Should I buy a log splitter?

Log Splitter 7 ton
Logmaster 7 ton kinetic log splitter
Nothing quite compares to the homely, comforting glow of a real fireplace. As well as a source of heat, it provides a talking point and an attractive feature for any home.

However, chopping logs can be a backbreaking and sometimes dangerous chore. That’s where log splitters come in handy.

How do log splitters work?

Log splitters are a useful piece of equipment that take the strain out of chopping logs. Consisiting of either a hydraulic or electric-powered rod and piston assembly, the log splitter is normally rated by the tons of pressure it generates. Logs are driven, by a piston, onto a stationary blade with enough force to split them in two.

Log splitters are portable and easily moved from garage or shed to your log pile. There are several types on the market depending on the size and/or amount of logs that require splitting. Most home devices range in pressure from 4 ton log splitters to 7 ton log splitters, which is more than adequate for most types of wood. Also popular are dual log splitters, which can split wood in both directions to save you even more time.

Safety first

Good log splitters require two handed operation. This reduces the chance of operator accidents, as both hands are occupied in using the machine rather than potentially getting caught between log and blade. The behaviour of the log being split cannot be entirely predicted, so it’s good practice to stand at the opposite end to the splitting blade. If any people are collecting the split wood, make sure that they stand clear of the log splitter whilst it is in use.

Maintenance

Maintaining your log splitter as per the manufacturer’s instructions is important in prolonging the life of your purchase. Cleaning and oiling after use is usually recommended. Accessories are also available for logsplitters; a log splitter table is a good investment as it raises the splitter to waist height to eliminate any further bending.

If you’re still not sure if a log splitter is right for you, watch the video below to see one in action!

6 Silver linings of winter

Feet Warming By Fireplace
Look on the bright side…

If summer and winter went head-to-head for the honour of being the most popular season of the year, then it would be no contest and summer would win easily with its sunshine, ice creams and suntans.

But hold on just a minute. Winter shouldn’t be written off quite so easily; there are lots of overlooked benefits during the snowy season.

Summer has its perks for sure, but no season does comfy time quite like wintertime. Allow us to remind you of what’s in store when the nights draw in.

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The pros and cons of green energy

Green forest
Image source: Oleg Kalina
What do you think of green energy?

Are you plugged into green energy or do you think environmentally friendly power is a costly gimmick?

Do you think wind turbines are an elegant addition to the countryside or a blot on the landscape? Are solar panels a sign of positive change or a way to make your roof look ugly?

Here we take a look at some of the most popular forms of green energy, and ask – is all it’s cracked up to be?

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Essential winter gadgets

These days there is a gadget for everything, but some are more useful than others. The laptop desk that attaches to your steering wheel is a certainly rather stupid idea, and the less said about the iPotty the better.

But there are plenty of gadgets that make life easier, and in the cold winter months that’s just what we want.

So to make the festive season go smoothly this year, here are our top winter gadgets. Enjoy!

Dehumidifer

peltier-dehumidifier-AquaDri.
Say no to chesty coughs this winter
In the months that end with ‘R’ the air is moist due to low temperatures. This can cause damp, which in turn can cause mould spores and dust mites, both are bad news for your health.

With a dehumidifier however that risk is diminished. It works by collecting moisture either via a fan, electric current on crystal and turning it into water. Simply dispose of the water, and job done.

Log splitter

D3803 Dual Logmaster Logsplitter 2 Cj
Fire the fast way
Chopping wood is always a hard task, but especially in the depths of winter. No one wants to stand in the cold swinging a rather dangerous axe around! That is where a log splitter comes in handy.

Simply put, log splitters make better fires. This is because wood that has been split into smaller pieces burns better. The oxygen needed to keep a fire going has more access to the wood as there is a larger surface area, and this in turn means a brighter, warmer fire.

Instead of a sharp point being swung at speed, a hydraulic or foot operated log splitter works with a splitting wedge, meaning you don’t have to strain your back and you can split more wood than you could by hand.

Halogen oven

Halogen Oven
Impromptu roast dinner anyone?
With winter bills rising, we’re all looking for ways to save money, and a halogen oven will slash bills. Based on a 1300w 12 litre halogen oven cooking a chicken in 40 minutes, you’ll only have to spend 9p on electricity!

You may be wondering how a chicken can cook in 40 minutes? Well, because of hi tech halogen bulb technology and a fan to ensure all of the bowl gets heat, a halogen oven is able to cook tasty food fast.

Potato peeler

Electric potato peeler
How do you like your spuds in the morning?
Stews, roast dinners and soups are the epitome of winter warming food – and potatoes are often an important part of the meal.

When shivering and in need of a winter warmer, like the traditional Welsh dish of cawl, peeling potatoes can be a time consuming task. And for those with joint problems, it can be painful too.

But an automatic potato peeler uses a rotating blade to quickly take the skin off your spuds. Meaning those with poor dexterity needn’t be in pain, those that get cold hands needn’t get numb fingers and those who have a huge Christmas dinner to make, can get on basting the turkey!

For hands that don’t ache, a fire that burns well and fully functioning lungs our gadgets will see you right. And if you do want to research halogen oven recipes online, avoid the steering wheel lap desk, the M1 is for driving after all.


How to use log splitters

The cold snap is here, summoning months of runny noses, numb body parts and frosted car windows. Whilst some will shiver at the thought of being chilly, for many it’s simple an excuse to get the fire going.

Fire needs three things; oxygen, heat and fuel and by using wood with a larger surface area, the oxygen and heat have access to more fuel.

So how do you get this larger surface area? With a log splitter, and here is how to use them.

Foot powered

D3953 Foot Operated Logsplitter Cj
Simply split
Simplicity be thy foot powered log splitter. They are simple work with, make quick work of logs and require very little labour.

First, get a level working area and place your logs near the log splitter. Then get a wheelbarrow or garden cart ready for easy transportation.

To start splitting, simply place a piece next to the splitting wedge and pump the lever. The hydraulic force – over a tonne – will cut through the wood with ease.

Hydraulic

D3803 Dual Logmaster Logsplitter 2 Cj
Super splitting
Just like the foot powered option, a hydraulic log splitter needs a level area to work. But unlike a foot powered one, you don’t need to do anything other than load and unload logs.

Many hydraulic log splitters have handles, and if yours does then make sure you use them. It will make the machine more stable and stop you from endangering your hands!

To get chopping, place the wood next to the wedge, hold the handle and watch as wood is driven into two bits. Wearing goggles is also a good idea, as when the wedge hits a knot in the wood, splinters may fly.

A Maul

Hand maul and firewood
Sweaty split
Source: Wikipedia
Despite the invention of the log splitter, many still prefer the backbreaking work of preparing wood by hand. So if you are a glutton for punishment, here is some advice on how to chop your wood the old fashioned way.

First, get a maul – which looks like an axe, but has a wider head – this forces the wood apart instead of cutting through it. Make sure you have plenty of space, then find a large piece of wood to use a big chopping board.

Then comes the fun and/or hard part, depending your fitness levels! Rest the piece of wood you want to split on the chopping surface and drive the maul down into it. Look for grains of wood and aim for these lines, it will be easier to split this way.

There are many ways to save on rising energy bills and a warming fire is one of the best. And unless you like the manliness of hand splitting wood, save yourself the hassle and use a log splitter instead. After all, if you’ve already got a runny nose, a sore back is the last thing you need.

Top 10 ways to beat rising energy costs

Rising energy bills are a hot topic right now in the UK — if only the same could be said for much of the shivering population struggling to pay them.

Winters seem to be getting colder — nice one global warming — so it’s time to get savvy to lower your energy costs. Here are your top ten tips!

1. Change providers

gas flame
Image source: Nikkytok
Don’t be afraid to chase the best deals

There is an ongoing price war happening between the energy providers, which is good news as it means they will be offering reduced prices to attract new customers. Keep an eye on any deals you could benefit from if you switch to another company (and read the small print). And don’t be afraid to keep on switching and chasing the discounts.

2. Wear more clothes indoors

wrap up for winter
We’re talking thermals, jumpers, hats all wrapped up in a wooly blanket.
Source: OMG Images

An easy one really, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t wear enough clothes when indoors. If you’re relaxing on the sofa and not moving, then you’re not generating heat, so wrap up a little.
You don’t need to wear a fur coat, but bring out the woolies and make sure that you’re preventing your body heat from escaping.

3. Improve insulation

Heavy curtains
Image source: Alexandru Nika
Make your own heavy duty curtains to keep the cold at bay

Would you keep pouring water in a jug if it had a leak? No. So why throw away money heating a house with bad insulation? It’s madness. Locate and destroy any draughts by insulating them in whatever way you can afford.
Windows and doors are the chief suspects so if you can’t afford to buy new ones, then insulate them better. Any cracks can be fixed with draught excluder sealant, invest in a good pair of thick thermal curtains which can improve energy efficiency by as much as 25% and use draft excluders for the bottoms of doors.

4. Move and keep active

Crunch
Image source: Wavebreak Media Ltd
You can’t be cold whilst doing crunches!

Movement equals energy and energy equals heat. Move and your body will generate it’s own heat and also get everything firing up and flowing — a bit like starting up the boiler.
Buy a fitness video and take up home aerobics, get into a bit of festive DIY or increase your quota of rumpy pumpy sessions — guaranteed to provide enough heat for two.

5. Wood fuelled heating

log splitter
Save time with one of these handy log splitters
Source: Clifford James

Plan ahead and take into account the savings over a few winters. With that in mind, invest in a wood burner or get your fireplace and chimney back in working order.
And avoid all the axe work on Christmas morning with your very own hydraulic log splitter, which will get through the big stuff quicker than it takes the youngsters to open their presents.

6. Meal preparation

Jacket potato
Image source: Olga Miltsova
Is there anything more appealing during winter? Answer: no

Eat. Your body needs food to generate heat, so don’t skimp on meals and make sure you’re well fed. Stuff like jacket potatoes, soups and comforting dishes like cottage pie are reasonably cheap and will warm you up too.
And save money by preparing stuff in the microwave (which is far more energy efficient than a gas cooker). Or how about throwing a foil-wrapped potato in your new wood burner?

7. Choose your room

sun light window
Use your south-facing room as a winter snug
Source: The Frugal Girl

When the freeze kicks in and the heating needs to be on — then it’s time to get tactical. Ideally you want to be using a south-facing room as your winter hideout as it will trap some of the heat from the sun, which can go a long way to keeping the room warm all day if it’s insulated well.
If you don’t have a south-facing room, then choose the smallest room, as it will be much easier to insulate and keep warm and put some foil behind the radiators to reflect the heat back into the room. And you don’t need the heating on in all the rooms — just your living space and sleeping abode will do the trick, so turn some of those radiators off and save money.

8. Invest in a super quilt

Duvet
Image source: BCFC
So toasty you won’t want to get out of bed in the mornings

Ask a granny to knit you a toasty blanket or invest in a super winter-spec quilt, which can be picked up cheap enough. And use it! Have it with you on the sofa and then snuggle up in bed. It may be frosty in your room, but under that quilt it’s summertime.

9. Energy efficient products

lamp
Go green when buying lightbulbs
Source: Wikipedia Commons

Using energy-saving light bulbs will save you money in the long term as will opting for the more economical white goods like washing machines and freezers.
And upgrading an uneconomical boiler is also an excellent investment that could save up to £300 per year. The initial outlay for more efficient products is likely to be costly, but if you were to work out the total costs over a few years, then savings would be made.

10. Spend more time around friend’s houses

Football friends
Image source: Monkey Business Images
Cheeky but effective

Bit of a cheeky one, but hey, what are friends for? Pop around their houses and hang out in their sub tropical lounges (for as long as you can manage without appearing to be unofficially couch-surfing).

How to make a good bonfire

Already, the pungent odour of burning wood, dense clouds of smoke and sound of crackling fire fills the air. Yes, many people have already jumped the gunpowder, but tonight is the night for real bonfire action.

But whilst a fire may create a comforting glow in your garden, for many the task of lighting a fire leaves them hot headed.

Fear not though, because with this guide you’ll soon be the boss of the bonfire. Let’s just hope it doesn’t rain.

Safety

Fire fighter
Don’t let this be your garden
Source: Wikipedia

There aren’t any laws against having a fire, there are some rules to follow.

Whilst there may be a temptation to get rid of household waste, doing so creates pollution, so it is best avoided.

You should also watch the wind direction and location of your bonfire, as smoke can be a serious obstruction to road users. If you live next to a busy road it might be best to skip the bonfire making.

Failure to follow these rules, could not only make you an annoying, unsafe neighbour but also result in a £5000 fine!

Not annoying neighbours and authorities is one thing, but staying safe is another. As a safety precaution ensure you have water to hand, either a bucket or hose will work. You should also keep the fire away from flammable structures, such as fences.

It is also a good idea to surround your fire with a circle of stones, which creates a clear boundary for children and helps stop the fire from spreading.

Preparation

Tinder pieces
Pick n mix tinder
Source: Outdoor Life

The foundation of any decent bonfire starts with tinder. Small amounts of bark, whittled bamboo or dried leaves make great natural tinder. Newspaper is the best synthetic tinder, but should be used sparingly. Too much newspaper and you will cut off the oxygen needed for a fire.

Small sticks and twigs, known as kindling should also be added. As long as the kindling is dry and no larger than 30cm, it will help kick start the fire and keep it burning

If you want your bonfire to last, you’ll also need bigger pieces of wood to keep the fire burning. Whilst kindling is good for getting the fire started, it soon turns to ash, so you need something more substantial to keep the fire alight.

With a hydraulic log splitter you can get the larger pieces prepared without breaking your back, and produce the odd bit of kindling too.

Construction

Teepee fire burning
Burn baby burn!
Source:Wiki How

There are several different structures of bonfire, such as the lean-to, the log cabin, the pyramid and the aptly named random pile (you may want to avoid that one).

But it is the teepee that creates the best looking fire. Make a tripod with three larger pieces of wood and put tinder and kindling underneath. Once lit, either place wood on the side, or in the middle on top of the kindling.

Note that a teepee fire can be structurally unstable as the logs in the “tripod” can burn at different rates. With a log splitter though, you can easily gauge the size of the wood you’re using.

Ignition

Lit match
A match made in fire
Source: Flickr

If your tinder, kindling and construction is correct, you can light a fire with just one match. To get started light the tinder and then gently blow at the base of the flame. Don’t blow too hard as this will extinguish the fire before it’s started.

Slowly add more wood, but not too much as this can stop oxygen fueling the fire. Dampness, green wood or poor tinder may hinder the “one match” theory. So if this is the case, place firelighters around the base of the fire. Do not use aerosol, petrol or other highly flammable liquids as this can be extremely dangerous.

For many homeowners a back garden bonfire is a yearly event. The crackle, aroma and dense smokey fog combine to create a warm glow in our cheeks and the air. And with a log splitter, some wood and a bit of know how, the crackle and spark of warming bonfire can be had with great success.