When it comes to splitting logs, if you want maximum comfort and leverage, it is recommended that you use a splitting wedge. There are many advantages to using this device, especially if you have a high volume of logs to split.
This guide explains in great detail how to use a splitting wedge, techniques as well as safety precautions.
What is a Splitting Wedge?
If you’ve never used a splitting wedge, you probably want to know as much as you can about this device. It is a triangular – shaped tool on a portable inclined plane.
To put it into laymen’s terms, a splitting wedge is a metal wedge that is driven into medium or large blocks of wood with a sledgehammer.
Many people who need to split logs for firewood or other purposes have stated that using a splitting wedge gives a significant mechanical advantage because of the ratio of the length of its slope to its width.
A short wedge with a wide angle is often more effective at getting a job done faster, although the work requires more force in comparison with a long wedge with a narrow-angle.
Many modern splitting wedges are made of ultra-robust forged steel which allows them to be easily tapped into a log for very efficient splitting and cutting.
Generally, you will use a splitting wedge for splitting large blocks of wood that have already been cut up. As stated above, this simple tool is also highly efficient at blocking and splitting logs.
How To Use a Splitting Wedge – Best Methods, Tips & Tricks
It isn’t rocket science: that’s for sure. Even for newbies, using a splitting wedge is quite easy. First, you place the wedge into an existing crack in the wood. If a crack doesn’t exist, you can drive it into the log with a sledgehammer or the back of a maul.
Although using a splitting wedge is easier, using the device for hours at a time will definitely be taxing on the body, especially if you are not used to it.
Those of you who live in the northern United States, Canada, and northern Europe know that many people burn wood to heat their homes during the winter months.
I can tell you from personal experience that large-diameter blocks are often cumbersome to handle and still very heavy. Once your splitting wedge has been firmly placed into the grain of a block, you then take your ax and begin cutting.
When you are finished, the block – depending on its size – will be in smaller pieces of wood that are easy to pile. When you are splitting wood, it is important to remember to use good technique. Do not swing uncontrollably. Instead, concentrate on each swing so that you will be successful.
Techniques You Can Use
A proven technique is to use solid and straight blows to hammer the wedge into your log or block of wood until it splits. If for some reason you get all the way and the log still doesn’t split, start another wedge along the same crack, but only closer to the edge of the wood.
It should be noted that splitting wedges work best in knotty pieces of wood and large-diameter blocks. Occasionally, a user will drive a wedge so deep into a log or block that it doesn’t split, but instead becomes stuck. If you want to avoid this happening to you, I suggest having some backup wedges nearby.
Check out this video if you want to see how it’s done:
Dealing With Hardwood
If you are having a hard time with splitting hardwood, here is a hint for you that one of my readers, Peter H. sent me through e-mail:
In Australia we have some real tough woods to split. Tasmanian Blue Gum in particular the wedges wont bite and bounce out. After trial and error including barked shin I poured a little dry sand into the initial split. No more bouncing out.
Peter, thanks again for the tip! I’ll definitely try it next time I’m splitting hardwood.
If you’re new to using splitting wedges, I suggest that you purchase two of them. One that is sharp and will easily bite into logs and blocks. And a second one that is wider but in turn can apply more force.
A good example for the first type would be the Collins Wood Splitting Wedge from Amazon.com.
As for the second type I would recommend the Estwing Sure Split Wedge. You can buy it on Amazon.com.
Furthermore, in order to preserve energy and get more splitting done in a shorter amount of time, get a good sledgehammer.
My personal recommendation for this would be the Fiskars 750620-1001 IsoCore 10 lb Sledge Hammer, that you can also buy on Amazon. The IsoCore shock control system reduces vibration, which will result in less strain on your body. Also, it comes with a lifetime warranty.
You can use an ax to finish the job of splitting a large-diameter block of wood. Once the block has been split, an ax will cut the big sections into small pieces of wood that are not so heavy to pile. It isn’t necessary to use wedges to split small logs or blocks as there is a strong chance of the wedge popping out.
As with any tool, use a high degree of cautiousness and common sense when handling a splitting wedge. Stand clear of the line of the cracking. Having a wedge popping out and hitting your body or feet isn’t pleasant. Also, stand perpendicular to the splitting of the log as well as the wedge itself.
There are many potentially dangerous factors that come into play when you are splitting logs. It is quite common for pieces of wood to fly back at you. It goes without saying that you should always wear protective eyewear as well as safety gloves.
Also, it is wise to use a chopping block. This way, there will be less strain on your lower back. When splitting, keep your feet shoulder length apart.
Why Use a Splitting Wedge Instead Of Just a Splitting Maul or Ax?
From personal experience, I can tell you that a splitting wedge is easier to use when compared to a maul or an ax. You get better leverage with a wedge. An ax puts considerably more strain on the arms while the maul is duller and can take more time and energy to split logs and large-diameter blocks.
A splitting wedge also delivers results in cutting down to size harder types of woods that are much too tough for a traditional ax.
The splitting wedge is one of the best tools ever designed for splitting and cutting up logs. The best advantage of using a wedge is that it provides greater accuracy and there is little-wasted effort on the part of the user.