This past winter, we embarked on the challenge of cutting enough firewood to heat our home completely with wood. We are renters, and two cords of firewood was generously provided for in our lease. That being provided, as a guy with more chainsaws than I’ve ever been able to use, and a will to spend more time in the woodlot running machines I love and exercising muscles I don’t use while sitting in the office, I was excited to see the sawdust fly and spend some time in solitude laboring for our winter heat.
To some, genuine excitement for such a labor-intensive chore might seem exaggerated. However, it’s important to note that in recent years we were in a situation where we heated with an electric furnace, likely undersized, which when coupled with poor construction and/or poor insulation, brought winter-month electric bills in excess of $700 – at that price achieving no greater temps than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Secondly, I grew up cutting and hauling firewood with my dad and brothers, so it’s an endeavor and even a pastime fully ingrained into my notion of fall and winter chores – plus it hearkens me back to a time spent with my heroes.
After getting permission to saw up some down timbers on an adjacent property, I set in on a big aged white oak tree that came down a couple years before in a microburst. A dull chain or two later – I’ve fallen in love with Carlton chains and their ability to maintain an edge – it was cut into 18-inch billets, and I went to work with my 8-pound maul and wedge.
As I got better at hitting the existing cracks in the wood, the work went quicker and easier, but to really build up an excess – and even, perhaps, make a little money if a guy or gal wanted to go down that path – I thought of how a wood splitter might impact my time investment.
At around $1,000, the fully towable 22-ton log splitter from Powerhorse, made by Northern Tool, seemed to be in the right price range for a person looking to build up a steady supply of firewood – that is, if it were adequate for east-central Kansas’ hardwoods: hedge (Osage Orange), locust, oak, hickory, and then easier splitting walnut, hackberry, elm and others.
Roughly two cords of wood later, the Powerhorse log splitter hasn’t hit a piece of wood that has stalled it. It’s just getting broken-in, but I’ve had some pretty gnarly pieces with crotches, knots and so forth, and once it hits that second stage of hydraulics, it manages to push through.
Aside from its proven power, I’ve been especially impressed with ease of starting, log cradle, and vertical splitting position as features on this bad-to-the-bone little splitter. So far, so good. What about you? Are there any splitters, chainsaws, chains, mauls or other wood cutting and splitting equipment that you find well worth the price? We’d love to hear about it (firstname.lastname@example.org).