Outdoor Skills: Use Tires to Make a Better Chopping Block

Got some old tires in the garage? Don't think of them as eyesores. Those are handy wood-splitting devices that can save you time and trips to the chiropractor. Stack spare tires on top of or around a chopping block, and those worn-out Goodyears will hold wood rounds in place while you work ax magic. The wood stays inside the tire, so you can split smaller and smaller pieces without having to bend over and pick them up each time the ax falls. When the wood splits cleanly, the tire helps keep your ax from biting deeply into the block. Miss the round entirely--hey, it happens--and the tire catches the errant edge and guards your legs against a horrific gash. Here's how it's done.

1) Big block

Illustrations by Steve Sanford

Use a utility knife to create tabs on one side of the tire, cutting through the rim bead and a couple of inches into the sidewall. Slide the tire onto the top of the block, tabs facing the ground, leaving plenty of tire above the block surface. Nail the tabs into the side of the block.

2) Small block

Stack four or five spare tires on top of one another with the chopping block fitting snugly in the middle. The top tire needs to extend above the chopping block's surface. Secure the tires together with parachute cord. This arrangement provides stability to smaller splitting blocks.