How to Split Firewood
By Elliott Kuhn
, last updated February 7, 2011
Splitting firewood can be a time consuming and labor intensive task, but many people have their reasons for doing it. Perhaps you are seeking the nostalgic practices of old, and have visions of you effortlessly splitting a chord of wood on the side of your homestead, or perhaps, your gas heating bill has gone through the moon, and you are looking for an alternative to an empty wallet. Whatever the case may be, knowing how to efficiently and effectively split wood, will be key in making this project a success.
First things first: You should have the stamina and muscle strength to commit to this task without overexertion. Cutting your own firewood can save you money and can be a good bit of exercise, which leads to a solid sense of self satisfaction.
You should have already felled the tree and cut it into manageable sized logs. Your basic tools will be comprised of an iron wedge, sledge hammer, and a splitting axe (or maul). Set up a chopping block—a nice flat round log about 18-24in around. This will provide your solid base for splitting the logs. The key is to let the full weight of your chopping device fall squarely on the log. A nice fluid motion should be achieved with little strain culminating at the point of impact.
Then use the sledge and wedge technique. Set the log on end atop your cutting block. Hold the iron wedge in the center of the log, and deliver a one handed blow, to set the wedge in place. Then deliver several two handed over head blows to drive the wedge through the log, and split it in half. When using an axe or maul, once again place a log on its end, and deliver an overhead strike to the center. Several hard blows will be required, and as the axe (maul) digs deeper into the log, wiggle it side to side to free it, and assist in the splitting.
If this is all too much for you, or you have a very large job to do, the use of a wood splitter, can mechanize this process and make it simple, fast, and efficient. Be sure to carefully read the instructions, and take care when operating the machine.