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cleaver for firewood

How to choose a reliable axe for chopping firewood?

the structure and selection of the cleaver axe

   A cleaver is one of the many types of axes. The main difference is that an axe is used to cut trees, while a cleaver is used for chopping firewood; it splits huge trunks into small, easy to handle logs.Besides the functional purpose, there are also external differences. The axe blade is well sharpened, it is light and thin, with small, even graceful, curves. Koluns are massive and voluminous, weighing up to 3 kg and have a blade mounted on a long axe-head.

For both types of tool, the way they are used and their characteristics are clear and self-explanatory. To chop trees, it is necessary to repeatedly hit the light axe on the trunk, holding the tool on the outstretched hand at a small angle. With a cleaver, the work goes on a different principle: from the blow the log should split into several small parts. Thus, when working with an axe, the sharpness of the tool is important, but with a cleaver, the force of the blow is important.

     Construction and varieties of a cleaver

   The construction of an axe and a cleaver is not complicated. They consist of a handle or axe handle, and a "head".

The axe-head is made of soft and flexible varieties of wood: ash, birch, elm or maple. Less commonly, handles are made of oak, which inexperienced woodturners consider the best because of the greater hardness of the wood. However, this characteristic of the oak handle is more of a minus than a plus - the axe quickly fails due to the lack of damping of vibration from the blow.A stake looks more like a sledgehammer, which has one side, called the blade, sharpened. The opposite, blunt side is called the butt. The weight of the head is 3-5 kg, its blade is usually sharpened at an angle of 40-50°. Thanks to this angle of sharpening and there is a splitting of the log into suitable parts for burning.

Also cleavers have some differences between themselves. They are divided into two main types:

   heavy, which has an outward resemblance to a sledgehammer;
   The same heavy, but sharpened cleaver.

There is another method of classifying cleavers, according to which the tool is:


There is no fundamental difference when working with different types of cleavers, this factor does not particularly affect the quality of firewood. Much more important is the structure of the tool itself. 

   Parameters of choosing a good cleaver

There are simply no universal tips and recipes on how to choose the best cleaver for chopping firewood. The choice of the tool depends on several important factors, individual for any person:

     length and material of the handle;
     the shape of the blade.

     The weight of the chopper

Weight is perhaps the most ambiguous characteristic of a cleaver. From one point of view, the heavier a cleaver is, the easier it is to split thick billets with it. If you choose a light tool for work, you will have to apply several blows, while the use of a heavy cleaver allows you to do the job with one blow.

It is necessary to remember that making firewood is a long and energy-consuming process, and waving a heavy tool for a few hours is not for everyone. That is why it is better to choose the splitter according to one's own physical capacities.

A good splitter for a man of average physical abilities should have the weight of 2-2,5 kg. People with great physical strength and large size would prefer a heavier tool.

It is easier to split small billets with a lightweight cleaver, but it can be difficult to split medium-sized logs.   


 Blade shape

Which cleaver is suitable for making firewood in most cases can be determined by the shape of the blade. There are two designs available:

    The so-called "eared".

The latter type appeared relatively recently and has earned conflicting reviews from woodcutters.

Many experienced chippers confirm that such a tool often not only does not split a log, but also gets stuck in it firmly and for a long time.

On this basis, it would seem that we can conclude that wedge-shaped cleavers are beyond competition. But this is not quite true! Manufacturers of "eared" blades in the instructions give a small caveat: such a tool should be used only when working with dry wood.

   Material and length of the handle

Not so long ago there was no alternative to wooden handles for cleavers.

Since time immemorial, both wood chopping axes and cleavers have been made with handles made of wood, which has a unique ability to dampen the impact vibration. It is impossible not to mention the prevalence of such material and its low cost, which for many is crucial.

The only, but very significant disadvantage of wood handles is that they can split when an inexperienced woodsman works. This is not about the strength of the material or defects made during the production - the technique of impact is of major importance.

Relatively recently in the world was brought out an excellent substitute for wood - composite material fiberglass. In spite of its lightness this material is much stronger than wood and falls a little short of the metal. Vibration dampening properties of fiberglass are also very high, that is why it is pleasant and convenient to work with such a handle. Taking into consideration that the low density of the handle allows to make any handle length without making the tool heavier, it is better to choose a cleaver with a fiberglass axe.

The axe's strike force directly depends on the axe's length - the longer the lever, the more force is developed with the axe. But to maximize the tool's potential, you need to learn how to use it correctly. In other words, the use of a long axe will be effective only when an experienced person will work with the cleaver. For a beginner, a too big cleaver is more likely to become a burden.

   So, how to choose the right axe?

First of all, the weight of the tool should be chosen according to the physical development of the person who will use it.

Before buying, you should take into account whether dry or wet wood will have to chop and accordingly give preference to wedge-shaped or "ear-shaped" blades.Equally important selection criteria are the length and material of the handle. In this case, the determining factor is the experience of the woodsman and the financial possibilities. An axe made of wood is not the most practical, but a cheap option. It is better to choose a handle made of fiberglass, which, although it will cost more, will last much longer.


 How to use a firewood chopper correctly

Even with the best cleaver, if you do not have experience, it is impossible to establish an effective work, rationally organize the process of chopping firewood. If you have never chopped firewood yourself, a few tips will certainly help you in this difficult work.

The work should be done on the widest available deck, set on a level place. On this deck, as on the plank, the logs will be installed. In addition to setting up the place to work, you should also pay attention to the logs themselves - freshly sawn logs because of their natural moisture will be chopped much harder than dry ones.

Prepared firewood should be chosen according to the size of the furnace or fireplace. Their length should not exceed three quarters of the length of the working space of the stove, and their diameter should be 6-10 cm. Such parameters ensure continuous burning in the firebox of every piece of wood and allow to use fuel rationally and economically. The number of separate pieces of wood that are made by splitting a log depends on its size. Small billets usually produce 2 to 4 logs, larger billets more than 8.

Like any other matter that seems simple at first, the process of splitting firewood can be improved to do the job faster and with less effort.

Immediately before cutting firewood, it is advisable to dry it. In winter you should let the damp logs freeze so that the structure of the wood is not too loose and soft.

If there is a crack in the billets, you should try to get into it. If it is not possible to get into the crack, you should take a sledgehammer and hit the butt of the cleaver. If you do not have a sledgehammer, you should take a block with a cleaver stuck in it, swing it, turn it upside down in the air and hit the block as hard as you can. After such radical actions, the billets should crack for sure.

If there are knots in the log, you should strike right between them or along one of them. If you have the same problem as with a crack, the algorithm of actions is the same.

Chopping firewood yourself is not so difficult. The main thing is not to rush and not to give up at the first failures.

  Safety measures when chopping firewood

When chopping firewood, it is necessary to observe some safety precautions, regardless of how the work will be carried out: with the help of a manual cleaver or using for this purpose an electric wood splitter.Both the cleaver and the axe cannot be called safe tools and even one awkward movement can lead to serious injury. The right tool and the right way to do the job have a big impact on safety.

The most careful attention should be paid to the choice of a suitable stake for chopping. Its width should be greater than the diameter of the widest stake, and its height should be just above the knee. If the stake is not installed correctly, it will be difficult to strike hard enough to split the log.

It is recommended that you wear gloves and safety glasses before you start work. Gloves are needed to prevent the axe from slipping out of your hands so that the axe doesn't fly far away and hit your dear neighbor in the back. Goggles are needed to protect your eyes from small chips. Certainly, it is possible to not put on glasses, if you plan to get used to a role of one-eyed pirate as naturally as possible.

The log should be set on the far side of the deck. This is to ensure that in the case of a miss the chopper will hit the chopping block, not your knee.

To make the process of cutting firewood as successful as possible, it is necessary not only to buy a good cleaver, but also to do the job correctly and, most importantly, safely.



Data taken from: https://profiteplo.com/toplivo/87-kak-vybrat-kolun-dlya-drov.html