When a splitting axe alone is not enough to get your large log splitting job done with ease, you might want to upgrade to a two-part solution -- that is, using a maul or sledge together with a splitting wedge. They are not new, and are in fact a very old tool, dating back hundreds of thousands of years.
Of course modern splitting wedges are much more advanced than those our primal ancestors used. Advanced machining and metallurgy now allow us to make some expertly engineered and seriously tough wedges that will help you turn stubborn logs into perfect firewood in no time.
Now, let's take a look at some of the best splitting wedges available.
Splitting Wedge Reviews Chart
Heat Treated Carbon Steel
Made in the United States
Traditional Yet Effective Design
*Links on the above comparison chart take you to individual product pages on Amazon.com
When You Should Consider Using a Wedge
Small logs and even some small to medium sized logs and stumps can usually be split easily enough with a basic splitting axe, especially if they are a soft wood, like pine and fir. But, when you are working with hardwoods and larger logs and stumps, you might want to upgrade your splitting tools.
You could of course opt for a heavy maul, like one with an 8+ pound head. The heavy head really allows for a strong downswing and should be able to split most logs in its path, even if it take a couple tries. Just keep in mind, every downswing requires you to lift that bad boy over your head. It's easy to wear yourself down quickly.
When you know you will be working with very large stumps, skipping the smaller axes and jumping right into a wedge is a solid decision. You'll be able to work at a much more efficient pace, and you won't risk breaking the handle of your axe. Breaking a handle is not only a pain in the butt, it's actually quite dangerous as you don't know where the axe head will fly.
What to Look for in a Quality Wedge
Not all wedges are the same. Just like any other tool, the quality of the manufacturing varies greatly from brand to brand, and even from model to model. Some designs look like your basic wedge shape, think like a brick of cheese, that split logs in half. Other more advanced designs, like the 4 way log splitting wedge design, are made to completely fracture logs into multiple pieces with a single blow.
Aside from the shape of the wedge, you should look into the material it's made of. The better the steel and design, the more durable the wedge. A great way to know how long it will last and how well it will do its job is by reading reviews of those who have hands-on experience with the model you're interested in.
Additional Useful Information
An often overlooked an unthought of part of driving steel into large logs and hardwoods is that you generate a lot of force. Eventually the metal is going to bend or warp.
By opting for using a sledge or the poll of your maul with a wedge instead of just the bit of an axe or maul, you greatly sustain the lifespan of your axe or maul. And, while having to purchase another tool in order to sustain another may seem pointless, wedges are typically much less costly than a quality maul.
Aside from sustaining the lifespan of your maul, there's another benefit to using a log splitter wedge when working on larger logs and hardwoods. When you know it's going to take a little extra power to drive metal through wood, it's easy to lose accuracy on your swing. That can lead to missing your target.
When you use a wedge, you first place it in an existing crack. Or, if you need to you can hammer it in a bit like you would when setting a nail. That gives you a nice big target to aim for with your sledge or maul.
Plus, by using a wedge with the poll of your maul instead of the bit, if you miss your target you're much less likely to seriously injure yourself.
And, just in case you aren't sure if they work as advertised, here's a video of a self proclaimed beginner as using them making one from a piece of wood and using it to effectively split a medium-sized log.
If he can do that with a piece of wood, imagine what you can do with a piece of steel.
You don't absolutely have to use a wedge while splitting wood, but if you are going to be doing a lot of work, there's no reason not too. They won't break the bank, and over the long term they will probably save you money.
Besides saving you money, they can really speed up your work thus saving you time. And, they tend to be safer than using only an axe.
If you know you'll be working on large stumps and logs or with especially touch hardwood, do yourself a favor and get a quality splitting wedge. Your wallet, hands, and maybe even your legs, will thank you.