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How to Split Wood Properly

How to Split Wood Properly

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Here are a few tips on how to properly split wood for your personal use:

Once the decision to introduce a wood stove into your home has been made and you have selected, installed and started a new phase as the proud owner of a new wood burning stove, often the temptation to truly maximise your fuel savings kicks in even further. The possibilities of not just the where of storing the fuel for your new stove comes to mind, but also the option of cutting and seasoning your own wood. Well this certainly is an option that many people take and not an unachievable goal, but there are some things to first consider; where you intend on getting the wood from is a good starting point. Obviously for those who own their own land this is an easy option, but others will need to find an alternative resource perhaps from friends, family or another location to gain an agreement to allowing you to cut and remove wood. Once a location is found and permission gained the next thing to consider is how to actually chop the wood. This may not have been something you have ever previously had to consider or experienced but there is a technique and to help you get the most efficiency from your new wood burning stove, here are a few tips on how to properly split wood for your personal use:

The Location is key

Like any job setting up is one of the most important parts and this is no exception for splitting wood. To split wood the correct and safest way, you will need to find a place that is level, solid and dry. If you have access to a purpose made chopping block this would be the ideal solution, simply set it to a comfortable height with your own height for the ease of use. Once your base is set you will then need a quality sledge hammer, an axe, a splitting maul, and two wedges. This is all the equipment needed for you to be as safe as possible to split wood quickly.

Setting up the Log

Once all the correct equipment is at hand and you have a sturdy place to start the next step in the process of splitting wood is to set up the log. Place the log vertically on the chopping block or in the area you are going to be working in. If you don’t have a chopping block available, then you can chop wood straight on the ground, however it’s important to point out the ground surface needs to be hard enough to not absorb the force of the strike from the sledge hammer or axe.

Positioning

Positioning your body correctly is another important safety aspect when splitting wood. The best stance to take is to place your feet at shoulder width apart and when your arm is extended that the blade of your axe will hit the log at its center point. Before taking up this stance, take a little time to look over each log and spot any weak areas or cracks that may make it easier for your initial split. Place the log in a manner that maximises your potential for placing your hit at the sweet spot. If possible and you are able to safely stand on an elevated spot, you will further enhance your potential striking power.

Focus for good impact

Once in position and taken up your stance, focus your full attention and eyes on the sweet spot you intend to strike. You should remain focused with each strike until the axe hits its mark. Concentration is often more important than overall strength when splitting wood, ideally try to split your wood in an area with no distractions.

Reading your Swing

Take up the axe with your dominant hand with your weaker hand becoming the support. Position the axe back over your shoulder and use all your strength to swing it over and down to the sweet spot on the log which you are focusing on. This is the most efficient striking method however, it takes multiple hits to actually split the wood and it will also take some practice to initially hit your intended spot. Don’t  get discouraged at your inability to hit the wood in the beginning as practice is all that’s needed.

What is the best size to split logs

If the logs you split are not split small enough it will not allow the moisture to seep out of them and so they will not be able to season properly. Ideally when splitting logs yourself its best to split them several times. On smaller logs it’s easy to split them into quarters but for larger logs you will need to split the full log in six or even eight pieces. Bear in mind the smaller you can split the log down by then the easier it will be to season however these smaller logs will also burn quicker. Overall, it’s a balancing act that each wood stove owner will figure out for themselves and their individual wood stove; large stoves can take larger logs and smaller stoves smaller logs, so take your time and discover just what works best for your needs.

Knowing how to split your own wood is an essential tool for any wood burning stove owner to maximize their economic potential. It will take a considerable amount of time and practice to find the right technique, but once you have that down, splitting a whole lot of wood is relatively easy. However, if you are not in the best of shape, you will find that your body will be a little sore after splitting the wood. It does take some strength, but practically anyone, regardless of body type can split wood.

Above all be safe

When using any sharp tools where materials could split, move and fly off in unpredictable directions, we would be remiss not to highlight health and safety issues to you. We strongly recommend the use of safety clothing and equipment i.e. googles, boots, gloves etc and always follow the tool manufacturers recommendations on their safe use, equally ensure the tools you use are fit for purpose and well maintained.

See below for some Health & safety advice links:

https://www.outdoorlife.com/how-to-safely-handle-and-care-for-axes-and-hatchets

https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/a-primer-on-the-ax-how-to-use-an-ax-safely-and-effectively/

https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=229

http://www.lovetheoutdoors.com/outdoor-skill-tips-how-to-use-an-axe/

Should you wish to just buy your wood ready cut simply visit  https://woodsure.co.uk/wood-fuel-suppliers/ for recommended and responsibly sourced wood suppliers near you.

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