Dealing with firewood is hard work! From the chopping to the stacking and storing, it involves heavy tools and lots of manpower. But it doesn’t have to be such a dreaded chore—there are lots of tips and tricks that can help take the frustration out of firewood.
Choose the right wood
The perfect firewood experience starts with selecting the right kind of logs to split. Avoid softer woods like poplar or aspen and stick with hardwood trees like oak, hickory, and ash, which will burn longer and hotter.
Pick up a maul
It might surprise you to learn that an axe is actually not the best tool for splitting logs! It works decently on smaller pieces of wood, but if you’re going to be doing some heavy chopping, you should get yourself a maul. Mauls look like a cross between an axe and a sledgehammer, and they’re heavier with wider heads, which makes them ideal for cutting through large logs.
Select the perfect chopping surface
Try to avoid putting your wood directly onto the ground when you’re chopping—repeatedly driving your axe or maul into a ground surface can dull it over time. If you’re up at the cottage or out in the woods and can locate a nice big stump, you’ve got yourself the perfect chopping surface. If you have to make do without a chopping block, work on a hard surface like concrete, which provides little to no bounce.
Secure your logs in place
When you’re swinging a heavy, sharp tool around, you want your logs to stay in place when you make contact. But you don’t need to go out and buy any fancy tools to make that happen—this video shows you how to you use an old tire, and this one makes use of bungee cord. Not only will your logs stay in place while you chop, but all the pieces you cut will be contained so you can easily collect and stack them when you’re done.
Crisscross your logs
When it’s time to stack and store your wood, use a crisscrossing technique, alternating between vertical and horizontal directions as you build a pile. When you’re done your firewood should look like the early stages of a Jenga game—just make sure you pull pieces from the top in this instance. This stacking technique creates a more stable woodpile and it also allows the wood to breath, which is important to ensure it stays dry.
Let it sit
Sometimes you won’t have the luxury of storing your wood for months before you need to use it, but when you’ve got the time to season it properly, it’s worth the wait! Ideally, firewood should be dried out for about 6 months before tossing it in the firepit or woodstove for use.
Test it out first
How do you know if your wood is properly seasoned and ready to use? There are a few things you can check for. It should feel lighter than it did when it was freshly split and have a few cracks in its grain. It should be grey-ish or yellow in colour, fading from white or cream. And if you bang two pieces of wood together, they should make a hollow sound.