Splitting wood is an age-old technique that still proves useful today. It’s a great way to easily cut firewood into manageable sizes, and it doesn’t require any special skills or expensive tools.
When splitting would, you generally have two ways of doing it: with an axe or with a wedge. If you’re using an axe, the process is pretty straightforward: you just need to hit the wood with the axe in the right spot and it will split. For smaller chunks of wood, you can get away with using a standard axe, but for larger pieces, you’ll need a heavier-duty tool, like a wedge and maul.
However, if you’re using a wedge, the process may seem a bit more complex. Luckily, we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll show you the definitive step-by-step guide on how to split wood with a wedge.
Keep reading for tips on choosing the right tools and safely splitting wood with a wedge and maul!
Step 1 – Collect the Right Tools
First things first, you’ll need to gather a few tools. In addition to a wedge, you’ll need a maul or sledgehammer. A maul is a long-handled hammer that’s specifically designed for splitting wood, while a sledgehammer can also work in a pinch.
You’ll also need gloves and protective eyewear. Splitting wood can be tough on your hands, so it’s important to wear safety gloves to protect them. And since flying wood chips can be dangerous, it’s also a good idea to wear safety glasses.
The most important tool you’ll need is, of course, the wedge. A wedge is a triangular-shaped tool that’s used to split wood along the grain. It’s inserted into a crack in the wood and then struck with a maul or sledgehammer, which drives the wedge further into the wood and causes it to split.
In general, you may come across two different types of wedges. There’s the standard V-shaped wedge, which is the most common type. It looks like a standard axe head with two flat edges and a wide, flat top for striking that tapers down to a sharp, thin blade.
On the other hand, we have the torpedo wedge (also called a “diamond wedge” or “grenade wedge”). This type of wedge has a conical diamond shape with four cutting blades on the sides that come together in a sharp point. Compared to a standard wedge with 2 blades, the torpedo wedge can split the log into quarters, as it has 4 cutting blades. Torpedo wedges are usually made out of softer steel material, making them a little less durable.
Whatever type of wedge you choose, just make sure it’s sharp. A dull wedge will just bounce off the wood and won’t split it.
When choosing a wedge, you’ll also need to consider the type of wood you’re working with. Softwoods, like pine and fir, are easier to split than hardwoods, like oak and maple. Depending on the type of wood you’re working with, you may need a different type of wedge.
To withstand the force of the maul or sledgehammer, your wedge should, of course, also be made of durable and strong materials such as steel. For very hard wood, a torpedo wedge may not be the best option, as the blades can get damaged easily. In this case, a standard V-wedge would be a better choice.
A Maul or Sledgehammer
As we mentioned, you’ll need either a maul or sledgehammer to split wood with a wedge. If you have both, we recommend using a maul. Mauls are specifically designed for splitting wood, so they’ll make the job easier.
However, if you only have a sledgehammer, that’s okay too. You can still use it to split wood, you’ll just need to be a bit more careful. Sledgehammers are heavier than mauls, so they can be tough on your hands and arms. Plus, they’re not as well-balanced, so it’s easy to miss your target and hit yourself.
When looking for the right wood splitting maul, you’ll want one that’s heavy enough to do the job, but not so heavy that it’s too difficult to handle. A maul that weighs between 6 and 10 pounds is a good choice for most people.
The handle is also important. You’ll want a maul with a long handle, preferably made of wood or fiberglass. This will give you more leverage and make it easier to split the wood. You’ll also want to make sure the handle is comfortable to hold. After all, you’ll be swinging it a lot!
Below are a few of our personal recommendations:
Gloves and Safety Glasses
As we mentioned, you should always wear gloves and protective eyewear when splitting wood. Gloves will protect your hands from the sharp edges of the wood, while safety glasses will protect your eyes from flying wood chips.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so we recommend investing in a good pair of gloves and safety glasses.
Below are a few of our favorite gloves and safety glasses for splitting wood:
Step 2 – Prepare the Area
Before you start splitting wood, it’s important to clear the area and prepare it properly. First, make sure that there’s nothing in the way that could get in the way of your swing or get damaged by flying wood chips. This includes people, pets, and anything breakable.
Next, take a look at the ground. If it’s wet or muddy, it’s going to be difficult to swing your maul or sledgehammer. Instead, try splitting the wood on a dry, level surface such as a driveway or patio.
If you don’t have a dry, level surface to work on, you can always build a small platform out of wood. This will give you a solid, level surface to split the wood on.
Step 3 – Prepare the Wood
Once you’ve selected the right wedge, maul and safety gear, and you have thoroughly prepared the area, it’s time to prepare the wood. If you’re working with a log that’s too large to fit on your splitting block, you’ll need to saw it into smaller pieces first.
Use a chainsaw or handsaw to cut the log into sections that are about 2 feet long. If you’re working with a smaller piece of wood, you can skip this step.
Once the log is cut into smaller sections, it’s finally time to start thinking about splitting.
Step 4 – Set up the Wedge
To set up the wedge, place it on top of the log so that the wide end is pointing up and secure it slightly into the wood. To do this, you’ll need to hold the wedge in one hand and tap it with the maul or sledgehammer until it’s securely in place.
When positioning the wedge, try to find a crack in the wood. These cracks are the weak points in the wood and will make it easier to split. If you can’t find a crack, don’t worry, you can still split the wood without one.
Step 5 – Split the Wood
Once the wedge is in place, it’s time to split the wood. Start by striking the back of the wedge with your maul or hammer. Hit it as hard as you can, of course without missing, until the wood splits. If you’re having trouble, try using a sledgehammer instead of a maul. Sledgehammers are heavier and will give you more power.
When you don’t hit the wedge hard enough, you may notice the wood splitting unevenly or not completely. Look for wide cracks that open up and reposition your wedge when needed.
In the process of wood splitting, you may also see the wood splinter. Just chopp the splinters off with your axe so they don’t get in the way.
As you’re hitting the wedge, make sure to keep your hands and arms behind your head and out of the way of the maul or sledgehammer. Also, be sure to wear your gloves and safety glasses at all times to protect your hands and eyes.
Continue striking the wedge until the log splits in half. Once the log has split in half, remove the wedge and repeat the process with each piece of wood until all of it is split.
Step 6 – Clean Up
Once you’ve finished splitting the wood, it’s time to clean up. Start by gathering all of the wood chips and debris and putting them in a garbage bag. Then, use a broom or leaf blower to clean up the area.
Step 7 – Store the Wood
When everything is clean and tidy, you’ll now have a clean area and a big pile of freshly split wood. It’s now time to store it so it will be ready to use when you need it.
If you have a wood stove or fireplace, you can simply stack the wood near it. If not, you can store the wood in a dry, covered area such as a garage or shed.
There are a few different ways to do this. One option is to build a small woodshed. This will protect the wood from the elements and keep it dry. Another option is to cover the stack of wood with a tarp. This will also help keep the wood dry and protected from the weather.
You should also try to store the wood off the ground, on an elevated platform or in a pallet. This will prevent moisture from reaching the wood and help keep the bottom logs from rotting.
Step 8 – Take Proper Care of Your Tools
A final step that people often forget is to take care of their tools. After using your maul, wedge, and sledgehammer, be sure to clean them off and put them away. Store them in a dry, safe place until you’re ready to use them again. This way, they’ll be in good condition and will last longer.
And that’s all there is to splitting wood with a wedge! With a little practice, you’ll be an expert in no time.
Meta: Everything you need to know to get the perfect split every time.