Sunday, July 18, 2010

Splitting Firewood

The ax is a symbol.

William Coperthwaite, A Handmade Life, 2007


The back porch thermometer reads 103F right now, and there is only a slight breeze. The last two mornings I have worked at splitting the oak and ponderosa pine I felled and cut up this spring, the oak (valley oak and black oak) is almost dry, but the pine is almost as wet as when I first cut it. Amanda and I plan on replacing the pellet wood stove that came with the house this winter for a real wood stove, one without a fan, an auger and doesn't have to be plugged into an electrical outlet. Living down here in Mariposa County has made me soft, because the house is insulated and I now that I work all winter, I haven't had the need to cut and split 4-5 cords of wood every year. I didn't realized how much I miss splitting firewood.


Before all of you start saying "What is he crazy? Who would miss splitting firewood? That's alot of work!" Yes, it is work, but it is enjoyable work and splitting wood is very much like life, you never are really sure what is going to happen next or what you will find. Each piece of wood splits differently, you don't always swing the splitting maul accurately enough to hit that split in the end and it is amazing what kinds of insects you will find living in wood and the bark. Our house in Colorado was on the corner of Ski Road and 2nd Ave, in a fish bowl, and summer residents would walk past as I split my wood. I got tired of all of them saying, "Boy, that looks like a lot of work!" To make them scurry away, I would always stop, rest my axe on the chopping block, smile at them and reply, "To work is to pray."


These next 2 photos are for my friend, Dave, just wanted you to see a little Collins double-bitted cruising axe that I picked up a couple of years ago at an antique store, it is about an inch smaller than the Warren Tool and Axe Company cruising axe that I use for carving spoons! By the way, the splitting maul in the photos is probably close to 60 years old, I remember it looking old when I was young kid playing in my grandparents woodshed.


This is a Collins single bit "Boy's Axe" that my father bought for me when I was about 10-11 years old, I guess around 1972-73. It's a great axe. I remember my dad took me to the Western Auto Store to pick it out for my birthday, it's a great axe just for that.

2 comments:

  1. I planted thousands of white and red pine trees sixteen years ago here in upstate, NY, and now I've girdled about half of them in the first major thinning. How is pine as firewood? I've only ever burned hardwoods, and I'm concerned about pitch and whether it's worth burning due to its low btu value.

    Tico vogt

    ReplyDelete
  2. Tico:
    One of the best species to burn here in the West is lodgepole pine, I prefer to burn incense cedar and if I can get it Douglas fir which produces an incredible btu. I don't like oak too much, you spend all day emptying the ash box. I usually clean the stove pipe every three months and you can buy creosote removal sticks that you just throw on the fire.

    ReplyDelete

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