How to Split Firewood by Hand


Save money, get fit, and stay warm this winter--hand-splitting your own firewood helps you do it all. Cutting your own log rounds for firewood or buying unsplit wood and doing your own splitting at home can cut your fuel costs, while giving you greater control over the finished product. Learn the proper techniques for efficient splitting and you'll reduce the effort and risks of making your own high-quality firewood.

Things You'll Need

  • Safety googles
  • Work gloves
  • Maul
  • Put on safety goggles and work gloves before beginning to handle wood. Splitting wood can be dangerous if simple safety precautions are not followed.

  • Place a wood log, or "round," in an upright position either on hard, bare ground or on a small, flat stump. All rounds should be between 12 to 18 inches in length and no more than 12 inches across for optimal results.

  • Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, and grip the maul firmly. Place your dominant hand about halfway up the handle and your weaker hand an inch or two from the handle bottom. Your forward hand will be used to guide the maul on its upward arc, while your other hand is used to steady the maul and act as a pivot point.

  • Swing the maul back and up over your head, and bring it down as quickly as comfortably possible into the center of the round. As you do so, your dominant hand should slide down naturally toward the other hand, forming a solid grip near the base of the handle as you strike the wood. Strike the wood with full effort each time, or you will tire quickly and the maul head may bounce off the wood at an angle.

  • Repeat these swings until the wood is split into the desired size pieces. Attempt to strike the wood near the same spot each time. If you are unable to split it completely from one side, turn the log round over and hit it again.

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  • Photo Credit wood pile image by Carol Wingert from
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