In a follow up to our recent top 5 best splitting maul review article, we thought we would take a closer look at what this often overlooked tool has to offer. First though, in an effort to cover all the bases we will go right back to basics and explain exactly what one is.
What is a splitting maul?
A splitting maul is a hand tool used to split large pieces of wood. At the first glance, the splitting maul resembles an axe but with a wider, fatter butt.
The sharp side is used to create a split on the wood while the flatter side is used to pound a wedge so as to complete the split. A typical maul has a head weighing about 4kg give and take.
The cutting side resembles an axe while the other edge looks like a sledge harmer. This tool is ideal for splitting large planks of wood since it has a large width that prevents it from getting stuck into the wood.
Differences between a splitting maul and an axe
Although a splitting maul closely resembles an axe, there are stark differences between the two. First, an axe is sharp and thin as it is designed to cut across wood fibers. This is the reason why using an axe creates wood chips.
On the other hand, a splitting maul is fat and blunt. It is used to split pieces of wood by forcing wood fibers apart along the grain.
As the blunt edge creates cracks between wood fibers, the v-shaped part forces the wood apart. In short, the axe is designed for cutting wood while the maul is designed for splitting wood.
Unfortunately, you cannot substitute one for the other. If you try to use an axe to split wood, you risk getting it stuck. The sharp edge of the axe will sink too deep and removing it will be an arduous task.
However, the worst scenario is trying to chop wood with the maul. The blunt edge of the maul will slide off and if you were trying to chop a trunk, the maul can go in the direction of your leg.
Another difference between an axe and a maul is the weight. Typically a maul weighs about 4kgs while the axe clocks half of that.
This affects the way the two tools are used. You can easily swing the axe the whole day without much difficulty. However, a lumberjack can have a very rough time doing the same with the maul.
Lastly, a maul has a longer handle than the axe. This is to enable it to reach the ground when you are splitting wood.
A simple way to tell between the two is to look at the handle and measure it against your arms. If it’s longer than your arms then, it’s likely to be a maul. If it is shorter then, it’s probably an axe.
The benefits of using a splitting maul
Using a splitting maul to split wood brings you a lot of benefits. First, you get to do a lot of body exercises. Many people are not able to exercise their bodies as required and using the splitting maul enables them to burn a lot of calories from their bodies.
Secondly, a splitting maul does not break down with ease. Unlike other tools such as the chain saw that can easily breakdown, you are assured that the maul will remain in good working condition through the splitting session.
Lastly, splitting maul puts you in touch with nature as you are not using machines to do the work.
- If all this does sound like a lot of work, you might want to read our best log splitter review article (gas and electric) here.
How to use a splitting maul
A splitting maul is used to split pieces of wood parallel to the grain. This works by forcing wood fibers apart. While the blunt edge creates cracks between wood fibers, the v-shaped part separates the wood with every pressure.
Safety tips when using a splitting maul
Using a splitting maul can be very dangerous especially considering that it is a large and heavy tool. Therefore, it is important to take the necessary steps to prevent injury to your foot.
- The first caution that you should take is to split your pieces of wood on top of a large stump of wood as this will prevent the maul from reaching your leg or hitting a rock on the ground.
- If a piece of wood has a crack, use it as your starting point. Cracks on wood makes splitting easy as the maul will find an easy path.
- If the wood has a knot, start splitting from the other end that does not have a knot.
- Lastly, Working on fresh wood is easier than on drier ones. Therefore, you should start splitting wood as soon as you fell the trees for it will not only be easier for you but also, wood split into smaller sizes dries much faster.