Splitting wood is kind of fun. Actually, it can be a lot of fun once you get into a rhythm and treat it like a workout (or, if you’re like me, an outlet for pent-up frustration, in which case you overdo it and suffer the consequence of a kink in the neck). Like any physical activity, form is more important than strength and the right form can conserve your stamina. What’s equally essential to your endurance is having a practical setup. A chopping block that’s too tall, for example, isn’t going to allow you to impart the same amount of mechanical energy through your maul were the block shorter. Think of dropping an egg on a child’s head versus dropping an egg on a baby’s head. (Why would you smile at that? You monster.)
Form could also be called technique, of which an additional relevant term shares an etymological root: Technology. The right tools for the job, as they say, really do make life easier. So today I set out to apply some of that sweet technology to our task of splitting the seemingly never-ending stockpile of wood that resulted from the felling of a dozen cypress trees. The idea was laughably simple, but it would save us from the most toilsome of repetitive tasks: Bending down to pick something up.
I present Exhibit A – a log round being split, in which the impact has sent half of it hurtling to the ground:
That half round is still too big for the wood burner, so poor Char here will have to strain the cast-iron hinge in her spine and bend down to pick it up. Just imagine if her next blow glances the half round, shooting it off the chopping block once more. Horror of horrors, she would have to – yes – pick it up again.
Enter the man’s ingenuity! Or, rather, something I saw on the internet…
First, cut a large round as a chopping block and roll it a few hundred metres across a paddock:
Not forgetting to be an idiot en route:
Next, find an old tyre (we were fortunate enough to find a couple strewn about the farm) and envision a way of attaching it to the block.
The diameter of the block I cut was a little small to attach the inside of the tyre to, so I decided on cutting flaps into one side of the tyre to slide over the block.
Tyres aren’t all rubber. They usually have a strong steel cable imbedded in the inner rim. This was difficult to saw through. I growled at it, which seemed to help my progress.
With greater effort than I care to divulge, I eventually got the tyre fitted around the block and drove some roofing screws through the flaps, fixing the tyre firmly to the wood. It wasn’t perfectly levelled or centred, but sod it. It’s a rough tool for rough work!
Another makeshift thingamajig complete. It should do the job…
Look at that! Boom! No flying wood! No having to bend down after every split!
This handy little invention serves multiple purposes. Not only does it hold all the split pieces of a wood round together at a good height, the rubber tyre also cushions the impact of any misses, which preserves both the maul and one’s shins.