How to Cut Firewood Into Smaller Pieces

I stood outside on a chilly autumn evening, staring at the large pile of freshly cut firewood delivered earlier that day. As the setting sun began painting the sky with shades of orange and pink, I started to feel the temperature drop and knew I would need to get a fire going soon to take the edge off the evening chill.

How to Cut Firewood Into Smaller Pieces

However, all of the logs were much too large to fit inside my fireplace. I sighed, dreading the physical labor it would take to split all that wood into smaller pieces suitable for burning. With darkness falling fast, I steeled myself for the effort, grabbed my axe, and transformed that mountain of timber into a cozy warmth.

Here, I’ll share how to cut firewood into smaller pieces, making it easier to handle and suitable for burning in your fireplace or wood stove.

What Will You Need?

  • A sharp axe or maul
  • Protective gear (gloves, goggles)
  • A saw (optional)

Once you have gathered your tools, it’s time to start cutting the firewood into smaller pieces.

10 Easy Steps on How to Cut Firewood Into Smaller Pieces

Step 1. Gather the Necessary Tools

Cutting firewood into smaller pieces requires a few tools, including a saw and safety equipment. Before beginning, make sure you have the right saw for the job, such as a handsaw, bow saw, or chainsaw. You will also need gloves and safety goggles to protect yourself from flying debris while cutting.

Need Gloves and Safety Goggles

Step 2. Mark Your Cuts

Once you have gathered all of your tools, it is time to mark your cuts. Use a tape measure to determine how long you want each piece of wood to be, and mark the length with a pencil on the log. Make sure your marks are clear and easy to see so you can easily follow them when cutting.

Step 3. Cut the Wood

Now, it is time to start cutting! Place the log on a flat surface and cut along your marked lines using either a handsaw or chainsaw. Using a handsaw, use short strokes and apply even pressure throughout each stroke until you have cut through the entire log. If using a chainsaw, ensure you are wearing all of your safety equipment before beginning, as this tool can be dangerous if not used properly.

Step 4. Split the Wood

After cutting the log into smaller lengths, you may still need to split the wood to make it suitable for your fireplace or stove. Position the log upright on a solid, flat surface. Then, choose a point along the top edge of the log as your target and swing the axe or maul downward.

Aim to strike the wood in the center, and with enough force, the log should split into smaller pieces. Be sure to maintain a secure grip on the handle and keep your other hand out of the way to avoid injury.

Step 5. Stack and Dry the Wood

After splitting the logs, your next task is to stack and dry the wood to ensure it burns efficiently when needed. A well-ventilated, covered area is the best place to stack your wood. Arrange the logs in a way that allows air to circulate them. This accelerates the drying process, which can take several months depending on the type of wood and weather conditions. Ensure the logs are not directly on the ground to prevent them from absorbing moisture.

Step 6. Check the Wood’s Moisture Content

Before burning your firewood, it’s essential to ensure it has dried sufficiently. Freshly cut or ‘green’ wood contains a high amount of moisture, which can cause smoke and creosote build-up when burned. The moisture content of your firewood should be below 20 percent.

You can check this using a moisture meter, a handy tool that measures the amount of water in a substance. Simply insert the probes into the split wood and read the moisture content on the meter’s display. Properly seasoned firewood will ensure a cleaner, more efficient burn.

Using a Moisture Meter

Step 7. Store the Firewood Properly

Once you have confirmed that your firewood is sufficiently dried, it’s vital to store it properly to maintain its quality. Choose a storage location that is easily accessible and provides protection from the elements yet allows for good airflow. A firewood rack or shed can be an excellent choice.

Try to keep the wood off the ground and slightly inclined to prevent water absorption from the soil. Cover the top of the stack to protect it from rain and snow, but keep the sides open to allow air to circulate freely. Properly stored firewood will remain dry and ready for use throughout winter.

Step 8. Maintain Your Tools

After a hard day of cutting firewood, remember to clean and maintain your tools properly. This prolongs their lifespan and ensures safety and efficiency for next time. Wipe the saw or axe blade with a rag to remove residual wood dust or sap.

Sharpen the blade if it has become dull during the process, but be cautious not to cut yourself. Store your tools in a dry place to prevent rusting. Remember, well-maintained tools make cutting firewood into smaller pieces much easier and safer.

Step 9. Practice Safe Lifting Techniques

Remember, firewood can be heavy, significantly, when cut into large sections. Always practice safe lifting techniques to protect your back and other muscles from strain or injury. When picking up heavy logs, bend at your knees, not your waist.

Keep the load close to your body, and avoid twisting your body while carrying it. If a piece of wood is too heavy to lift safely, ask for help or use a wheelbarrow or other equipment to transport it. Safety should always be a priority when handling firewood.

Step 10. Enjoy Your Firewood

After all the hard work of cutting, splitting, drying, and storing your firewood, the final step is the most enjoyable one. It’s time to put that firewood to good use! Whether you’re lighting a cozy fire in your home fireplace, using it for a wood-burning stove, or even taking some camping, you now have a ready supply of adequately prepared firewood at your disposal.

Make sure to follow all safety guidelines when burning wood, enjoy the warm, crackling fire, and take pride that you have completed preparing your firewood.

By following these steps on how to cut firewood into smaller pieces, you can have a steady supply of firewood all winter while saving money and staying physically active.

Cut Firewood Into Smaller Pieces

5 Additional Tips and Tricks

  1. Use the right tools: Having the correct tools on hand is crucial when cutting firewood into smaller pieces. A sturdy, sharp axe or chainsaw can simplify the task.
  2. Wear protective gear: Safety should always be your priority. Always wear sturdy gloves, safety glasses, and steel-toe boots to protect yourself from potential accidents.
  3. Choose the suitable wood: Hardwoods such as oak or maple burn longer and cleaner, making them ideal for firewood. Avoid wood with a lot of sap, which can create more smoke and potentially damage your chimney.
  4. Keep your firewood dry: Wet wood can be challenging to cut and will produce more smoke when burned. Store your firewood in a dry location to ensure it’s ready for use.
  5. Season your wood: Allow it to dry out for at least six months before burning it. Known as “seasoning,” this process reduces the wood’s moisture content and makes it easier to light.

With these additional tips and tricks, you’ll be well on your way to efficiently cutting firewood into smaller pieces. Remember always to prioritize safety and use the proper tools for the job. Happy wood cutting! 

5 Things You Should Avoid

  1. Avoid Using Dull Tools: An axe or chainsaw with a dull edge can make cutting firewood more difficult and increase the risk of accidents. Always keep your tools sharp and well-maintained.
  2. Remember Safety Protocols: Remember to underestimate the importance of safety. Take your time with the cutting process, overreach, or use tools unsafely.
  3. Avoid Cutting Green Wood: Greenwood, or freshly cut wood, has a high moisture content that makes it difficult to burn. Allow the wood time to season before slashing and burning it.
  4. Don’t Store Wood in Damp Areas: Storing wood in a damp location can lead to the growth of mold and mildew and make it more challenging to ignite. Always store wood in a dry, well-ventilated area.
  5. Avoid Ignoring the Size of Logs: While cutting larger logs for a longer burn may be tempting, these can be dangerous if your fireplace or stove needs to be more significant to accommodate them. Always cut logs to the appropriate size for your heating appliance.
Always Store Wood in a Dry

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure safer and more efficient firewood cutting into smaller pieces.


In conclusion, learning how to cut firewood into smaller pieces is a skill that is invaluable. Whether you’re a professional or novice woodcutter alike, the thoughtfully dissected steps outlined above provide an effective way of safely taking down trees and cutting them into individual logs.

The basics may not always come quickly, but with patience and practice, anyone can become an efficient woodcutter and turn large logs and branches into manageable pieces of firewood.

So why not pick up an axe today and take the first step in mastering this valuable craft? Practice makes perfect so at the end of it all, you’ll be glad you did!

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Enrique Howard

Hi, I am Enrique. I started my professional life as a handyman and did a lot of external and internal repair of home and office with a little bit of electric and plumbing support. I have extensive experience in tools testing such as drilling, turning, milling, and non-conventional machining like EDM. So let me help you on your journey towards becoming an enlightened DIYer with amazing tools that you can use on your project.

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