10 Tips For Splitting Firewood
I like to cut and split my own firewood at the camp. It’s been a tradition around our place for as long as I can recall. We seldom if ever purchased any firewood, and when we did, we bought it in 8 foot lengths, cut and split it ourselves.
Splitting wood is great exercise provided you are healthy enough for vigourous physical exercise. There is weight lifting involved, some areobic exercise swinging an axe and carrying loads of wood from the wood stack to the camp etc.
Here are a 10 tips I find useful for splitting firewood:
1) Cut the wood fairly short, around 12-14 inches max. it will split much easier if it’s short.
2) Use a splitting maul or wedge and sledge hammer to split larger diameter logs without having to lift the wood above your head.
3) If the wood doesn’t split, but the axe digs in, pry it out, and hit the wood again, it is hard work lifting the wood and axe over your head to swing it down on the chopping block.
4) Use a large diameter chopping block that is flat on both cut ends so it doesn’t wobble or fall over each time you hit it.
5) A sharp axe is good, but dangerous. a splitting maul does not have to be quite as sharp to still work well.
6) Softwood, spruce, fir, splits easier and drys quicker to make kindling.
7) Leave particulary big or tough chunks of wood until winter. they will split much easier when they are full of frost.
8) Let the split wood dry for at least a year if possible to ensure it will burn clean and provide the best heat and least creosote.
9) Pile split wood on old warehouse pallets or on 2X4’s to keep it off the ground. this will let air circulate through the wood ensuring good drying.
10) Cover the top of your woodpile with a small tarp to keep rain and snow off of it. don’t cover the entire pile as it needs air and sunshine to help it dry.
I’ve used numerous axes in my pursuit of split firewood, but my favorite is a splitting maul like this Truper Heavy-Duty Splitting Maul This maul has an 8 pound head which is just about right.
You need some weight in a splitting axe to get the downward force needed to split the wood.
If your maul is too light, it will be easy to lift and swing over your head, but not heavy enough to help with inertia on the way into the wood. Try a few sizes out for weight at the hardware store, and see what you are comfortable with.
I suggest you buy the heaviest splitting maul that you can comfortably lift without making it a weight lifting exercise each time you pick it up.
The nice thing about these splitting mauls is that you can also use them as a wedge if need be, using a sledge hammer to pound the splitting axe into the wood you are splitting.
Sometimes it is actually easier to pound on the back of the maul with a sledge hammer than it is to pull the maul out of the wood and swing again.
A sledge hammer is also a very useful tool to have at the camp for driving in wharf poles, breaking rocks, and even in some renovation projects when you need to take something apart.
Wendy likes to sit down on the job when it comes to splitting firewood.
Actually she is in charge of splitting kindling, a job she is very good at, always keeping us well supplied small wood to start our fires. She even has her own special, lightweight axe that she uses for that purpose and guards it carefully.
Note the big old pieces in the foreground of the picture. They are some of the pieces I save for winter and usually split them using the maul and sledge hammer, driving the maul into them with the hammer.