How to Cut Firewood

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, then learning how to cut firewood is an indispensable trick.

Not only is cutting your own firewood economical, but it’s also environmentally friendly, highly rewarding, and a great workout to boot.

But, like any project that requires operating a chainsaw, cutting your own firewood can easily feel intimidating.

After reading our detailed guide, we’re sure you’ll feel comfortable using a chainsaw to safely and efficiently cut firewood for your wood-burning fireplace or firepit.

Here’s how to cut firewood the easiest way.

What You’ll Need

Because there are several different methods of cutting firewood, we’re going to focus on the one that requires that least number of expensive tools.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Safety Comes First

In addition to a chainsaw, you must make sure to wear the proper safety equipment while cutting firewood.

Here’s the basic safety gear you’ll need:

In addition to these chainsaw safety equipment basics, you might also consider wearing:

Just as important as wearing the right safety gear is using your chainsaw correctly.

According to The Family Handyman, the number one thing you can do to use a chainsaw safely is to practice with it before starting a project.

Become familiar with it on small objects. Learn the correct cutting technique, especially how to avoid the kickback zone, and how to hold the device with an encircling grip.

Only once you’re comfortable operating the chainsaw should you attempt to cut firewood with it.

Step I: Trim Branches

If you’re working with a raw log (such as a tree that you just cut down), you’ll need to cut off the branches first.

This process is known as “limbing” the log. Simply use the chainsaw to trim off any branches and other limbs.

Step II: Cut a Shallow Groove

Make shallow marks where you plan to cut before actually completing the cuts.

Due to the size of most fireplaces and woodstoves, these cuts should be approximately 16 inches from one another to create pieces of wood that are 16 inches in length.

If you know the size of the bar on your chainsaw, you can use it as a measurement guide rather than using a measuring tape.

Step III: Cut into the Log

Now that you’ve marked with the shallow grooves, it’s time to make the cuts.

Use the chainsaw to cut into the log at each groove mark. Make sure to press the chainsaw firmly into each cut.

Step IV: Roll the Log Over

Instead of cutting all the way through the log, cut only three quarters of the way through on each cut.

This will ensure that your cut doesn’t send the chainsaw blade spinning into the round, potentially causing damage and increasing risk.

Roll the log over once you’ve made all of your three-quarter cuts.

Step V: Finish the Cuts

Use the chainsaw to complete all of the three-quarter cuts that you made on the opposite side of the log.

After these final three-quarter cuts, you’ll now have smaller 16-inch pieces of wood that you can split up into smaller pieces if desired.

What About Splitting Firewood?

Now that you’ve cut your firewood, it’s time to split it up into smaller pieces.

The best tool for this job is a maul, a sort of combination between an axe and a sledgehammer. 

Before you start splitting, find a sturdy log to use a chopping block. It should be roughly 12 to 18 inches high and relatively flat on both ends.

Position the log on a flat area. The top side of the log will be used as a chopping block to place each log before you split it.

Set a cut piece of log on the chopping block standing on its end. Raise the maul over your head and bring it down on top of this piece of log to split it into two.

The proper chopping procedure all depends on the size of the pieces of your chopped firewood and your fireplace.

You can leave them as is after cutting or you can split them into halves or quarters.

Don’t want to split your firewood by hand? An electric log splitter might be an expensive investment but it’s a highly efficient tool for those that require a lot of firewood.

Final Thoughts

Cutting firewood is a great skill for anyone to learn.

Not only is cutting and splitting your own firewood a frugal way of saving money, but the act of actually doing it can be very satisfying.

Our guide will do away with any hesitance you have about using a chainsaw to accomplish this task and teach you how to cut firewood with all the confidence in the world.

About Gus Donaldson

I built houses for over 30 years and recently retired. I've made lots of mistakes and hopefully teach you not to make the same ones. I still love to build and have a garage workshop that I use for hobby projects like the walnut bookshelf I made for my wife. I like to write and let people know that working with your hands and tools does not need to be intimidating.

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