FIVE SECRETS THAT ALL LUMBERJACKS KNOW
1. FOCUS ON ACCURACY, NOT POWER. Don't aim for the center of the round. An accurate strike near the edge of a round hits the growth rings where they are most vulnerable. NEVER STRIKE LONG. Overstriking is an embarrassing rookie move that will damage or break your axe handle.
"An accurate strike near the edge of a round hits the growth rings where they are most vulnerable"
2. BUY GOOD AXES. For most people, a nice starting quiver includes three types: A hatchet, a splitting maul, and a felling axe. Usually, you get what you pay for with axes. A cheap axe at a box store is cheap for good reason—it won't hold an edge and will likely feel unbalanced.
3. SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS. Place your rounds on fairly HARD, LEVEL GROUND. Soft ground absorbs too much of the energy delivered by your swing. Similarly, striking a round that is sitting too high doesn’t allow you to deliver the full force of your axe swing. STUDY YOUR WOOD. Look for existing cracks in the round that you are about to hit, and use the most prominent crack as your target. With practice, you should develop a Jedi-like sense of a round’s strengths and weakness.
4. START WITH WELL-SEASONED WOOD. Wet or knotty wood may not be worth your trouble. Splitting wood should be a pleasure, not a chore.
5. TECHNIQUE MATTERS. The most common technique is the STRAIGHT SWING METHOD. Most fans of this method use a chopping block and a splitting maul. Mauls are heavy (typically around 6 pounds) and dull, so be prepared to sweat. The mechanics are fairly straightforward: Drive the maul straight through the round. The blunt head of the maul is designed to split wood along the grains.
In some regions, a light axe (around 3-4 pounds) with a sharp blade is preferred to a blunt maul. A sharper blade demands more technique and accuracy. Many old-timers use a TWIST METHOD method in which they twist their wrist slightly just as they strike the round. Without the twist, the sharper axe head may stick in the round.