How to Make Firewood Logs from a Fallen Tree

How to break down a fallen tree


When faced with the rising cost of natural gas and oil, some homeowners decide to choose a more economical source of fuel: firewood.

Nowadays, it’s become an abundant natural resource with all of the replanting initiatives around the country. If you have trees in your garden , it’s convenient and economical to make firewood from your fallen trees instead of buying it. This can save you a remarkable amount of money if used for fuel.

How to split a log


Hardwood vs. Softwood: Which Type is Best For Firewood?

The longest and hottest-burning firewood comes from hardwood trees. Below are some tips on identifying hardwoods on your property:

Hardwoods reproduce by generating seeds with some type of covering (acorns, apples, etc.) and they shed their leaves in fall. Additionally, their wood is much heavier than a softwood tree and takes longer to dry completely (around 18 months).

Softwoods, on the other hand, have leaves throughout the year and their seeds have no covering (pine trees, for example). People often use softwoods because they’re easy to cut and split and they dry quickly (around 6 months).

However, softwoods burn quicker than hardwoods, which means you have to split twice as much softwood to produce the same amount of heat as hardwood.

What You’ll Need to Break Down a Fallen Tree

Using a splitting maul

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The Right Tools

The first thing you need is the right splitting tool. Most people pick an axe with a sharp, thin head. These types of axes can work well for chopping across the grain, it’s not the best tool to split with the grain.

For that, you need a log splitting maul. An 8 pound maul can help you handle most, if not all, splitting tasks without spending too much time or using too much strength.

Preparing Yourself For The Job

With any wood-splitting job, safety is paramount. You should have a pair of safety goggles on hand to protect your eyes from flying woodchips.

On top of that, consider the following gear:

If you’re going to use a chainsaw to cut off the larger branches from the trunk, make sure to sharpen it with a chainsaw sharpener before you cut. Wear chainsaw chaps as well to protect your legs from flying debris.

Finally, use a chopping block, stump, or something stable to lift the wood to your level and take strain off of you back. The chopping block needs to be low off the ground and no higher than your knee. Never chop directly into the ground, because you’ll damage the sharp edge of your splitting maul.

Safety Tips

Choose a large, open area in your yard that’s far away from people and anything else that might be damaged when you’re splitting wood. Don’t forget to leave plenty of space for swinging your maul.

How to Break Down a Fallen Tree

How to break down a fallen tree

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Did you know that the best time to split most tree species (especially seasoned wood) is a cold, dry morning or afternoon? If you need wood to season fast, remember this.

Your Splitting Stance

  • Place your weaker hand close to the bottom of the handle, and your dominant hand close to the maul’s head
  • Your shoulders and legs need to be parallel
  • When bringing the maul down, slide your upper hand down to increase the speed
  • To control the maul, leave a small space between your hands when you make contact with the log.

Start by aiming the splitting maul at the middle of the log, and then split along the grain. When chopping larger chunks of wood that haven’t split completely, you need to raise the log with the maul’s handle and turn the maul over. After that, swing the opposite side of the maul into the block. This will result in the log splitting in two.

Tips for Increased Splitting Efficiency

Try placing an old tire on the chopping block and placing the wood inside the tire, or simply wrap a cord around the log’s base. This will make splitting much easier.

If the fallen trees in your garden are still wet, you need to take note of some important information. Generally, firewood needs to be cut at least six months before use. This is why you need to split between the late winter and early spring months, in order to get enough drying time for the firewood.

Avoid using a lot of force for splitting, since you may become exhausted or suffer an injury. Instead, you should let gravity do most of the work.

Never swing the axe with one hand while holding the log with the other hand.

Don’t waste the scattered wood debris, as it is perfect for kindling, mulch, or compost.

Using a Wedge to Make Splitting Easier

For thick or especially hard pieces of wood, make use of wedges. It is possible to get a wedge deep into thick wood without chopping it very hard. How can a wedge help you?

  1. The first step is to tap the wedge into the grain until it can stand on its own.
  2. Make firm, straight blows to place the wedge deep into the log along the grain. If the log still hasn’t split, take another wedge and place it along the same crack, near the log’s edge, so that you can free both wedges and chop the log in two.
  3. Remember to stand clear of the crack to avoid the wedge popping out onto your feet.
  4. If chopping small pieces of wood, don’t make use of wedges, since it is likely that they will fly out and cause injury.

How to Stack Your Firewood

Once you’ve done the splitting, the next important thing is to stack and store the firewood properly.

How to stack firewood

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For starters, prepare a pre-built wood rack to stack the firewood quickly and effectively. Make sure that the rack is sturdy and can keep the wood off the ground.

What’s next? Arrange the woodpile so that air can get through. Single wood pieces need to be well-secured within the pile in case of shrinking. To prevent this, try laying a base made out of shipping pallets under your pile to raise it off the ground. This will stop moisture from penetrating the base of your wood stack.

There are various firewood structures. Below are two popular ones that you should consider:

The Simple Stack

This method is comprised of rows of wood pieces with a vertical end at one or both edges of the stack. It might be either a 2×4 board or a column of wood pieces stacked in vertical lines.

The Round Stack

This method is made up of is rows of wood in a circular arrangement, meaning one edge of the wood piece will face the center of the circle in a radiating pattern. Although this kind of stack is thick and sturdy, it reduces the amount of airflow, increasing the drying time.

How to Store Firewood Properly

How to Store Firewood Properly

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As outlined previously, you need to stack the wood for at least six months for it to dry before using in the fireplace. Most freshly cut wood can hold 100% moisture, which means that nearly half its weight is water. The ideal amount of water is around 20%.

If you store the wood outdoors, you should do so in a place that is equipped with suitable drainage, so that the water doesn’t sit around the woodpile. Lay a tarp over the firewood to keep moisture from penetrating it. Don’t forget to tie the tarp down or weigh it down with some bricks.

Final Thoughts

By now, you should know how to chop firewood from fallen trees and stack and store it effectively, but do you know how to burn the firewood in an efficient manner?

Each different type of fireplace uses a different amount of energy. The thick cast-iron fireback fireplace radiates heat back into your home, making it much more efficient than other fireplaces.

Remember to examine the damper for leaks and always seal it tightly when your fireplace is unused. Last but not least, you should assemble a fire-resistant glass door in order to contain the heat.

I hope that this article has helped you to learn a number of useful tips for making firewood from the fallen trees in your garden. Come say hi to me over at My Greenery Life if you want to talk more!

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