How to Chop Firewood Like a Lumberjack
How to Chop Firewood Like a Lumberjack<< Back
One of the best parts of the cold winter months is warming your house with a crackling fire. Chopping your own firewood brings an incredible amount of satisfaction – all the more so when you can do it like a lumberjack. Check out our step-by-step overview for how to chop firewood with style and impress not only your friends and neighbors but the entire family staying warm inside the house.
When chopping firewood there are a number of things to consider to stay safe, flying splinters pieces of wood just to name a few. Protecting yourself from bodily harm doubles down for helping protect the ego as well -- no one likes a whining lumberjack. So before chopping your firewood, be sure you have the proper equipment. Wear sturdy shoes and eye protection. We also recommend leather or work gloves to maintain a tight grip on your cutting tool of choice, and for keeping all ten fingers as well. If you’re working alongside a friend or family member, maintain a safe distance of 10 feet or more away from the chopping block.
Also, be sure to know the size of your fireplace so you cut the logs into the right size.
Bring the Right Tools
Selecting a cutting tool is a favorite pastime of lumberjacks. Depending on your experience and the amount of wood you’ll be chopping, you’ll want to pick the right set of gear for the job. Modern Farmer recommends considering need a chainsaw, sledgehammer & splitting wedges, a maul (like a sledgehammer with a wedge on one end), an axe, and sharpening tools. You can get a quick edge on an axe with a grinder, but some people prefer whetstone techniques. For the weekend woodchopper, hand tools bring the nostalgia and satisfaction, but if you have some serious cordage to go through you might look at renting wood splitter equipment.
This is where the chainsaw comes in handy. Assuming you’re starting from a dry, felled tree that’s already cured for a season, use your chainsaw to de-limb the trunk. Cut the trunk into logs that will fit your fireplace or the place you intend to burn the wood. Be sure to cut the logs evenly and square so they don’t tip over when you place them vertically on the block to split. Next, select a log and set it on top of a sturdy block. If you don’t have one on hand, a larger, un-split log will suffice. By putting the log higher off the ground, you’ll protect your back and won’t drive your axe into the ground if you miss.
The Art of the Chop
Place the log so that knots and irregularities are closer to the bottom. Modern Farmer also recommends splitting the log like a pizza – split in half then in quarters until you reach the desired size. To save your back, don’t power your way through the split. Lift the maul above your head with your top hand close to the head. Let it fall towards the wood, and as you do slide your top hand down to your bottom hand – gravity will do the work for you. For more detailed instructions, be sure to visit Modern Farmer.
Storing the Wood
How long do you need to store the wood? Fresh-cut wood should sit for about a year for the best burn and you should cover the wood for a few weeks before you throw it to the flames to dehydrate the wood fibers’ cellsWhen storing wood, the bottom layer may rot if in contact with the ground. Keep it off the earth with rails or a wood rack. If you chopped up a tree that fell in the forest in a previous season, it might already be good to go.
Tip: Use WD-40® Multi-Use Product on your axe head and other metal chopping tools to keep it from rusting. If your splitting wedges have seen better days, a couple hours’ bath in WD-40 Specialist® Rust Remover Soak can help bring them back into action.