How To Cut Wood : Tools Used To Cut Wood

Trying to find out how to cut wood so that your large firewood fits into your firebox or wood stove?

 Did you know that wood splitting is easiest on cold age, only if the wood has seasoned properly?


It’s only by cutting wood properly will large diameter logs be rendered usable and also season quickly. It’s not necessary that only the bulky know how to cut wood straight. Even people with scrawny arms can cut wood properly if the right tools and techniques are used.

If you wonder what tools do you use to cut wood, they are a maul or an axe and best splitting wedges. Mauls are better for splitting larger logs of wood because of its wider head while axes are better for chopping wood and perhaps smaller wood splitting jobs. Metal splitting wedges can be placed on the wood grain to split wood with a maul’s help.

In addition to the above tool list, you also need a chopping block to start cutting firewood. You can use a large section of the tree trunk as the chopping block surface for placing the logs you need to split.

The increased height the chopping block makes it easy to swing the axe or maul reduces the strain on your back and prevents your tool from chipping if you miss and the tool drives into the ground.
The chopping block shouldn’t be too high or short; it’s best at about 6 inches off the ground to avoid dangerous ricochets with accidental glancing blows. However always do your wood cutting on a block and not on the ground. Cutting firewood on the ground tires you quickly as you have to lift the tool higher.

Safe Location

Do your wood cutting in a safe location without any debris or overhanging limbs that may obstruct you while swinging your tool. Once you have chosen the right spot for splitting wood, place the first log on the chopping block.

The log should preferably be placed near the center of the block with any knots and irregularities placed closer to the bottom. It’s important that the block is stable as it’s dangerous to swing tools on unsteady blocks. You may accidentally strike your leg or send the wood flying.

Check The Wood

Check for hairline cracks on the log and aim so that your tool’s head runs in the crack’s direction. Plan well as different woods split in different ways. Oak tends to split through the center while maple, towards the edges of the end-grain.

Avoid large knots, or the place the wood was cut as these places usually have a crooked and gnarly grain that’s difficult to learn how to cut wood. Besides, as you will be splitting fibers along the grain, cutting along knots and branch sites disorganize the wood fibers and foil clean splits.

How To Cut And Split Firewood

Once you know where you will be splitting the log, you have to stand with your maul resting on the location with your feet set square. If the grain isn’t obvious from your stand, make a small dent on the wood as a guide for your tool.

Now bring the maul up and down with your non-writing hand at the handle’s end and your dominant hand cradling the maul below its head. Keep your knees slightly flexed and lift the tool above your head with your arms extended straight.

Now slide your dominant hand down till both hands are close-by, grip the end of the handle and flick your wrists when both hands are brought down while letting gravity do most of the work for you. You need to focus more on using the right swinging technique than your strength as the wild swinging of the tool is both tiring and dangerous.

In case the wood doesn’t split on the first swing, pull and twist the tool to remove it. You may have to rock it up and down a bit if it’s sunk deeply, and stuck in the wood. You can also use the planted maul like a splitting wedge and hit its blunt edge with a sled. This is a better option than wasting your energy pulling the tool out if the tool is stuck but accurately placed.

Firewood Length Guide

If repeating the swing, keep repeating till the wood splits, striking in about the same place as the first time or along any crack that appears on it when you hit it. Make sure you cut your wood to length as wood that’s cut for your purpose is easy to handle and store.

Decide on the length based on how you will be using it. If you are using it in stoves and fireplaces, you will need logs measuring 16 to 20 inches long. So cut your logs to 18 inches or less and no longer.

Try to keep cuts as even and square as possible so that the logs don’t tip when placed on end. Besides, logs have to stand on end to split them, and crooked cuts are difficult to cut and split.

Splitting with wedges

Wedges are best used for splitting knotty wood pieces, or hard and wide pieces of wood. It's better keeping a few back-up wedges available as the wedge may drive deep into the log but not split it. Backup wedges save the initial wedge and complete the job.

Use a sharp starter wedge to bite into the wood and then use another blunt but wider one to continue splitting. Use your axe or maul to hammer the wedge into the log using straight and solid blows. If the wedge gets planted, place the other wedge on the crack and hit it to free both wedges and split the log.

Stand clear of the line of the cracking so that there’s no risk of the wedge popping at your feet. Always stand perpendicular to the splitting log and wedge. Wedges are not meant to be used for splitting small wood pieces as there’s a higher chance of the wedge popping through.

Now stack all the cut wood under the sun with enough space for air circulation and make sure the wood is seasoned thoroughly before burning. Remember to always wear protective gear while cutting firewood like good-quality gloves to protect your hands from splinters, safety glasses to protect your eyes and solid work boots to protect your feet. It’s also better if someone is around to help you if an accident occurs while you learn how to cut wood.

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