How to Split Wood by Hand

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For thousands of countless years, humans have chopped logs into firewood. When in need of cooking and heating, humans have always turned to woods as a means of survival, and this relationship has continued to last, even amidst the existence of technology. This bond is a strong one, and not any soon will it outlast, this is for sure.

Despite this long relationship, not everyone has mastered the subtle art of splitting wood properly. This task remains daunting and intimidating to many. This is especially true when the job involves splitting stacks of logs without the proper tools. With this, we cannot emphasize how essential it is to learn how to cut wood by hand appropriately.

If you have always yearned to learn this simple technique, worry not. You’re at the right place. We will show you how to go about it. There are two methods involved- splitting wood by use of an axe, and without an axe.

Splitting Wood Using an Axe

When splitting wood using an axe, here are some of the tools that you’re going to need.

  • Wedge
  • Axe
  • Chopping block
  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Sledgehammer

The most important of these all is the axe. You will require a good and heavy axe. For better accuracy, we recommend the maul- this is a type of an axe with one of its edge being sharp, thick and heavy. Its shape is designed to concentrate full force to the blade and help in splitting logs wide apart when driven down inside the wood.

Having a maul, a sledgehammer and a wedge are even better. Small logs only require the use of a maul, but it will be a little bit difficult for the larger logs. This is where the wedge and sledgehammer come in. Also, other essential things that you should possess are a chopping block, which is ideally a stump, gloves, safety glasses and boots. Wear fine pair of tight jeans. With all these in place, you’re now set to start work.


Contrary to misconceptions, the perfect stance when splitting wood is when your shoulders are squared off in a relative position to the log, and not with a foot forward and the other back. This position is the best as it maximizes the force down with your swing. Here is what you do when you are splitting wood:

Place your dominant hand (no specifics) under the axe’s head. This is to assist it in sliding down with the swing, directing the sledgehammer or blade while at the same time increasing the force with your movement. The other hand should be gripping the handle of the axe near the bottom. Swing and aim for the center for small logs while aim for the edges for more massive logs. 

Many a time will your blade get stuck in the wood. If this happens, there is no harm in pulling it out and trying again. You could alternatively drive a wedge inside and knock through the sledgehammer or still leave the maul in the log, turn it upside down and pound it using a hammer. All these procedures will see your blade out of the wood successfully.

Using a wedge, sledgehammer, a maul, and some little persistence, you’ll be able to split most of the logs that are less than two feet long and wide equally. Any log above this size will go best with an electric log splitter.

Splitting Wood Without an Axe

So, what happens when there is wood to be split, but you lack the necessary tools? Does it mean that the task is impossible? Well, the word impossible doesn’t exist in our dictionary. The task is possible, but labor-intensive, and you should be ready to do lots of work. The best method to go about this is to saw lengthwise through the log. It is time-consuming, we know, but it will see you through successfully. If you don’t have a saw, at least get yourself a knife.

Rad Also: How to Store Firewood


You can split wood for slim logs easily using a knife with fixed blades. The first step is to score or saw a notch at the top of the wood. Next, tap the blade in the wood with the help of a hammer. Ensure that you’re using the section of the blade that is near the handle. This point is stronger and thicker.

Once the knife is tapped firmly inside the wood, it is now time, to begin with, the heavy blows. A chunk of wood or standard hammer can be used for this task. Work the blade down the wood slowly as you expose both the blade and its handle.   

Splitting larger logs will require carving wedges out of slim staves. This will ideally be creating small and straightforward spears using a knife or a piece of sharp rock. Create a crevice in the wood then proceed on to tap wedge points in the log. Place the first wedge at the edge of the log then tap it a just a little bit. Place another one next to it, and proceed with that cycle. In the end, you will have a series of wedges embedded inside the log. One thing to know is that this process is time-consuming and painful, but it works.

There are other tricks that you could also try out. For example, you can place a tire on a splitting block, place the wood round inside it then swing as you would typically do. This keeps the wood in one position while at the same time splitting it. The hassle of having to set it up right before each hack is foreign with this technique


There you have it, two simple methods that you can go about splitting your wood. Using an axe is the more comfortable option, of course, and it will save you lots of time and energy. Reach out for the necessary tools and head out for work. Also, don’t forget to carry along the safety clothes which are inclusive of glasses, boots, gloves and tight clothing.  

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