Reply by Dan Wolfgang

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Posted on Problems splitting a log, help needed

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Dan Wolfgang

176 posts in 1007 days

#1 posted 02-19-2018 12:10 AM

Are you sure this is yellow birch? In the first photo, is that bark on the right edge? It looks deep and textured vertically, not smooth and banded horizontally, like birch typically is. Is it somewhat rotted around where you’re splitting it? Looking at where you’re “splitting” it… are you actually splitting it at all? It looks like the wedges have been driven in with there being no splitting action whatsoever. Is it that soaking wet, that you could drive them in without seeing any splitting? The wedges don’t really look like they’re inline, especially the bottom-most one of the top photo. If you are seeing some splitting at some point in the log, are you sure you were getting the logs into the split to help it along?

I’ve split quite a bit of birch by hand. Green or dry, it typically splits pretty nicely. As wichman3 wrote, work at defining the split in the end of the log first, then placing one wedge directly next to another, allowing you to control the split and work it open. When the first wedge falls out, again place it directly next to the other and work your way down, or maybe switch to the other side of the log to help it open there.

Of course that doesn’t help you now. I would work at creating a split on the end, and I’d use my splitting axe rather than the maul. I’d probably try to work off-axis of the wedges to split it into a thinner piece. That way, the piece with the wedges stuck in it will require less force to break apart to get the wedges out.

Alternatively, based on the end of the logs and seeing no cracks, It’d just set the log aside. It’ll dry further and maybe your wedges will help it split open where you want. With the wedges pounded all the way in you really don’t have any way to grab them to get them out. Let it dry for a year or two and maybe you’ll be able to split it with your maul then.

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