If you heat your home with a wood stove, you will need a ready supply of firewood. While you can buy firewood all split and ready to burn, it’s a lot cheaper to be able to chop your own down to size when needed. Having a firewood chopping block can be handy. Here’s what you need to know about them.
The Best Firewood Chopping Block
The best chopping blocks are an old stump near your wood shed. If you don’t happen to have one, the largest log in your wood pile will do. Super knotty, hard to split rounds make the best firewood chopping blocks. They’re even less likely to split if they’re between 12 and 36 inches tall.
If you pick a round that is cut straight on both sides it helps your rounds stay upright while you are swinging your axe. However, if you have an angled stump you can also get angled logs to stand upright while splitting them. You may want to have a couple available that you can switch between.
Another nifty trick is adding a tire to your firewood chopping block. Sink a couple washers and screws into the edge to keep it stable. The tire will keep the firewood upright and keep it all together in one bundle so it doesn’t fly around.
You Don’t Have To Use a Firewood Chopping Block
If you don’t happen to have any ideal rounds handy, don’t panic. You don’t necessarily need one for chopping firewood. They are nice to have, as it does keep your axe edge from dulling by accidentally hitting a small rock the ground. However, knowing how hard to swing also helps you not send your axe into the dirt.
On the plus side, it also means you don’t have to lift your logs up and down onto your block. And you can place a tire on the ground to catch your axe and keep your firewood upright and together. The longer swing down lower helps me get more power into it.
My husband prefers putting logs up higher because bending down is harder on his back. Using a chopping block does increase splitting power and keeps the axe farther from your feet. Really there is no one right way. Do what works best for you.
How To Split Firewood
To split your firewood on your chopping block, place a log upright on it, skinny side up. Use a maul or an axe and swing from your should down onto the wood. Smaller pieces will slice right through. If they’re overly stubborn you may need to use wedges and and a sledge hammer.
To use wedges, drive the edges in with the sledge hammer or the flat side of a maul. If your wedge gets stuck, you will need to add a second wedge along the line your first created and start hammering down the second wedge.
Your wood should start cracking. If you get stuck at this point, flipping the round upside down and working from the bottom should help split it. Make sure you don’t swing and hit any of your wedges on the other side.
On very large and difficult rounds, go around edges and nibble away at them until they’re small enough to split through the center. Avoid knots if you can as they are hard to split. If you really get stuck on a piece of wood, check out this article by Den Garden for some tips.
Be Safe When Splitting Firewood
Aim is most important when splitting wood. Aim for cracks in the end that are already there. A precise, smooth swing is more important that the power behind it. We have a Fiskars x27 splitting axe. Both my husband and I are able to chop wood with it. I do not have the same upper body strength that he does, but by placing my swings accurately and using the momentum of the axe, I’m able to split firewood just fine.
In terms of safety, it’s a good idea to wear some kind of eye protection like glasses, sunglasses, etc. Most people wear shoes and long pants just in case. If you get overly tired or frustrated take a break. This is the time when you are more prone to hurt yourself and it’s just not worth it.
Splitting your own firewood is a rewarding workout that can save you some decent money and warm you up in the winter. Whether or not you use a firewood chopping block is your own preference, but they sure can be handy to have a “round” (haha).
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