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Safe Wood Splitting Practices

How to Split Wood

When splitting your wood to burn in a fireplace or a stove, there are some important safe wood-splitting practices to keep in mind.

Always make sure you are wearing protective clothing. This includes eye protection, gloves, and good work boots in addition to work pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Properly protective clothing will help you to avoid accidental injury from any possible flying wood chips or accidental mishandling of your tool. Also, keep anyone not involved in the project away from the area, especially small children.

Use a chopping block to place your wood on. Many often use a large stump from the base of the tree. It should be large, stable, level, and about a foot high.

The best tool for the job is a splitting maul, which is like a splitting wedge with a long handle. The weight of a splitting maul is greater than a simple axe and allows you to do a better job of splitting with less effort. A 6-8 pound maul is ideal because it allows extended use without wearing you out.

Use well-seasoned wood no more than 16-20 inches in length. Longer pieces make it difficult to split the wood cleanly. Place a log on top of the stump vertically and step back a short distance (the length of the maul handle).

Keep your feet shoulder-width apart for better balance. Place the maul on top of the end of the log and hold the end of the handle with your non-dominant hand. With your dominant hand, grasp the handle of the maul right below the head and raise it up high. As you bring it down quickly (aiming for the log, of course), allow the dominant hand to slide along the handle down towards your other hand until the maul hits the log.

Keep splitting the wood until you have the right-sized pieces — smaller pieces for kindling and larger pieces for banking your fire overnight or any long periods.