What type of firewood is used in splitting scenes in the movies?

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Forum topic by JJohnston posted 09-08-2009 10:54 PM 1622 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1622 posts in 3256 days

09-08-2009 10:54 PM

You’ve all seen in the movies, when a character splits firewood, the log somehow just explodes apart as soon as the edge of the ax touches it. Is this rigged, or is there a species that actually behaves this way? All the firewood I’ve ever split has been some variety of pine, and to split it requires at least an ax (single-ended) and 2 sledgehammers. The ax is stuck in the log on the first swing, then the first sledgehammer is used to drive the ax down until it’s also stuck, then the second hammer is used to drive down the first one. If you’ve cut your piece to the right length, the ax is coming out the bottom of the piece just as the second hammer gets stuck, then you can pull all 3 tools out the side (the piece will still only be parted on one side). Then you repeat the process on the remaining unsplit part of the piece. Repeat until gas furnace is installed.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

28 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8534 posts in 3613 days

#1 posted 09-08-2009 11:05 PM

hollywood = fakywood… no, you can rest assure they don’t REALLY split logs during a shoot. it’s already split, and held together with thin glue, or something similar…

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View SwedishIron's profile


142 posts in 3606 days

#2 posted 09-08-2009 11:07 PM

I’ve split some green ash that popped apart pretty easy.. granted the pieces were free of knots and crotches relatively straight grained chunks. But I do know that the colder the weather, the better for increased popping action. :)

Put your firewood into your freezer during the summer months several hours before splitting. :D

-- Scott, Colorado

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 3956 days

#3 posted 09-08-2009 11:11 PM

You just need a bigger axe :) I had some cedar that popped pretty easily.

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View dbhost's profile


5705 posts in 3197 days

#4 posted 09-08-2009 11:37 PM

I split some oak this previous winter that had been seasoning as entire logs for about 2 years that popped pretty good. Green wood generally speaking likes to stick together. If your wood is end checking, chances are REALLY good it will pop apart with a good, heavy, sharp axe…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View GMman's profile


3902 posts in 3662 days

#5 posted 09-09-2009 12:45 AM

I use wood for heat in the winter all maple.
An old timer one time was showing me how to split large logs 18 and 20 inches wide, what he said is as soon as you axe hits the log you give it a little twist and your axe never get stuck and the wood split the first time.

View bluchz's profile


187 posts in 3338 days

#6 posted 09-09-2009 01:31 AM

Hmm why would you burn Pine? dosen’t it clogg your chimney?

-- flash=250,100][/flash]

View bobthebuilder647's profile


128 posts in 3217 days

#7 posted 09-09-2009 02:05 AM

I also use a lot of maple. Splits ok for me. Easier if I cut 14 to 16 in. instead of 18 to 20.

-- Rick, Pa. Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4365 days

#8 posted 09-09-2009 02:30 AM

Hydraulic power helps a lot.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View GMman's profile


3902 posts in 3662 days

#9 posted 09-09-2009 02:31 AM

b647….I mean 18 and 20 inches across but all 16 inches long or high also my furnace can take 24 inches but I use 16 inches which is a standard lenght.

View BeachedBones's profile


201 posts in 3367 days

#10 posted 09-09-2009 02:35 AM

I’ve had that kind of effect happen a lot with very dry wood, in very cold conditions, say below -30’C. I’ve actually had logs jump into 4 or 5 pieces with one good solid wack. I’ve had it happen with ash, oak and birch. Hollywood probably fakes it. Of course the axe should be sharp, wedge shaped and not covered in rust.

-- You know.... I think that old wood needs to be furniture.

View Gary's profile


9324 posts in 3398 days

#11 posted 09-09-2009 02:37 AM

My splitter is a 30 ton. Never seem to have that problem. As for burning pine…never in my fireplace. Too great of a chance for a fire in the chimney which has caused lots of houses to burn down.

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View Walnut_Weasel's profile


360 posts in 3187 days

#12 posted 09-09-2009 02:46 AM

Growing up we always split wood with a maul. As you have found trying to use an ax to split takes a ridiculous amount of work. Only use an ax for turning well seasoned small/pre-split wood into kenneling or cutting down a tree. The ax and maul are similar to using different blade types during sawing. The maul is for ripping and the ax is for cross-cutting.

Though even with a maul, not a lot of wood tears apart with the first swing…and now that I am not a young pup loaded with testosterone and muscle, it is more like the 6th or 7th swing ;)

-- James -

View GMman's profile


3902 posts in 3662 days

#13 posted 09-09-2009 02:57 AM

Gary you have the tool the old days are gone so why not use a modern way.

View GFYS's profile


711 posts in 3436 days

#14 posted 09-09-2009 02:59 AM

Pretty much any straight grained dry wood with few knots will split easily. Axes aren’t for splitting. Mauls are for splitting. Striking on the outer edge rather than the heart will split the wood easier. Low temp does help. I burn anything. I prefer splitting with an elect/ hyd. splitter

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3256 days

#15 posted 09-09-2009 03:46 AM

I should have said “maul” instead of “ax”. As for burning pine, my parents burned wood for supplemental heat, and pine of some variety is all there is here in New Mexico, and it’s free for the taking in certain parts of National Forests, as long as it’s already down. And why would my parents pay good money for a hydraulic splitter, when they already had 2 electrochemical splitters, i.e., my brother and me.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

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