Chopping wood is easy, but some people take the techniques for granted. These people probably believe that chopping wood is purely based on human instinct and strength. Surprise, surprise – chopping wood has a set of rules or standards for a safer and more efficient time. Not convinced yet? Then, check out these three ways on how to chop wood safely and effectively.
This is the most basic method for chopping wood. An ax is a staple tool for this essential pre-winter activity. It is clearly a simple tool, but randomly swinging it on a wood block is not effective enough. So, let’s learn how to chop wood with an ax:
Your ax and physical strength are not the only things that you will need in chopping wood. First, you have to choose the right logs. The logs must be ready for ax splitting. Also, each log must have the same length as your forearm. For a safer time, while working, you need to wear proper gloves, work boots and safety glasses.
Another important material you must prepare is the chopping block. It is crucial to find the perfect block of wood that will catch the ax without breaking. Good options are a flared stump and a huge piece of solid log. Specifically, elm wood is an excellent choice because of its grain that is too hard to split.
As a reminder, do not prioritize the block’s hardness. A solid chopping block is good, but a very hard one can damage the ax or compromise your safety. The ax might bounce against the tough surface and hurt you due to deflection.
Before Swinging the Ax
The log you are going to split must be balanced perfectly on the chopping block. This can be challenging because of the usual knots and splits around a typical log. As soon as the log is standing freely, you are ready to strike it with an ax.
Regarding your stance, make sure that you are stepping on a dry, flat surface. It is possible that your force might take a toll on your balance, making you slip if you are standing on the muddy ground. Your feet must stay apart from one another, specifically following the same width as your shoulders. The reason behind this is to totally avoid the hit of your ax if the swing fails. You might miscalculate the distance of your ax from the chopping block. Try your best to keep your feet fixed on the ground every swing.
There is a specific grip for the ax. Remember that your dominant hand must be near the ax’s head. Meanwhile, the other hand should be near the handle’s tip. The logic behind this grip is to provide momentum for the ax. The ax must swing itself toward the wood. What about your hands? To let the ax take the lead, your dominant hand must slide toward your other hand as you position the ax upward. The non-dominant hand must remain still no matter what you do during the task. As you swing the ax to the log, the tool’s force is more powerful compared to yours. Keep in mind the proper positioning of your hands from start to finish.
Another crucial tip is to observe the wood’s grain. Avoid swinging towards limbs, knots and other irregular parts of the log. Focus on smooth parts only. Smooth sections have straight lines. You can also use the wood’s cracks, if any, for easier chopping.
We mentioned that you must raise your ax steadily before hitting the log with full force. Now, do not make a pause during the entire motion. After lifting the ax higher hit the wood immediately. That’s why you must aim well before you start swinging. During the swing, never take your eyes off the target.
Unfortunately, there are instances that one swing is not enough due to the wood’s thickness. Repeat the swing, but always remember to fix your eyes on one point only.
Wedge & Sledgehammer Method
Other tools you can use are the wedge and sledgehammer. These are more applicable for extra thick wood with a complex grain and a bunch of cracks. However, they are more effective as a follow-up if the ax cannot split the wood entirely.
Aside from preparing the tools, you must inspect the wood as part of the preparation. Fix your eyes on the deepest crack or cut. Then, insert the wedge into the crack.
Now, it is the sledgehammer’s turn. Right above the wedge, position the sledgehammer. Do the same hand and leg stance you are using for the whole ax method. Hit the wedge, nothing else.
There are times that completely splitting the wood with a sledgehammer and wedge seems hopeless. Good thing that you can still use your muscles to tear the wood apart, as long as the cut is already halfway. If not your physical strength, then use the ax again to successfully chop the almost-half wood.
Hydraulic Wood Splitter
Actually, you do not have to exert strength just to chop wood. Sometimes, a hydraulic wood splitter is all you need.
Obviously, you need to read the user’s manual since this kind of machine can be different for each brand. Also, this ensures safer use. As a responsible person, study the wood splitter’s features and proper usage. One mistake can lead to a horrific accident.
After preparing your mind, proceed to the area. The wood splitter’s track must be free from extra objects. Its cover panels must be secure. When it comes to your safety outfit, make sure to wear work gloves, safety glasses, and tight clothes. Loose clothing can be a risk since it might affect the machine’s operation.
Now, provide power to the machine. There are three ways: tractor connection, gas, and electricity. Organize the cord to avoid tripping over it, as well as to prevent the wood splitter’s components to tangle with the power source line.
Before turning the wood splitter on, gather the logs in the safest yet most convenient area near the machine.
Feeding the Wood Splitter
When you finally turn on the machine, observe it for a few minutes if everything works smoothly. Then, load the wood to feed the machine. After the process, remove the chopped wood carefully by applying what you have learned from the manual.
Knowing different ways on how to chop wood makes us realize even more that doing the task is easy for anyone. Three methods only prove that you do not have to be muscular just to prepare for a warm winter or even a grill party. If you are strong, then the ax method will not be a challenge for you. A wedge method is a good option for inexperienced yet strong people. Lastly, if you cannot handle the task, then resort to a machine. That’s what technology is for anyway.
Sometimes, you need to chop wood for grilling. Aside from choosing the right wood to chop, make sure you have a reliable outdoor grill. Then, take your future grill party up a notch by knowing how to smoke oysters. To learn more about the purpose of chopped wood, find out how to build a campfire.