Who Splits Logs when it’s 90° Outside?

Um, yeah, me. There’s a reason that smart people like Peter Follansbee, Curtis Buchanan and Mike Dunbar do this stuff when there’s still a bit of snow on the ground. I went through three t-shirts, two bandanas, a gallon of ice water, two IPAs and four ibuprofen (hey Bob, how many Snickers bars would this be?), but I got this 5 foot red oak log split into eighths on Saturday before the skies opened up. This log is destined to become at least one, but hopefully several chairs.

I still have another five footer to go if anyone wants to come over and swing a sledge hammer for a few hours…anyone…anyone? At least the second one will be cut into shorter sections first. That one will be used for joint stool stock for a couple of reproductions we are going to work on in the joiner’s shop at Pennsbury Manor. If you can’t make it to NJ this week, you can come to Pennsbury on August 4th from 1-4 PM and help me split one there. Maybe it won’t be in the 90s by then :).

logs2 logs1
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29 thoughts on “Who Splits Logs when it’s 90° Outside?

  1. Hi Bob,

    That is a lot of work in any weather! I enjoy the photos. Where is your chopping block? You must have used something. No holes in the lawn.

    I should send my grandson over to help. HA HA! He is at camp this summer. He does live near you, on Paulsboro Road in Woolwich Twp. I think you are in the vicinity. Right?

    Your posts are always interesting. I look forward to reading of your experiences.
    Keep the posts and photos coming.

    Peg Lang

    • Yep, pretty close to me. Chopping block!? These logs are 5′ long. Ain’t no one I know in this world putting a 5′ long log up on a chopping block :o. They’re almost as tall as I am, so I couldn’t split them even if I could get them upright. Nope, split ’em where they fall.

  2. Your more of a man than I am! I live in western PA and I was out building a small walkway out of some stones I dug up IT’S TO HOT for that kinda stuff you better be careful. Can’t wait to see that chair I love red oak. I think it’s probably my favorite type of wood. I remember as a kid chopping one down in our backyard,if I only knew then what I know now, that thing was enormous! I remember feeling the ground shake as it fell and I was a couple of hundred yards away. Anyway looking forward to seeing updates.

    • Yeah, oak is fun to work when it’s fresh and green. It sucks to work with hand tools when it’s dry though. Like working with cement :D. Hopefully this will become a ladderback chair or two and parts for a Windsor or two. May not be enough in this one log for that many chairs, especially once I start splitting off bark, sapwood and pith. But we’ll see. I have a silver maple in the front that has to come down too. Hopefully I’ll get some Windsor legs out of that one, but it’s sick and dying (bugs I think) so I’m not so sure.

  3. Whoa, wait a minute! I’m NOT the only one that engages in woodworking projects outside when it’s +90?!??!! Well I never! Still, when you’re in the the thick of it, the heat is bearable. It’s when you stop and realize how hot it is and the oceans of sweat streaming out your body. Awesome splittin’!

      • Hi Bob; — I’m curious about how you get on with the silver maple when/if you remove it. I had a silver maple yard tree blow down last summer, I’ve just now (Dec 2013) started splitting and planing some boards out of it. It has a hollow trunk, and some limbs are hollow. But on the pieces sound enough to work with (it was a large tree), the wood is attractive, easy to plane, really interesting. It was 90 degrees or so when it fell, and sure enough there were about 6 inches of snow on the ground yesterday as I was splitting one piece into plane-able wedges!

  4. yes, i can relate to that same work out. a 5 ft Red Oak i cut was chain saw into qtr. sawn cants. i then finished it with my saw mill for air dry boards.. I will try to post some pictures.

      • I forgot to mention, always split from roots to the top of the tree direction. It is easier , just try it with fire wood that has limbs in the log.

    • Thanks Derek! I guess WI is a bit far to drive for a couple of hours work, huh :)?

      Yeah, surprisingly, the stock is pretty straight. There’s a slight bit of twist, but for a suburban backyard tree, it’s about as straight as you’re going to get. The 60″ piece I split into eighths last Saturday is also surprisingly knot free for a suburban tree. The next 60″ section isn’t so clear, judging from the bark, but that one is getting bucked into 2 or 3 smaller sections before splitting, so I’ll try to buck off the knotty sections before splitting that one anyway. I’m actually pleasantly surprised with the usable lumber I should get from this tree. I was honestly expecting less from a backyard tree.

  5. Good on ya Bob. I wimped out last weekend on this same task. My father-in-law has a Cherry log waiting for me and despite its diffuse porous nature I was going to try and split it up to get it home to my place. After 4 hours in the heat at the museum, I wimped out and went home instead.

  6. Watch Mountain Men. A man named Eustice has a great way of splitting logs. Uses gun powder and a sort of “mini” cannon….haaa..

    Richard

  7. Bob I am in Mississippi and have had to build some shade on the front of my shop just for projects like what you are doing. A large fan is a plus as well. Good luck on you splitting.

  8. Wood working in the summer without AC is tough. I live in Florida and my shop does not have AC, I am constantly wiping my tools off with oil to stop my sweat from rusting the tools. It has made me become a big fan of winter.

    • I’ve always been a bigger fan of winter myself. I’ve never really minded the cold, but I generate so much body heat that I’ll sweat no matter how cold it is. The way I see it, no matter how cold it is, I can dress for it. When it’s hot though, you can only take off so much before the police show up.

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