How to Split Wood With An Axe

So you want to split wood?  Chopping your own wood has many advantages.  In the winter, heating your house with wood can save you hundreds of dollars.  With nothing but a chainsaw and a axe, you can easily split your own wood.  In this guide we’ll teach you and show you how to split wood with an axe yourself.

How to Split Wood With An Axe

How does one split wood?  It’s important to do it safely.  With an axe swinging at the high speeds that they are, a glancing blow can strike you can cause serious injury.  Practicing caution while chopping is key.  Be sure to keep in mind where any bystanders are while you are chopping, so you do not accidently strike them.  Keep a cell phone nearby so that you can call the paramedics in the event of an emergency.

The first thing you need to do is to cut the log you plan on using into usable pieces.  Get a chainsaw and cut the log into sections.  How long the sections are will depend on the size of your fireplace.   Keep in mind however that the shorter your sections, the easier it will split.  Be careful while cutting with the chainsaw.  A chainsaw is a powerful tool, and can easily injure you.  Make sure you always cut with the blade facing away from you, so that if the saw kicks back, it will not hit you.

Once you have the sections cut, you need to place the section you intend to split on your chopping block.  This can be anything that will help raise the wood, most often a thicker section of the tree’s trunk.  Raising the section like this makes the wood easier to chop, and puts less strain on your back.  This is crucial for avoiding injury.  When preparing to chop, it’s important to dress appropriately.  Wear protective clothing like leather gloves and safety glasses.  These will keep you from getting blisters, and the glasses will protect your eyes from flying splinters.  Solid boots, preferably steel-toed are also recommended, as these will protect your feet in the event of a glancing blow.


The objective of splitting wood is literally that: splitting the log.  If struck correctly, the wood will splinter into triangular sections with very little effort.  With your ax, swing down a strike the wood on the top.  The first chop should split the log in half.  With each successive swing, you should aim to chop the remaining bits into smaller and smaller pieces.  Look for things like existing cracks in the log to aid you in this effort.  Knots should be avoided, as they are generally hard to split.  Go around these if possible.

Swinging the axe is not really about swinging, but more controlling.  The goal is to get the ax into position, let it fall naturally, and then accelerate the axe as it falls.  As you swing, bring your hands to the bottom of the axe shaft for best effect.

Once you have your split sections, stack them!  Because of their triangular shape, the sections can be tightly stacked and prepared to be burned for the winter.