What is A Better Way to Cut Firewood? Firewood-cutting skills come in handy during cold seasons. Firewood can be burned to provide heat for warming the house.
Chopping your wood is by far cheaper than purchasing it. Several challenges may arise when you fail to choose a good wood-chopping technique.
This guide will provide the basic woodcutting skills required for cutting firewood.
1. Selecting the Right Equipment
Selecting the right equipment is the first step in easing the process.
a. Firewood Chainsaw
There are a wide variety of chainsaws available on the market.
(A wood saw at work)
- Fuel: Electricity or gas can be power.
- Size: They differ depending on the size of the motor and the bar (the arm supporting the chainsaw). A 16–20-inch bar chain chainsaw is the best for cutting wood.
- Sawhorse/ support: Offers support to a log or a plank during cutting. You can purchase one that is commercially made or make one yourself.
A DIY guide for a saw horse.
- Axe: Used in delimbing branches from the trunk, splitting and chopping firewood.
Iron wedge: Used with a sledgehammer to split wood.
Plastic wedges: Used to prevent the chainsaw from getting stuck in the wood.
- Sledgehammer: A heavy-duty hammer with a long handle is used for splitting wood.
- Splitting maul/blockbuster: An axe with a long handle and a heavy head is used to split wood; one strike is enough.
(A sledgehammer and wedge splitting a log of wood)
2. Safety Precautions
a. Eye Protection
- Safety goggles: Provide a seal around the eye, thereby offering protection from foreign objects.
- Face shield: Covers the whole face during working.
b. Hearing Protection
- Earmuffs: Have a hard exterior to protect the ears and an interior of soft foam to absorb noise.
- Noise-canceling headphones: Used to shield noise.
- Helmet: Shields the skull from injury from falling branches and trees.
d. Body Protection
- Chaps: Worn-over clothes on the lower body offer protection in case of contact with the chainsaw.
- Boots: They are commonly made of steel to protect the feet in case a heavy object falls on them.
- Gloves: Made of high-tensile material to protect the hands from injury caused by splinters.
(A man wearing chaps)
e. First Aid Kit
It should contain Painkillers, tweezers, bandages, and antiseptic. Used for emergencies before seeking further help.
f. A way to Call for Help
Inform someone when you go woodcutting and ask someone to tag along if possible. Keep a communication device such as a cell phone or a walkie-talkie nearby to ensure you can call for help in an emergency.
(A close-up of chopping wood)
3. Choosing the best tree for firewood
a. The Amount of Wood
A cord is the standard unit of measurement for measuring firewood.
One cord equals 128 cubic feet and measures 8″ long by 4″ high by 4″ deep. It includes the wood, the spaces between it, and the bark.
A face cord: A smaller unit of measuring wood. Only the depth differs.
(A stack of wood)
c. Species of Wood
- Hardwoods: They are preferable because they burn longer and produce more heat. They also burn “clean” way, leaving some creosote residue behind.
These include Oak, birch, ash, maple, and hickory.
- Softwoods: Burn more quickly and therefore need frequent replenishing.
They include Fir, spruce, pine, and cedar.
Check out why hardwood beats softwood.
(A pile of wood on the grass)
4. Firewood Cutting Guide for Beginners
a. Getting Ready
- Carry all your tools to the cutting site.
- Make sure you have your protective gear on.
b. Standing Posture
- Stand feet apart such that they are aligned with the shoulder width. It provides balance and support.
- Work on even ground, clear of any branches or holes that could cause you to trip.
c. Looking for Places to Cut
Measure the desired length you would wish to cut.
Proceed to cut it into rounds.
d. Choosing Logs
- Use smaller logs (1 m long) as they are more manageable.
- Place it on the sawhorse.
- Firmly secure it on the support to prevent it from falling off.
e. The Swing Technique
- Place a round of wood on the chopping block.
- Maintain a reasonable distance from the chopping block.
- Hold the axe with both hands and stand firm.
- Keep your hands straight as you swing the axe aiming for the round.
- If you miss, the axe will land on the chopping block.
- After each swing, readjust your hands on the axe’s handle and reposition yourself.
f. The Half-cut Technique
- Measure the depth you prefer.
- Power the saw and begin cutting.
- Leave about 2 inches on the log uncut.
- Roll the log so that the uncut side is facing upward.
- Proceed to cut the remaining length.
g. The Mincing Technique
Once the axe is inserted into the wood, lift the handle up and down to create a rocking motion. This slices through the wall and splits it.
(Demonstration of the half-cut technique)
5. Stacking and Storing Firewood
a. Wood Stacking Technique
- Basic work: Prepare a wood rack where the wood will be placed. You can purchase it or make one yourself.
- Stacking technique: Ensure logs are spaced during stacking for airflow. Place the wood so it does not shift and fall when it shrinks during drying.
- Woodpile construction
Simple stack: Stack rows of wood in a rack with vertical stops on both sides to prevent the falling of the wood.
Round stack: Stack rows in a circular configuration so that one end of each piece of wood faces the center. This setup restricts airflow; therefore, drying will take longer.
b. Pay Attention to:
- The time needed for seasoning wood.
- Distance between cutting and storage sites.
- Available storage space.
c. Using your firewood
Ensure proper seasoning of wood before use.
(A stack of raw wood)
How can I make sure I’m cutting wood legally?
Cutting trees on your property is legal. You need to obtain a permit before cutting wood from a natural forest; it is illegal to sell this wood.
When is the best time of the year to chop wood?
Either in late winter or early spring to give it enough time to season before the next use.
How can you make sure your truck or trailer is manageable?
To avoid overloading, check the weight limit in your truck’s manual. However, standard-weight pickup trucks can carry half a cord. Long-bed pickup trucks with racks can carry up to 1 cord of wood, while a standard track can haul one and a half cords.
It is important to have the right tools, identify a good tree, and know the correct cutting technique and stacking logs to make your firewood. Remember to season it before use.