The other day I was watching this chick on OyTube doing the tiny house thing and almost wanted to vomit with rage!!! Y’see… the sweet young thing was splitting firewood and I think she was burning balsa. A dainty little tap with the cute little axe… and the log would splinter into kindling. Little Miss-Oh-So-Self-Reliant had her day’s firewood ready for the stove in a matter of minutes.
What did I do wrong? When I was a kid, I’d get those soggy old poplars that would swallow a maul if you were dumb enough to swing at them. And once they did, it would take one can of road rage and two cans a spinach to get the damned maul back out again. I got in pretty good shape as a kid fighting those beshitted things.
But that wasn’t the worst. The worst wood I ever split was elm. One hot day in summer my father in law got some from a neighbour who’d knocked a tree down. He even dug out the stump and he dared me to swing at it. I grabbed his heaviest maul, twirled it between my fingers like a cheerleader’s baton and chuckled. HYUKYUKYUKYUK! I took aim and made my best swing at the stumpy POS… and the axe bounced off with only a dent. The shock travelled from the handle up my arms, the vibration diffused back out through my chest and arms and right up into my brain box, and the cement floor under my feet cracked. I got so damned mad I took another run at it…and got the same result. That SOB had me beat, and it still makes mad to this day to even think about it.
We pounded the maul halfway in with a sledge and between the two of us, we got it hopelessly jammed into the log. D did a face palm thing - “I should have thought of this earlier Filthie! Watch this!” He rummaged in his plunder and he pulled out a splitting wedge. We drove that into the sumbitch from the other end and got it stuck too! We were both sweating like pigs now. “Son of a bitch,” I gasped. It was clear to us that this knotty, rotten rooted stubborn miserable sonofabitch was put on earth solely to vex us. Even my father in law was in it for blood now. “Enough,” he said quietly. “We’re going to take a break. And I am going down to the hardware store…”
He bought 3 splitting wedges, and I went home and brought back one of mine and an axe too. When we re-convened, we studied that knotty stump like a couple Amsterdam Jews pondering on how to cut a diamond… and decided that the wedges were the only way forward. The wood swallowed the first two with ease. We didn’t even slow down; we pounded in the third and the log finally cracked like a rifle shot and scared the hell out of us. A fissure had opened up, and we were finally in business. The last wedge was the charm, and the wood gave way with another groan and a crack. If it had swallowed all the wedges… I would have taken the next trip to the hardware store. The logs from higher up the tree were straight forward but none of them split with an axe either. A couple of them would take a wedge or two to get them to split too. The axes were worthless.
We burned them in the fireplace later on in the winter, and they burned low and incredibly hot. The old man savoured the warmth with satisfaction but for me that burning wood was a plate of sweet cold vengeance. I suppose I’d a looked at it differently if it was burning in my fire pit, but as it is with all things… perspective is relative. It was one of the few valuable lessons I learned from that man - how to channel and use road rage. That’s all it was - a twist of attitude and perspective… and all of a sudden you have the means to persevere. Today the old man is a vegetable in a wheelchair and even if he wasn’t, things between us couldn’t be worse, but it was not always so. I suppose there is a lesson in that too… to enjoy even these kinds of small struggles that bring us together because one day you may look back on them with fondness from a place you never thought you'd be.
But I prattle. Have yaself a great Sunday! As always, thanks for stopping by.
I always laugh at these wonder tools. Every video shows them splitting the sweetest pieces of wood. Stuff that would not provide much heat or time burning.ReplyDelete
Glen, here at The Ranch it is mostly Oak and Pine, with occasional Madrone trees.ReplyDelete
Even before my father moved here, he bought a wood splitter. Best investment ever. It is still here, ready for use.
Yep- I bought a cheap Homelight electric splitter and it just goes great. It has split everything I have thrown at it... but I haven't tried elm in it...ReplyDelete
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Pacific NW Madrona. When wet I have buried and lost wedges. When dry I have had wedges sink in a quarter inch and then "sproing" out, flying into the air.ReplyDelete
The grain on Elm isn't nearly straight. But that $300.00 electric hydraulic splitter busted them, too. Just pay attention to the sliding part under the frame. Needs cleaned and lubed occasionally. Pressure on the wedge tilts it up, rubbing hard.ReplyDelete
Hydraulic log splitter.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the best laughs of the day. Only because I've been there, done that. Three wedges, a splittin' maul, and a 12lb sledge. And I've had them all stuck in a gnarly oak stump. And yes, I've studied grain and lines like your diamond cutter.ReplyDelete
Split your wood when it is -10.ReplyDelete
My old man had a tree business and we went through about 40 cord a year.
I'm also the eldest son.
That's how I know.