Split logs are essential for heating a home or cottage with wood. For those who prefer to do their own wood splitting, we’ve consulted an expert. The process of how to split wood doesn’t have to be a gruelling one.
Start with the correct equipment, the perfect technique, and the following advice, and cutting logs will seem like a labor of love.
You can’t go wrong with burning wood in your house if you’re willing to chop and split it yourself. Most alternative heating options lack the physical labor and sense of success that comes with keeping your house warm during a snow.
Read on if you’re considering using wood as a source of heat this winter but aren’t sure how to get started. Learn how to split wood with or without an axe with the necessary equipment, proper technique, and a roadmap to follow for years to come by learning how to split wood. It’s time to put your inner lumberjack to work.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- How to split wood [Infographic]
- Splitting Tools for Firewood
- How to Split Wood with an Axe
- How to Split Wood without an Axe
- Safety precautions involved in splitting firewood
How to split wood [Infographic]
The ability to split firewood relies on two things: understanding of the process and the proper equipment. Starting your firewood adventure with someone who has mastered cutting and splitting wood is a great method to gain both knowledge and experience in the process.
Related Article: The Best Splitting Mauls Ever – Tried and Tested!
The ideal tools for splitting wood depend on how much and how long you anticipate to spend on it each season. A sampling of the options:
Splitting Tools for Firewood
Splitting wood by hand is possible using a number of tools.
Axes are designed for cutting rather than splitting, so their heads are very thin. Cutting trees or making other lumber cuts against the grain is what they’re truly designed for.
Mauls are used to break down logs for use in a fire. A large wedge on the top of their heads, which weighs around 8 pounds, allows them to slip in between the grain and break it apart.
Sledgehammer and wedge
Using a sledgehammer and a wedge, a maul-like tool may be made. The sledgehammer and wedge may be used to force the wedge deeper into the log, effectively splitting it. The maul weighs roughly the same.
We suggest using a splitting axe to try to split wood. It’s lighter than an axe but yet possesses the maul’s wedge. One of the easiest methods to begin splitting firewood is using a splitting axe, which is also known as a splitting maul.
Wedge-shaped steel blades are linked to a long, strong grip of this instrument.
In order to split a log in half, swing the axe downward and strike the top surface with enough force to split the axe’s thin head into two. Afterwards, arrange the two halves on their sides, and then cut them in half once again.
Splitting firewood into smaller pieces can be done over and over again until you get the desired thickness.
Related Article: Top 10 Best Rated Splitting Axes – Reviews and Buyers Guide
The head of a splitting axe typically weighs eight pounds and has a three-foot handle. Some people can’t swing a huge one since they don’t have the upper body strength to lift it.
Using an axe to split firewood is physically exhausting and time-consuming, but it’s worth it in the end.
For those who plan to split more than a few cubic feet of wood each year (a cord is 8 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet), a gas-powered splitter is probably the best option.
However, if you are exceptionally strong, fit, and enjoy challenging yourself physically, a hand-powered splitter may be the best option for you.
How to Split Wood with an Axe
- Chopping Block
- Safety Glasses
At the absolute least, you need have a decent, hefty axe if you want to cut wood correctly (though you can get by with a good hatchet in some cases). It’s best to use a maul, which has one sharp edge embedded in the head of a hefty maul.
Logs can be broken apart when the maul is hammered into the wood because of the form of its blade.
Furthermore, you’ll have a maul, sledgehammer, and wedge. Larger and/or tougher (and damper) logs may need the employment of a wedge and sledge combo in addition to the maul.
The best chopping block is a tree stump, but even a large, squat wood can do.
Consider gloves, boots, safety glasses (or any kind of glasses), and a pair of nice jeans. Here they are, gentlemen – the essentials for the job.
Instead of standing with one foot forward and one step back, the optimal stance for wood splitting is a squared-off position with your shoulders squared to the log. This position maximizes the amount of force you can exert during your swing.
Your dominant hand should be directly under the axe head; as you swing, it will slide down the blade (or the sledgehammer) and increase the force of your swing. The handle of the axe should be held in your non-dominant hand at its base.
If feasible, aim for the center of smaller logs while cutting away from the center of bigger logs using a blade that is hitting parallel to the assumed diameter of each (not perpendicular to the arc of the log, if you follow).
What to do if your maul gets caught in a log? You can either pull it out and try again; you can drill a wedge into the log and hit it with sledge hammer; or you can leave the maul in the log, turn everything over, and hit it with an a hammer (or with another log, if you are sans sledge).
Logs less than two feet long and less than two feet in diameter may be split using a maul and a wedge, as well as a sledge hammer and some perseverance.
If your logs are larger than that, you may want to use an electric log splitter or hire a Norwegian man with an impossibly gorgeous beard to assist you.
How to Split Wood without an Axe
If you don’t have an axe, a labor-intensive but efficient method is to saw logs lengthwise to split them. Assuming you do not have a saw, we will proceed. Do you have a knife that every man should have?
Good. A knife with a fixed blade may often be used to split smaller logs of wood. Make a notch in the top of the wood using a saw or a Swiss Army Knife-sized saw, and then tap the blade into the wood with a hammer to create a good beginning crevasse.
Make sure you utilize the thicker and stronger piece of the knife blade near the handle.
A hammer or another block of wood may be used to pound the knife into the wood, alternating between the rear of the exposed blade and the handle, as you slowly push the blade down.
A set of narrow staves can be used instead of an axe or appropriate wedge if you need to split bigger logs. Small, basic spears are what you’ll be constructing. Begin tapping your wooden wedge tips into the log by first making an incision with your knife or a very sharp rock.
Related Article: How to split wood with or without an axe
Start with a wooden wedge at the log’s edge and tap it in a little. Then add another and another until the log is secured. You should be able to alternate between working on different wedges embedded in the log by the time you’re done.
It’s a long and laborious procedure, but it’s effective.
There are a few different methods you may use to speed up the process of splitting logs. A tire could be placed on the splitting block, and the wood could be arranged around the tire, or you could wrap a cable around the log and swing it like normal.
When splitting wood, you don’t have to bother about repositioning each piece before each slicing motion since this will hold your wood in one spot.
Gas-powered inertia splitter
Also called a kinetic splitter, this contraption harnesses the power of combustion to make rapid work of your firewood pile. The fastest way for homeowners to split firewood is using a splitter that has a lever attached to a moving steel wedge through an internal flywheel and belt system.
Related Article: 7 Best rated log splitters… For BIG logs!
In spite of its high tonnage rating, a kinetic splitter cannot retain such force for very long when applying it to the end of a log. Logs that are knotted or twisted can be difficult to split, and it may take numerous tries before they ultimately come apart.
However, an inertia splitter is the only way to go if you want to produce a large amount of firewood quickly.
Gas-powered hydraulic splitter
Hydraulic machines are similar in look and action to the kinetic splitter, but they typically take longer to split a wood and are more powerful. It can cut through any log with ease because to the use of hydraulics instead of belts and flywheels.
With ten years of heavy-duty use, even on the roughest, gnarliest oak and maple logs, my hydraulic splitter has yet to fail me.
Some people choose not to use large, obtrusive gas-powered devices to split firewood. A lack of confidence or physical strength may also be a problem.
That’s where manual splitters come in. Each log has a steel wedge attached to a shaft that is either inserted into or close to the log.
Slide weight on shaft is designed to be hit against thicker edge of wedge, forcing it into wood’s end grain and finally breaking log apart. In my youth, I utilized a manual splitter to break down logs.
The fact that it was both safer than other tools and did not need a great deal of muscle or ability made it ideal for me at the time.
What could be considered a drawback? Using a hand splitter is one of the most time consuming methods of harvesting firewood. Firewood splitting can also be done manually with the use of steel wedges and sledge hammers.
Keep hammering on wedge until log splits. Hold wedge against the log and tap it in slightly. Then withdraw your hand and hammer again.
Safety precautions involved in splitting firewood
- Safety glasses, earmuffs, and thick work gloves are all you need. These tools are essential for any wood-splitting endeavor (minus the earmuffs if using an axe)
- For safety reasons, wear a short sleeve shirt, sturdy work trousers, and steel-toe boots.
- Make sure your firewood logs are at least two to three inches shorter than your stove or fireplace’s burn box before cutting them.
- When using a chainsaw, always wear chaps over your pants.
- Start your inertia splitter, which is normally operated by a pull cord, once you’ve checked the oil and gas.
- A log should be placed on top of a steel baseplate, with the end resting on top of it.
- As you keep your hands clear of the log and the wedge, lift the lever until the log is completely split.
- To repeat this operation, retract the lever, wait until the wedge has returned to its original starting position, and then set one of the split log halves against a baseplate and repeat the procedure.
When firewood is chopped, it may be too big in diameter to properly season or fit the desired firebox or wood burner. Even big diameter logs may be made useful by splitting the wood, and splitting them also speeds up the seasoning process.
Hardwood may be split more rapidly and efficiently by someone with short arms and the proper technique than by a big linebacker flailing indiscriminately.
Use a maul or a pair of wedges to get the job done well the first time around. To begin, you’ll need the right instruments, which include a wood splitting axe, maul, wedge, sledgehammer, and a flat surface to split the wood on. If you’re going to be splitting wood, put on your safety gear first.
There are also goggles, ear plugs, work boots, and gloves in the box. Preventing costly incidents that may be avoided by using correct safety equipment is time-saving.
Depending on the material you’re chopping, you may need to sharpen your axe every three months or so. Ours are sharpened every six months.
A tiny bit of steel is removed from the blade when an axe is sharpened. Having a sharp blade isn’t necessary to get the task done.