How-To: Splitting Firewood

In a previous post about winter preps I mentioned splitting firewood.  This is a constant chore in the cold months.  If you gather wood for the fireplace or stove, it has to be cut to the appropriate length and needs to be split. If you buy it, it will be delivered ready to go.  (We will talk later about buying versus gathering.)

Cottonwood & Elm logs

You can put whole (round) cut logs in the stove.  However, they don’t burn as well-or rather burn much more slowly.  As my husband puts it–more flat surface area, more heat.  More heat-happier me.  Hence the chore of splitting.

Sizing Firewood

Our wood stove’s dimension are about 3 feet long by 12 inches wide. The height of the fire box is about 2 feet.  The front opening is about 8 inches wide by 11 inches tall.  Anything that goes in the stove to be burned has to be respectful of these dimensions.

As an example, the circumference of some of the logs cut from the cottonwood grove down the road may be up to 2 feet.  My husband will cut it (with a chainsaw) into 14-18 inch logs and haul it up to the yard where we will stack it for seasoning or for immediate use.

I bring it inside to split as we need it.  Normally we keep a small pile by the stove during cold months. (We don’t usually keep a pile of it under the stairs-that’s where we stow the water & dog food.)

Splitting Firewood


Courtesy of Outdoor Online

If this was the first thing that came to mind when I said splitting firewood you wouldn’t have always been wrong.  In the past when we have had wood stoves-that is precisely how wood got split.  I however, unlike now, did not help split it because I couldn’t ever get the axe swinging thing right.

Now I have the most wonderful tool for this job.  In fact, it is the most important tool I own.  A 10-ton, hydraulic, human powered, log splitter.

(No more swinging sharp, heavy objects on the ends of wooden handles for me!)

The metal piston, with your help, presses the log into the metal triangle on the other end of the machine.  The pressure of the log end on the metal triangle causes the log to split.

Here’s how to use it:

Place log into splitter.  (The greatest length it will take is about 18 inches).  Tighten down hydraulic valve.  Move hydraulic arms forward and back until log cracks.

Keep moving hydraulic arms until log is split to the point it falls apart or you can pull it apart by hand.  Release the pressure on the piston by loosening the hydraulic valve.


Take the halves and repeat the process to quarter them.

I will sometimes quarter the quarters to make small stuff to start a fire with.

It can be a bit time consuming, but once you are proficient at the process you can stack up a pile of burn able material in about 30 minutes.

I highly recommend this product. We got it 2 years ago at Harbor Freight.  It has been problem free and super helpful. Click here for pricing and technical information.


One thought on “How-To: Splitting Firewood

  1. Springtime is cutting and splitting time here in Sweden. After the snow has gone but before the mosquitoes and deer flies appear.

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