Cutting, Splitting, and Storing Wood

Pick Your Tree. Cut Down Your Tree.

Safety gear is always, always a must. Because logging and using chainsaws are dangerous activities to engage in, it really is pertinent to make sure you are correctly guarded and following certain safety precautions.

  • Safety glasses are good for keeping the dust and debris out of your eyes while working
  • Using a logger's helmet will protect your head and face from falling objects such as branches and other debris
  • Some also like to use a face screen for extra protection to the face and eyes
  • Chainsaw (Kevlar) chaps are vital to have handy for when you are using your chainsaw; they can save your legs and feet from a major accident if you were to drop the bar against yourself or drop the entire piece of equipment

Felling wedges are great to have because they help prevent your saw from getting stuck and pinched while you are cutting. Make an estimate of the space you will need and where the tree will actually fall once it's been cut. You can use the "ax handle trick."

Clear an estimated cutting zone so that wherever your tree falls, you will not crush or ruin vehicles, houses, animals, or other human beings. You should make sure you have a cleared zoned for the estimated felling direction, as well as two alternate escape routes on each side (forms an upside down triangle). If you are the person in charge of cutting down the tree, make sure it's not a leaning tree, it does not have dead branches that could fall and hurt you, and that no houses, power lines, fences, etc. are in the way. If so, please call a professional to complete the job for you.

Knowing how to cut a proper notch in your tree is also a handy skill to possess. What is the rule of thumb? To make the depth of the notch 1/5 of the tree trunk's diameter. By cutting a proper notch, you should be able to help guide the tree to fall in the direction that you want it to go. You can use chalk to mark where you want your notch to be or you can mark the bark with the chainsaw. Once you cut the notch you can make the felling cut and bring that baby down!

Joshua S.P. Swanson (pictured in photo) said, "The raw power of a vintage chainsaw, fresh cut wood, mixed with the smell of 2-cycle engine oil on a crisp autumn Minnesota morning is simply MAJESTIC! [In the picture] I'm cutting up a large oak with my 1940's David Bradley last fall. This is just one of six vintage chainsaws my father handed down to me before he had passed. After the initial six, I quickly became addicted to collecting saws and have a total of 19 in my collection. I love the deep history behind each chainsaw and the logging industry, as well as find joy and nostalgia in restoring chainsaws to hear the roar and to feel the power."

Once your tree has hit the ground and there is no danger of falling objects and branches, you can begin to cut the branches off of the tree with a chainsaw starting from the trunk and working your way up. Don't forget to continue wearing your safety gear in case wood chips or branches fly near your face during this process.

After you've cut the branches, you can start cutting the trunk of the tree into 16 inch cylinder lengths. This is the point where some may tell you to then split the wood with an ax into pieces suitable for firewood stacking and storing. However, I would suggest using a log splitter to split your firewood for you. This will cut the time it takes you to split the wood by a significant amount and won't be strenuous on you or your back. Splitting your wood with a log splitter is pretty self explanatory but if you are curious, a simple youtube search on Google for wood/log splitters can give you the lessons you need in order to correctly operate and use a log splitter.

William Wilson shared, "I heat my home with the wood I get behind my house. I've been using a chainsaw since I was 10 years old with my father. He's 87 and still cutting wood himself; I'm 55 and love it. I don't see it as work, I see it as therapy."

Pack That Wood. Stack That Wood.

People cut, pack, sell, and stack wood for a living. If you are interested in learning more about that, then you are in the right place! You always see people posting on Facebook and placing ads in the newspaper about selling "cords of wood."

Michael Morgan stated, "I've been cutting trees for 15 years. Me and one cutter. I'm a small operation. I cut firewood in the winter and cut logs in the summer."

So ... What is a Cord of Wood?

Cords is the unit in which firewood is measured and a cord of wood is standardly described as having a volume of 128 cubic feet. It measures four feet high by four feet wide by eight feet long (4 ft. x 4 ft. x 8 ft.). This is actually quite a large amount of wood and if you order a cord of wood from someone or get it for yourself, you are going to have to stack it when you get home and make sure that it is organized and easy to reach.

Some people stack it up against the side of their house, some people stack it in sheds, some build placeholders for firewood, and other purchase firewood racks. Firewood racks are popular because they hold your wood in a neat and organized space without making too much clutter or taking up too much space.

Season That Firewood. Season It Good.

So it has come to the time where you need to season your firewood in preparation to burn it in the future. Wait... what does it mean to season your firewood? Good question! Freshly cut wood has a lot of water in it, which means that it most likely will not burn well in its current state. To season your firewood means to let it dry and let the moisture escape over time so that you will have a clean burn when you put the wood in your stove/fireplace. Seasoning your firewood will also prevent your chimney from creosote build-up and ultimately chimney fires. The length of a seasoning period depends on what kind of wood you are working with. Pine and other softwoods need anywhere from 6 to 12 months to season properly, while hardwoods such as oak will need anywhere from a year to 2 years to season.

How do you know if the wood is seasoned and ready?