't do too much damage, as this wood is real freaking tough! Now i know what them mean when they say oak is strong.....it sure is!

    So, would you guys recommend cutting the rounds shorter? Or maybe cutting them in half before splitting with the axe? OF course, i don't want to buy a bigger axe than i have right now,(GB American felling 31"), and i don't think i can use wedges with such a hard steel.

    Let me know what you guys recommend, this should be interesting.......

    I wouldn't mind uploading a video of how hard i am swinging this axe at these rounds, just so you can see how much abuse this wood can take, but i still don't know how to upload vids. Actually, i just recently figured out how to upload pics....:eek:

    Again, I want to use my axe the most i can on these rounds :D:thumbup::thumbup::thumbup:

    thanks again for the advice!

  2. CedarEater


    Aug 31, 2012
    Split oak when its green and it splits like dry fir. If the oak is dry you can set one of those 4 sided wood grenade type wedges in the center and drive it through with a sledge or get ahold of a hydraulic splitter. You already know what its like to try to split it with an axe and a bigger one won't help much.
  3. jwaj


    Dec 19, 2002
    You could pick up some splitting wedges or a maul. I have both but prefer to use the maul.
  4. Square_peg


    Feb 1, 2012
    Splitting 18" oak rounds 20" long with only an axe is a job for Hercules. Cut the rounds shorter and/or get yourself a sledge and wedges. You don't need a big sledge. I actually prefer a 3-4 pound one-hand sledge for driving wedges.

    Other option is just to work it down from the edges with a 4 pound or greater axe. Be careful about sticking your axe in the center of large rounds. That's a ticket to damaging the haft.
  5. bearhunter


    Sep 12, 2009
    Get yourself a 'sledge and wedge'!
  6. trailmaker


    May 15, 2011
    I've never had much luck trying to split with a felling axe. If you can get your hands on a maul or splitting axe I think you'll be surprised at how effective they are. If it still won't split go to the sledge and wedges.
  7. VintageAxe


    Mar 12, 2011
    I've split some oak rounds up to 30" with a 6 pound baltimore kentucky pattern on a long handle. I won't say it's fun, but it can be done... I'll usually take 3 or 4 swings (far, near, 2x centerish) before it'll start to show a crack, but then it's close. It's a good way to let out those pent up frustrations from work :)
  8. markv


    Sep 8, 2004
    wait till the temperature drops close to freezing or below. you know winter time>>
    a 3.5 lb. axe would be good, a splitting maul even better

  9. cooperhill


    Nov 14, 2011
    You know you wanna buy the Gransfors splitting maul.
  10. Double Ott

    Double Ott Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 3, 2011
    Many years ago my Dad got about a cord of red oak rounds delivered for firewood. They were about 18" to 20" long and varied from 10" to 24" in diameter. We used a 5 lb. splitting maul for most of them. He taught me how to read the grain in the rounds to use that to my advantage. You just look for the natural way the rings are in the round and try to follow them to help split them. If they had any natural cracks in them, that was an aiming spot to split them.

    Some just refused to die...we got two splitting wedges and a 5 or 6 lb. sledge for them. You'll find you will need a large wedge and a smaller one to work with. You'll get one wedge hopelessly stuck in the round and will need a second wedge to get it out. Trust me, I speak from experience. A splitting maul can be used for a wedge if needed, using a sledge to drive it, but that is not what it is intended for.

    If you get a splitting maul make sure the sledge end is hardened, as it can help you out with getting stuck wedges out.

    Use the grain and any natural cracks in the round to your advantage. As you go along, it will get easier to "read" the end of a round. It will work for all types of rounds.

    Hope that this helps you out...Good luck.
  11. bjp


    Apr 30, 2011
    shorter rounds will help.

    a big point, in my experience, is to get an opening to the outside edge. by that I mean that if you can split one even small piece off the edge of the round, splitting the rest of the round will be much simpler. taking a bit off the outside relieves the pressure inherent in the round shape. until you've burst/broken the circle, it's much harder. I find that cutting/chopping a small piece off the edge of the round makes it all go much smoother. probably because, in part, subsequently chopped pieces have someplace to go when split off from the bulk.

    also, use a maul for the big stuff. I use a light axe for aspen, but harder than that gets the maul. (go ahead and get the gransfors if you like. it's pretty darned nice).

    good luck.

  12. boerboel84


    Aug 10, 2010
  13. Square_peg


    Feb 1, 2012
    That's important. Also, if you drive a wedge close to the edge then you can chase it all the way down through the piece with your sledge.
  14. Operator1975


    Sep 24, 2010
    2 words - Monster Maul
  15. Square_peg


    Feb 1, 2012
    2 words - wasted effort. [​IMG]
  16. Arathol


    Jan 1, 2003
    no way you are going to split those with an axe.
    I have been doing the same exact thing, splitting large red oak rounds. In this case, 40+ inches in diameter cut to 15" long.
    Here is how to do it easily -
    Using the chain saw, make cuts in the end of the round, in your case quartering cuts, about 3 inches deep. Tap a wedge in, then whack it good a few times with a 10 lb sledge. Doing it like this I can get a clean 40" round down to firewood size in about 15 minutes.
  17. d.weglarz13

    d.weglarz13 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 4, 2008
    Wow, i did not expect that!
    I figured I was perhaps doing something wrong, or maybe should try the "twist when contact" approach.....But, i can't do it with my felling axe? Wow, that does, I suppose, make me feel a bit better, as its nice to hear that its not me but rather the axe. I was hoping i wasn't getting weak! :eek: as i have been having some back problems lately.

    So, either i need to cut these rounds a lot smaller, or get myself a maul........Okay, can always use a new tool!

    But, i love this axe and intend on getting these cut up with only my axe!!!!

    Okay okay........ i will be using my chainsaw first though :D and then the axe i suppose. And yea, i am probably gonna look into getting a maul now, too.

    And, guess what? I posted somewhere a while back, that i built an enourmous shed in my backyard to be used mainly as my knifemaking shop. Well, i cut into some roots of an oak that i wanted to get rid of one day anyway, and sure enough shortly after it fell but was held up by my neighbors tree, and up until now he didn't have a problem with it. Anyway, today it finally broke loose and fell!

    So, now i got me another tree to add to the mix, and yea, oak..:eek::jerkit:

    So, i suppose a good maul is in order. Any suggestions? Pretty sure i don't want to spend Gransfors money on this one, rather just a good competant tool that I won't become obsessed with. But, i don't want to go too heavy if possible. So, love to hear your ideas...or maybe thats for another thread but tell anyway if you feel like it.

    So, yea but I do still want to use my axe as much as i can, so i think i will be using the maul for the rounds,the axe for chopping up the tree that fell down into sections, until i suppose i can't take it anymore and might break out the chain saw, but i really hate chainsaws guys. I just don't like having them in my hand as i do an axe or something like that. I had a buddy that his face got ripped apart by a broken chain one day, and i will never think about it the same.
    Anyone feel the same?

  18. Double Ott

    Double Ott Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 3, 2011
  19. Double Ott

    Double Ott Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 3, 2011
  20. SamuraiDave


    Apr 6, 2001
    From what I am hearing you want a quality 6# maul.
    I'm a relative weakling and I can handle a 6# maul with a good deal of accuracy.

    And may I suggest you get a couple quality splitting wedges while you are at it?

    I've bought cheap ones and have mushroomed them into worthlessness in a long weekend.
    Sure you can get a cheap splitting wedge for $7 to $10, but it will never last as long as a $20 Estwing or Council Tool wedge.

    BTW, you want a couple of them so that if one gets stuck you can use the other to help get it out of there by working yourself down the split log.
    Plastic wedges help... but they don't replace a quality steel one.

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