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How to Chop a Log for Firewood

It’s entirely possible that Monty Python have forever ruined that most manly of professions, being a lumberjack. That being said, knowing how to chop a log is a useful skill.

Most logs that you purchase in larger quantities will need chopping up into smaller logs, making them easier to store and so they actually fit into your log burner or fireplace.

The two main tools used to split logs are a Felling Axe or a Maul. A Maul is the type of axe with a heavy, wide blunthead. It relies on its weight when it hits the log to force the log apart and does not need to be particularly sharp to get the job done.

A Felling Axe slices to wood so needs to be regularly sharpened for it to do the job. The Felling Axe requires a bigger swing to chop the log and larger logs may then need to be split with a wedge to force them apart.

Always make sure that you are wearing steel-toe capped boots while you are chopping logs, Health and Safety in the home is important.

Balance the piece of wood that you want to chop at a good height. Use a larger log to stand it on so that the wood you are cutting sits about 2ft, or 60cm, off the ground.

This makes the job much, much easier and helps avoid hurting your back.

Stand with your feet so they are shoulder width apart and make sure that your stance is solid. If you have a weak stance when you swing the axe you are just going to follow after it.

Hold the axe with both hands.

One hand should be higher up the handle and you should practise the swinging motion.

As the axe is swung, the hand higher up the handle should slide down towards the other, this gives a more accurate and powerful blow.

Line the axe up on the piece of wood you want to split. Avoid lining up the axe on knots or limbs, these hold the log together and are harder to split. 

Lift the axe carefully above your head. With one hand higher up the handle than the other, make sure you have the log in a firm grip.

Bring the axe down in a quick and direct chopping action, allowing your higher hand to slide down the axe handle aiming to hit the spot you chose.

Repeat until all your wood is chopped and your log store is full to the brim.

You may also find yourself needing to break up kindling for your fire place also. Kindling is the essential material to start a fire burning.

Pruned twigs, timber off cuts, broken up bits of old fences and sheds etc all work well when properly seasoned to get a fire going.



Once you have chopped all your logs, they will need stacking and storing in your log store, so that they are properly seasoned, ready for a cold winter evening. 

For a printable pdf version of this information click How to Chop a Log