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Woodsman Vincent Thurkettle

How to Chop Logs

Even if your logs are delivered already split, you may still wish to chop some of them into smaller pieces – to dry more quickly or help to light your fire.  You’ll need two things, an axe or splitting maul and a chopping block.

The splitting tool should be very blunt; so as to limit the number of times it gets stuck in a difficult log. A felling axe must be razor sharp, but the best splitting axe is as blunt as you can make it!  Choose a weight that suits you – maybe start with a 4lb axe and a 6lb splitting maul.

The best chopping blocks are tough heavy logs, cut from where there was a major fork in the tree, or even better the tree stump. The chopping block’s height will depend on how tall you are; something like 6” below the knee suits most people.  Width is needed to make a block stable – you don’t need the extra chore of repeatedly stooping to reposition the chopping block while working.

Work steadily, at your own pace – this should be enjoyable.  As Einstein once said, “People love chopping wood. In this activity one immediately sees results.”

If a log just won’t split, put it to one side to be re-sawn or split with a hammer and wedges later. Note that logs generally split more easily while still ‘green’ (unseasoned).

Once you have developed some skill and accuracy with the axe, start splitting logs to a pattern that gives you useful shapes for stacking and a range of sizes for the fire.

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