Now I love (the idea) of swinging an axe into a log and splitting it into perfect kindling as much as the next wannabe expert axe-wielder, but in reality, that’s not remotely as easy as it looks. If you’re in a place where you’re going to be needing to split lots of cut logs, it’s easier, more efficient, and far safer to use a kindling/log splitter. We burn lots of wood in our fireplace during the winter at my house, so I went out and bought the Kindling Cracker.

This kindling maker was started by a 13-year-old named Ayla in New Zealand who designed it as a school project. How rad is that? Ayla knew what she was doing as this thing is dead bang simple, reliable, and safe.

Even well-seasoned wood burns way better when you expose its drier interior. Since I starting splitting the cut logs I buy by the cord with the Kindling Cracker I’ve noticed our fireplace burns far cleaner and produces less smoke because the julienned logs I’m feeding it create a superheated base for larger logs.

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Now can you buy bags of kindling? Of course! But if you’re doing that, you’re already lifting about 3 pounds when carrying the kindling to the cash register, which is the weight of the hammer you need to use the Kindling Cracker, so what are we even doing here?

The only issues I’ve had with it is it doesn’t like splitting rounds if they are covered in thick bark, but other than that, it’s devoured any seasoned wood that fits within the 6-inch opening at the top. I’m using a 3-pound Estwing sledgehammer here, perfect for the job. You’ll need a wood base for the Kindling Cracker, plus two lag bolts to secure it to your base. That’s it. Easy peasy.

• BUY: $100

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