Splitting blocks serve several important purposes.
First, by splitting on a wooden block, you’re preserving your axe by avoiding rocks. Second, splitting on a block is safer since it gives the axe a known landing spot well away from your feet. Third, a splitting block can save you from having to bend over as far. Your back will thank you!
Begin by selecting a block that is a minimum of 15 inches in diameter and 12 to 16 inches high. The knottier, the better; the knots will prevent it from splitting prematurely. Any species will work, but I prefer elm or sugar maple.
Find an old tire that’s just slightly larger than the diameter of your block. Drill four 1-inch holes in one sidewall, evenly spaced (this will allow water to drain). Use four 3-inch lag bolts with fender washers to screw the sidewall of the tire to the top of the block. You now have the perfect splitting block that will hold your wood securely as you split it. No more standing up fallen pieces or chasing runaway firewood! If you’re splitting small-diameter wood, you can pack the pieces inside the tire; they will support one another while you are splitting.
Beside your tire-topped splitting block, you may want to have a second block without a tire for large or odd-shaped pieces. I also recommend putting a slight angle (about 10 degrees) on this second block so so that you’re able to match an uneven piece of firewood with the angle of the block.
CREDIT NOTES: Excerpted from The Woodland Homestead © Brett McLeod. Illustrations by © Steve Sanford. Used with permission of Storey Publishing. For ordering The Woodland Homestead and a plethora of other great homestead-, self-reliance- and gardening-related books, please visit storey.com.
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This article was published in the AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN™ Winter 2016 issue #205. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.