Log splitting is a great joy, a great work-out, and useful. And it can be done as well by a 113-pound gal as by an 180-pound fellow because, when done properly, the maul does most of the work. Heck, it's a sort of lever. You lift it, then let gravity and leverage do the rest of the work, assuming you put the right English on the blow to your log. That is a matter of practice and experimentation, and a deep source of pleasure once this basic life skill is acquired.
Axes are terrible for wood-splitting. Wedges get stuck, cause huge frustration, and get lost in the field. There are all sorts of good mauls. This photo of mauls shows the spring-loaded maul, #5, which looks like a foolish gadget but which truly works well, and will really throw the wood around if you are wise and work on the edges and don't aim for the middle of a big one. Highly recommended by the Bird Dog Consumer Reports.
Splitting Logs - Logs split easier if the maul hits from the top of the wood downwards. You can probably tell which end is up by the diameter (um... the top is slightly smaller than the bottom) or by the direction of the branch ends. Most logs can be split through the heart but some types of wood (like elm) are held together by strands. The best way to split this kind of wood is to work around the edges by taking off a narrow slab at a time.
When Splitting Logs - To keep logs upright while you are splitting them, put two old tires on top of each other and place the log in the centre. This will also help to prevent wood-chips from flying around your yard and if you should miss a swing, the axe will hit the rubber rather than plowing into the dirt.
Protect Your Axe Handle - Protect your axe handle from cracking due to missed swings by wrapping it with strips of inner tube near the head. The rubber will act as a bumper and absorb part of the blow.
Building a Sawbuck: Work Smarter in the Woodpile -- Survival Sherpa - Sawbucks were common in pioneer days before the advent of modern chainsaws. This woodpile tool is a simple trestle with cross bracing that not only cradles logs but is responsible for saving the backs of millions of homesteaders.
Pound two poles into the ground that accommodates the length of your woodpile and then find a piece of corrugated plastic to match its size, and cut two holes for the poles. As you remove the firewood, the plastic will simply slide down the poles while keeping your wood dry.
Firewood Sales Q & A