How to split a large log?

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I went out yesterday experimenting, on a lark, with splitting some large oak logs. They range from 3' to 4' in diameter and are about 6' long. I thought I'd just chainsaw a shallow line down the length (about 3" into the sapwood) then use sledgehammer with wedges to split it down that line.
My goal was to get a few slabs.
The oak just laughed. It wouldn't budge, and I wore myself out pretty quickly slinging that 18 lb sledge. The wedges went in (maybe) 1/2" then acted as if I were hitting concrete or iron (except they weren't dulled really). I guess the mass is just too much for a single wedge and sledge.
Do you know of other ways than sawing to split a log this thick? Portable hydraulics? Anything?
Curiouser and curiouser, H.
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On 24 Nov 2003 15:57:37 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@sewanee.edu (Hylourgos) wrote:

Froe
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You are kidding, right? That's got to be one gd big froe. Did I mention the log is about 4 FEET in DIAMETER? Hey, if you know that a froe can do it, then I'm all ears. I've seen chairmakers use froes on smaller diameter (and length too: don't forget I'm working on a 6 foot long piece, and want to keep it that long) oak, but this wood is dense.
Thanks, H
(Hylourgos) wrote:

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On 25 Nov 2003 07:55:33 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@sewanee.edu (Hylourgos) wrote:

Split in half with wedges, then take a froe to the 2' segments. Hard work, but you can do it.
I can't help wondering why you're splitting this, rather than milling it. Round here, 4' oak logs are worth good money when sawn. We only fool around splitting the skinny stuff.
As others have said, split it from an end, not the side.
Another point when splitting oak is that it only splits radially. You have to align the froe _exactly_ between the rays, because it's one hell of a job to try and go through them.
-- Die Gotterspammerung - Junkmail of the Gods
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On 25 Nov 2003 07:55:33 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@sewanee.edu (Hylourgos) wrote:

My froe blade is 16". Several wedges and a lot of muscle will do it. Less work with a log splitter, though. Easier to split a green log than a dry one.
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Hylourgos wrote:

Have you considered blasting? ;-)
-- Jack Novak Buffalo, NY - USA (Remove "SPAM" from email address to reply)
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After whacking it all afternoon and breaking one sledge? Hell yea, that was my first thought! Teach that SOB oak to mess with me.... But then I thought, "what would Jesus do?" (who was, after all, a carpenter) and immediately removed those revengeful thoughts.
H.

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snipped-for-privacy@sewanee.edu says...

Yeah, He would look at the log and say "Be split" and not only would it be divided into regular sized bits, but they would be neatly stacked to boot.
Not terribly useful, I know.
CharlesJ -- =======================================================================Charles Jones | Works at HP, | email: snipped-for-privacy@hp.com Hewlett-Packard | doesn't speak | ICQ: 29610755 Loveland, Colorado | for HP | AIM: LovelandCharles USA | |Jabber: snipped-for-privacy@jabber.hp.com
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snipped-for-privacy@sewanee.edu (Hylourgos) wrote in message

Obviously he would get his 12 buddies to do the work while he gets drunk on wine!
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Work from the end of the log just like a log splitting machine would do. Pound in a couple of wedges till you get a crack and then pound some in from the top. I've split some big logs this way but never a four-footer. My Stihl 064 would take care of that bad boy.
dean s

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Use wooden wedges along the crack, you can adjust them for depth if needed. look up split rails

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Thanks for the tip: I googled a few things and came up with some good stuff on riving (e.g.: http://www.greenwoodworking.com/riving/riving.htm ).
H

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Freeze them.
Get them good and cold. They'll split.
Freezing the logs will freeze the moisture in them allowing the wood fibers to cleave easier.
Trust me, Minnesota Red Oak is no fun to split on a summer day. Get it near zero and it will split like a breeze.
Phil

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Cold, freezing cold. There is nothing quite like the feeling of splitting a cord of oak in 20 degree weather. Steam coming from your body, radio playing whatever you like to hear, a thermos of something hot, or spiced, (probably not spiked, that can wait) and the anticipation of a warming fire. But not the wood YOUR splitting!!!!
Dave

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Thanks, Phil and David.
It just got down to 29 here last night, so maybe I'll try it again this weekend.
One problem is orientation: it won't be easy to work on the endgrain since these things are so big, and in cramped quarters. There's no way I can move them much. Maybe the freeze will help split them though, I'll give it a try.
H.

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How about you cut just a wee bit deeper with the chainsaw. Let me guess, you don't have a chainsaw with a 32"+ bar. You could rent one, or I bet someone out there would be willing to help you out in exchange for one of those slabs.
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| | Do you know of other ways than sawing to split a log this thick? | Portable hydraulics? Anything?
Unless you're a glutton for punishment, go rent a portable log-splitter.
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I have the exact same situation. 3-1/2' diameter white oak logs, 6' long. I am planning on getting a ripping chain for my Stihl 066 (28" bar) and cutting almost the full length of the bar into the log. Slow going, but it will split when done. I plan on quartersawing the log anyway on my Wood-Mizer, so it will work out fine. Something that big *needs* to be cut - you will not be able to split it just with wedges unless you have a dozen or so and a much bigger hammer (and a lot of muscle).
Jon E
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Don't know if this will help but here it is anyway. "If" you are located in a cold climate, an "old timer who sold wood, but split it by hand" told me it is much easier to split once it gets frozen.
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Toolmiser writes:

Old timer? It is MUCH easier to split when frozen. I used to do a lot of splitting when it dropped to zip. People think you're nuts working in a T shirt in taht kind of weather, but almost anything else and I'd sweat, which is no fun when it's really cold.
I used wood to heat almost exclusively from about 1973 until 1986. Then I married a farm girl who wants no part of it. She's been there, done that, with the hard work and the extra dirt.
The truism used to be that wood warmed you twice, once when you cut it, and once when you burned it. But it gives a moderately good warm up during stacking, carrying inside, and cleaning up the debris before and after burning, too.
Charlie Self
"Say what you will about the ten commandments, you must always come back to the pleasant fact that there are only ten of them." H. L. Mencken
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