A cottager-built wood splitter with safety top of mind

Published: December 2, 2019

DIY Woodsplitter invention Courtesy Walter Rodler

“When I was 13, I crushed my finger using a wood splitter on a farm,” Walter Rodler says. 

That injury has followed Walter, now in his fifties, all his life, leaving him with decreased dexterity and arthritis in that finger. As he went on to become a tradesman, building and maintaining ships for the Coast Guard, his childhood accident inspired him to use his skills to invent a new wood splitter with a focus on safety.

Traditional splitting machines use brute force and a blunt wedge. In contrast, Walter’s invention is a shark fin-like fixed ⅝” wide vertical blade, 12″ tall and set at a 2° downward angle, to split the wood apart. 

It also features a track guided pressure plate attached to a piston, which slowly pushes the log up into the stationary blade. The blade’s thinness and its downward angle make splitting easy, even through thick knots. The forward leaning angle at which the thin blade is set ensures the top portion of the log meets the blade first, followed by the rest of the cutting edge. This reduces splaying in the wood and the amount of force needed, making for smooth split.

His invention includes guide rails on both sides of a track for the pressure plate, so there’s no need to use your hand to keep the log steady. It can even rip logs down into kindling.

Walter used his experience in the trades to fabricate and install his new invention himself. After testing, he has been able to field an American patent with a Canadian one still pending. (He wants to produce more for market but is still looking for the right manufacturer.) For now, he’s been building custom splitters for friends.

“I’ve built models for many of my neighbours, including an 80-year-old retired carpenter, who loves using it,” Walter says. “He says he wouldn’t use anything else.”

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