Splitting firewood with a hand tool is a solved problem—the axe is one of the oldest tools on Earth—but there's still a mess of people experimenting with different ways to do it. Here we'll take a look at a few of these alternate methods, ranging from crazy to clever.
Any homesteader worth their salt will scoff at these, but they're worth including just to see the range of what people have come up with.
The Logmatic Wedge Axe has got a real buy-one-get-one-free kind of vibe, and the video quality is horrible, but it's an earnest attempt to design an easy-to-use tool that concentrates a lot of force on a single point with minimal effort.
The Foot Operated Log Splitter seems like it looked great on paper, but turned out to be underwhelming in reality:
Early Machine Attempts
The earliest wood-splitting machines were steam-powered:
But even hooked up to a gas engine, you see that the motive power isn't the problem, it's the design of the machine itself. It's no wonder why we don't see these anymore, as they're terribly inefficient and inconsistent:
Some guy in Norway rigged this cutter up using parts from a farm combine. But while he gets points for inventiveness, is it just me, or does this contraption yield completely useless shapes of wood?
These two are straight-up crazy.
The car-driven "Unicorn Log Splitter" (video unembeddable) seems like the worst idea in the world, and yields wildly inconsistent shapes.
The "Redneck Log Splitter" uses a splitting edge that's been welded to the flywheel. It gets the job done—eventually—but how freaking dangerous does it look?
Unsurprisingly, it is foresters—the people who stand to make the most money from chopping wood—that have the best machine designs. This Polish-made Splitmaster is pretty nuts, check out the money shot at 1:00:
The Splitmaster still requires felled trees be chopped into sections with a chainsaw. But the even less labor-intensive Palax Power100S Firewood Processor below takes entire logs, features a tumbling cylinder to shed small pieces into a dumpster, and seems generally awesome—though I'm sure it burns up a hell of a lot of fossil fuel: