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How to split wood for firewood

Wood splitting. Making logs into firewood; stacking it.

Freshly cut wood is easier to split than seasoned wood. Use a maul to hand split logs 6 to 15 inches across, an ax for smaller ones, steel wedges for larger ones. Split kindling with a hatchet. Protect your eyes with goggles.

To use a maul or an ax, stand the log upright on a 20-inch chopping block, propping it with a forked stick if necessary; a large log section makes a good block. Swing from over one shoulder rather than straight overhead. Aim for the center of the log, in line with the largest knot or branch. Bend your knees as you swing so that the tool strikes the wood squarely.

To use wedges, first drive two or three of them partway in with a 2-pound sledgehammer. Place them in a straight line, along a crack if possible. Drive them the rest of the way with a heavier hammer or with the blunt end of the maul. Do not drive wedges with an ax, and do not use an ax or a maul as a wedge.

Check ax, maul, and hammer handles frequently for cracks; make sure the heads are secure and the blades sharp. Never leave your splitting tools where they may freeze-a sharp blow can shatter frozen metal.

Stack split wood bark side up in a sunny, open area and on logs to keep it off the ground. Don’t stack it against a house wall; it invites carpenter ants and termites. Cover the pile with canvas or plastic sheeting, leaving the sides open for air circulation.