It’s the middle of winter and if you haven’t already gotten a heating oil bill, consider yourself lucky. I’ve gotten 3 already. With each one I just think how much money we spend on keeping ourselves warm in the winter. Now I don’t go overboard either. The house is set to about 64. There’s no Bahama rooms that are set to 70 or higher. I tried to reduce the amount of heat loss in the house by sealing windows, filling cracks, and insulating poorly insulated parts of the house, but there’s only so much you can do. I admit I have an old heater which is inefficient, but replacing that isn’t in the budget right now. I’m always looking for ways to save money, so I needed a way to save on the oil bill. There was a fireplace in the last room of the house. A family room of sorts. Now I had never had a fireplace before this house, so I was excited to use it. Much to my dismay, fire places are terrible for supplementing heat. They only heat a small bit of the room right in front of them. Most of the heat goes up the chimney. I had a good source of wood, so I invested a little in turning the fireplace hearth into a wood burning stove hearth. You can read more about that adventure in another post. Needless to say, wood burning stoves give off alot more heat with less wood. The problem is you have to have a good source of wood. If you have trees that you cut down yourself, then here are some tips when splitting it.

Get a gas powered wood splitter

Gas Powered Log SplitterNow I realize that they are very expensive. Gas powered wood splitters start at $1300 and just go up from there. So if you know someone that has one, perhaps you can talk them into letting you borrow it. Realize that when you borrow something of that magnitude, unless the machine is on it’s last legs, if you break it, you should replace or fix it. Gas powered splitters take the back breaking work out of splitting wood that has knots in it. If you get a good one, 27 ton or higher, it should power right through most knots. Stay away from the 5-ton electric splitters as they’ll give you as many problems as just using an axe.

Stock Pile

Whether you’re splitting by hand or by gas powered splitter, always be sure to have a steady source of wood. It saves alot of time if you don’t have to put down the equipment, get up and walk to your pile of wood, and then bring it back, pick up your equipment and begin again. I have a bucket that I sit on when I split with my gas splitter, and I put 10 or so logs next to the splitter, split them, then get up and replace what I split.

Keep some tools close by

Wood Grains Threaded Together

Threads of strong wood stuck together

There are a few good tools to keep close by when splitting. If you’re splitting by hand, then be sure to have an extra sledge hammer and extra wedges close by. You will get your axe or wedge stuck so deep in a log you won’t be able to free it. No matter what way you’re splitting, be sure to have a post spade and a hatchet on hand. For those who don’t know what a post spade is, it’s a long, about 5-6 foot iron bar with a flat end on the one side. It’s used for prying apart logs that just aren’t quite split. The hatchet is for cutting threads of wood that won’t release from each other. See the picture to the right. Save your back and just use the tools instead of trying to twist and rip the logs apart. After the first one you struggle with, you really won’t want to keep doing that over and over. I had some Oak I was splitting once that I had to cut threads apart every other split because the logs were so large.

Be Persistant

Splitting takes alot of work, and it’s not the fastest process if you’re doing it by yourself. Keep at it though. The warmth the logs provide are great when it’s all done. I also find some sort of satisfaction out of a big pile of split wood that’s usable instead of just giant logs.