Split Decision

Once again, the outdoor chores of this log home lifestyle have got us thinking. Thinking about those specific chores, about options available, about the abstract, about cost/benefit analysis. This time it’s cost /benefit analysis of firewood. We have already discussed, and continue to discuss, at length, the trade-offs of gas v log fireplaces; that is left for a different time and place. For this discussion, we are sticking with the sheer antiquity of burning wood for heat and ambiance and going old-school fireplace, the type a log homes and ski lodge are designed around – a big, focal, Volkswagon-sized boulder, wood burning fireplace, the kind that swallows hardwoods like cocktail wieners.

Well, that wood has to come from somewhere. Sure, craigslist is chock full of posts this time of year – seasoned Cherry, Apple, Hickory, Oak, Pine (there’s a sucker born every minute), by the cord, face-cord or bundle. But that just wouldn’t be proper, wouldn’t be consistent with why you decided to build one of these hand-crafted White Cedar log fortresses in the first place. It wouldn’t be authentic. Yes, yes, we know what you are thinking, “Just how far back do you go for authentic?” Trust me, we believe in the light bulb, indoor toilets and modern refrigeration, so, for the sake of argument, let’s just assume the lifestyle definition of authenticity is that one owns a chainsaw, enjoys the outdoors and is a DIYer – no craigslist quick call. Applying these parameters, it basically comes down to splitting your own firewood.  Therefore, the options really shake out to just two choices:  manual or new-tech power-assisted. As with all we do, we went for the best in both categories:

Manual Fiskars Isocore 8-Pound

The 8-pounder features a dual head with a splitting face for cleaving wood along the grain, and an extra-large driving poll for striking wedges and stakes. Forged and heat treated, the steel is strong, tough, and durable, with a rust resistant coating that helps to prevent sticking when driven deep into wood. The blade geometry is optimized with a wide wedge to strike deep into a log, rending it apart with ease – even ones with stringy fibers and knots. This shape also helps to ensure wood is deflected to the side, not straight back at you, the user. Fiskars’ handle dampens the initial shockwave with their patented IsoCore™ Shock Control System. Made in Finland, it comes with a full lifetime warranty to be free of defects in material and workmanship as long as you own the product.


New-Tech Power Assisted Brute – 35HP Firewood Processor 14′ 3 Strand Deck

The Hud-Son Brute Firewood processor uses dedicated pumps for all functions. The 22 gal/min pump runs the splitting cylinder and chainsaw motor, the 4 gal/min pump runs the feed decks. this allows you to feed the next cut in while the splitter is in the return mode which speed up the process greatly. The oil tank is powered to the bar by DC pump. Freight FOB Barneveld, NY 13304. Features include 23 HP Engine w/electric start, hydraulic log loader, hydraulic log feed, hydraulic log clamp, hydraulic saw, 20 inch diameter log capacity, 24 inch splitter w/auto cycle, 19 ton splitting force, 7 second cycle time, adjustable 4-way wedge (manual), dual hydraulic pumps, 10 gallon reservoir tank, 2 inch trailer hitch, torsion axle, highway towable up to 45 MPH, built in hydraulic pressure gauge & hour meter, and an automatic oiler.


Cost/benefit analysis

Hmmm, no white board needed to illustrate the theories and formulas involved in the decision making process here. You can pick up 538 of those Fiscars Finnish forged firewood furnishers (655 if you are an Amazon Prime member) for you and 537 friends. That could be quite the firewood furnishing party. Or skip the get-together and just start swinging;  no more need for that $3,000 downtown gym membership.

Buuuttt, applying what that credit card advert has taught us oh so many times: “Bottle of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon – $74.99. Brute35 – $35,000. Watching your neighbors’ faces as they sip and observe you processing the first load of firewood – priceless”.

“Firewood heats you twice. Once when you split it and again when you burn it”


  • I have more questions and concerns about getting an oil-change than I do about this project.

    ~ Tom H.