I think your first step should be to find out what kind of wood it is.
While hardwoods are generally good, soft woods, like pine are not much
good. They burn quickly and explosively, and will gum up your chimney.
Assuming you have good wood, measure the length of the "rounds" and your
fireplace or stove. You don't want to end up with 22 inch wood and a 20
inch capacity fireplace.
Next, consider your capabilities. We are a lot more sedentary now than
we used to be, and I would guess that far fewer of us have the strength
and talent to split wood with an axe (I looked at the picture of your
axe and it has been around for many years with many names, and almost
certainly you will have instances where you will get it jammed in the
wood, so have something ready to get it out). It would be quicker and
easier to just rent a splitter.
I started swinging a sledge at age 12, making gravel out of a concrete
driveway with a 12 pound sledge. I hated it, but eventually I developed
some skill and strength, so when hockey season came around, all of a
sudden I had a great wrist shot. I should have thanked my father for
that experience. After that, I split a lot of wood with the sledge and
wedges. Sometimes I tried an axe, but always went back to the sledge
and wedges. Today, having put on a few years, I would rent a splitter.
My point would be that people, when I was young, had a lot of
experience doing that type of work before they were even adults; I doubt
that's true today.
I usually put the "round" on top of another one to split it, but
eventually you get some smaller pieces that need splitting, and won't,
for whatever reason, stand on end securely. Hitting an unsteady piece
with anything is not a good idea; you can damage your tools and
yourself. I ended up making a sturdy V frame, which held the pieces in
the right position while I finished them off.
But the way you get experience is by doing it. You have good points
about be sedentary but what is the cure for that? Yep, doing things.
In his case, splitting wood.
I have the 'sedentary' problem to the max. I am retired, don't do much
of anything except mow the grass. Winter time it is "sit on my
fundament". I usually have a very good belly going by spring time. My
"wooding", from cutting to final burning is about all the exercise I
get and I think it is about the best excercise you can get. It puts
all your muscles to work over prolonged periods. Beats the fool out of
paying to be totally bored at a fitness club.
At 71 I still split almost all my wood by sledge/maul/wedge although I
have a hydraulic splitter sitting right there. I will admit that I
broke down today and put the splitter back in operation at 10 when the
temp got up near 80. I am hoping I have the intestinal fortitude to go
back to the manual method tomorrow. I have about 3/4 cord on the PU to
be split and stacked. Manually it will take me 4 or 5 days. While the
exercise is good, I figure there is no need to be a masochisst about
My recent (educational) experience was splitting 1 cord or so of pine
with my 85 YO father. The next few days, it hurt to laugh. My arms
and chest were very sore. My father said he had no such problem.
It's all in what you're used to. Every spring after sitting on my
fundament all winter it takes about a month to get back to where I can
one hand the 10 pound sledge to start wedges again. Rather shocking to
shift over and find my left hand can't come close to doing it. Just
checked, have about 6 cord in the stacks from this year's cutting.
Will be out there again finishing up 1/2 load on the PU in a couple
hours. It does take me some intestinal fortitude to split it manually
as I have a hydraulic splitter sitting right there. I use that for any
tough to split stuff (knots and stringy stuff).
I took into consideration all of your suggestions and just finished
splitting 6 rounds with my Chopper1. I don't burn a lot of wood since
we have central heating. It's more to get the ol' lady in the mood on
especially cold nights. So I pretty much burn whatever I can get my
hands on. Instead of wearing sandals this time, I wore heavy boots and
shades. The logs cut ok. Some of the larger rounds were tougher than
others. I figure I will be ok if I cut only a few whenever the mood
hits me during the summer. That way I won't overtax myself. Thanks.
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