How to Split Firewood With a Chainsaw – All You Need to Know

Have you ever considered splitting firewood with a chainsaw? While some forestry experts advise against doing this, splitting firewood with a chainsaw is safe as long as you follow proper procedures.

This guide will give you practical tips about sawing and splitting your firewood with a chainsaw. This can be especially handy information to know if you have no other tools available to cut your winter wood or small chunks of wood to burn in a summer firepit.

What type of chainsaw will you be using?

Given that the type of wood you’ll most likely be cutting is of large diameter (ash, spruce, pine), I highly recommend using a gas-powered chainsaw with a guide bar length of at least 18 inches and an engine that is 50cc or greater.

Again, the size and engine power of the saw you use will be greatly determined by the size of your logs. If you’re planning to merely cut a few small logs around your property on the weekend, then a corded or battery-operated chainsaw will suit the job just fine.

If this is the case, I can show you some of the top models in this article.

Safety gear

It seems obvious, but before you begin your task, you need to be covered head-to-toe with approved safety gear. This gear includes face protection or safety glasses, earmuffs, a hardhat and most importantly – chainsaw cutting pants that are worn like chaps.

Tree trunks

If you have many long tree trunks that need to be cut into blocks, I recommend cutting them first into one-meter lengths. This makes cutting them into smaller blocks that much more manageable. This can be done in the woods or in your backyard using a sawhorse or other type of self-made support.

If you happen to have a large – diameter tree trunk, it is advisable to divide the trunk into equal parts. If you need to measure for exactness, I suggest purchasing a forest tape measure from your local hardware store or dealer.

For very large tree trunks, many chainsaw operators – whether professional or homeowners – find it more convenient to cut up the trunk on the ground. It is much easier to cut the trunk to the length you need while it is on the ground instead of exerting much energy (and potentially risking injury) by getting it up on a support.

To ensure that a grounded trunk does not roll away, keep it in place with wedges. Be careful not to cut into the ground.

Splitting thick tree trunks and one – metre logs

Put the chain on the marked points and saw roughly three-quarters through the trunk. Do this for each of the marked sections.

Use a felling lever to turn the trunk over so you can cut into the other side. To split these sections, it is imperative to take your time. As stated above, you will need a gas-powered chainsaw with a powerful engine. Go slow. You may have to refuel a few times.

Using a sawhorse or self-made support to saw firewood

Sometimes, the ground isn’t good for working on. It can be harder on a person’s back to continually be bending over to cut. If you don’t have a sawhorse, you can build your own.

A self-made support protects the chain. How exactly can you build your own? It’s quite easy. Cut a groove in a piece of wood that you can lay the log across you wish to cut.

Smaller logs

You won’t need to spend as much time cutting smaller logs. Blocks from smaller logs are ideal for your fireplace on those frigid winter nights. As a plus, they also dry better.

To make firewood out of small-diameter trunks, I recommend using a basic sawhorse. This allows for maximum comfort while lessening pressure on your back.

You should hold the chainsaw at a 45-degree angle so that sawdust will fly in the opposite direction. If you cut at a lesser angle, you run the risk of clogging the chainsaw’s discharge chute and filling the guard full of sawdust. This isn’t pretty and will take up more of your time and energy to fix up.

Some more tips about cutting firewood with a chainsaw

Many chainsaw owners will eventually use their power tools to cut logs for firewood. This is especially true if you live in the northern United States, Canada, or northern Europe.

Make sure you are cutting logs the right way. Otherwise, you’ll have wasted lots of valuable time. Also, not following safety guidelines and proper techniques can cause serious injury. Not only do you want to be efficient, you also strive to be as safe as you can.

In addition to your chainsaw and sawhorse, there are a few other tools that will come in handy when you are cutting. These are a claw bar, sledge hammer, and splitting maul.

Claw bars are an indispensable tool to have if you are rolling over large logs. Your objective is to use as much leverage as possible versus brute strength.

Sledge hammers are used primarily for driving wedges into large-diameter logs. This is the first step in splitting logs. Splitting mauls are also handy to have close by should you need to move a log. You do this by pushing the sharp edge of the maul into the log.

I will also speak briefly about posture. When cutting, it is vital to maintain good posture. You want your upper body to support the chainsaw so that you do not become too fatigued. Believe me, as a former forester, I can tell you from personal experience that using a chainsaw for long periods will tire out your arms.

Before you begin, you must also check your chainsaw to ensure that it is in good working order. Afterward, clear the immediate working area. Not only do you need plenty of space, you must also make sure that nobody is in the vicinity (like children) who could get hurt.


Cutting firewood with a chainsaw seems easy enough, but it can be quite challenging. Always remember to use proper techniques and wear safety equipment.

Peter Toth

Hi! I'm Peter, the owner of BackyardGadget. Working around the house has always been a big part of my life. I've created this site to share my experience, and to help people choose the right tools for the job. Thank you for stopping by!

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