The Great Wood-Splitting Contest II

Following up on an earlier examination of three wood splitting tools, MOTHER EARTH NEWS tested six new (for 1980) variations.

| November/December 1980

  • 066 wood splitting contest - tools of the trade
    The new wood-splitting tools tested in the second Great Wood-splitting Contest. Pictured in the back row are the Wood Chomper (the tall red one), the Side Winder, and the Monster Maul. The front row includes the Woodox (The orange one), the Wood Popper (silver), and the E-Z Split Log Splitter.
  • 066 wood splitting contest - log splitter, wood popper
    LEFT: The E-Z Split Log Splitter holds logs securely, but sometimes a little too securely; if you change your mind about where to make a split, getting the log out of the EZ Split can be difficult. RIGHT: The Wood Popper is an aluminum cone intentionally designed to be lightweight to better transmit the force of each blow to the wood.
  • 066 wood splitting contest - maul, side winder
    LEFT: The Monster Maul is a 15 lb implement with a metal handle. The original version was 23 lbs, but even scaled down it was more effective than all other tools evaluated here. RIGHT: The Side Winder has a slightly unbalanced design to make a "sideways snap" easier. However, in tests it showed no such special ability.
  • 066 wood splitting contest - woodchomper, woodox
    LEFT: The Woodchomper is a wedge with a long shaft. The shaft is surrounded by a 10 lb sheath, which you hammer repeatedly against the top of the wedge to drives it into a log. RIGHT: The Woodox is a four-way wedge designed to break logs into four pieces.

  • 066 wood splitting contest - tools of the trade
  • 066 wood splitting contest - log splitter, wood popper
  • 066 wood splitting contest - maul, side winder
  • 066 wood splitting contest - woodchomper, woodox

Last fall we ran an article called The Great Wood Splitting Contest, in which we compared three high-quality manual log-busting tools: the massive Monster Maul, the swivel-edged Chopper 1, and an ordinary go-devil splitting maul. Well folks, those must have been the simple days of yesteryear — because there are so many manual splitting tools on the market this season that our previous competition is practically antiquated. That being the case, there was nothing left for us to do but to gather up samples of all the new muscle-powered round rippers we could get our hands on and then stage (what else?) THE GREAT WOOD SPLITTING CONTEST II.

Now most folks use a splitting maul and a sledgehammer-and-wedge combination to cut their fuel logs down to size. And, interestingly enough, each of the six new implements we acquired for this test is patterned after either a wedge or a maul, so we've divvied the entries up into those two classes for comparison.

Class 1: Wedges

THE WOOD POPPER 1Giesler Engineering, 723 Mount Road, Aston, PA 19014. Telephone: 1-800-428-8616.

This unconventional "wedge" is actually cone-shaped, is constructed of super-high-strength aluminum, and weighs a mere 20 ounces! Its inventors feel that a heavy wood-pryer absorbs impact — thereby wasting a sledge swinger's energy — while their light tool better transfers the force of a blow to the wood.

So the Wood Popper 1 is an intentionally small item. But sure enough, the little cone is very effective. It even offers the "bonus" of occasionally splitting a round (including one of our 11"-diameter, 23"-tall locust sections) into three pieces.

Of course, like a traditional wedge, the tool can get almost irretrievably buried in a tough log. The real problem we faced with the lightweight, though, concerned safety: If one doesn't hit the device dead-on flush during the early set-it-in blows, the Wood Popper can pop right out of a round and fly as far as 20 feet! (It didn't do so often during our tests, but such an occurrence could be dangerous.)

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