Learning how to split wood properly can save you a lot of time, frustration and energy. Although I find splitting firewood enjoyable, at times it can be a daunting task, especially if you have a huge pile to work on.
So.....to conserve energy and make swinging an axe or maul as safe as possible, there's a few important tips and techniques to consider.
Splitting firewood serves two purposes. First, by splitting large chunks of firewood (known as rounds) into smaller sizes, they're a lot easier to handle which reduces fatigue and the possibility of injury.
Second, splitting the firewood allows air to penetrate the wood from all sides which helps the wood to properly season. The smaller you split the wood, the faster the wood will dry out and the faster it will burn.
Consider this analogy.....if you took a wet towel, rolled it up and just let it sit for a while, the inside of the towel would still be wet for days if not weeks. Now, if you took a wet towel and laid it flat where air could penetrate the towel on all sides, it would dry quickly. The same concept works with firewood.
Just keep in mind there's a happy medium with splitting firewood. You don't want to split all of your firewood into small thin pieces because the fire will burn too hot and fast. Small thin pieces work great for kindling but in order to achieve a hot fire that will last for hours, split most of your wood into sizes that are similar to a loaf of bread (just as an example).
Recently a visitor asked this question which address how to split wood properly:
Although firewood can be cut into just about any length, the most common size is 16 inches long. The longer the wood is cut, the harder it is to split.
Since you're just starting out, I would cut the wood into 12-14 inch pieces which would make them even easier to split and handle. I would split anything that is larger than a baseball. You should cut the wood first, then split it, then stack it.
There's really no minimum size for firewood. Most people cut firewood to fit their wood stove making it as long as possible, while still fitting easily inside the stove.
To split the wood, I suggest using a splitting axe rather than a maul. A splitting axe is lighter, easier to swing and it won't wear you out like a heavy maul will. The Fiskars X27 Super Splitting Axe is a remarkable axe.
It has a indestructible handle that's backed by a lifetime guarantee, you can sharpen the blade if needed with the Fishers Axe and Knife Sharpener, and the wood just explodes apart when you strike it. Many times, the axe will split a round with a single blow.
When splitting firewood you should consider these important details which will make the job a lot easier....
Although pine, birch and oak (probably in that order) are decent to split, elm is a very stringy wood and can be a nightmare to split by hand. The wood wants to tear and not split apart.
Once the wood is split, stack it on an elevated surface such as pallets or 2x4 runners. When elevated, the wood won't suck up ground moisture and it allows the air to circulate all the way around the wood helping it season faster.
Firewood should be allowed to season for about 1 year before it's dry enough to burn. Seasoned firewood will start to look grey and develop cracks on the ends of the wood. Oak will sometimes take up to 2 years to season.
Resist the urge to burn wet firewood. Wet firewood is not only unsafe to burn do to the increased risk of creosote buildup, but it's extremely frustrating and time consuming to mess with wet firewood.
Learning how to split wood properly will save you a lot of time and effort. Plus, splitting firewood can even be an enjoyable experience. Take your time, read the wood and before you know it you'll have a large stack of split firewood.