My recent battle with the cheap electric chainsaw, and subsequent redesign of my 36” crosscut saw’s handle have seen several people recommending I rive my huge logs with a simple wedge and sledgehammer system. I’d seen it done before, but had always thought the splits were messy – not an issue if I’m just making some turning blanks. I also feared that such shock-treatment of the logs would lead to microcracks and extra checking later. I’m probably just being paranoid. Riven furniture seems to hold up just fine.
I decided to look up log splitting with the old wedge method, and happened upon some great examples.
This guy made a wedge with a spike that holds itself in place well:
This guy gives a nice, brief how-to for using 2 wedges to split a long log:
There are also simple contraptions for people who can’t, or don’t want to swing a sledgehammer, like this one:
And this one:
The Chopper 1 axe has little feet that kick out as you strike a block of wood, helping to hurl the pieces outward:
The Leveraxe uses an offset weight on on side and special tip geometry to cause a twisting motion at the moment of the strike to cleanly break small pieces of wood free (the tire containment idea is also pretty cool). Watch this guy make a couple of Bloomin’ Onions:
I’d posted a couple of screw log splitters before, but I think this Ben Hur chariot version deserves a mention:
This has to be one of the most frightening log splitting ideas I’ve ever seen realized, save perhaps for cedar shake saws. Note the conspicuous lack of safety measures of any kind whatsoever. Who needs em?
But the real bang for your buck comes in when you split logs with black powder:
Can I charge more for furniture made from “exploded wood?”
There are so many more videos of log splitting of every kind. I didn’t even bother posting hydraulic things here, of which there are many variations of horizontal and vertical splitters in both powered and manual forms. There is one thing I’ve learned, though, from watching countless log splitting videos and from posting some myself: You cannot post a video on YouTube that involves methods of cutting, felling, or splitting wood without someone showing up to tell you how terrible you, your methods, and your tools are¹ :) You just have to know up front that some people are simply not going to like you and whatever method you choose for reducing the size of your trees.
¹ same goes for machinists and any videos posted about machining anything.
-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator