Splitting Wood by Hand, #5, Just Splitting Some Wood.

This is #5 in my wood splitting video series, but it's being released out of order.  After shooting the footage for segments3 and 4 on technique and strategy, and trying to explain it all, the gears in my brain really started turning.  I feel like I can do a much better job of explaining and demonstrating those things now.  Having put it all into language in my head I also feel like I have a better personal understanding too and can probably further refine my technique.  So the technique and strategy videos will be re-shot this year, although I'm putting a few bullet points and a teaser below.  Also below are a list of other wood splitting videos worth watching.

I also have better slow motion capabilities now, which I can use to make a study of the mechanics of splitting.  Some of the important stuff that I'll be talking about in the technique video is presented in this segment as subtitles.  I'll make blog posts with photos explaining segments 3 and 4, but this video stands on it's own more or less, and it is intended for visual learning anyway.

I just spent a couple of hours looking for a few decent wood splitting videos to link in this one, and I can tell you, my stuff is top shelf compared to the vast majority of what's out there.  Hopefully people will actually see it.  I'm still ranking low in the search engines.  Comments, likes and shares anywhere help me reach more people.  I'm very excited to make the next two videos and get deeper into the details that matter and which could really help people increase their splitting effectiveness!  The previously released videos, along with this one, are in my firewood playlist.


Some notes and bullet points.

You'll notice that I don't favor using a splitting block for the most part.  Splitting on the ground requires a tool with a pretty obtuse edge for strength, but it has some benefits as follows.

*We don't have to move the wood to the block, especially important with big rounds.

*We don't have to pick up pieces and set them on (or back on) the stump.

*We don't have to set the tool down to pick up wood

*We have better mechanical advantage (more speed can be generated if target is lower)

*It is safer, since the work is closer to the ground.

*Less interruption to the work flow.

I've come to think that the equation Mass+Speed= Inertia/Momentum/Power is a core principal here.  I believe that any energy transfer to the target after contact is negligable compared the energy embodied before impact.  By having a low target and tightening the radius of the swing into a shorter arc at the end of the stroke, you can generate a tremendous amount of speed which equates to stored energy.  I know there is more involved than just that, but I suspect that things like the shape of the head, angle of attack and any twisting or manipulation of the head is really secondary to that equation.  Even if twisting, the head, at the moment of impact to open the split, you are still using mostly that stored energy, you're just sending it off in a different direction.  Aim and Strategy are of course also extremely important.  But, assuming you know where to strike and can hit the target, being able to embody a great deal of energy in the maul or ax head will most certainly serve you well, even if you don't need it all the time.

These video stills helped me understand my technique better and will no doubt lead to further refinement.  They are evenly spaced and shot at 24 frames per second, so covering just 9/24ths of a second.  Notice how much faster the maul head travels from frames 4 to 6, due to a tightening of the radius of the swing. It is hardly visible in frame 6, too fast for the camera to catch. 

After frame 5, the arc revolves around my fixed wrist position.  Between frames 5 and 9, my wrists move very little, but the head moves 4 feet or more.  I'm not pushing the head through the wood, I'm whipping it on the end of this long handle to throw it through the wood.  The force generated by this technique can be very powerful.  It's about taking the mass you have to work with and accelerating it very fast using simple leverage.

Also, note that because of that tighter radius, the angle of attack is significantly toward me.  If the round were up on a block, that could put the mauls edge pointing dangerously at my ankles or feet... not to mention that I would have less time and distance in which to generate speed unless I'm 7 feet tall.  A low block is an option, but requires moving each round onto the block.  Of course, this much momentum is often unnecessary.  Splitting blocks are great sometimes, but I've come to use them less and less for the type of splitting I'm usually doing around here.

Other youtube videos worth watching

Wood splitting videos worth checking out.  I had to sift through a load of crap to find these few gems!

*Damn, can anyone say badass?  I like the splitting horizontal pieces on the ground.  Been playing with that for smaller pieces.  https://youtu.be/ZMTnhDr8Wa4  

*And another bad ass!  A serious professional. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17HnpyMPFJA

*Score one for the badass ladies.  115 pounds of hellcat!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kTIS15oa7o

*Delicate and graceful, but effective.  And splitting over rocks even.  Just beautiful.  this is one of the Vido Daughters.  I have communicated with them about scythes and other self reliance/tool stuff.  Lovely people, check out their youtube channel, scytheconnection for some amazing videos, and also the scythe connection website. These people are the real deal!  When they talk, people should listen.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fWo0P0MdJM

*This guy split professionally with a relatively light and very thin axe he designed just for splitting.  Entirely different than my generally heavy handed maul approach.  Here he races a hydraulic splitter. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95Z2UXEFUIw

*Eustace Conway, subject of the book The Last American Man.  I met him when I was 19.  He blanked out a piece of wood for me with his hatchet.  I was trying to make a bowl out of it, but I only had a dull swiss army knife.  It was the first time I saw anyone use a hatchet with any proficiency, a Eureka moment for sure.  I've been in love with axes and hatchets ever since.  Anyway, his technique is interesting.  Poetry in motion!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHk6jn4c_FE

*I like this guy's video.  His wood is easy splitting and sounds/looks frozen, which makes it even easier, but he's using a small short handled axe and he clearly knows what he's doing.  He's got the speed building rotation around the wrists thing going on too.  Also, very interested in his hit overhanging the far edge of the round technique.  I'll definitely be playing with that.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H10hVHCb-Ts

*This guy is great.  he's got a big old axe and is just totally berserk, but very effective and deadly accurate!  I'd love to see what he could do with that axe on some of the harder wood I split around here.  It's nice to use an axe when it does the job it just sort of slides on through, unlike the fat maul bits I use most of the time, but when axes jam up, the narrow bit sinks in deep and is a lot harder to pull out.   https://youtu.be/P32JDvu0b-0   Watch beginning of part 2 as well.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyWvBi-4QhIAgain with the very straight, grained soft, easy splitting wood though.