Log Splitting FAQ Ultimate Guide

By Power Tools

March 10, 2021

Can you split logs with a chainsaw

Thinking about splitting logs with a chainsaw? While it is certainly tempting as it would probably allow you to get the task done much more quickly, you should probably try to avoid it.

There can be some safety problems associated with using a chainsaw for splitting logs. If you are going to split the log, it’s often better to use an axe.

With that being said, some people do still choose to split logs with a chainsaw, they usually just take extra safety precautions. Splitting firewood with a chainsaw can be handy if you struggle with your back, hips or knees.

Log Splitting using chainsaw

If you are planning on splitting the logs with a chainsaw, you should make sure that the device is well maintained. For instance, make sure that the chainsaw has been oiled up well in advance, that it’s working well and that the chain is sharp enough for you to complete the task without many issues.

If the wood is particularly dirty or if it’s dry, it’s a good idea to get a half chisel chain since the full chisel will break down much more quickly. In addition to this, if you are going to be splitting the logs near to the ground then you should use a worn down chain to avoid damaging a new one.

Do I need to split small logs

Is it really necessary to split small logs? The short answer is yes, it can be a good idea in order to dry them out before you put them onto a fire. It’s not something that you necessarily need to do, however.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when it comes to splitting small logs. Firstly, it may not really be worth your time to split logs that are smaller than 4 inches.

For fireplaces, it’s usually best to have firewood that’s split 3-6 inches wide and roughly 16 inches long.

Splitting logs can take up a lot of your time that may be better spent trying to split larger logs. Splitting smaller wood may also come with its own safety risks since there’s less there for you to cut, so make sure that you’re extra careful if you are going to split it

How do you split a small log

Before you try to split any kind of log, make sure that you have your gear in place and that you have taken all of the safety precautions that you need to take in advance.

Once you have done this, take your maul (a kind of ax), and stand in a position where your shoulders are slightly squared off in relation to the log in question.

You don’t need to put one of your feet forward and step back. Make sure that your primary hand is positioned under the ax’s head, and the non dominant hand should be gripping the handle on the bottom. 

For a smaller log, you should then swing towards the center in order to split it. This is slightly different than what you would do for a larger log, where you would need to cut closer to the outside area of it. Repeat this process if you don’t split through the log straight away. 

How long should logs dry before splitting

The question about when the best time to split wood is one that’s highly debated, and the answer can vary depending on who you ask. 

It’s worth noting straight away that the whole purpose of splitting the wood in the first place is to make it much easier to burn.

You need your firewood to be dry when you’re burning it – logs that have been recently freshly chopped from a tree are more likely to have excess moisture, so it’ll be harder to burn them.

When your log is split, it’s already going to be slightly easier to burn because splitting the wood lowers the surface area of the bark on the log.

With that being said though, you can actually split wet logs, it’s usually just a little more difficult to do.

You may need to wait less time to split certain species of wood too, since some can dry out much quicker than others. For this reason, it’s best to make this decision on a tree by tree basis.

How to make a log splitting screw

Building your own log splitting screw can be very handy for when you want an easy way to split wood. To start with, create your frame using some square tubes.

It’s good to look for tubes measuring around 60 mm x 60 mm x 2 mm, though this will depend on the size that you need. If you want to move the frame around relatively easily, you can put some wheels underneath the frame.

Then you will need to put an electric motor in the frame, and put some pulleys in to ensure that the spin of the axis rotates at around 300 rpm. There should be around 4 pulleys – one at the motor, two in the middle axis, and then one more at the final axis.

Put a conical screw onto the final axis – you can usually buy these screw online and can get a size that will work for you.

You should put a piece of iron plate that is around 6mm thick underneath the screw. After you’ve done this, you should be all ready to go.

How to make a log splitting stand

Looking to make splitting logs so much easier? Make yourself a DIY log splitting stand, or a log splitting block. This is a whole lot easier than splitting a log on the floor.

This is mainly because it’s good for your safety, since when you are cutting, the axe will land much further away from your feet. You are also much less likely to hit rocks while you are splitting the log and this can help to ensure that the axe lasts for a longer period of time.

To make a log splitting stand, all you really need is a big bolt of firewood. Elm is especially handy, or you can use a flared stump of the tree. It’s important to ensure that the splitting stand measures around 13 to 16 inches, as it may be more likely to split if it’s significantly shorter than this.

You can attach an old, large tire onto your chopping block too with a couple of screws in order to hold everything into place. This is ideal for stopping any wood from falling off the block. 

How to make a log splitting wedge

Splitting logs by yourself can sometimes be a pain, but it’s a lot easier to do it if you have a log splitting wedge that works well. Thankfully, you can easily make one yourself.

To start with, get some log splitting blades – you can usually find these online from specialist retailers.

You will then need to join them all together – grab the inside angles of the blades, remove the inner corners and then position two of the blades at 90 degree angles from each other. You can then take the two other blades and do the same thing, welding them together.

Then, make sure that you have a pipe for the wedge and connect the blades up to the pipe. The pipe should measure around 1 to 20 inches. You can attach the blades to a support filler bar.

After this, grab you hydraulic pump and get it set up. Make sure that you follow the instructions for the hydraulic pump as this will tell you how to get it set up in a safe, efficient way. Finally, you will just need to connect the blades that you’ve set up with the hydraulic pump. You can then use it once you turn it on.

You can create all sorts of different log splitter wedges too, from electric ones to gas to even 30 ton powerhouses.

How to sharpen a log splitting axe

Before you try to split a log, you first need to make sure that your axe is sharp enough. Some people say that there’s no need to sharpen your axe, but it’s much better to do so in order to get a clear cut. Blunt edges on the axe can sometimes result in the axe bouncing off the wood

To sharpen your axe, you will need something like a bastard’s file in order to do it. It’s worth getting a long one as this will be much easier to use.

Put the axe onto a stool or any other surface – alternatively, you can put it in a vice if you have one. Then, using the file, move it in a forward motion along the edge of the axe – eventually you will feel a much sharper edge appearing.

Make sure that you are sharpening the axe at around a 45 degree angle if you can, though this will depend on the axe in question.

It’s also important not to over sharpen the tool. You don’t want the tool to start bouncing off the wood when you’re using it, but you don’t want it to be too sharp either.

How to use a log splitting grenade

Before you use a log splitting grenade, it’s imperative that you put on safety gear, otherwise you might get hurt. Put on some safety goggles and gloves, and all of your usual gear.

A log splitting grade is essentially a very rough mount of steel – it looks a little bit like a pyramid. Then you put it into the log, and it starts to split the log apart.

Put it into place using a club hammer, then push it all the way into the log using a sledge hammer. Some logs are tougher to split than others – with these, you may need to apply a little more force to put it into place properly.

Eventually, you should be able to split the log in half. This is particularly handy for tougher logs that your axe or maul can’t penetrate properly. 

How to use a log splitting maul

Log splitting mauls are very handy if you need to split particularly big pieces of wood. It looks a lot like an axe in many ways, but the main difference is that the maul has a much flatter butt and is also wider.

The split is created using the sharper side, while the flat end is what you use in order to push a wedge into the log – in short, it’s the perfect tool for log splitting.

Before you use the maul, take a couple of safety precautions. First of all, make sure you have a base like a splitting stump or something to work off rather than splitting the wood straight from the ground.

This is so the maul doesn’t end up hitting your leg when you use it.

Also, if you’re cutting a piece of wood that has a crack in it, you should start from that location as it makes the splitting much easier. Don’t split into an end with a knot, and try to work on fresher wood rather than dry wood.

Grab your maul, and then use the blunter side to make cracks in between the fibers of wood. Then, with the other edge, you split the wood apart.

Take your aim into the log, then chop it going in an up and down motion rather than constantly taking swings. You can repeat this process then as many times as you need to.

What is the difference between a splitting maul and an axe

While axes and mauls look quite similar, there are a number of differences between the two of them. For starters, axes are usually quite thin and sharp, and they can often make wood chips as a result of this.

A log splitting maul, on the other hand, features a blunter edge and it’s much thicker. It’s primarily used for splitting rather than chopping wood.

Of course, it’s also worth noting that using an axe isn’t always the best choice when you’re splitting wood, since the axe is more likely to get stuck because of the way that it’s constructed.

Likewise, the maul isn’t really sharp enough for chopping wood. If you try to chop the wood using a maul, the blunt edge can start sliding off and this can be very dangerous.

Axes and mauls also have different weights. A maul tends to weigh around double of the weight of an axe. This makes it a lot harder to swing a maul than an axe. Mauls also have much longer handles than axes do, so they can reach the ground more easily.

What is the fastest way to split wood with a log splitter

Log splitters make the process of splitting wood significantly faster than it would normally be if you were doing it manually. 

If you’re used to using log splitters or you want something easy to use at home, it’s worth getting a horizontal or vertical log splitter. With these, all you need to do is lay the log on the top of the machine, and it will do the rest of the work for you.

Log Splitting FAQ Ultimate Guide

Make sure you have a log of the right size though, since some logs are much too big to lift in a safe manner so you’ll need to cut them down to size first. 

To use a vertical log splitter and to split your logs quickly, start off by putting your splitter into the vertical position. Then, stand the log up and cut them in half.

You can then put the splitter back into the original position that it was in, and then split it from there. You can also use a 4 way wedge to make the task even faster if you are splitting a number of logs at once. 

What’s better for splitting wood, axe or maul?

It’s easy to think that axes and mauls are both suitable for splitting wood, but it goes without saying that one is drastically better for splitting wood than the other. It’s usually much better to use a maul for splitting wood though, and here’s why.

If you’re going to be splitting very large pieces of wood, the heavy weight of the maul is going to give you more power to use. This is ideal, since you aren’t going to need to hack away at the log for as long. A maul can sometimes be a little tricky to swing for people that are smaller though.

You can alternatively use a specific splitting axe for small pieces of wood, since it’s much easier to swing. It’s just best not to use a standard axe for splitting, since this can cause some safety issues. 

In short though, the splitting maul is generally your best choice since it is designed specifically for splitting wood.

How to use a log splitting wedge

A splitting wedge is very handy for splitting wood. This pyramid shaped tool will drive straight into any wood, which helps for splitting apart the wood. It’s also a fairly simple tool to use, regardless of your experience level. 

To start with, here’s the basic concept: Put the wedge into a crack that’s already present in the log. If you don’t have a crack in the piece of wood, then you can just try to drive it into the log using your log splitting maul.

If you want to use a log splitting wedge, it’s definitely worth your time to buy more than one of them.

You’ll need one very sharp one, and one that’s slightly wider that can put more force into the log. You should also get a decent sledgehammer so that you can get it done even faster. As with anything though, make sure that you’re taking the right safety precautions such as wearing the proper gear to prevent injury.