It’s no longer necessary to split each and every piece of wood with an ax, a splitting maul, or a sledge hammer and a splitting wedge. These days you can use log splitters that help you take some of the effort out of the job. In many cases, these log splitters are automated enough that you can handle large jobs in less time and with less energy than would have been required in the past. Jobs that once would’ve taken weeks can now be finished in hours—and that includes splitting wood.
In order to make the most of the efficiency offered by log splitters, you need to understand the process of wood splitting. Knowing how to split logs before you start on a job makes everything easier and safer.
Splitting logs begins with cutting down a tree. As a matter of fact, removing trees that pose a risk to your property is one of the main reasons people end up needing a log splitter in the first place. They might benefit from piles of chopped wood, but their initial need is in removing the tree. Whether you need to tidy up your property, get rid of a tree in danger of falling, or chop firewood, getting the tree is the first step in log splitting.
Next, you’ll want to measure and mark to get the right length for firewood. A firewood marker makes this really easy because you won’t need to use a tape measure for each piece. A firewood marker comes complete with paint for marking and an easy rolling function. It marks the wood perfectly into firewood sized logs, so you’ll get consistent, measured cuts. It’s also easier on your body to use a firewood marker because it doesn’t require as much bending and moving.
Once everything is marked, you can cut it into manageable pieces. You can do this with a chain saw for the most efficient job. It’s also possible to piece up a tree with a handsaw, but it takes longer and requires more effort. Your saw is also likely to dull before the job is complete. If you have access to one, you’ll want to handle this early step with a chainsaw.
Before cutting, it’s important to prop the wood so it’s on a sturdy surface. Laying a log flat on the ground gives you a steady surface, but it leads to a dull chainsaw blade. You’ll want to raise the log a bit, but still keep it sturdy and balanced. A log jack is a great tool for holding the log in place and offers a heavy duty, safe solution for chopping wood.
The first phase of splitting and chopping firewood is complete. Now that you have chopped the tree into manageable pieces, you’ll need to leave the logs to age. When you first chop down a tree, the wood is “green” and won’t make good firewood. Have you ever tried to burn a freshly cut log that just smokes and smokes and never produces a fire? It’s because it’s too green. The best burning firewood is aged in the sun and wind. Dry, dense wood is also a lot easier to split so wait until it’s aged before splitting the logs.
You’ll know wood is ready for splitting and burning once it’s dark and the edges have cracked a bit. It’ll also be lighter to carry and will split fairly easily.
Now it’s time to get to splitting!
You can use either a gas-powered log splitter or an electric log splitter. Either option makes the job easier than using an ax and manually splitting the wood piece by piece. Log splitters make the job safer, easier, and far less stressful for your back and body. It might not be as good of a workout, but it’s certainly better when you have a huge batch of logs you want to split for firewood.
Log splitters make a time-consuming and strenuous job a lot easier. Instead of having to swing an axe over and over, putting your health at risk for numerous reasons, you’re able to load the log into the splitter and get a clean, easy cut with little to no effort.
Now that your logs are split into useable fire wood, it’s time to stack the wood. Stacking allows you to store the wood in an organized and safe manner. Never just toss the wood into a pile or into a box or bucket. It might seem like it’s easy to just create a haphazard wood pile, but it’s the last thing you want to do after all the effort you put into chopping, seasoning, and splitting the wood.
Your fire wood needs to stay dry up until you use it, but putting it into a bag or box is not the best way to do this because you’ll also trap moisture inside. It’s also important to protect your stacked wood from insects. Keeping it stacked and slightly elevated off the ground prevents creepy-crawlies from getting into the pile and ruining your wood. It’s also important to choose a storage area that offers access to a breeze and is far enough away from your home that anything that does get into the wood also doesn’t make its way into your home.
Some people stack firewood against the garage or barn, but it’s better to keep it distanced from any buildings or structures on your property. The few extra feet you’ll need to walk to the wood can help protect your wood supply, as well as the structure. Make sure you have a gap between the wood pile and any structures it’s near so air can access it from all sides.
That’s it. You’ve chopped down a tree, seasoned the wood, split the logs, and you’re ready to store the wood until you need a fire. It’s a simple process, but it has a number of steps and, unless it’s done properly, you aren’t going to have a usable supply of wood for the colder months ahead.