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

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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