Learn how to build a log-splitting table for the homestead.
Wood-splitting season can be a joyful experience or sheer drudgery. Over the past two decades our family's firewood chopping, which used to involve everyone, has now become a solo venture. Here is how I came to build a log-splitting table.
When I started splitting wood by myself, I discovered the piece of wood on the far side of the splitter always fell to the ground. I continuously had to walk around the splitter and bend over to retrieve each piece of wood, which quickly became a nuisance. To ease my back and save time, I screwed a piece of plywood to the top of a sawhorse and made a crude table to catch the piece of split wood. That worked well. As I grew older, spending an entire Saturday splitting firewood got less and less appealing, so I built a special splitting table, which worked even better than the piece of plywood. And I started using a different splitter. The current one is a hydraulic-pump splitter powered by an 8-horsepower gasoline motor. The widely splayed legs on my new table (see plans on page 101 of this issue) clear the splitter completely and add tremendous stability to the table.
The new tabletop is large enough to hold several log rounds standing on end, at a tune. Position the table close enough to the splitter to catch the piece of split wood, but far enough away to clear the ram. I save a small space on the leading edge of the table for the piece coming off the splitter's back side. Then I can split several rounds before leaving to reload the table. If another person is available, they can run the lever that powers the ram forward to split the wood and backward and to ready it for the next piece. They also can keep the table loaded, while the other person loads the wood into the trailer or wheelbarrow.
Splitting into a wheelbarrow or trailer parked alongside the splitter speeds up the job and reduces operator fatigue, allowing one to work for longer periods of time. I used to load split wood into a wheelbarrow. This year we were too far from the stacked woodpile to use wheelbarrows, so I borrowed a friend's lawn tractor. We used two lawn tractors, each pulling a trailer capable of carrying almost a face cord at a time. (A face cord is measured as split wood stacked 4by8-feet long by the length of the cordwood, in this case 15 inches. A full cord is 4 by 4 by 8-feet.) In three days, we stacked P face cords of wood for myself and about 20 face cords for my neighbor.
Another important factor in operator comfort is the height of the sputter beam. This can make or break the operation. especially if it is a rented sputter you have to work nonstop until the word is completely split. Years ago I worked with splitters that were just a few inches off the ground, which required me to kneel to work them. Finally I started running the splitter up onto concrete blocks to get the beam high enough for comfortable operation. Mow I have a pad made out of 2 by 12-inch lumber that raises the sputter off the ground 3 inches. This gives me a beam working height of 30 inches, which is just right for me. My neighbor, who stands 6 feet 7 inches tall, needs a higher beam and splitter-table height. He suffered a sore back this year from working with my setup.
Whether you are splitting alone or with lots of help, the sputter table, and a ramp and pad to raise the beam to a comfortable working height, are a great assistance. For a small investment of time and money, you can build your own splitting table, work smarter and faster, and save your back during wood-splitting season.
Log-splitting Table Plans
4 legs (for a 30 inch high table): 2 inch by 6 inch by 37 inch (can all be cut from one 2 inch by 6 inch by 12 inch)
2 supports: 2 inch by 6 inch by 36 inch
2 rails: 1 inch by 8 inch by 42 1/2 inch
2 rails: 1 inch by 8 inch by 36 1/4 inch
1 top: 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch by 37 inch by 38 inch plywood