You’ve got the fire going and it’s toasty and warm. It’s about time to put another log on the fire, but you suddenly realize that they are all too large. Now what? I remember the first time this happened to me and how frustrating it was. Hopefully the following tips and tricks will enable you to be successful at chopping wood into smaller chunks for your campfire or wood stove.
The following list is fairly simple and should be all you need to split wood for your fire:
• Goggles or Safety Glasses
• Leather or Thick Nylon Gloves (make sure they fit!)
• An Axe or Splitting Maul
• A Sledge Hammer
• Work Boots (steel toed boots are a plus but not necessary)
The goggles or safety glasses will prevent any wood fragments from getting into your eyes – sometimes little chunks will fly off as your axe makes contact with the log, so don’t think ‘Oh, I’ll be careful’ – you don’t want a splinter in your eye, trust me. Also, make sure the axe or maul isn’t so heavy that you end up giving yourself a hernia while trying to swing it to chop wood.
Don’t forget to check to see if your gloves are too tight or too loose. A tight-fitting pair of gloves can create blisters when the seams are ground into your skin as the axe presses against the outer part of the glove. Ouch! Loose-fitting gloves tend to slide around and cause more friction, thus more blisters in other areas – double ouch! If you start to feel any burning or pain from your gloves, change them for a different pair, or take a break from wood-chopping for a bit.
Work boots are made of a tougher and thicker material than rain boots or tennis shoes, which means they will protect your feet better. When splitting wood, logs tend to fall over and land on your toe from time to time, so no flip-flops or slippers – you’ll want your toes protected from these rogue logs!
Basic Wood-Chopping Techniques:
Stand the log up vertically on a hard, flat surface. Make sure all kids and pets are as far as possible from your wood-chopping adventures, even once you get good at it. Axes flying through the air can be dangerous!
Hold the axe in your hands , with your dominant hand positioned above the other hand. Your dominant hand will slide up and down the axehandle to aid in stability when you’re swinging it. For example, since I’m right handed, my right hand is above my left hand as I hold the axe (sort of like holding a baseball bat, but heavier). I then swing the head (metal part) of the axe down onto the center of the log. As you get used to it, you’ll find your own way to make contact with the log that is easiest for you.
Aiming the Axe
Try to make contact with the very center of the log, since sometimes you only need to split smaller logs once to get them to fit in the stove. There’s no sense in making more work for yourself by chipping off small chunks at a time instead. If you get the wedge of the axe stuck down into the log fairly deeply, and you can’t pull it back out, then use the sledge hammer to drive it even deeper into the wood – eventually the log will split right down the center and into two pieces. Yay! If it’s stuck close to the top, you will have to see-saw it out by pulling upward on the axe handle and pushing it back down again. It’s sort of like trying to get a dull knife out of a large watermelon you’re trying to cut in half. Once you dislodge the axe from the log, be sure to aim directly for the spot you hit before.
Chopping Wood: You Can Do This!
Once you’ve split a few logs, you’ll find that you’re better at wood chopping than you ever thought possible. Like starting a fire from scratch, chopping wood can be a challenge if you’ve never wielded an axe before, but keep at it!
Have you ever chopped your own wood for the fire?