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Saturday, February 06, 2010


It is snowing at a rate of well over an inch an hour. There's like a foot out there. Already.

Oh, for the sunny south (not that it is so sunny right now). I had taken the precaution of packing the Chief in a crate and shipping him south by air earlier this week, and he indignantly reports that it is very wet - too wet to golf. So he is not gettin' any of anything, if you know what I mean. Well, it is his own fault, because he was making noises about splitting firewood. I had to hide the firewood splitting thingie. And I needed firewood.

Yesterday I unearthed the firewood splitting thingie and split a good deal just in case the power went out. There are few things that make you feel better than splitting firewood, so yesterday between the employment report and the firewood I was in a good mood. Which has since waned, given the weather and the fact that it is supposed to snow next week again and then again next weekend, which will be Valentine's Day, which I will spend alone save with a grumpy, forlorn bulldog.

After considering the totality of the circumstances (deep snow, no man, grumpy bulldog) clearly there is only one thing to do:

Play with J

My hobby of sorts is wood fired pottery mostly Anagama since we have two kilns available in Napa.
We burn around 8 to 10 cords of wood in each firing lasting roughly a cord per day. This is a community style firing so each artist does a certain amount of work including finding fallen tree's, cutting out suitable rounds and many hours spent on the log splitter thingie as you call it. I could note imagine doing this process without the log splitter thingie!!!!!
Well, I've got a genuine log splitter at home in GA, but unfortunately up here this is the old-fashioned type of swing-it log splitter. Big logs sledge and wedge, smaller stuff the splitting thingie. This tool must have a name, but I don't know what that name is. It's sort of like a mattock on one side and a splitting wedge on the other side. After I spent some time googling it might be a cutter mattock? But the one I've got is old, old, old.

But 8 cords of wood is a lot of wood!! You need the hydraulic splitter for that type of production. Or a very, very strong back.
PS: I have often wondered if milder depressions wouldn't be more effectively treated by splitting firewood than medications. Maybe this was the secret of the greatest generation.

I swear you feel almost as good afterwards as if you had had sex.
Too bad I've lost contact with old loggers or I could find out what that tool is. Personally, I am very happy not to be splitting wood or throwing chains under the tires of my car to make it three feet up the driveway and onto the road (which was my life last winter). Here in the lowlands, it was 60 degrees yesterday and sunny. I hope the snow clears for you soon!
Teri, I'm out! And I got the old lady out, too.

An overland relief expedition from a local station (Christmas cookies and I've done a few favors) arrived and did the worst of it.

I'm still tired and cold. I'm getting a bit old for this.
It's called a splitting maul.
I should add, a cutter mattock is used for digging. It's very helpful in rocky soil.
I have a Fiskars Splitting Axe. Yes, the same company that makes the shears and scissors. I love the thing; it's light, easily swung, and very forgiving. That means that even an off-center impact will usually split the wood. I split knots in elm with this, so that should give you an idea of how effective it is.

The thing is, its handle is shorter than most splitting tools, so the first few times you swing it, you need to measure the swing carefully. I didn't, and have an interesting scar on my shin thereby.

You're right about the feeling after splitting a pile of wood. It's just not the same with a hydraulic splitter.
Oh, and I think you're right about mild depression and splitting wood. It may have something to do with physical activity combined with outdoor light. Depressed folks are often sedentary and agoraphobic, which I think compounds the problem.

I also think a nice crackling wood fire is a mood elevator. My wife reports she feels better when there's a fire going.
John - this thing is a cutter mattock - the other use for it is to sort of chop your way through roots and so forth. I don't have a splitting maul. We use this for both. It works quite well, but it's a very old tool and the modern ones might not.

Hmm. Gordon, it looks a mite dangerous. I kind of like the longer handles.
Gordon - so I gather the Fiskars deal is made of real metal? It's gotten so I just don't want to buy new tools - they all seem to be made of tin. They don't last at all.

Yes, it's forged carbon steel with a fiber-reinforced plastic handle that won't break no matter how bad you abuse it. Mine is the 2400 Power Axe; there's a 7854 that has a head that's one pound heavier. It comes with a plastic guard that snaps around the head for storage.

Most handles seem to run about 32", and this one is 28", so, as I wrote before, you need to measure your swing carefully the first few times.

The heads have a teflon coating so they don't stick to the wood. I've never sharpened mine (hasn't needed it) but some folks like to do that, and Fiskars sells a sharpener that does a fast and good job.

All I can say is that this thing puts all your power into the head at the right moment to explode the wood. I've split 16" diameter (green) red oak with it. Unlike bare steel heads, this one doesn't get stuck if you don't go all the way through on the first strike. And if you misstrike, your hands won't hurt the way they do with a hickory handle.

You will split more wood with MUCH less effort than anything I've used before. I've had guys sneer at it because it's so light, but once they've swung it a couple of times and felt the way it transfers the power into the log, they get hooked and I get to sit back and watch them do it.

None of us are getting any younger, and I'm not too proud to park the old hickory-handled maul in favor of this little baby. You won't be sorry.
Gordon,I have the heavier Fiskars and like it a lot.I split Oak and eucalyptus mostly.I wanted that longer handle.
Heh,I use my wife's father's grandaddy's axe. Head's been replaced twice, and the handle three times, but it's her great-grandaddy's axe.

You certainly know you've split wood once you've used it, let me tell you. Gordon's Fiskar's-thingy is tempting.
Oh, I learned how to split using a long-handled axe. I learned that if your swing is a bit long, the handle will break. I learned that lesson a couple of times, because I'm a slow learner.

The 28" handle on the Fiskars works well for me because I have a peculiar condition that causes loss of accurate control on the downswing. The doctors call it clumsiness.
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