Peters Creek man’s wood splitter is a cut above
Rob Webb doesn’t think his backyard wood-splitter is anything special. Sure it’s a 170-pound scrap metal splitting maul mounted on a 7-foot swing arm attached to the side of his shed. But he does live in Peters Creek, Alaska.
“You see weird stuff like that up here,” he said.
Webb’s hand-powered wood splitter recently won the Industrial or Shop Projects division in the “Metal My Way” contest, an event sponsored by Canadian metal supplier Metal Supermarkets. In its announcement, the company praised Webb’s wood splitter for its “efficient and innovative way to cut wood.”
The device works by using the force generated by the combination of its large ax head and long arm, which makes short work any log unlucky enough to get in its way. In a video he filmed while using the device, Webb casually uses his non-filming hand to pull the heavy ax down onto a log placed on a platform. Jeep springs near the base of the arm counterbalance the weight as the ax easily obliterates the log.
Webb said you’ve got to be a bit careful using his ax, which can generate a tremendous amount of kinetic energy with a relatively small amount of effort.
“It’s quite a bit of mass,” he said.
Webb said he said he got the idea for the splitter when he and a friend were looking for easier, quieter, low-maintenance ways to split wood at the friend’s cabin on the Kenai. A natural tinkerer, Webb — whose day job is purchasing aircraft parts for Lynden Air Cargo — decided to build “kind of a prototype” for a kinetic wood splitter.
“I was looking for something that was manual but not as manual as swinging an ax,” he said.
The contraption took Webb about 20 hours to build over about two months. The trickiest part, he said, was balancing the spring weights at the base of the arm.
Webb said he decided to enter the contest on a whim while looking up contact information on the Metal Supermarkets website and didn’t think much of it until he heard he’d won a prize — a new welder.
Webb didn’t think his backyard build was anything compared to some of the other prize-winning projects, which ranged from a mechanical 8,500-pound exoskeleton that took 12 years to build to a life-size bison head made from 2,000 pieces of mild steel.
“There’s way cooler stuff on there than what I’ve got,” he said.
Webb said the contraption was simply the kind of thing Alaskans do when they need to solve a problem and have a bit of time on their hands.
“It’s just kind of that Alaskan thing, you know,” he said. “We’re just doing whatever we’ve got to do everyday. People get inventive.”
Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or call 257-4274