How To Split Firewood With A Chainsaw: 3 Simple Steps

how to split firewood with a chainsawHave you ever wondered how to split firewood with a chainsaw? If so, you are in the right place. Maybe you are used to cutting with an axe but have recently decided that a chainsaw could be an easier method for cutting your firewood. And the truth is that yes, a chainsaw is absolutely a better tool for cutting firewood.

Today we are going to learn how to split firewood with a chainsaw properly, why this method is better than using an axe, and what type of chainsaw is best used for splitting firewood.

There is a lot that goes into using a chainsaw, much more than you probably expect. One of the biggest differences between a chainsaw and an axe is the danger factor. Chainsaws are much more dangerous to use, and you have a much higher chance of injuring yourself. This is why you need to learn how to split wood safely.

Is a Chainsaw Better than an Axe for Splitting Firewood?

This really depends on the person, but generally, the answer is yes. Splitting firewood is a painstaking operation that takes hours and hours to complete. This is especially true if you are starting with a raw log. You need to chop the log with an axe, then chop your smaller pieces into even smaller pieces to be used as firewood.

As you can imagine, this job will have you covered in sweat and absolutely exhausted. Cutting firewood with an axe will do a number on your back, it can injure your wrists, and it can give you muscle problems in various places in your body that will last a lifetime.

When you make the switch from axe to chainsaw, you will see a dramatic difference. You will get the job done faster because you are using a mechanical tool rather than a pointy rock on the end of a stick. You will be in less pain because it is easier to wield a chainsaw than it is to wield an axe. And finally, it is more fun to cut wood with a chainsaw!

What Chainsaw is Best for Cutting Firewood?

Firewood is pretty universal. Almost everyone needs the exact same size of firewood, so recommending the best chainsaw to use is pretty simple. Most people are going to want a chainsaw that has an 18” bar or a 16” bar, and an engine of at least 50cc.

An 18” chainsaw is really the perfect size. You can cut smaller pieces quickly and easily, and you can tackle some larger chunks of wood. You don’t want a chainsaw that is too big for cutting firewood, as it will be like trying to hammer a nail with a sledgehammer. You definitely want a medium chainsaw, 16” or 18” is perfect.

When it comes to gas or electric, this one is really up to you. There are many quality 18” chainsaws that are electric and powered only using batteries. Cordless chainsaws are extremely portable, and they can be very efficient for cutting firewood.

However, gas chainsaws tend to have a longer runtime between refills, whereas with a cordless chainsaw you may end up needing to recharge the battery quite frequently. Also, if you are starting with big tree trunks, either chopping the whole tree down to make firewood or starting with a really large trunk, you will probably want a chainsaw that is much bigger than 18”.

For this, you would want a gas chainsaw that is at least 24”. The general rule is to always have a chainsaw length that is 2 inches longer than whatever wood you will be cutting. So, if you start with a thick tree that is 22” in diameter, you need a 24” chainsaw.

How to Split Firewood with a Chainsaw

Step 1: Cut Chunks

Once you have your chainsaw ready and all your safety gear on, it is time to cut. Let’s say you are starting with a tree trunk. First, you want to chop that trunk into equal portions that can be easily managed. My suggestion is cutting the trunk into four-foot pieces. This is a measurement that is pretty easy to eyeball, and so you don’t really need a measuring tape.

Assuming your tree trunk is laying on the ground, you want to cut 3/4 of the way through the trunk at your four-foot intervals. Do this down the entire length of the trunk, then use your special felling lever (or large crowbar) to turn the trunk over.

Once the trunk is on its other side, you can finish the final quarter of your cuts. This is the best method for cutting, as it will prevent any dangerous kickback.

Step 2: Cut 16” Lengths

Now that you have big four-foot lengths of trunk, you need to turn those pieces into smaller lengths of wood about 16 inches each. You can do this while the pieces of wood are still on the ground, and you can use the same method as in step one. The only reason we turned these into four-foot chunks was to make them more manageable. Now cut them into thirds.

Step 3: Firewood

This is where we get to the firewood. Take your 16” piece of timber and place it on the ground or on a flat tree stump, then place some kind of blockage on either side to keep it supported. Any other piece of wood will do. Now you want to take your chainsaw and cut directly through the log straight down the middle its entire length.

When cutting, be sure to leave about one inch left on the bottom of the log. If you don’t, you could dull your chain by hitting the ground or by hitting the tree stump. With a small sliver of wood still left, place your chainsaw on the ground and then rip the log in half with your hands. It will not take much effort.

Now you are left with halves, and the final step is to repeat the process by cutting your halves into quarters. This will leave you with nice thin pieces that you can easily toss into your fireplace.

While this process may be a bit more dangerous because you are using a power tool, the automatic cutting is going to save you loads of time.

Randy Peterson Cutter Life

Randy Peterson

Randy is a chainsaw enthusiast and an experienced lumberjack. He'll most likely be found cutting, chopping, and trimming trees, usually working with a wide variety of tools. Randy likes the outdoors and socializing with friends.