What to do with Big Chunks of firewood

by Burt from Vermont

Hey Matt,

We cut all our own firewood and split it. Over the years, we've gotten some big pieces that are located where branches came off the log that are too hard to split. These are big pieces of Oak and Maple. We split by hand and don't have a splitter. Do you have any suggestions on how to easily deal with these? Normally we try hitting them for 5 minutes and then just roll them into a pile to rot.

Thought you might have some ideas.


Burt Mober



Good question, I know that I run into this problem very frequently. Here are my suggestions:

One possible solution is to try to split around the branch or knot. Especially on larger firewood rounds, the branch probably only goes so far into the log. Try to determine where the wood becomes relatively straight-grained and try splitting it there(most likely on the edge of the log opposite the branch). This will probably only produce smaller pieces of firewood but at least you are utilizing the log better than letting the whole thing rot.

The second solution is persistence with a couple steel wedges. Use the back of your maul to pound in steel wedges and eventually you should be able to split the log. Just be very careful, make sure that the wedge is firmly in the log before taking long hard swings. If the wedge isn't firmly in place, it can jump out of the log and injure you. This method isn't easy, but not nearly as futile as trying to split with only a maul.

The third option is to use a chainsaw to vertically cut through most of the firewood round. Once you have cut through most of the piece(or at least through the twisted grain), you can then split it easily with a maul by hitting into the kerf of the cut you made with the chainsaw. Again, this method is only safe when done properly. I would only recommend this method for someone with experience running a saw that can properly secure the log before cutting.

As always, be safe and best of luck!

-Firewood Matt

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