Splitting 'form'

Discussion in 'Axes, Mauls, and Hand Saws' started by T-Stew, Feb 1, 2017.

  1. bert the turtle

    bert the turtle

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    This: stop with the implement more or less overhead. Swinging it from all the way back is way too much effort for what little you might gain.

    And bend the knees more on the downstroke. You'll get more power into the swing. A strong swing uses the whole body efficiently. Should be on your toes at the top of the swing. Whole body to get the implement to the top of the swing, whole body to bring it down. Distribute that load!
     
  2. Sinngetreu

    Sinngetreu

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    I'm going to give my two sense and its probably wrong. I do not go over my head too far because you have to exert energy to bring it past TDC and as I go past the 45 degree angle I will drop my knees a bit. That lowering of my body seems to help my back and add some velocity to the swing. I swing a monster maul and have scoliosis so I tend to do what "feels" right, but haven't really spent too much time studying it. If the wood is easy splitting, I just kind of let the maul drop with only a tad bit of force applied without bending my knees.
    Something else I do when I split in a tire is, if i am splitting a piece that is on the other side of a piece or two, I will raise my hands at the last second to avoid "handling" (hitting my handle on a split effectively bottoming out my maul).

    I don't have a hydro splitter, so I try to work smart, but I haven't taken video of myself to study my form. Probably wouldn't be a bad idea, I just generally don't want to take the time to do all that.
     
  3. Sinngetreu

    Sinngetreu

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    If you ever watch Buckin Billy Ray Smith, he sometimes does a bit of a leg kick as he swings his axe. Not really sure why though.
     
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  4. AZJustin

    AZJustin

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    Interesting, I never really thought about how to swing vs what I was taught.

    Same as a pickaxe (I'm right handed): left leg forward, right leg slightly back, both flexed, not straight. Left hand on the lower portion of the handle, right hand about less than halfway on the handle, start the swing by your right foot. As the maul comes over your head, the right hand slides down the handle and at a little past apex (11:45 ish) right hand grips again, core engages along with chest and arms, and full power down into the round. Adjust effort for the wood type or size of round.

    There really isn't any effort in the swing until the full engage, and the momentum of the maul will do in most rounds without much effort. Over the years I've learned to pull in the front leg a little bit to provide more power and also get it out of the way of flying wood. Lessening your grip at the last possible instant also reduces shock to the hands and arms, but most of the time it just blows through rounds like butter.
    This is all kind of like that guy beating the stuffing out of that tire, except short guys like me need a little more power and that full swing really helps. :axe:

    I have a hydro splitter but still love splitting by hand when I can :loco: :crazy:
     
  5. LordOfTheFlies

    LordOfTheFlies

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    Exactly how I feel.
     
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  6. Cold Trigger Finger

    Cold Trigger Finger

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    Completely agree.
    I start my swing from neutral gravity or slightly behind neutral gravity.
    Tho more velocity and force Can be generated by starting the swing from far back. It substantially increase the amount of exertion required to lift the ax/maul head up to 0 gravity.
    The greater the continued exertion, the sooner you/I/anyone , will tire.
    Being tired reduces the accuracy of each strike. Generally making it much much harder to get actual Splitting accomplished.
    I've always preferred using the greatest accuracy I can with only as much force as necessary to get the task at hand accomplished.
    Accuracy also decreases/eliminates the overstrike and through strikes.
    Which pretty much eliminate chopping your foot or leg.
    Everyone has the body mechanics that they individually do.
     
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  7. Cold Trigger Finger

    Cold Trigger Finger

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    Case in point= On April 29th of this year I had complete rotator cuff reattachment surgery in my left shoulder/arm.
    In October when I started splitting a little wood . I was appallingly terrible. It took many short sessions to gain the normal range of motion I used to have. And I'm really not all the way there yet. Also my strength was greatly diminished from what it used to be. My normal accuracy was off by quite a bit also.
    With practice I'm doing much better. But still not what I was !!!!
     
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  8. Cold Trigger Finger

    Cold Trigger Finger

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    I have No idea why anyone would use a monster maul after splitting 1 or 2 rounds with one.
    What a horrible invention !!
    Not dishing you at all !! There are so many MUCH better tools for the job of splitting wood.
    Monster mauls
    don't even make a half decent sledge hammer !
    Your hands , wrists, fore arms, elbows, shoulders, back and neck are too expensive to fix. To make a monster maul pay for itself !!!
    Try the Fiskars 4 lb splitting ax with the 3' handle. Its So much better AND easier on the body!
    As are many other axes !!
     
  9. Lastmohecken

    Lastmohecken

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    They are overthinking it in several of these vids. I saw that one guy in one of the vids that would raise his ax up over his head carefully and then come down. I don't do it like that at all and I have split a lot of wood by hand. However, I don't split much wood in a level wood yard either. I split it out in the woods or field, sometime on a hillside, and almost always while standing in and around a bunch of other spits and rounds and a few rocks on the ground sprinkled around.

    My footing is probably different every time, but I probably usually lead with my left foot a little in front, right foot a little behind, standing mostly erect. I don't raise the ax or maul and come down, I swing it in a circle more or less, and I don't use a chopping block very often. I split right handed. My left hand is usually located towards the end of handle, but might be choked up some if the wood is closer to me and sometimes it is, or I might choke up a little if I am expecting it to split easily. My right hand starts out up fairly close to the head of the ax or maul. I start out with the ax head located somewhere out in front of me but still close to my body, at an elevation somewhere between my belt and my shoulder, and I usually swing it down and behind me a little, and the head comes back up in a circle, usually over my head some, as my right hand slides down the handle from the head towards my left hand. I don't always slide my hand sometimes I might start out with my hand down farther away from the head of the ax, but my right hand usually slides a little.

    If it's an ax I am using, I usually flick it a little as the ax hits the wood, and sometimes even with the maul, and sometimes not. It just depends. But I never slowly lift an ax or maul over my head and then start my swing down to the wood. That's a dead lift of the ax head or mauls. Why would you do that? Swing it up in a semi-circle, then come down, don't lift it up. Same way for driving a wooden fence post with a big maul or swinging an 8 to 16 pound hammer. Keep you eye on the target and get your accuracy down.

    Picture driving a wooden fence post with a maul or swing a big heavy hammer, trying to flatten a piece of steel or something. You swing the hammer or maul in a semi-circle, it hits the post or steel and bounces back up a little, sometimes a lot, you don't stop and hold it over your head and start again, no, the hammer is weightless as it bounces off of the post, you control it, and let it swing down a little and come back up in a big arc and you strike the target again, and repeat. You can keep the hammer or maul swinging and hammering without resting for several hits, powerful hits, much more powerful then stopping and holding above you head, on each swing. Same idea with splitting wood, although you might only have to swing it once to split the wood, but with the spitting maul, if it doesn't stick, you might repeat the process a time or two without stopping.

    Sometimes I will split a stick laying down, not standing up if it's easy spitting wood, and in that case, I might lift the ax up and out a little, instead of a bigger arc and come into it. But holding the maul over your head or even behind your head, then coming down right square in front of you. That plan is for someone who hasn't done it much or can't hit anything with accuracy, otherwise. That won't work in the real world, except maybe on a level parking lot. LOL

    I guess a shoulder injury could be the exception. But with a shoulder injury, I doubt I would try splitting much wood. I think I probably use my arms more then my shoulders, but I guess I would have to be using it all.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2021
  10. Cold Trigger Finger

    Cold Trigger Finger

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    Lastmohecken;
    You bring up some good points !
    Tho I'm right handed and right eye dominant. I swing an ax/maul/sledge left handed. Always have. Except when I'm wedging over a tree and there is no place to stand for swinging left handed. I can swing and chop just about as well right handed. But its not as natural for me. I can drive nails with a framing hammer or ax almost as well left handed as I can right also.
    My right hand at the grip and my left hand lifts the ax ect.
    I used to stick lift flip SPLIT. A Lot. Rounds or blocks 40 to 50 lbs or less. Using the weight of the round to drive it thru the ax. Aiming the poll of the ax onto a chopping block. But , I had the strength and energy to do that.
    Nowadays I use my Kinetic splitter for the bulk of my splitting . Except when it's cold out ( below 0 °F. )
    The belt gets Real stiff in the cold and my generator won't Power thru enough to get the flywheel spinning . 20201103_110520.jpg
    This battle killed white spruce splits fairly easily the aspen does also. And if there is a toughy I noodle it thru the knots etc.
    I'm not Really set up for processing firewood at this time. But I primarily heat with wood when I'm home working on the house. So I split a days worth, get it brought in the house and get to carpentering.
    The 2 axes I use mostly is a 5 3/4 lb chopping ax and the 4 lb Fiskars splitting ax 36" handle.
    I haven't had the courage to try the stick lift flip SPLIT method this year . Maybe if I stretched my rotator cuff out real good before I pick up the ax.
    When doing that I don't pick the round up more than straight over head. It used to be that with Heavy rounds . I would stick then lift the round up with the ax and rest it on my left shoulder , then lift straight up and swing it down .
    When I lived on the coast, most of what I split was 16" diameter and up to 9' diameter. For the big stuff I would split it standing on standing on the round. I used to regularly split 5 cord a week for a good part of the winter as I was selling it. And I mostly used 5 lb rafting axes. Tho I would use my practice chopping ax . the tall head shape provided extra side force in the soft woods.
    I tried many different splitting mauls but none did better than a 5 lb rafting ax.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2021
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  11. Cold Trigger Finger

    Cold Trigger Finger

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    I tried the stick flip SPLIT method yesterday on a 14" dia spruce round that was 20" long.
    First few tries weren't very effective. But that was mostly my form and timidity.
    After I figured out I wasn't going to hurt my shoulder . I got with the program and ka
    boom
    It still works great. That round had 4" of twist in its length. And about 15 limb knots. Estimated weight 22 lbs
    Once I got it in half , the splits were just blowing apart
    I used my chopping ax
     
  12. Cheepbeer

    Cheepbeer

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    All this body mechanics goes out the window when you split wood drunk. That's how I get 'er done.
     
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  13. Mag Craft

    Mag Craft

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    I probably would not have a foot any more if I did that.
     
  14. Rich L

    Rich L

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    My legs are much farther apart than the feller pictured.From time to time I miss and the head comes back at me going harmlessly between my legs.