Best Type of Axe for Busting Rotten Stump?

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SteveHGraham
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Best Type of Axe for Busting Rotten Stump?

Post by SteveHGraham » Wed Aug 15, 2018 7:11 pm

As mentioned in other threads, I am in the process of getting rid of some stumps with potassium nitrate. The people who package the chemical recommend burning the stumps after they get mushy, but I have a stump close to my house, and I am thinking I should just hack it up with an axe.

I do not have an axe. All I have is a hatchet.

Question: what's best for this application? A chopping axe or a maul? I'm not sure about the nomenclature. By "chopping axe," I mean your typical 3-foot axe with a single edge. Maybe I have that wrong. I saw a "chopping axe" with a short handle online.

The axe selection near me is not great. I am reluctant to buy a Husky. I'm afraid the rotten wood will be harder than Chinese steel. Trying to find a good brand that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. I got a Fiskars hatchet last year. The handle is nice, but the edge doesn't seem all that hard.
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SteveHGraham
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Re: Best Type of Axe for Busting Rotten Stump?

Post by SteveHGraham » Wed Aug 15, 2018 7:19 pm

Also, is there a difference between a splitting axe and a maul? I never heard of a splitting axe until today.
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SteveHGraham
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Re: Best Type of Axe for Busting Rotten Stump?

Post by SteveHGraham » Wed Aug 15, 2018 7:35 pm

Hmm. I found some information. A regular axe is a felling axe. The next step up in weight is a splitting axe, which is sort of a light maul. Then there are mauls.
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STRR
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Re: Best Type of Axe for Busting Rotten Stump?

Post by STRR » Wed Aug 15, 2018 7:41 pm

Steve,

Axes come with different length handles for different height users. This means, you get one that feels good to you. A single cutting edge axe is called a "single bit", a double edged axe is called a "double bit". I prefer a single bit axe. It seems easier to control. You also have a flat back head for hammering on if you need to. Don't tell anyone I told you that. The purists DO NOT hammer on their axes, the rest of us do when needed.

As for a maul. A maul is usually used for splitting wood. The extra weight in the head helps the tool push through the wood. You can also use it as a sledge hammer when you use a splitting wedge. DO NOT strike the hammer face with another hammer. The hard faces have a serious tendency to chip and shoot those chips at the speed of light directly into the softest flesh you have. AND NO a cup will NOT protect you.

Since you are talking about a stump, I would recommend the maul. Start around the edges, taking small thickness splits and work your way around and towards the center of the stump. This way, you will leave some flex room towards the outside of the stump to relieve the pinching forces on the maul. Another suggestion is to go around the stump once or twice and then wait for a day or two. Go around another time or two and wait a day or two. This will allow you to recover, and the wood to dry out a little. I know it will be very little drying but it will reduce the pinching forces as you move towards the center.

On another direction: I have had pretty good luck with digging and chainsawing. I dig out about a 1 foot hole around a root then cut the root with the chain saw. I use an old chain because you WILL jamb the chain into the dirt. I have cut out sections of roots to give me room to dig the next root. I keep working from one to the next until I can get the stump out. This is easier said than done but it is the fastest way to get a stump out whole.

On ANOTHER direction, I HIGHLY recommend renting a stump grinder. While a little more costly, it is a whole lot easier and faster than any other method. Get the rental guy to show you how to use it. The one I rented had a brake/wheel lock on one wheel so you could lock that wheel and "sweep" the chipper back and forth across the stump. Then just keep sweeping back a forth and going deeper and deeper. Once you think you're deep enough, move ahead a few inches and do it again. If you very near a building, go slow, take shallow bites, and keep the RPMs down so you can control the grinder better. The one I rented was by the hour and I was able to rent it, tow it home, set it up, grind out the stump, clean it up, tow it back to the store, and return it in less than one hour. I did this twice for different stumps.

Good Luck,
Terry

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SteveHGraham
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Re: Best Type of Axe for Busting Rotten Stump?

Post by SteveHGraham » Wed Aug 15, 2018 8:05 pm

I do know what a maul is, but splitting axes are new to me.

I don't want to put my chainsaws in the dirt. I'm hoping the saltpeter will help me avoid that.

Now I'm trying to find an axe company that uses decent steel. Fiskars apparently does not, and that's the best I can do at Home Depot.
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Re: Best Type of Axe for Busting Rotten Stump?

Post by liveaboard » Thu Aug 16, 2018 2:41 am

Steve Graham walks into a hardware store brandishing a sharp file, a center punch, a small hammer, and a magnifying glass.
"Show me your axes!"

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Re: Best Type of Axe for Busting Rotten Stump?

Post by RMinMN » Thu Aug 16, 2018 6:39 am

What you really need for removing a rotting stump is a grubbing hoe but I doubt you can find one for sale cheap anymore. I have one that my father used when opening forested land for farming but now days that would be done with a bulldozer or trackhoe which weren't available back when this farm was created.

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Re: Best Type of Axe for Busting Rotten Stump?

Post by Dave_C » Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:38 am

The difference between a splitting ax and a chopping ax has to do with the width and taper of the "bit" and the grind on the edge of the bit. And yes, there are single bit and double bit axes of both varieties.

The chopping ax has a narrower profile so it can be driven deeper into the wood as you chop at the cross section of the log while the splitting ax is wider in profile so as to force the chunk of wood you are trying to spit to be forced apart.

A splitting maul is an exaggerated splitting ax profile with lots of extra weight and is not good for anything else.

If you have ever used a really good "chopping" axe they handle very well and most of the ones I've used are double bit for balance. The single bit ax has an odd feel if you strike an imperfect hit on the tree and can actually twist enough to be uncomfortable.

Since most of us went to chain saws years ago, I'm not sure hardware stores even know the difference between the chopping ax and the splitting ax.

Mauls they have!

Dave C.
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SteveHGraham
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Re: Best Type of Axe for Busting Rotten Stump?

Post by SteveHGraham » Thu Aug 16, 2018 9:06 am

I have a mattock. One blade is strong, and the other can be twisted easily. Very disappointing. I have no idea where to get a decent one.
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Re: Best Type of Axe for Busting Rotten Stump?

Post by earlgo » Thu Aug 16, 2018 9:20 am

I'd check the Garrett Wade web site for good tools. www.garrettwade.com
Lehman's Hardware in the Amish Country of Ohio has good tools too. www.lehmans.com
Good luck to you.
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Re: Best Type of Axe for Busting Rotten Stump?

Post by liveaboard » Thu Aug 16, 2018 11:11 am

Adze; look it up.

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Re: Best Type of Axe for Busting Rotten Stump?

Post by SteveHGraham » Thu Aug 16, 2018 3:39 pm

Thanks for the suggestion. I think an adze would work if I could find one with a straight blade. Far as I can tell, they're all curved from right to left.

I'm surprised at how hard it is to find good axes and so on. I guess I should have expected it, in the age of Chinese tools. People are selling cruddy old axe heads on Ebay for $75. It looks like people really like Fiskars mauls and splitting axes, so I think I'm going to try one of their mauls.

If you have rusty axe heads in your shed, don't throw them out. You may be sitting on a fortune.
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