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Splitting Wood: 3 Fail-Proof Methods to Chop Wood Everyone Can Do

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Have you ever been out and about on a cold night, only to come home and fire up your wood-stove or fireplace?

There is nothing quite like the feel of that warmth wafting across your cold face and fingers. Wood heat (in my opinion) is some of the best heat sources you can use in your home.

But if you are unfamiliar with wood heat, you might have some basic questions. One of the most prominent questions is how do I chop my own wood?

Well, I’m glad you asked because that is what I’d like to share with you. There are actually three methods to chopping your own wood that come to mind.

So let’s cover all of them, shall we? Here is how you can chop your own wood:

Method #1: With an Axe or Maul

Chopping your own wood with an axe or maul might seem rather intense and it can be. But it can also be a great way to stay in shape, too.

So to begin, I’d like to share our Buyer’s Guide resource for choosing the right axe or maul. If you decide to go with this method, you’ll want to make a well-informed decision before investing in the tools needed.

Tools Needed:

1. Safety First

Before you begin chopping wood, you’ll need to make sure to don all of your safety gear. This would be gloves to protect your hands and safety glasses to keep wood splinters from flying into your eyes.

But you’ll also want to use this time to sharpen your axe and chainsaw blade as well. Making sure all of your tools are ready to go will make this job much easier.

2. Get the Wood

After you have put everything in place to protect yourself and have your tools ready, you’ll need to get your wood.

Now, this can be done in multiple ways. You can go on your own property and fell a tree. This is pretty intense and is not recommended for those with no experience. If you don’t know what you’re doing,  you could potentially put a tree down on yourself or a structure.

So please be sure you have help and someone that can train you if this is your first time trying to fell a tree.

The next method is to go to a lumber yard and collect old wooden slabs that they aren’t using. If you have a neighbor that has had a tree cut down, you can use it.

Finally, you can always buy some larger logs from someone that deals in wood. However if the opportunity presents itself to you to obtain firewood, then go for it.

3. Put Your Chainsaw to Work

If you obtain your wood and it is still in a solid log, then you’ll need to put your chainsaw to work on that. You’ll do this by going along the log and cutting it into large round chunks of wood.

Again, if you have never used a chainsaw before, don’t just fire one up and begin cutting into a log. You could potentially harm yourself severely.

So if you are new to this, be sure to get some help from someone that has some chainsaw experience. It is better to be safe than sorry.

4. Find Your Base

After you’ve cut your logs up, you’ll need to find one of the biggest stumps out of the log. This will be your wood chopping base.

Basically, you are going to use it to stand other pieces of wood on in order to cut them down to size. This is important because it will save your back. This base keeps you from having to bend over with each swing.

5. Half It

Once you have your base, you’ll need to gather your first piece of wood. Remember, it will be a larger round log.

You’ll stand it up on your wood base, and then use your axe or maul to cut the piece of wood in half.

Now, the secret to chopping wood with an axe or maul is to let the tool do the work. If you are trying to bust the wood with your own might, you are going to wear yourself down quickly.

Remember, chopping wood is strenuous enough by itself. Don’t add to it by trying to overcompensate for the tool.

6. Quarter It

Now, after you have chopped the wood in half, you’ll need to remove one half of the wood from the wooden base.

Next, you’ll stand the half up that is left and swing your axe or maul again. This swing should turn that half into a quarter.

Then you can keep busting the wood down even smaller until you get it down to the desired size.

7. Rinse and Repeat

You will continue with this method until all of your wood is busted. Once you have all of your wood cut and split, then you’ll need to stack and store it so it can begin the seasoning process.

Method #2: With a Maul and Wedge

This method is one that is a little more tedious in some areas, while also a little more helpful in others. It will be about what your preference is.

Tools Needed:

1. Safety Gear On

You’ll need to begin the same in any method. It is important that you have all of your safety gear on. You’ll want to be sure that your hands and eyes are protected.

Also, be sure that your chainsaw is sharpened as well. Having everything ready to go will make this task a little easier.

2. Get the Wood to Split

Again, you’ll need to locate your wood. As mentioned above, chopping down a tree is not a simple task. Be sure you know what you’re doing.

Your safety and the safety of those around you should always be your number one priority. Keep that in the forefront of your mind at all times when splitting wood.

3. Put Your Chainsaw to Work

Once you have your wood located and ready to roll, you’ll have to get your logs into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Again, this isn’t something that you should go at if you are green to the idea of a chainsaw. Be sure to seek out help if needed.

4. Place Wood on Base

Next, you’ll need to pick your wooden base. Once you have it in place, you’ll need to take a piece of wood and set it on the base.

As in the previous method, this is where you will begin to break the wood into more manageable size pieces that will actually fit inside a fireplace or wood stove.

5. Use Your Wedge

Once you have the wood placed upon the wood base, you’ll need to examine it to see if there are any natural cracks in the wood.

If so, that’s great! That means you can place the wedge within those cracks. If not, you’ll need to make a crack so the wedge can fit snuggly into it.

Once the wedge is in place, you’ll use your axe or maul to strike the wedge. This should help split the wood a little easier. You’ll want to divide the wood in half first and then again and again until the wood is broken down as far as you need it to be.

6. Rinse and Repeat

Once you’ve done this with your first piece of wood, you’ll want to do the same thing over and over until your whole wood pile has been busted.

Once your wood pile is in appropriate size pieces, it is time to find a dry place to stack your wood so the seasoning process can be to take place.

Method #3: With a Hydraulic Wood Splitter

I have to be honest with you all, this is my preferred method. It is so much easier than the others, but it does require quite an investment to purchase a wood splitter.

We split wood for years by hand, but we were finally able to make the investment into a wood splitter, and I am so thankful for it!

A little secret, if you have a tractor already you can purchase a wood splitter that will fit on the back of it. They are usually a little less expensive than the kind that stands alone.

Tools Needed

1. Safety First

When using a wood splitter the very first thing you need to do is read the instructions. Make sure you understand how the piece of equipment works inside and out.

Also, be sure you are aware of where to put your hands and what to do to stop the wood splitter in case of an emergency. I don’t recommend splitting wood with a machine alone. It is always good to have someone nearby in case something goes haywire, and you end up hurt and in need of help.

After you’ve done all of this, be sure that you apply your safety glasses and gloves. Also be sure to sharpen your chainsaw before you begin too.

2. Get Your Wood

Again, you’ll need to locate wood. I shared with you in the first method a few ideas on where you could find wood for splitting. Just please remember that safety is your biggest concern.

3. Cut the Wood into Manageable Size Pieces

Once you’ve located the wood that you are going to split, you’ll need to break the logs down into pieces that you can actually lift.

So you’ll need to use your chainsaw to accomplish this. Again, if you are unsure of how to use a chainsaw seek out help.

4. Place Log on the Splitter

Once you have your logs broken down into smaller pieces it is time to place the smaller sections of log onto the splitter.

I’m going to share with you how most log splitters works, but you’ll need to check your manual to be sure that your log splitter isn’t the exception to the rule.

After the log is in place and the wood splitter is fired up, you’ll pull the lever (or press the button) that activates the hydraulic splitter. It should push the wood forward onto the blade and split the wood for you.

Depending upon your log splitter, you may have to retract the mechanism and maneuver the wood so it can be split again.

PLEASE WATCH YOUR HANDS! This machine can crush your hands with no issue.

5. Rinse and Repeat

After you’ve successfully split your first piece of wood, you’ll need to stack the sections of wood and continue on until the rest of the wood has been split.

Once this has been accomplished, it will be time to stack your wood in a dry location so the wood can season.

If you are unsure of how to stack your wood or where to stack your wood, it is a good idea to have a woodshed to dry it in.

Then you’ll layer it so the wood pile is steady.  You don’t want it to fall over on you or anyone else.

However, if you don’t have a woodshed, you can always stack it outside with a tarp over it, place it under a covered porch, or place it on the ground under a deck to allow it to season. You’ll just want to give the wood time to dry out if you leave it out in the elements or it will be hard to burn.

So now you know three different ways to chop your own wood. It is all a learning curve so give yourself time to adjust.

Also, don’t be afraid to seek guidance from someone that has been doing this for years. My husband and I had to since we didn’t want to hurt ourselves or anyone else in the process.

But once you have the knowledge it belongs to you forever, and you can pass it down to someone else.

Now, I want to hear from you. How do you chop your own wood? Do you use a different method than those I’ve mentioned here? Do you have any tips to those that might just be starting out?

We love hearing from you so please leave your comments in the space provided below.

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Comments:

  1. Things readers might need to know.

    Over a year how much wood do you need to run a wood burner for heat, and how much wood do you need to run a wood stove?

    I’m not exactly sure but I think we generally stock piled between 3 and 6 cubic meters each for these. We generally only started the fire for heat in the afternoon. The wood stove would be raked back to life in the morning, as it had a water system in the back of it, and made tea and coffee for breakfast…but kept it shuttered for most of the day and fired up for meals. We also had alternative cooking sources for summer. Winter temperature averaged -2 to 13 degrees C, with only one spattering of snow if we were lucky. How much you stockpile is dependant upon the type of wood available to you, how quickly it burns, and how long in the year you need heat/cook with fire. We’d run the fire for roughly 7-8 months of the year.

    How long do you season the wood?

    I think we cut trees in early spring, and hoped by the time we finished the last meter of wood from the year before in autumn the new seasons wood would be dry.

    How do you tell fast burning logs, from slow burning logs?

    Where I grew up in Australia the preferred logs were sugar gums (good plantation, wind break trees), and red gum. I think slow burning woods have a closer grain, and less sap. Using slow burning woods provides better coals for cooking at an even temperature, and means you can put a big log on overnight and it might still be burning when you get up in the morning. Fast timber tends to be like pine, or quick growing gum trees. However pine cones are fantastic kindling…whilst cutting wood get kids to fill old feedbags with pine cones and sticks (you’ll need a double adult handful of these each time you light the fire…so six to eight bags is a good start).

    Did you know that trees killed by lightning are useless for burning for heat or cooking?

    I’ve no idea why, but they are really slow to catch on fire, and are far more likely to go out, and not produce much heat.

    How do you keep a fire from going out overnight?

    There are two methods. The first is to put the biggest densest log/logs you can onto the fire, making sure it is well alight before going to bed. Make sure to use fire dogs or a grate to stop the logs rolling out if it’s an open fire, and a fire screen to catch and sparks or coals escaping the hearth. The second method is to smore the fire; which is to rake ashes over the hot coals like a blanket. This reduces the oxygen getting to the coals, making it burn very slowly. In the morning you uncover them and add some kindling, and when that is alight you add you logs. If using a wood stove or heater this can also be achieved by closing the air intake until nearly shut. A useful tip to regulate the temperature of the fire if you’re cooking on it, the less air getting to your fire the cooler temperature of your cooking spaces…achieved by closing the air vents, and on some stoves the chimney vent (although closing the chimney vent can put the fire out if you’re not careful). Just close them enough to reach the temperature that you’re after, which will not be the same amount everyday…it depends on the wood, and the direction the wind is blowing.
    One wind direction always makes the fire not draw properly, and could make it get smoky in the house. This is due to surrounding trees and the shape of your house…if you have a problem with this, make sure your chimney is higher than any part of your roofline, and surrounding trees, but it will never draw as well as the other wind directions.

    Everyone please correct me if I’m wrong…I couldn’t wait to get off the farm as a child, and as such didn’t pay attention to all the things I should have to survive now that I’m wanting to go back to that lifestyle.

    Also having chopped wood as a child, and having now had back surgery I’m definitely going to get a hydraulic splitter when I get my farm!

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