Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘wood splitter

Works Slick

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It made for a great workout that got me huffing and puffing, and soaked in sweat out in the great outdoors. Getting exercise by splitting firewood beats lifting weights in a gym because when you are done, you have a beautiful pile of firewood. Simple as that.

I wouldn’t describe it as quick, but splitting wood with my new tool, the Splitz-All was definitely faster than with my Swedish patented Smart Splitter. The additional benefit of the Splitz-All being portable will likely lead to this being my primary weapon of choice for a while.

Using the supplied chain to bundle the cut logs and hold them upright even after they split worked just as advertised. Also, popping the tool back out of a log that isn’t splitting easily took less effort than with the Smart Splitter.

The dead tree from the paddock is now all split and stacked in the woodshed.

One reason the splitter is such a good exercise workout is the efficiency of hammering away, one after another, on the bundled logs. There is no pause needed when moving immediately after a split to pounding on the next log.

I look forward to getting past my urge to split every log as fast as possible just because it works well enough to allow for that and slowing down to a more sustainable pace so I won’t bonk before everything is split.

When I’m no longer capable of splitting wood with muscle power, the next tool will likely involve hydraulics.

Until then, Splitz-All is my weight lifting machine. One that produces the bonus output of a valuable useable product.

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Next Project

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It’s going to be another solo weekend for me as Cyndie will be at her mom’s house in Edina and that will give me a chance to make all sorts of racket with my newest wood splitting tool. It is one I ordered online last winter and had to wait to receive it until long after I had any interest in wrestling with it in the heat of summer.

I tested it on a few logs last April and quickly learned the metal-on-metal banging demands serious hearing protection. The gist of the mechanism is basically the same as my old splitter except it doesn’t glide on a stationary post, so it’s completely mobile!

It’s got two handgrips and I can take it to wherever the cut logs are piled to split them right there.

It just so happens we have several such piles after last weekend. When I cut up the trunk laying in the paddock, we also took care of a tree that was laying across one of our trails, one that was leaning against others in the woods between the house and chicken coop, and an old dead tree in the middle of the woods where I had just cleared a new trail.

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I will bundle those little logs with the chain shown in the image above –which is supposed to hold everything in place while splitting– and chop away with reckless abandon.

Then I’ll have piles of split firewood to collect with the famous ATV trailer that Cyndie bought as a replacement for the one she sold in her big barn sale, thinking we no longer needed it.

I’ll also have an upper body workout taken care of without needing to go to a gym. It’ll be a project with multiple benefits.

We’ll see if reality is able to live up to my ambitious visions.

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Written by johnwhays

September 30, 2021 at 6:00 am

New Parts

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I decided to practice a little preventative maintenance on my log splitter and ordered spare parts before they completely failed. I had noticed that the nylon impact bushing was beginning to deform and one of the washers on the bottom spacer had already fractured.dscn5773e

In a quick search, I found that both of these parts were readily available to extend the life of the product, so I made the buy. In this picture, I’ve already installed the new parts and bagged the old ones, which I’ll store in the off-hand chance of future unexpected failure.

I saw in the review comments for the parts that some folks had the impact bushing fracture. It has helped me to be more aware of how my use of the splitter stresses these parts. I am less driven to pound away on a log that is obviously not giving in to the idea of my wanting it to split.

The temperature was just about to climb above freezing when I started yesterday and the frozen wood was snapping apart with minimum effort. I was thinking I should get Cyndie to record a video to demonstrate how slick this tool is. I’m glad I didn’t, because no sooner than having that thought did my luck swing and the wood changed to stringier oak. I also came to a few Y-shaped pieces. These reveal the amazing strength at that junction which allows branches to support such incredible amounts of weight in big old trees.

You need to pick your angles carefully to convince the wood to separate at the junctions where branches Y off.

When a log is particularly resistant to the intrusion of the Smart Splitter wedge, I employ the added incentive of the orange twisting wedge and some pounding with the traditional splitting maul. It makes for a lot more effort, but I surprise myself by the eventual success I’ve been able to achieve in the face of some pieces that look like they would require the power of a machine.

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I had a nice session of progress, saving a couple of the bigger challenges for later, since my energy had declined as morning turned to afternoon and it was time for some lunch. Later, on my way to another task, I stopped to muscle the last two challenges.

I have incentive to get our current piles of wood split and stacked in the shed. This coming Thursday and Friday is our appointment for the tree trimmers to come cut high branches from our old trees. I’ve instructed them to focus solely on dropping branches that are out of my reach.

I will cut and split, or shred with the chipper, all the wood that comes to the ground so they don’t end up wasting any precious time (or our limited funds) on something I can do later. I think that cleanup project has the capacity to become an ongoing chore that will last me for the rest of the year.

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Written by johnwhays

February 11, 2017 at 10:42 am

Going Right

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When things are going right for you, ya just gotta soak it up and enjoy it for all it’s worth. I’ve had a vision in my head since we moved here about how I might manage firewood. After a variety of stumbles in the time since, yesterday I made progress that went as smoothly as I could ever hope, in terms of the vision I had.

When we first arrived on this property, there was firewood stored under the overhang of the barn that the previous owners generously left for us. I had to move it up by the house, but it was more than enough to allow us to enjoy fires through that first winter.

When we had our fence contractor start clearing trees from the water drain path and pulling out old fencing, they created a hefty pile of cut logs that I needed to split to augment the dwindling stockpile that had been left for us. I needed to shop for a splitter. I found that ingenious Swedish manual splitter which works slick and will be perfect, once I am ahead and only splitting a small amount at a time.

The fence crew cut logs haphazardly and I found the lack of uniform length frustrating. It made it difficult to split, but that wood got us through the second year.

I found myself looking forward to eventually being able to cut my own wood so I could enact a little quality control. I figured out the chainsaw I wanted to have and made that purchase, but the quality control would take some time as I gained experience. Meanwhile, I still had a large backlog of already cut wood awaiting splitting, and that kept growing because of the new trees I was cutting down for this year’s fence project.

IMG_iP0700eWhen the woodshed I had built was knocked down in a storm last spring, I let the wood splitting slip while I figured out how to get the roof back up again. That has left us a little short of ready to burn firewood for this winter. All the splitting that my neighbor recently helped me with is for wood that will be burned next year.

Now with Cyndie home for weeks on end, recuperating from her hip transplant, we’ve been having fires almost every day and have quickly consumed much of the balance of dry wood. I need to take action on a plan to turn the many downed trees in our forest into firewood.

I’m hoping they have been dead long enough that we can burn it as is. I broke off a few small branches and mixed them in our fuel a few days ago with good success. Yesterday, I got out the chainsaw and cut the bigger branches into perfect-sized logs. Some of them getting big enough around that I felt I should take a crack at splitting them.

It’s an oak tree, and the manual splitter was popping them in two with surprising ease. I stacked them in the open space on the right side of the shed and quickly had a pile over two feet high. Everything was working just as I envisioned it could. This is the way I will be able to stay ahead of our needs by just doing a little at a time.

It was an incredibly rewarding exercise, made more so by the hassles I’ve dealt with prior, before finally getting to this point of things going so right.

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Written by johnwhays

December 2, 2014 at 7:00 am

Precious Godsend

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A few weeks ago, our neighbor stopped by to deliver some mail that had erroneously been left in their mailbox. He walked around to the back of the house to find Cyndie, and noticed my pile of logs awaiting the ax. He told her that he had a gas-engine splitter that wasn’t getting any use. He offered to come over and help me split firewood.

I had mixed feelings about it. I don’t like the noise the gas engine makes, but it would be a huge advantage for getting a lot of wood split all at one time. I loved that our neighbor wanted to help us, but he is 77-years-old and this was a task that seemed above and beyond the call of duty. Since his first offer, he’d mentioned it a couple of other times when I’d seen him, so I knew the offer was genuine. That made me really want to take him up on it, but I just hadn’t gotten around to it.

Yesterday he made it easy for me. He called and asked if I would be around in the afternoon, because he wanted to bring the splitter over and take care of my wood pile. Happily, I was just on my way home from picking up Delilah from her grooming appointment. How could I refuse?

IMG_4149eI’m no longer worried about the effort being too much for him. I think he can out-work me. I wanted to stop when the sun set, but there was still some wood left in the row we were on. He told me I could go and he would finish those last few. I stayed, ultimately insisting he quit when it got too dark to work safely.

Obviously, the powered splitter made much quicker work of the logs than I could accomplish with my manual splitter, but more importantly, it is able to tackle the stringy-est wood that would defy my splitter entirely. I don’t know if it was ash or elm (he said it’s a hybrid of the two), but some of the largest logs were of that wood and I never would have gotten them split without the 22-ton force hydraulic ram-rod he volunteered to bring over.

I think splitting wood is something he sees as a pleasure to do, not a chore. I also think that I live a charmed life to have landed this paradise of a property with two of the most helpful neighbors on either side. As he prepared to depart for home on his 4-wheeler with the splitter hitched to the back, he very matter-of-factly stated that he would come back tomorrow to finish the remainder of the pile that needs splitting.

I didn’t try to refuse. I’m putting that energy into trying to figure out how I will ever be able to return the favor. My gushing thank-you’s don’t feel anywhere near adequate.

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Written by johnwhays

November 7, 2014 at 7:00 am

Big Plans

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Today we have some high expectations for big accomplishments. Our friends, Barb and Mike are coming over to help us get the woodshed roof back up. Before we even get to that project, our horses have an appointment with the veterinarian. They will have their teeth checked and be given whatever shots are due in this routine scheduled visit. We plan to move them into their stalls in the barn when we go down to serve their morning feed. After horses, it’s all about the woodshed.

If we are successful in getting the woodshed rebuilt, it will be a significant psychological milestone for me. It has lingered in my mind all summer as unfinished business, and visually tarnished the look and ambiance of that space behind our house. While we’ve made great strides on all the other major projects we had in mind for the summer, that unfinished woodshed remains as the last of my significant goals. It has been an ongoing source of torment for me.

I miss having that place where my wood splitter was conveniently stationed. I would meander back there at various odd times, in moments between other projects, to split 5 or 10 logs, tossing them on the stack under the roof. There is something special about the atmosphere of that space where the logs are split and stacked. I don’t feel the same sense of satisfaction toiling away on the workbench in the shop, as I do around the wood splitter.DSCN2145e2

I’ll have plenty of opportunity to enjoy that space once the woodshed is rebuilt. We have quite a backlog of wood that needs splitting from all the trees we have cut to clear space for the pasture fence, to open up the south drainage ditch, and to widen the trail we opened up through the south woods. Unfortunately, it will all be for next year’s burning.

I’m going to be a little short of split wood this winter, I’m afraid. When things get slim, I’m hoping I can harvest some of the branches of dead wood that are widely available around the property. There are plenty that are small enough they won’t need to be split, if I just cut ’em to fit into the fireplace. I know Cyndie won’t want to give up warm fires just because we’ve used up all the seasoned split logs. It will be important that I devise a workable alternative to satisfy her voracious appetite for that mesmerizing glow from the hearth.

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Written by johnwhays

October 25, 2014 at 6:00 am