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Technique problem?

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by Hotshot10, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. Hotshot10

    Hotshot10 Gold Member Gold Member

    193
    Dec 23, 2012
    I started splitting wood a year ago when my parents bought me a firepit. I keep running into a problem when I am splitting: my handle keeps getting chewed up (the first inch and a half under the head).

    Some of this was my fault because I kept overswinging when I was first splitting. However, I've noticed that it happens sometimes when the axe head is buried pretty far in the wood, the wood hasn't split, and shards (for lack of a better term) are sticking into the handle.

    Am I hitting the wood too far in the middle? Any other ideas?

    I've taken to forming a collar of sorts using one-inch pneumatic hose and electrical tape. It's not pretty, but it has borne the brunt of a few swings that may have destroyed the handle entirely.

    P.S. Go easy on me. I'm a newbie at this. :(
     
  2. phantomknives

    phantomknives

    Mar 31, 2016
    Don't extend yourself over the log.

    If it's in half, don't reach for the further half
     
    junkenstien likes this.
  3. junkenstien

    junkenstien

    434
    Feb 15, 2017
    Make sure the handle is not thicker than the head.
     
    crbnSteeladdict likes this.
  4. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    I know all about that unfortunate dynamic, and it can happen even if striking the near half if the wood splits weird. There are some funky bolt-on steel Australian axe collars I've seen that would be garbage for protecting against overstrikes, but perfect for preventing damage for those sorts of impacts and "pinch damage".
     
  5. Square_peg

    Square_peg

    Feb 1, 2012
    Yes. You're exactly right. Hit on only the near side of the wood. If that is insufficient to make the split (large wood) then work the edges of the round. Split some small slabs off around the piece until you get it down to a size where you can split thru the center from one edge.

    With larger wood you may have better luck with a sledge and wedges or a splitting maul. Or you might have better luck with a larger heavier axe. I've found there is very little wood I can't split with my 5 pound Plumb rafting axe. If the Plumb fails I'm likely reaching for the sledge and wedges. There's not much that a maul will get that the 5 pound Plumb can't get easier.
     
    300Six, Agent_H and Trailsawyer like this.
  6. Student762

    Student762

    790
    Mar 7, 2014
    For my work axes, the ones which get used for splitting all the time, I wrap a bit of solid conveyor belt rubber just under the head of the axe, helps with over strike.
     
  7. Square_peg

    Square_peg

    Feb 1, 2012
    The problem with wraps is that they make the haft fatter than the eye. That's an automatic problem.
     
    Student762 and FortyTwoBlades like this.
  8. GWashington1732

    GWashington1732 Basic Member Basic Member

    Jun 20, 2009
    I would invest in a splitting axe, they can be had at most hardware stores for $30 or so. Regular felling axe work fine for smaller logs but it's like night and day when splitting a serious chunk of wood.
     
  9. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    The problem I've usually encountered is that unless the edge runs all the way off the edge of the log it can sometimes split in such a way that a "lip" is jutting out that can still slam into the handle. It doesn't happen often, but it does occasionally, and even when striking the near side of the wood.

    Also, light mauls with the cheeks properly blended in work great. I like my Rinaldi because it's 5.5lb but has a true splitting profile and no sharp shoulder to the edge/cheeks transition so it penetrates well but also blows the wood apart easily thanks to its overall thick wedge shape.
     
    Maine20 and Square_peg like this.
  10. Hotshot10

    Hotshot10 Gold Member Gold Member

    193
    Dec 23, 2012
    That sounds like good advice. I think I need to aim more deliberately.

    Hmm. Might have to try one of these instead of the pneumatic hose.

    I will try that. I tend to hit the larger pieces more toward the middle.


    I'm using a Husqvarna splitting axe. It usually works like a champ, but on some stringy pieces, it does not.

    Someone mentioned a wedge and sledgehammer or a maul. I've split with an eight-lb. maul before and found it much less enjoyable than the splitting axe. A lighter maul may do the trick on the hard-to-split pieces, though.

    Thanks for the responses, everyone.
     
  11. GWashington1732

    GWashington1732 Basic Member Basic Member

    Jun 20, 2009
    What kind of wood are you splitting? Some woods just don't like to be split, especially around knots. I agree splitting with wedges and mauls sucks, It's not exactly easy on your hands, but you might have to get the split going with the axe and finish it off with a couple of blows to a wedge. Another option is to cut the thicker sections a little shorter.
     
    jblyttle likes this.
  12. Square_peg

    Square_peg

    Feb 1, 2012
    As GWashington noted some woods are just hard to split. Elm is very tough. It has a coarse intertwined grain that resists splitting. London Plane is even worse - brutal to split (though it burns fantastic!). I've heard that osage orange can be tough but we don't have that here so I can't say with any authority.
     
    FortyTwoBlades likes this.
  13. Maine20

    Maine20 Basic Member Basic Member

    151
    Aug 8, 2017
    I split 3-4 cords of firewood wood a year with a 6 pound maul and think all the above recommendations are great. They will help and should be followed.... But, at some point I know I will damage the handle, I have come to accept this in stead of being ultra careful. It helps to have a back up tool to grab so you can keep splitting if a handle brakes. I personally won’t use a handle I really care about to split.

    The best overstrike protection I have found is fiber fix. I tried it for the first time last fall and it has been amazing.
     
  14. Maine20

    Maine20 Basic Member Basic Member

    151
    Aug 8, 2017
    I should note this applies to mauls, I am not a fan of oversrtke wraps on axes. I guess for me mauls are a tool to get something done. Axes are more of a hobby...
     
  15. Agent_H

    Agent_H Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    The rafting pattern is under estimated when you compare it to a 3.5lb “conventional” pattern - cheeks, lugs, poll, or not.

    The heavy Plumbs will part tough splits, the fat-cheeked True Temper will do that too. They are a mix of attractive size and mean geometry that intersects chopper/sledge hammer/and splitting maul. My most used axe for splitting quater wood is a “flat-faced” 4.5lb Collins that knocks most things apart with no problem. It kind of does the work. The grind plays a big part.
    It’s not a tool you choke up on to carve a bowl.

    I still over-strike sometimes -swear every time. :thumbsup:
     
  16. Hotshot10

    Hotshot10 Gold Member Gold Member

    193
    Dec 23, 2012
    I split some elm last year. It wasn't easy. However, some of the smaller ones that I tried splitting this year were worse. The friend who gave it to me didn't mention what species the tree was, though, and I don't think this one was elm. It had a reddish color under the bark.
     
  17. Hotshot10

    Hotshot10 Gold Member Gold Member

    193
    Dec 23, 2012
    I have a half dozen pieces left, and that sounds like something to try with them. It'll give my Silky saw a good workout.
     
  18. GWashington1732

    GWashington1732 Basic Member Basic Member

    Jun 20, 2009

    It's not red cedar is it? It can be tough to split. Is the bark papery?
     
  19. Square_peg

    Square_peg

    Feb 1, 2012
    Maybe Madrona. Hard stuff.
     
  20. Hotshot10

    Hotshot10 Gold Member Gold Member

    193
    Dec 23, 2012
    I wouldn't say "papery," per say, just pretty smooth.

    It's not Osage Orange. My friend has a cord of that in his backyard, and it's much more orange. Mine's more of a reddish brown. I'll see about taking some pictures tomorrow. Osage Orange, by the way, apparently has a ton of calories, at least from what my friend told me. He has a wood burning stove and heats with it.

    On a happy note, I split two pieces today and practiced aiming a little more carefully toward the edges (I think I was focusing too much on speed at the expense of accuracy before). I did not hit the handle once. :) Progress, perhaps.
     
    muleman77 and Square_peg like this.

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