Whether you're building a campfire or trying to start a fire in your own fireplace to get toasty next to on a winter night, a kindling splitter will come in handy.
Kindling Splitters: the Tools
There are some gadgets and gizmos out there that are bound and determined to make your life easier when it comes to kindling splitters. In many cases however, you'll just want to get down to the basics. It'll take work no matter what you use. When you take into consideration how many things are done for us in this day and age, this may even be a relaxing activity-something hands-on, rugged, yet still requiring a bit of art and skill.
Axes: Axes are probably the first things that come to mind for amateur kindling splitters. There are other alternatives, though, that make the work easier.
Mauls: Mauls are great kindling splitters when it comes to easy to split wood. They're much easier to deal with for a couple of reasons. The first is, unless the wood is especially gnarly or hard, you won't have to use this with a wedge. You just aim and hit the wood. That eliminates time spent edging the wedge into the wood with one tool, lining it up, stepping back, and hitting with another tool. It simplifies the process. Also, the maul is superior to the axe because of its shape. It's easier for beginners to use and also easier to remove from the wood once it has been hit. The slope of the head is more drastic than that of the axe.
Sledgehammers: Sledgehammers are used for splitting wood in conjunction with wood splitting wedges. You'll get varying opinions of what shape of wedge is best, but nevertheless, you'll probably be striking it with a sledgehammer. Using the sledgehammer and wood splitting wedge route is more time consuming than the axe and maul techniques, but sometimes it is necessary if the wood is especially hard to split. Remember not to just line the wedge up and smack it with the sledgehammer right off the bat. You'll need to tap the wedge into the wood first, then bring out the sledgehammer.
Electric Kindling Splitters: Electric splitters are good for those who split massive amounts of wood. The average camper probably won't need one of these (nor will he want to carry it up to the campsite), but they're worth mentioning anyway just because they take the strain off your back and do the work for you. They're big and pricey, so unless you do quite a bit of wood cutting, you'll want to leave this one at the store and opt for one of the hand tools instead.
Wood Splitting Wedges: Another simple tool you may find useful is a wood splitting wedge. These are especially effective on hard to split wood, but not always necessary for woods that are easy to split. These aren't meant to be used interchangeably with cutting wedges. They are made of different materials, steel being used with kindling splitters. Get the wedge started in the wood before driving it straight in with the sledgehammer.
Online Shopping for Splitters
The Olympia Roughneck Kindling Splitter is a good example of what a basic wood splitting device looks like.
There's also the Ames 12 Pound Lickety Splitter Maul ready to be at your service as well. If twelve pounds is a bit much and you want something smaller, there is also a six pound version of this maul.
Here is an Electric Log Splitter as mentioned above. The price is substantially higher, the space needed for storage wider, and the necessity for the average Joe not so large.
This axe from Gardners.com claims to make wood cutting faster and easier, not to mention safer.
Choose your tool based upon the type and quality of wood you'll be cutting. If you do a lot of wood-cutting, but not enough to purchase an electric kindling splitter, it's not terribly expensive to have a variety of tools on hand. Just remember to use the tools appropriately for safety's sake.