How to Split Logs




About: A guy who like to do technical things and reed others instructions. shall try to create one myself sometime.

This tutorial will learn you how to be a real lumberjack.

If you follow all of these steps carefully there's almost no risk to get hurt. And, if you'll get hurt when splitting logs, I'm not responsible for it.

UPDATE: Please read the comments in the bottom of the page, though these provide information on how to cut wood in a better and safer way.

Step 1: What You'll Need

So, here's the list of things you need for doing this:

An AXE - Sharp, not too small, not too heavy.
A LOG - Dry, it's easier if it's quite small. If you got big logs read the part "Splitting big logs"
A STUB - Or something else to put under your log. It should be stable. The good thing with having a stub is that the axe doesn't get hurt if you fail to hit the log.

A SLEDGEHAMMER - May be good if the axe is stuck.
SAFETY GOGGLES - Good for the safety.

If you got long logs you'll also need:
A SAW - To make shorter parts, like one foot (~30 cm) long.
A SAW BUCK - Or something else to hold the long logs with when you saw them

Step 2: Safety

Some small tips that may help you to keep your leg...

- Don't do like the man in the first image... quite obvious.
- Stand with your feet separated, not togehter, because otherwise, if you miss the log with the axe, the a will hit your legs instead. Not good. At all.
- Be two, like in all extreme sports. If you hurt yourself your friend can help you. BUT, the friend shall be at least 10 feet away from you
- Stand on a level surface
- Use a sharp-edged axe. If you don't, you have to use more power. More power - More dangerous.

Step 3: Splitting Small Logs

Splitting small logs is easier than splitting big logs, because you only have to chop once, or maybe twice.

Do like this:

Put the log on top of the stub, like in the picture. If it is a twig on the log, put it downwards, because if the first thing you hit is a twig (the tree i more solid there), it's harder to split it.

When you have placed the log on the stub, get your axe and aim (by placing the edge on top of the log). Then lift the axe over your head and hit it. Try to hit the middle of the log, so you chop it into two halves that are almost the same size.

Then, if you are pleased with the size, take the next log and do the same thing again.
If you want it bigger: forget it. If you want it smaller: Split it again, but only one piece at the time, NOT both parts.

Step 4: Splitting Large Logs

It's harder to split big logs, you have to do it in steps, one piece at the time.
The idea behind this strategy is: if you chop small things it's easy, so chopping small pieces many times is often easier.

Remember: Always aim before you hit.

If you tries to chop the log, and the axe get stuck, use the sledgehammer to beat it through.

Step 5: Done

So, if you've done what I've tried to learn you, you would be able to make one of these.

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    14 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This instrucable is ambitious and cheerful, but remains too dangerous, as exhibited by the other comments; it needs serious revision, or should be replaced.


    8 years ago on Step 4


    I just wanted to comment on your tip to use a sledgehammer to beat the axe through. This is a really bad idea!!!

    First of all, both the axe and the sledgehammer are tempered steel and they are brittle. You risk getting a VERY sharp shard of steel coming at you, or anyone nearby, in high speed. This shard can penetrate clothes and cuts through skin easily.

    Secondly, the eye of the axe(where the handle is fixed) isn't as strong as you would expect and will collapse after some hard hits with the sledgehammer, ruining your axe. The cracks and bends in the axehead might not be obvious at first but even so the axehead can suddenly come off and badly hurt someone .

    BR, J

    3 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah, that's true. We had some discussion about this in the comment-fields when I first published this instructable (You can see them when showing all steps), and I understood that my way of cutting wood isn't the best one, maybe not even a good one, so thanks for the feedback :)
    I've added a note in the top of the post that you should read the comments :)


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 4

    Hej Mange,

    ledsen att jag la in samma kommentarer som du fått tidigare. Jag följde instruktionen och när jag såg det du skrivit om att slå på yxan med en slägga så tyckte jag det var lika bra att varna för det.
    På sista sidan fanns inga andra kommentarer så jag missade dem, det var inte meningen att strö salt i såren ;-)

    Ha det bra,


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I use a 20 Inch Bowie Knife. I put it in the wood, take a Heavy stick and baton the knife through. it's worked for me Very well. i dont use axes


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Very well spoken Welfare Warrior. I didn't use an axe for splitting logs. A good 6 pound maul, a 10 pound sledge hammer and wham. I loved splitting oak with one swing or if it didn't penetrate all the way through my average log about 18 to 24 inches long, then comes out a wedge if I can't drive the maul any further with the sledge. I hated Hackberry wood. That found it's way to my log splitter. Usually I could split a truck load of wood faster than a log splitter unless it was Hackberry. I hate pine. Sold logs for lumber, and trashed the brush in a field for wildlife to seek cover in.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I know this is a late comment, but I have to agree with Welfare Warrior and Hands without Shadows. If your axe sticks lift the handle. If it does not unstick then pick up the axe and the block together and swing so the poll of the axe hits the stump with the block following it. Use the momentum of the block to either finish the split or pop the block off the axe. If that fails go get your wedge and maul(sledge hammer) to split the block enough to get your axe out. Beating on an the poll of the axe with a maul will spread the axe eye or maybe break it through the cheeks. Other than that I would tell you to make sure the axe has a long enough handle. If you miss your mark the axe should follow through into the stump or the ground instead of into your foot, 36 inches seems to be a good safe length for most normal sized adults. A lot of the axes I see sold now have handles about 6 inches too short for safety unless you are only 4 feet tall. The ones sold for camping seem to be the worst offenders. The handle on my Estwing is only 24" which makes it easy to pack but decidedly unsafe for wood splitting. (Although it is OK for felling where the swing is horizontal and your body is not in the path of the axe it is still to short to be comfortable or efficient and is really just an awkwardly oversized hatchet.)

    You've never chopped wood have you? You didnt even make mention of a splitting axe or a felling axe. If your axe gets stuck........dont pound it through. Lift the handle and it will magically "unstuck" itself.

    3 replies

    I've actually done that. When my axe get stuck it wont 'unstuck' itself magically by lifting. Maybe it does if you got really big logs, but, I don't. This tutorial was made after I saw the Burning Question, 3 days ago. The burning question was: How to split a log. Which means that the person who reads this tut wants to split his/her logs, not fell a tree. I supposed that if someone wants to split a log, they uses a splitting axe, and not an felling axe or an adze. But, they can use an broad axe if they want to, because (according to wikipedia) they are used "in precision splitting". If you want to we can collaborate and make a "super-tutorial" which contains both splitting and felling, because I'm not a skilled tree-feller, and it always fun to do things together, in peace. Thanks for checking out my instruction!


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    My entire family has wood stoves for heating. I often have to cut firewood with them. I've always had better luck with a maul (8-12 lbs) and if it gets "stuck" DO NOT HAMMER ON IT. They often explode, crack, or chip. A better way is to push down on the handle or pull up. You also did not get into enough detail on how dry the wood needs to be, fresh, green wood will be very hard to split and freshly fallen pine will become harder with time. One final detail would be that you need to not cut perpendicular to a knot as the wood around them is very tough. You should always go with the grain.