Firewood is a great thing for camping or if you have a real fireplace in your home. Read the tips discussed below to know the right way of splitting wood and make the hard work easy.
Firewood is a great thing if you’re camping and want a nice roaring campfire or for a cosy evening by the fireplace in the winter. But if you don’t want to run out before spring, you will want to ensure that you have stored enough firewood before winter starts. For best results, it will need to be dried for at least six months before use. This is why it’s very important to know how much you have and prepare better ahead of time.
We are going to discuss here some proper ways to split and store your firewood. These tips and tricks will make your work a lot easier. Keep reading to know how you can take the frustration out of firewood.
Table of Contents
- Get prepared
- Choose the right wood
- Look for a chopping block
- Position the wood
- Grip your axe correctly
- Observe your swinging point
- Swing and repeat
- Know when to quit
- Stack and store your woods
- Test it before you put it on the fire
Splitting wood is easier when you are experienced. But if you are not, before starting, here are some things you will want to keep in mind.
1. Use the right tool
You will need to use a proper log splitter to get your job done smoothly. When splitting small pieces of wood, a small axe can work just fine. But you might want to use a heavier axe as it can make the work go faster. An eight-pound splitting maul is the best choice if you are up against a piece of twisted elm, green ash, or branchy locust. They look like a cross between a sledgehammer and an axe with a wide head that makes them ideal for splitting large logs.
2. Have several metal wedges
Sometimes bigger pieces, like a three-foot round of oak, can get your wedge stuck. When this happens, you will need a second wedge to free it by opening the wood. You might also lose track of your wedge after leaving it in a stump or dropping it in the brush. Having at least three metal wedges helps to avoid this kind of hassle.
3. Use eye protection and wear appropriate gear
Safety goggles are necessary if you are doing wedge work. You need to at least wear sunglasses as the kind of force you are generating when chopping might cause small particles to fly. It might not seem manly to many, but if you want to keep your eyes safe, wearing some kind of glasses is a must. You should also wear long pants and close-toed shoes when chopping firewood to protect your feet and legs.
4. Know the firewood you are up against
Knowing which species of tree you are dealing with can help you to chop it suitably. Hardwood is, as the name implies, much more difficult and requires more energy than softwood. However, using the right kind of axe will make the job much easier and faster.
If you are new to chopping wood, you will soon learn the correct techniques to achieve the results you want. Watch videos that demonstrate good form and safety procedures to make sure you’re doing it correctly.
5. Determine the size of logs
You will want different sizes of wood for campfires, big bonfire parties, or other outdoor fires. But for a fireplace or woodstove, you should consider making 14–18 inch pieces. Before splitting the wood, make sure you know what you are going to use it for.
6. Practice to improve your accuracy
Practice makes hard work easier. If you are new to chopping firewood, practicing will help you to do better.
- To aim better, take a piece of wood and set it on the block. Using the sharp edge of your maul, draw a line.
- Touch the blade to the mark and square up your legs. Fix your eyes at the target place. Raise the splitting maul and pull down. Make sure to raise it directly over your head while using your legs for power.
- Keep repeating until you can hit the mark accurately. Learning to aim correctly is a must in splitting firewood.
Choose the right wood
You need to choose the wood according to its purpose. Pine, aspen, etc. are some softer woods that you need to avoid. Choose hardwoods such as ash, hickory, or oak that burns hotter and longer. Sticking with hardwoods can provide you with a warmer winter.
Look for a chopping block
After you are done with the preparation, you need to start your work by getting a chopping block. Some might think a chopping block isn’t necessary when you can just use the ground. But that is not a good idea. If you don’t use a chopping block, your maul or hatchet blade can get dull very quickly. It is much better to use a chopping surface.
Look for a flared stump or a thick un-split chunk that might do a good job as your chopping block. If you don’t have anything suitable, make sure your surface is hard, like concrete, so that it doesn’t produce any bounce.
Position the wood
Before making the swing, position the log appropriately. It is crucial to put it in the right place. Balancing the log on the chopping surface might need a few adjustments, such as scraping off knots or other irregularities. After making your log stable on the surface, target accordingly and make the swing. It might take a little practice to get the right force to split them properly.
Grip your axe correctly
Those who work with axes need to learn proper techniques to have greater control over them. To begin, place your non-dominant hand at the end of the handle and your dominant hand near the head. To deliver a powerful stroke, you will need to slide your dominant hand back to the other while swinging. Remember to keep your back straight.
Observe your swinging point
Check the point where you will swing your axe. Make sure you know where the splits, limbs, and knots are. The smoothest grained part of your wood is the best place to land the blow, which is between the limbs and knots. Remember to put the thinnest end on top; this will help it split easily.
Swing and repeat
It is hard sometimes to split the wood on your first stroke. You might need to stroke a couple of times to split it. It depends on the thickness and knottiness of the log. Repeat swinging your axe in the same way until your wood is split.
Know when to quit
You need to know when to stop. When you are getting tired or having difficulty gripping the maul or axe, take a rest, or you might injure yourself. Save some energy to start fresh the next day. Pick up the split pieces and keep them together.
Stack and store your woods
Using a crisscrossing technique is better for stacking and storing the final woods. In this technique, you will need to build up your piles by altering directions, which helps keep the pile stable. It also improves the air circulation in the pile and dries the wood faster.
Test it before you put it on the fire
Make sure to dry the wood properly before putting it on the fire. When the wood feels lighter and has turned a grey or yellowish colour, it is ready. Bang the pieces together to see if there is a hollow sound. If so, you can be assured that the wood is perfectly ready to be used as fire logs.
Splitting the wood for your fireplace with your own hand is a satisfying experience. You feel more warmth sitting in front of your fireplace if you have prepared and chopped the firewood yourself. It can be hard work if you don’t know the right process, but you can become a pro quickly by following the steps above. It will make your work easier and in no time, you will have more than enough chopped wood for the winter. If you are a newbie, remember to practice before you start and be patient with yourself. With a little preparation, you can settle back and enjoy the fruit of your work when the winter comes.
This is so interesting. I had no idea there was so much to it. I suppose people with a lot of practice make it look easy!