The Art of Chopping Wood — Make Sure Your Woodpile Measures Up

In suburbia, your neighbors might say, “Wow, Mike’s lawn looks great this year!” In the Adirondacks, while we appreciate green grass, the neighbors here are more impressed by your woodpile.

While chopping and stacking wood seems simple, there’s an art to making the job easier and safer. Here are some tips for building a wood supply that even the most seasoned Adirondacker will give the stamp of approval.

Ready, Aim, Chop
Set your feet squarely and pick the spot where you want to split the log by setting your axe on that target. When aiming it’s important to understand that due to the arc of your swing you need to make contact a little forward of the spot you’re aiming for. It’s sometimes easier to split larger pieces of wood by striking the front edge of the log face as opposed to the center of the cut face. This gives you a better chance of splitting down the edge which often splits the entire log.

Take a close look at the wood
Hairline cracks in a log are your target. Strike the log in the same direction as the crack and it’s an easy split. But keep in mind that not all wood has the same type of grain. For example, Oak splits better through the center than Maple which splits more easily towards the edges of the end-grain.
Also, keep an eye out for large knots or places where a limb was trimmed and steer clear of them. Big knots have an uneven grain that’s difficult to work with and you could spend too much time and energy busting through them.

Use a maul for more power
Splitting mauls are a more wedged-shaped version of an axe with a blunt sledgehammer edge on the backside of the blade. If the maul gets stuck in a log, you can use a sledgehammer (or another maul) to strike the back and split the wood. Because they are heavier than a standard axe, mauls provide more chopping power. Axes are better suited for lighter jobs such as chopping kindling wood.

Work smarter, not harder
Use a tree trunk from a felled tree or a sturdy block as a surface to split your logs, The stability and elevation, about 6 inches off the ground is ideal, makes it easier to swing your axe, and takes a lot of the strain off your back. It also takes less effort, which is important when you’ve got a few cords of wood to split. You should wear sturdy gloves to save your hands from splinters and blisters, safety glasses, and solid work boots. It’s also wise to have someone else within earshot in case you have an accident. Another smart safety tip is to quit when you get tired. Pushing yourself to finish up those last few logs when you’re fatigued increases the likelihood of an injury.

Stack and Store Efficiently
There are two golden rules for stacking wood: Keep it dry and keep it away from the house. Choose a dry, breezy area of your property and stack the wood at least 20 feet from the nearest door to your house to prevent pests from getting inside. If you’re stacking wood next to a structure, stack it at least a few inches away from the wall to allow airflow behind the stack. It’s also a good idea to invest in a firewood rack. This keeps wood neatly stacked off the ground which helps the drying process.

The team at Adirondack Mountain Land will not only find the perfect mountain home to match your lifestyle, we’ll even help you get started on that woodpile. Give us a call today! We love to talk about our properties and are always ready to fire up the chainsaw.