Camping wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without campfires. Who doesn’t love cooking breakfast or toasting marshmallows over an open flame? You can’t build a campfire without kindling, though, and the wood-splitting tool that you choose could make or break your outdoor adventure. Here’s a rundown of your options.
These tools are ideal for creating uniformly sized pieces of firewood. Many models are gas- or electric-powered. You simply place the wood and flip a switch. If you use your fireplace a lot, they’re great to have in the backyard.
However, log splitter is often too large and powerful to use for kindling. That would be like using a blowtorch to light birthday candles.
Axes and Wedges
Using the wrong axe to prepare kindling is a challenge at best. At worst, it’s a safety hazard.
Splitting axes have tapered heads and are much lighter and easier to wield than felling axes. They’re designed to split wood fibers rather than cut them, which is only necessary if you’re chopping down a tree.
A splitting maul is significantly heavier and has a longer handle. It resembles a cross between a sledgehammer and an axe. Things could get ugly if you don’t have the strength or experience to wield a splitting maul.
A splitting wedge will help you get started if you’re trying to break up a large stump or thick log into kindling. They’re usually made of rugged steel that can stand up to the force of a sledgehammer. To use a wedge, you hammer it into the wood until it’s stationary. Then, you pound away.
Many seasoned outdoorsmen and adventurous women refuse to part with their axes. They like the heft and feel of this ancient tool in their sweaty, capable hands. They don’t worry about losing a toe or putting out an eye. They’ve been around the chopping block a few times.
The Kindling Splitter
The best tool for any project is the one that was specifically designed for it.This compact, portable splitter weighs just 10 pounds and stands around a foot tall. The cylindrical frame, constructed of durable cast iron, measures about 6 inches in diameter.
The open design is simple. Two sturdy bars connect the heavy ring that forms the base to a lighter ring at the top. Midway down, an arced blade stretches between the two bars. The tool was built to be portable, but the base has holes for drilling if you want to bolt it down.
Since the blade is built-in, no axe is necessary. You needn’t have extraordinary strength. Indeed, a teenager invented this splitter as a science project after her mother cut a finger while chopping wood with an axe.
Using a Kindling Splitter
For the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll be referring to the Kindling Cracker (read our full review), which in our opinion is the best kindling splitter on the market today. Other specific splitters work just like this, but specific details may vary depending on the manufacturer and model.
These handy and often portable kindling devices couldn’t be easier to use. All you need is a mallet or heavy hammer:Step 1: Don your safety gear.
- Don your safety gear.
- Gather the logs or firewood that you want to split. Have your mallet ready.
- Place the splitter on any flat, slightly elevated surface like a fat tree stump or picnic bench. If you’re using it at home and prefer to keep it stationary, you may bolt it down.
- Grab a log and place it vertically inside the safety frame. Center it with the bottom end resting on the blade.
- While holding the wood steady with one hand, take your mallet or hammer and start whacking. As the wood descends, the blade will split it into strips.
- If the first pieces are still too large for kindling, hammer them into the splitter again.
- Gather and pile the kindling, or load in a Panacea Firewood bag (our current favorite). Better yet, assign that chore to the kids.
It’s just that simple, and it takes only seconds to split a piece of wood. So little force is needed that older children, with adult supervision, can handle the job. Fingers and toes never come near the blade.
The wood strips aren’t likely to become projectiles, but even the slimmest possibility paints a vivid picture in the imagination.
Play it safe. Always wear safety goggles when chopping wood. Wear sturdy shoes with closed toes. Don’t forget work gloves to protect your hands from splinters and insects. If you’re recycling construction materials, make sure that the wood is free of nails.
For safety, portability and ease of use, this tool can’t be beat. As for maintenance, the blade needs only occasional sharpening with a file. It should be kept as dry as possible to prevent rusting.
With a kindling splitter, you’ll be stargazing beside a crackling fire in no time.
Although your specific kindling splitter may vary, the step-by-step process remains mostly the same for quickly turning small logs into ready-to-use firewood and kindling..
Following the simple steps above should allow you to generate all of the kindling you need in no time.
And while it’s perfectly acceptable to use your favorite log splitter, axe or wedge, it’s just too easy NOT to have a handy kindling splitter such as the Kindling Cracker on hand whenever needed.