Posts tagged #chopping wood

Axe Cordwood Challenge 2018 is On, Rules and Stuff

The Axe Cordwood Challenge for 2018 Kicks off today, Jan 1st 2018, through Sept. 1st 2018.  Here is the official video.  Also, below is the "must watch" playlist of videos for the cordwood challenge, which I hope to add to in the coming months.  Stay safe and have fun.

Splitting Axe Cut Wood With a Sharp Felling Axe, Safety and Effectiveness

The first video is a short trailer or propaganda piece to promote the second video.  Below are a few non-technical points I wanted to elaborate on.

I just have a few points I want to emphasize or elaborate on.  I made this video in response to a lot of questions from people about how to deal with wood that is bucked with an axe, since it can't be set on end, or on a block.  Also, because of how I'm operating with one axe, I assumed that it would be a small short axe and that it was intended to retain the edge in chopping condition.  That wasn't so much a plan as it was just how it turned out since that's my world right now.  It is not the only way to approach it.  You could, and most probably do, have a dedicated splitting axe, or maybe a splitting edge on one side of a double bitted axe that can taste a little dirt here and there without much worry, especially if it's ground with a fat bevel that is less likely to suffer severe damage than a thinly ground edge.  A longer heavier axe with a fatter grind is great, as is not having to baby it.  However, using a small, short axe and keeping it sharp requires one to refine technique and strategy, and I think that is a good thing.  I'm also very interested in making whatever tool I have work, and in processing wood with one axe.  You'll hardly find anyone out there recommending an axe ground for felling, limbing and bucking as a splitting axe.  Probably the opposite in fact.

One of the important points in this video is that it requires some investment to figure out what is possible.  Many will discount the possibility of using axes, but not always out of experience, but rather assumption.  I've been guilty of this to an extent myself and it's a mistake.  I personally think that it's worth some investment to figure out what is possible and where an axe is more advantageous than a maul.  I really like splitting with a maul and with some of the stuff I have to split, like dry hardwoods with knots and forks, I'm not likely to ditch my maul altogether.  But, I will keep pushing my limits with axes of various kinds to find out what those limits really are. 

It is not enough to just just smack a few rounds with an axe to see if anything falls off.  It takes some investment in yourself to develop good technique and at least a basic understanding of strategy as presented in these videos.  The flick technique, as Buckin' Billy Ray Smith calls it, or the twist as the Vido's call it, is essential to develop for splitting anything difficult with an axe.  It is just a way to use the power generated in the swing to good mechanical advantage by prying the wood apart on impact instead of just wedging it apart with the shape of the axe.  It can make up for the lower mass of an axe head v.s. a maul in some cases.  I believe that Tom Clark, inventor of the buster axe, an axe optimized for this technique, actually hit the wood with the head tilted at a slight angle.  I think I twist it on impact, but it's hard to know for sure without a slow mo study.  Either way, you'll develop a feel for what works.  It is a skill that has to be learned by some time spent as it's rather clumsy at first to get the timing right. If you have a very sharp short handled axe that you are trying to stay out of the way of, which often requires somewhat awkward positioning, and on top of all that are trying to hit the center of a knotty piece of wood within a quarter inch, you can imagine that some time will have to be put in to gain a reasonable level of skill.  The catch 22 is that it's only by gaining a certain level of proficiency that we can find out what is really possible and not.

The flick technique can be used as an alternative to generating velocity in splitting at times, but should not be thought of as a permanent stand in for it.  The ability to generate a high velocity is a critical tool to have and will only complement that sideways torque when both are needed.  I didn't go much into it, but will in the future.  From my observation and experience so far, high velocity is primarily created by the axe head scribing an arc around a relatively fixed, or at least more fixed, point, like the wrists, elbows, shoulders, waist, or a complex combination of all of those.  it is a complex topic.  With the target at a certain height, it becomes less possible to generate velocity, and the higher you go from there, the harder it gets.  That is one reason I don't use splitting blocks much.  Working close to the ground has the advantage that it is easier to generate velocity, because you have more distance in the swing and can use body mechanics to better advantage.

For me, doing the axe cordwood challenge, in the way I approach it, has been perfect for developing these skills.  I stick pretty much with the axe I'm chopping with, which for now is always small and sharp, and I split in the field with no blocks or contrivances of any kind.  I can only remember abandoning two, maybe three, pieces of wood that were just really knotty or more likely forked.  Even those could likely be split with enough energy, but I know when not to beat my head against a wall for a peanut.  I'm glad that I've invested in this skill, because it will ultimately increase my splitting efficiency in all arenas.  I now have a pretty good idea of what I can get away with and am further refining and defining when an axe will be more advantageous than a maul in splitting sawn rounds as well.  For what it's worth, these videos at least show some possibility that can be put to use or invested in later.  It's not for everyone, and not for every situation, and possibly not for every species, but in the right circumstances it is remarkably efficient and satisfying.  I can say, that just splitting what I incidentally have to cut here, which is Madrone, Bay, Fir, Tan oak and Black oak, that none of those species are consistently difficult to split when young trees are cut and split green.  Older Madrone and Bay can develop some wicked cross grain, but a person is not likely to be cutting those for firewood with an axe, and if they were, large trunks would have to be split, probably with wedges, before bucking, not after. 

The axe and the technique of using it with good strategy are just another set of tools in the bag to be applied where they are best suited, or when necessary.  But, again, it is a tool that has to be developed and refined to be appreciated and applied to anything but the most easily split woods.  I'm glad I've put in some time and forced my progress by using axes that are not ideal for the job and I get to reap the rewards of that from here out.

Did I mention that it's fun?  It's really fun :D

Axe Only Firewood Processing, Felling, Limbing, Lopping, Bucking for a Splitting Video

I released a video a couple days ago on processing my last tree for the cordwood challenge.  This was a tree I chose as not particular easy to split for a splitting video I'm still waiting to record.  The question of how you split wood with an axe if it's cut with an axe instead of a saw vies with "what do you do with the chips" as the most common question regarding processing wood with an axe.  The footage I shot for the front of that video seemed like a good stand alone video, so I edited it and posted it with some commentary.

Be aware that there is a lot going on when I'm processing this tree that is invisible to the uninitiated.  If I were watching someone else do it, I could spot some of that "invisible" technique and safety stuff, but not all of it as it is very subtle and personal.  The lopping operation is especially dangerous, but I'm using several things to stay as safe as possible.  The most important might be the direction of cut, which means in what direction the force is pointed, the obvious reference point being the cutting edge.  A close second is probably body positioning to decrease the likelihood of a stray edge contacting my body.  Moderation of the force used is also extremely important.  Axe work requires constant adaptation and a certain level of humility where you have to say to yourself "I can hit this really hard, but I'm not going to!"  Finally, you really have to be able to hit what you're aiming at.  Anyway, it's mostly a lot of chopping, but some people really seem to like that.  There are some really good pointers though too.  You can count on some very detailed tutorials in the future.

First Entry for the Cordwood Challenge, Tim Springston of Oxbow Farms

Even though I haven't really officially kicked off the cordwood challenge (working on it now) Tim Springston (on youtube as oxbow farm) has already finished a cord of wood!  Way to go Tim!  He says it was so much fun and he has learned so much that he's thinking of chopping another cord this year.    Tim has been making some videos talking about the project.  I'm embedding his cordwood challenge playlist here.  Congratulations for finishing the challenge in style, being the first ever to finish it, and finishing it safely.  When I get the strops and cordwood challenge merit badges together they're in the mail to Tims neck of the woods.

Bucking Without Sucking, Toward Efficient Notching With an Axe

I have a great video coming out on tanning the deer skin for the axe strops I'm making for the cordwood challenge.  But the file is huge and my internet was acting up so I made this short video out of something I had sitting around from another project so I could keep my every Saturday posting schedule.

In the video clip, I'm just messing about and demonstrating on this log.  I wasn't actually processing this fallen Black Oak tree, it was just a good size and condition for the project which will be a more in depth video and blog post on common mistakes in bucking, as well as the psychology that leads us into those mistakes and keeps us there.  Bucking well is a hard won skill and can be very clumsy, especially under varied field conditions when working at ground level.  There are several important take home messages in this video that can help people get passed common pitfalls. 

If you see something like the video I'm adding below by Ben at Ben's backwoods on throwing big chips, it looks exceptional in the backdrop of the average axe bucking video (excluding competition choppers), but it shouldn't seem so exceptional.  This is the kind of accuracy, strategy and adherence to a proven system that can make chopping, fun and much more efficient than most people imagine it could be.  I'm also linkng a Basque axe race that viewer Jon Ugalde posted in the comments on todays video that is truly epic!  Those are beech logs they're cutting.  Seriously awesome.

Starting the Husqvarna Forest Axe Project, Intro and Testing the Stock Axe

This is the beginning of a look at the Husqvarna 26” Multipurpose Forest Axe.  After seeing my unflattering review of their hatchet you might expect me to be frothing at the mouth about this one, but I actually think it has potential or I wouldn't have bought it.  The video is a short intro with a lot of chopping.  I kept falling asleep while trying to edit it because the repetitive chopping is somehow very soothing.  This is a class of axe that is light enough to pack, but as the name implies is good for a lot of different stuff.  I like this class of axe for running around the woods here or doing a little limbing.  The Gransfors Bruks Forest Axe is the most famous example, which I own.  Having put that axe through a lot of firewood last year just to see what can really reasonably be done with it, I can say that these light short axes can do some real work!  They are probably not the best at anything.  It’s compromises all around.  I would not really recommend this as a firewood axe to most people.  it is too light and it would be better if it were longer..  However, if someone interested in a packable axe and improving their skill at using one, I think it would be an excellent exercise to get one of these and cut a quantity of firewood with it.  It is also probably an easy axe to learn to chop on.  Although a somewhat longer handle could be safer, the shorter handle should be more accurate.

I’ve had the gransfors for a very long time and thanks to the outstanding quality of the handle wood and my hard won skill at not breaking axe handles all the time, it has survived the years and seen a lot of use.  I like the design, but it’s a tad short at 25 inches, which is my short limit for a truly effective and comfortable axe at my height (5’ 10”).  The workmanship on the head is terrible though.  The bit is extremely crooked.  So if the Husqvarna works out, which I think it will, the Gransfors will go on the auction block.  I’m not interested in these things hanging about gathering dust.

Coming up in this project, we’ll talk about the axe, buying it and what I do and don’t like and then start modifying it.  Some stuff I know what I want and other stuff will be experimental.  during and after, we’ll test it at various uses to see how it performs.


Posted on October 22, 2016 and filed under axes, firewood, Forestry, tools.

Take That Axe Off the Wall, The Cordwood Challenge is Coming

I was just starting to stack my wood and in about 24 hours I went from wondering if I should do the cordwood challenge again, to planning the next one and starting to prime potential recruits!  Now I'm all excited about fixing up some axes and getting back to chopping...  Pretty challenging, but so rewarding!  Just think about if for now :)

Posted on September 9, 2016 and filed under firewood, axes.

Finished! What I Learned Cutting a Cord of Wood With Axes over Three Months

This is the video version of what I learned chopping a cord of wood over 3 months.  It was really fun and I learned a lot, much more than I could articulate or fit into this video.  I plan to do a long blog post covering the project and my thoughts in more detail.  Hopefully soon, though there are crazy amounts of time sensitive seasonal work to do on the homestead...

One Cord, One Year, Cutting All of My Firewood With an Axe This Year.

Greetings internetians.  There is just something about axes and hatchets that gets some of us all worked up.  If you’re one of those types, I have an interesting project to talk to you about.

I’ve been interested in and using axes and hatchets for a long time.  It’s something I enjoy thoroughly.  If at any given time I think, what would I like to do if I could do anything, running out to the woods with an axe and chopping wood is right up near the top of the list!  Seriously, I think that all the time.  But I rarely do it.  There is no time, it takes too long, I have other important things to do, blah blah blah… so when I need firewood, out comes the chainsaw.

I started out as a complete novice with only some books, like Kephart’s Camping and Woodcraft, and others in that genera.  Later I met Mors Kochanski and picked up his excellent book Northern Bushcraft.  I almost hurt myself many times, broke handles, replaced handles, broke them again, made my own handles and generally picked up the basics in the school of hard knocks.  I’m not a rank amateur, but I’m no pro either, and by any traditional standards I’m still probably a complete and utter dorkus with an ax.  Why?  Because I don’t use them often enough, or consistently enough.  I use hatchets a lot more for small tasks around the place, and running around in the woods doing other stuff, but axes find less day to day use.  I do a lot of my limbing with an axe, but not a lot of felling or bucking.  Well, I’m over that.  I’m feeling better these days than I have in a while and as always making ridiculously optimistic plans, like cutting all my cordwood this year with an axe!

To some, that may sound like a nightmare, or like the least fun thing ever, but to me it sounds like just about the FUNNEST thing ever!  I’ve already started.  Best idea ever.  Now, I will be forced to dial in my gear, clean up, profile, make handles for, haft and sharpen all those axe heads that have been languishing coated in rust for years.  I’ll also develop even more personal, contextual opinions about handles, profiles and blade shapes than I already have, and chop my way through enough wood to be entitled to opinions about any of it.  Yep, fun galore, and not probably as hard as it may sound.  

Most people that have swung an axe have not exactly had a great experience.  There are a lot of factors that go into efficient and effective axe use and few of them are typically in play in the average scenario.  Sure, if we start with a dull axe, that has a fat bit and a thick handle, and if we have no practice, don’t understand the necessary strategy, strike at the wrong angle, can’t hit what we’re aiming at and start out expecting to make progress if we just give it a huge effort, it’s going to suck and we are mostly going to end up tired and discouraged with very little work done, if not injured or with a broken axe handle.  Honestly, even starting with a sharp axe will not help that much if everything else is not dialed in pretty well.  A good sharp axe in effective hands, if used to make careful, measured cuts, is effective and fun to use.  Watch a lumberjack competition sometime.

When I first was thinking about doing this project, I found the idea daunting.  Now I don’t.  One of the things that encouraged me was reading that a good hand in the old days could put up two cords of wood a day with an axe.  Two cords is a well stacked pile 8 x 4 x 8 feet.  YEAH RIGHT!?  Here is a quote from a random account I was reading the other day out of the 19th century.  It is an instructive letter to the editor about not using too heavy an axe.  Full text below: 

“When night came we piled up our wood and measured it. Joe's pile measured one and a half cords, mine only three-quarters of a cord…..  The next morning I felt lame and stayed at home. Joe put in his cord and a half, as usual.”  The farm implement news, volume 7 1885

Now, it doesn’t say what length the wood was cut to in those things, and that could make a very big difference.  Cutting 24 inch fireplace logs, 4 foot logs for transport, or arm-span lengths for a furnace of some kind is a good bit different than cutting the 16 inch logs I need for my wood stove.  200 feet cut into 24 inch lengths is roughly 100 cuts, while at 16 inches it’s 150 cuts.  That is very significant.  The other woodstove on the property takes logs about 12 inches and down.  I’m not cutting for that one :)

Another encouraging thing was hearing Mors Kochanski saying in this video that he could drop a 12 inch 50 foot tree, limb it and cut it into arm span lengths in guess how long?  10 to 15 minutes, maybe less!   skip to 11:00 min for that part.

You just don’t get that good, or any good at all, whackin’ at a few trees or logs on the weekend.  Nope, as I’ve said about other things, if you want to get good at something and really understand it contextually, put yourself in a position where you do it as a lifestyle thing.  I need to cut wood this year.  If I decide that this year it’s axes only for felling, limbing, chopping and splitting a certain amount of wood, I’m going to learn a lot very fast!  Immersion! that’s what it’s all about!

Axes have become very popular.  That is really cool.  It is heartening to see the upsurge in interest in interacting with natural environments and using basic tools and materials.  Because of that, there is an increasing amount of information out there, but very few people that can actually use an axe effectively.  Of those of us who are not complete novices, fewer yet are anything like experts.  And it’s no wonder.  How many people chop enough wood with an axe to even get good, let alone very good?  Not very many.  That is an inevitable consequence of our modern way of life.

Well, one Person’s work is another’s play I guess.  As long as I have the energy to do it joyfully, effectively and relatively safely, chopping wood is fun as hell.  Using an axe, or splitting wood, or doing anything that requires skill and focus is very similar to a challenging sport.  And boy does using an axe require focus!

Axes and hatchets are extremely dangerous.  An axe is nothing to play with and chopping anything with an axe is a time for humility and sharp focus.  At first it is clumsy and tiring and seems futile, but as you gain skill, it becomes increasingly an extension of you and you can get into a groove, or zone as they say in sports.  The danger inherent in using an axe has a good and bad side.  On the one hand, danger makes us focus and adds an element of immediacy, much like a competition sport or a hunt does.  But, then it is also just dangerous and there is no way around that.  It can be more or less dangerous, but it is still dangerous to everyone, all the time, not matter how much experience they have.  And it’s especially dangerous when we’re learning.  

I was planning to do a cordwood challenge where I challenged people to cut a chosen amount of wood with an axe.  I decided to put that off.  Putting yourself on a deadline with only two months to go (done by june first is my goal, so there is time for drying) is not safe when doing something dangerous and unfamiliar.  My personal goal this year is just a cord, which is 4 x 4 x 8 feet stacked neatly.  I’d kind of like to do more honestly, but I actually don’t even need to cut a cord to get through next winter.  Honestly, I have a lot of wood now and may not need to cut any at all.  I might make charcoal out of some of my left over wood just to make room!  I probably don’t usually burn much more than a cord most years and often less.  I thought it could be a one cord challenge, but that is unreasonable for a lot of people and it seems better to just challenge people to pick an amount, even if it’s small, like a quarter of a cord (One quarter of a cord equals 4x4x2 feet stacked).

A person, could end up with an expensive hospital bill using an axe, or worse be maimed for life.  You could cut yourself where there is no one around and bleed to death.  We face these kinds of possibilities every time we pick one of these things up.  If you lack experience with an ax entirely, or with using similar long handled tools, a year of gaining familiarity might be in order.  That is a challenge in itself, so no hurry.  I’m just suggesting that this could be an edifying experience for some people.  There are many ancillary skills required too that one might not pick up if not pressed a little to do so in order to accomplish a goal.  An axe needs be sharp to be safe and effective.  It also needs a good handle.  Novices often break them.  I've broken many.  We all do.  Or you may have an axe with an old, weathered or warped handle that needs a new one.  Every axe user should be able to replace an axe handle, and it’s ideal to be able to make one.

As far as resources for learning go, I’m not sure I’m up to the task of teaching you how to use an axe, though I will certainly be sharing stuff and talking about the things that I learn or improve at.  I’ll try to spend some time on YouTube collecting some stuff worth watching.  Maybe I’ll make a playlist of them all, we’ll see what I come up with, but honestly, most of it is either not very useful, if not actually dangerous.  Book wise, Mor’s Kochanski’s Northern Bushcraft is a great read and probably the best thing going when it comes to axe safety.  I’ve also read the axe book by D. Cook this year and like it very much.  Both authors are thorough and thoughtful.  most importantly, their knowledge is something they own out of experience.

So, axe interested parties experienced or not, give some thought to taking on my challenge next year.  If you are inexperienced, it will be a journey.  You’ll need to acquire an axe which may or may not need renovation.  Spend the next year learning about axes and getting your gear dialed in, practicing etc.  Then when next late winter/spring rolls around, you’ll be primed to improve rapidly and succeed.  There is much to be learned and skill to gain.  Axes and hatchets can be very versatile tools.  Using one requires a lot of energy, but it is also great exercise.  Compared to using a chainsaw, an axe will greatly increase your coordination and strength.  It is also a more intimate way to interact with wood.  You have to pay attention.  Enough said for now.  I’m hoping to have my cord cut by June 1st so it has time to season.  I’m sure you’ll be hearing more from me about this project and various axe related things in the coming year or more.

The Axe Book by Dudley Cook:

Mors Kochanski's Bushcraft, great for axe use and safety  

Horace Kephart's Camping and Woodcraft, read free!  


full text of  Light versus Heavy Axes.
A correspondent of the Albany Cultivator describes his experience with axes, which we give in part as an item of interest to our readers who rely so much upon work with these tools:
"My first axe weighed 4-1/2 pounds, being the heaviest one I could find at the time. I was fresh from a class in natural philosophy, knew all about inertia, and had learned something of the force of gravity and the laws of falling bodies; had rightly guessed that chopping wood might be hard work, and determined that my knowledge of physics should help me out. I would have a heavy axe, a long handle—would move slowly, and take strokes that would count when they fell. My axe handle was 34 inches in length, the longest one in the store. I had hired a tough little French Canadian, weighing about 120 pounds, to help, he brought an axe—a mere toy I called it, which weighed 2-1/2 pounds, with a handle only 26 inches long. I told him I had a fair-sized job for him, and thought it would pay him to buy a full-grown axe. He smiled and said he gussed his would do. I had decided that we would work separately during the first day or two, in order that I might show what I could do. As I began to swing my axe I felt proud of its ponderous blows that rang through the woods, and rather pitied the poor fellow who was drumming away with his little axe, taking about two blows to my one. Presently I had to stop to rest, and then again, and still again; but my man, kept pecking away quietly, steadily, and easily, and seemed perfectly able to do all necessary breathing without stopping his work for the purpose. When night came we piled up our wood and measured it. Joe's pile measured one and a half cords, mine only three-quarters of a cord.
The next day I felt lame and stayed at home. Joe put in his cord and a half, as usual. When I went to the woods again we worked together. Not many days passed before I found an excuse for buying a lighter axe and a shorter handle. And every axe and handle that I have bought since, has been lighter and shorter than its predecessor. Whenever I use an axe now I select one very much like Joe's, both in weight and length of handle. I can use this without getting out of breath, and can hit twice in the same place. The result is that I can do more and better work and save a vast amount of strength.
Posted on March 26, 2016 and filed under firewood, Forestry, tools.

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.  

*And another bad ass!  A serious professional.

*Score one for the badass ladies.  115 pounds of hellcat!

*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.

*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.

*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!

*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.

*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.   Watch beginning of part 2 as well. with the very straight, grained soft, easy splitting wood though.