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Splitting Wood

by Tyler

Over the last year we have harvested a huge amount of wood while clearing downed trees on our land. We've been dumping the collection near the top of our driveway—after eight months of off-and-on work, the pile has become something of a mountain. For the most part we've ignored it's looming presence, busy with other projects. Now, with construction complete for the year, it's finally time to start dealing with it.

Dump Trailer Dumping Wood

Today, Charlie and I went in together on a log splitter rental. I'd never used one until this morning—it was, as I imagined it would be, really easy to operate. It's basically nothing more than a hydraulic ram that smashes hunks of wood into a sharpened piece of metal.

Charlie & Tyler Splitting Wood

We got to work at Charlies place around 9AM, cleaning up some trees he cleared earlier this summer. It took us about two hours to finish his pile. I think we split at least one cord, but it hasn't been stacked yet, and I have zero experience doing this, so I really have no idea. Whatever the case, the machine made quick work of everything we threw in it.

Charlie & Tyler Splitting Wood

After a break for lunch, Charlie came over and we started tackling the mountain of wood by our driveway. After two hours of non-stop splitting, Tara got back from another draft horse ride and took Charlie's place. Bidding farewell to our neighbor, we spent another five hours hurling wood into the machine.

Tara Splitting Wood

We didn't stop until nightfall, and we barely made a dent. I'd be surprised if we finished 1/10th of the pile. By the time we switched off the howling wood destroyer, both of us were on the verge of collapsing from exhaustion.

Us Splitting Wood

In the long term, I'd really like to split our wood by hand. Having exhaust fumes belched into my face by a piece of roaring machinery for ten hours doesn't exactly match my vision of living off the land. Even so, I'm glad we rented the splitter—it would take years to finish what we've collected so far, and most of it would rot long before we got to stacking and covering it.



If you guys come across any hardwood that you like, and if you don't have it all split for firewood already, give me a shout and let's chat about riftsawing it into rough lumber. I'd be happy to turn it into a piece of furniture as a "housewarming" gift -- maybe a harvest-style table?
Posted by Kevin O'Brien on October 22nd, 2013 at 8:00 AM
Kevin, that would be amazing! Tara is literally jumping for joy next to me right now :)

We have lots of straight ash and maple that would make for some beautiful boards--they're all 12"-24" in diameter and 10'-16' long.

I've been meaning to investigate our options for getting a mobile saw mill up here--do you have one? Would you bring it? Now that we have a roof on the workshop, we'd actually have somewhere to store the lumber!

This is so exciting! I'm going to email you now :)
Posted by Tyler on October 22nd, 2013 at 10:41 AM
along the same lines - you can build a stool from the wood:

i think you can use the same hand tools you already have!
Posted by mel on October 23rd, 2013 at 12:01 AM
We definitely have plans to learn how to work with green wood--I'd love to make something like that!
Posted by Tyler on October 24th, 2013 at 8:46 PM
If you're coming to woodworking "new", I'd suggest tracking down Tage Frid's series of books from the late 1970s/early 1980s ("Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking). The first two volumes cover a wide range of skills, with none of the "worship the wood" stuff that seems to permeate modern hand skill texts. The third book in the series is more plans than skills -- worthwhile, but not quite as important if you're mainly interested in how to cut joinery or finish a piece.
Posted by Kevin O'Brien on October 25th, 2013 at 5:47 AM
How,s it going,i am planning on taking Peters TF class,build a 12 x 16 cabin,just like yours,had a few questions.
1) do you have a weight of the timbers ?
2) what size trailer did you use ?
3) were there 3 pieces 16' long, or did you scaff them ?
4) what is the ceiling height ?
5) did you put a pony wall in to get more height in the loft ?
6) if you were traveling the speed of light and ran into a black hole,what would happen ?
Posted by BRUCE WOLLISON on October 25th, 2013 at 10:56 AM
Hey Bruce!

1) No, but we carried them on a trailer rated for about 2,000lbs and it did fine (it was definitely overloaded though).
2) We used a 6'x12'. You can see pictures here and here.
3) The wall plates and ridge were scarf jointed, as seen here.
4) The ceiling is 6'7" in the center.
5) Not sure what you mean, but check out this photo to see the frame.
6) I guess if you're traveling at the speed of light you'd avoid the tidal forces that would normally stretch your body into taffy as you crossed the event horizon at less than c. So, presumably you'd instantly be crushed into a infinitesimally small point of infinitely dense matter, and hang out there for all of eternity. Hopefully you'd get spewed out as Hawking radiation eventually! ;)
Posted by Tyler on October 26th, 2013 at 1:29 PM
Oh, and the longest pieces were the rafters, at 13'. You might end up with shorter ones--ours were super long to accommodate the big overhang we needed to protect our strawbale walls.
Posted by Tyler Kellen on October 26th, 2013 at 1:34 PM
Thanks,good answers,as far as no.#6,is concerned,think i might be able to duck into a worm hole,and save myself.
Posted by BRUCE WOLLISON on October 26th, 2013 at 7:18 PM