I own a gas powered hydraulic woodsplitter. I say that with reverence. It brings a tear to my eye. Doff your hat and join me in a moment of silent reflection on woodsplitters; their inherent beauty and how fulfilling life can be once you’ve got one. Ommmmm…
After motorcycles and breech loading rifles, woodsplitters are the third best best offspring of the industrial revolution. (A note about the industrial revolution. Hippies may cry in their herbal tea while trying to regulate us all into a mud hut, but real men know the industrial revolution was awesome.) I own all three (motorcycles, guns, and wood splitters) and so should you!
Since I’m a cheap bastard I thought long and hard before I bought my woodsplitter. I wrote a review here. (I wrote a chainsaw review here.) I’ve had time to ponder my decision. I’ve put it to the test. I stand by both recommendations.
If you think you might need a woodsplitter; you do. If you simply want a woodsplitter but have no conceivable need for it… have you considered changing your reality? Altering jobs, finances, and lifestyle until you need a woodsplitter might be for you. Selling your house, quitting your job at the law firm, and moving to East Cowschitt, Nowhere, USA might allow you to have the woodsplitter that you’ll need for a complete and fulfilling life. The good news is that a woodsplitter usually comes with a chainsaw. You totally need a chainsaw.
Why woodsplitters? Because firewood!
When it comes to firewood, I do it all. I fell trees, cut them into chunks, split the chunks, move the stovebolts to the proper location, and finally stack them into monster piles of manly self affirmation. It’s so much work that I must plan well in advance and do a little at a time.
If I do everything right, I get “free heat”. Everyone who’s not a dipshit knows that “free” means “someone did the work”. “Free” at Curmudgeon Compound means I did the work.
It’s hard. Try these numbers: on a “mild” winter I’ll burn four full cords of good dry oak. I estimate 6,200 pounds per green (freshly felled) cord. That means I’ll fell, cut, move, split, and stack a good twelve tons of wood on a “mild” year. Then I’ll do it again the next year. ‘Cause that’s how I roll!
It’s a good thing to stand on your own two feet. Nationally, I’d have more faith in our system if it encouraged self reliance through firewood. Think of it this way, in my county over half the houses are heated with firewood. Individuals do all that work of their own accord and with their own equipment. It’s hard work, talking won’t get you out of it, and if they screw up, the pipes freeze. Meanwhile we’ve got 535 voting members of congress and not one has the balls to do the same thing. Most congress-critters, if entrusted with a chainsaw, would never get the thing started and if they did they’d accidentally disembowel the neighbor’s dog. So tell me, are flyover country rubes the morons they think or they useless supine parasites we think?
The traditional way to amass firewood is to spawn a passel of strapping teenage boys and put ’em to work. Presumably they’re all named something like Ezekiel and work 15 hours a day while singing Bible songs. Either that or you might be a member of an inbred clan of folks named Bubba, all of whom own a truck and at least a few of which have heavy equipment. Either way works.
I have neither. I have one resource upon which to draw; me (and my woodsplitter). Grit alone only goes so far. I have to be efficient. Do it one piece at a time. Slow and steady. Ant and grasshopper. Tortoise and hare. It can be done. One man can do anything if he has the right tools. (You thought I was going to say “mindset”? Something like “the world can be yours if you have the right mindset”. Bullshit! Lots of people have the right mindset and if they lack tools all they can do is sit on their ass and wish. On the other hand, if you’ve got the right tools and a limp noodle for a will… you’re still doomed. The word for that is “post-graduate student”.)
The key for me is task optimization. It’s easier to go to the tree rather than bring the tree to you. Trees grow where they damn well please and, to paraphrase the notable fruit loop Al Gore, that’s an inconvenient truth. This is why there are wheels on a woodsplitter.
I simply trudge out there with a chainsaw fell the tree and limb it and do as much as I can right on site. When you’ve got a log lying on the ground that a gorilla couldn’t move it’s almost a requirement. Occasionally I can finagle a solution with ATVs, tractors, trucks, peavys, etc… If so, I’ll scar up the yard mercilessly and smile while doing it. More often the log stays put until it’s in small enough pieces that I can move it. I “buck” the log into 16” stovelength chunks on the spot. (I call ’em “cookies”.) Now I’ve reduced a tree that’s maybe 2 tons into a bunch of “cookies” that are 40 to 100 pounds. Some are more like 200 pounds, many are less.
If you’ve got a herd of strapping young lads you park the truck nearby and tell them “put the cookies on the truck while I sip beer”. At least that’s what I’ve heard. I’ve also heard about unicorns and dragons but I’ve never experienced them either.
Anyway my game is to move the splitter as close to the cookies as possible and carry/drag/roll cookies to the splitter. Once the “cookie” is split into a “stovebolt” you’ve turned a two ton standing tree into a nine pound block of firewood and mobility is assured.
From that point on it’s easy to load up trucks and trailers and drive home with an air of smug pleasure. The alternative, loading a truck with half ton logs or 100 pound “cookies”, keeps mechanics and chiropractors in money.
The whole point is that woodsplitters have wheels and mine was flat. More in my next post.