How do I split a REALLY big log?
October 12, 2004 12:36 PM   Subscribe

Question for the logwebbers (gwebbers, if you will): how do I split a REALLY big log? (more inside)

I had a huge tree cut down on my property and I've taken care of most of the reasonably size logs. I'm left with some monsters exceeding 4ft diameter and a couple feet long. It's unsafe to use a chainsaw on that size log; any kind of steel spikey thing I've ever seen will get buried inside it with the first thwack. It's too big to fit in a gaspowered splitter of the type rented by my local splitter renters. WTF?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders to Science & Nature (8 answers total)
Two-man saw? They're made for crosscut but you could probably cut a round in half with one.

My next suggestion is rented beavers. Just so you know.
posted by nicwolff at 1:00 PM on October 12, 2004

I just read this and the concensus is to use black powder for the really big logs.

Although I am not a chain saw expert, It seems to me that this suggestion would work well: Depending on the grain of your wood, this may work--it did for me. With a chainsaw, rip a 3" groove lengthways where you want the split to be, on either side of the log; then at one end notch out a rectangular prism just big enough to insert a hydraulic jack, and jack it apart.
posted by plinth at 1:14 PM on October 12, 2004

I think rented beavers was also one of the answers to Keyser Soze's question today, but OK, nicwolff, I'll take it under advisement.

The 12-year-old in me really, really, really, wants to do the black powder solution. The responsible father and homeowner in me is going to have to pass on that one.

How is a hydraulic jack going to "jack it apart"? Isn't that a floor jack? I can understand how it would lift it, maybe, but break it in half? I don't get that at all. Do you think that woodweb site is talking about one of these?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:51 PM on October 12, 2004

Carve a sculpture out of it and sell it on ebay. "Buyer pays shipping."
posted by Mark Doner at 1:55 PM on October 12, 2004

I'm assuming they mean something like this:

. Personally, I think that if you cut a 6 inch wedge-shaped trough out of opposite sides, then drill deep with a long auger bit at 4 inch intervals along the length, then use the jack, it'll come apart.
posted by plinth at 4:46 PM on October 12, 2004

Just to clarify, the jack goes in the rectangular cut-out at the end. When you start to jack it, you tear the fibers apart and the split started by the wedge propogates. I found another site that recommends cutting a groove, lift the log with a forklift, then dropping it on something hard.
posted by plinth at 4:50 PM on October 12, 2004

What part of the country are you in, SSF? I love a challenge.

Best way to split really big logs is to get a 9-lb splitting maul (basically a sledgehammer with a sharp edge) and hit parallel to the park about 3 inches in. A sliver will be shed. Keep going around, and slowly work into the heartwood. WARNING: heavy-duty splitting is some of the best exercise you'll ever get. Oh, and wear steel-toed shoes.
posted by notsnot at 10:22 PM on October 12, 2004

Heh. trharlan has a point.

I think if the goal were to make firewood out of it, it would be best to cut the log into shorter (1-foot?) rounds, and then split those normally with a wedge and a sledgehammer. What's the ultimate goal here, anyway? Just to get rid of it?
posted by hattifattener at 12:33 AM on October 13, 2004

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