Sunday, August 8, 2010

Splittin' wood the easy way

Ever since I got my woodstove, getting wood in for the winter has been a priority chore. This involves three steps: (1) locating your wood. (2) Cutting it up, or bucking, the wood to size, and (3) splitting it. No matter how efficient your stove, it won't burn unsplit logs, not very well anyway. I have omitted major steps, such as towing the wood out of the woods with Lysander the tractor, and the almost infinite amount of handling you have to do; but of all these tasks the most onerous is splitting. Thus far, aided by my son, I have done all this stuff with a maul and a double-bitted axe. Although satisfying, it is a lot of work. All this has changed.

For my birthday, my son and daughter gave me an electric splitter. An incredible device. The electric motor drives a hydraulic pump, which pushes a ram, and there is a splitter post at the other end.
Behold Jack the Splitter. At the left of the picture, the splitter wedge. Center is my victim. At right, concealed by a black safety guard, is the red hydraulic lever. You push down on a green button and let the motor spin up (0.1 sec). Then you push down the red lever under the guard (another 0.1 sec). The hydraulic ram travels majestically down the rail, about 2 sec. It contacts the wood, and crack! your log is split. It can't take another 2 seconds! Total time under 15 seconds. You now take one half and set it in the splitter:
and repeat the sequence. I caught Jack in the act there. You can see how the ram drives the log against the wedge. Maybe you can't see the ram, it is black; a most unphotogenic color. A charm, a marvel. I may split some wood with a maul just for fun; but I am not bound to it. I thank my offspring very, very much.

At the end of this stint, a few days worth of wood.
Actually it might go a week! This is all "road kill" wood; stuff that the snowplow crews cut down. I collect that stuff first thing every spring; most of it is birch.

Now I have to stack it, but I will let it dry out on the back porch for a few days.
Unlike Jack the Ripper, my Jack is not (to my knowledge, anyway) wanted by Scotland Yard.

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