Friday, November 11, 2016

Tool Review: Kindling Cracker

This past June, I got seduced by a tool. That's not a metaphor; I just fell in love with this new tool called the Kindling Cracker, which you can buy here. (Note: this is not an affiliate link, and I bought the tool with my own hard-earned money, thank you very much.)

The concept is simple. Instead of trying to split small logs into kindling using an ax (with which I would kill myself) or with a wedge (ditto), the tool constructs a safer way to split these small logs into kindling.  Basically, you have a cast iron frame that holds the log over an upside-down wedge, and then you can hit the log until it splits without having your hands or other body parts in any danger.

The tool was developed by a school-age child who wanted a safer way to contribute to the log splitting duties at her house, and it is indeed safe.  It is marketed as a tool to keep by your woodpile or your outdoor pizza oven, and the directions recommend using a 4-pound mallet to split the wood.  I used a sledge hammer because I use one frequently in the garden (plus it's a better workout), but I think either would work.  It is, indeed, safe enough for a young person to use to help their family out with the chores.

The tool is not without its drawbacks. It is tempting to put a too-large piece of wood in the frame, which will result in it getting caught as it splits. And, if you happen to get a piece of wood with a funky grain or a large knot in it, it won't split into beautifully straight pieces of kindling.  But, you probably already knew at least that last from experience splitting wood without the frame involved.

The best thing about the kindling cracker is that Mr. FC&G doesn't have to shoulder the entire job of splitting our wood by himself.  Oh, he still has to do the (literal) heavy lifting, including using the chain saw and the ax (neither of which were in operation anywhere near me that day, so don't worry about my rather casual work wear). But I can work on kindling and do the hauling of the wood while he works, and then we both can handle the heavy stuff.  And now that the miserable oak tree is down in chunks and ready to cure into firewood for next year, I will have lots of chances to use my new toy.

The Analysis

Fast: Someone stronger than me could make kindling faster, but at least I was getting the job done.

Cheap:  At $89, this is a bit of a luxury, but I think it is worth it, especially if you have responsible young people in your family who are ready to pitch in on this job.

Good:  Heating with wood that you split yourself rather than paying for gas and electric is always a good thing, especially for the pocketbook.
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