Monday, January 21, 2019

Kindling Splitter Review

So now that I don't have the mill providing me with loads of weird, thin slabs and offcuts, I have focused on making firewood cutting as easy and productive as possible.  I've purchased a couple of items that I had hoped would help and didn't really, but sometimes I get something that's pretty good.  A log arch is super, super helpful for bringing the logs in to buck up closer to home.
A timberjack is also great for getting logs off the ground when you want to cut them into stove lengths.
An electric log splitter is fantastic - makes it go so fast and uniform, you actually enjoy splitting!
For sure, one of my best investments was a set of log tongs for easily picking up logs to move to the splitter.  I think it's likely my best purchase!
And recently, my new fun toy - a kindling splitter!

Previously, I had just taken thin boards or slabs out front of the cabin where there was a pile of flat rocks stacked by Grandpa when the cabin was first raised.  I would take a small hatchet and an afternoon and just go to town.  At least twice I hit the webbing of my left hand and ended up quitting prematurely and in a crabby mood.

This year I ran out of kindling early, and was just splitting it with the same hatchet, but this time on a table that Kenny had built during our first year here on the homestead.  I didn't enjoy it, and didn't feel it was sustainable.  I was sure that eventually Kenny's table would give out, or my aim would.

I ordered up this kindling splitter, as the style appealed to me more than the ones where you hammer a log through a ring onto a wedge.

At first, I was shipped an arm for a three point hitch.  That was annoying.  Double annoying - they refused to ship the correct part until they received the incorrect one back first.

At least they paid the shipping, but still - I had to wait more than triple the normal time to receive the wrong part, ship back the wrong part, then receive the right part - when you account for my days to both realize the mistake and get to a post office to return it.  Thumbs down to Princess Auto on that count.

Ready to install!  Note Kenny's table underneath.
Otherwise though, it works really well with a slight caveat.  I screwed it to the corner of the woodshed, trying to actually keep it low so that I could use some bodyweight on the lever if needed.

Nice and secure on the outside of the shed.  Screws are some GRK I have been playing with.
Right away one notices that it is designed for short pieces of wood.  I usually cut about 40 cm, but ideal lengths for this machine would likely be half to two thirds that amount.

Commonsense leverage tells you that the angle between the wood and the cutting blade should ideally be 90 degrees.
The longer pieces I would just try to "pinch" from above, or hold from the side until the blade dug into them.  As soon as it digs in though, it is enormously satisfying to force through the grain.

Grasping from above - bare hand only for clarity, it was -30 when I was snapping these, and I wasn't in the mood to dawdle.
Slightly different angle.  I would probably be comfortable even holding the wood directly, as the blade moves very slowly.
I suspect you could even hold the wood directly under the moving blade, as it moves very slowly through the wood and with full control - my only fear would be if my feet were to somehow slip while applying excess force - not very likely I agree.

In any case, I often have so many shorter pieces of wood from bucking up the firewood that I believe I could easily dedicate it to kindling.  I'm excited to see how it fares on some of those.

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