How to split logs for firewood

How to split logs for firewood

Split logs ready to be stacked and dried for next Winter

In the last couple of weeks, we have had tree surgeons on the marina felling one or two dead trees and giving a ‘hair cut’ to many of the others. Logs need to be split into a suitable size for them to dry more quickly. Smaller split logs fit into the wood burner more easily. Here we share are our tips on chopping logs for your stove or fire. If you would like to know more about the best types of wood to burn then please read one of our previous blog posts The best wood for your wood burning stove 

Equipment

Any task is always easier if you choose the right equipment. For log splitting, you will need a log splitting axe (an axe rather than a hatchet). Log splitting is not an exact science but it is generally accepted that an axe with a blunt edge will do a better job of splitting your logs thatn one with a sharp edge. This is because the aim is to shock the log into splitting as quickly as possible. An axe with a sharp edge will cut into the grain and possibly jam into the log. Whereas an axe with a dull edge will shock the grain into splitting and is less likely to jam into the wood.

Sturdy boots (as shown in the pictures) will help to prevent sore shins as logs can fly at unexpected angles. You may want to consider other safety equipment such as protective eyewear and a hard hat if you wish.

Make sure that you have plenty of space around and above you so that you can safely swing an axe. Lastly, firm soft ground, a tree stump or another log makes an ideal chopping block. However, avoid concrete as it will chip if the axe hits it.

How to use an axe

Start by holding the axe with your dominant hand on the shaft just below the head and your non-dominant hand near the end of the shaft as shown below.

The axe should be gripped in this position at the beginning of splitting a log

Stand with legs slightly apart for stability face on to the log that is going to be chopped. Swing the axe sliding your dominant hand down the shaft of the axe towards your non-dominant hand (see the video for more details of the technique).

Part way through the swing slide the hand nearest the head down the shaft.

By the time the axe has reached the log both hands should be near the end of the shaft. The idea is to let the weight of the axe do the majority of the splitting, rather than your muscle power.

The hands should be together at the bottom of the shaft at the end of the sequence

We also have a short video of log splitting to give a clearer idea of each part of the sequence. One final tip, logs split easier when they are fresh cut and when it is cold and frosty.

Martin log splitting
logs stacked drying for next winter

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