How to cut firewood
In this day and age, firewood is a popular form of fuel. In fact, in Europe people are being encouraged to burn wood instead of fuel, the emissions from wood fires being less damaging to the environment than those forms of heating which use oil. The cutting of firewood is vital to the efficiency of burning, and the use of it to heat the home. Although some may think it an obvious skill, it is actually a lot harder than one may anticipate. Planned cutting of firewood is essential, since nature dictates that it isn’t merely a question of cutting, but one of how to cut for efficiency and supply for woodburners or open fires in a manner which is the most useful.
One of the first considerations when cutting down branches is safety. Often the excess branches of a tree are near cables or can endanger people beneath where they are being cut. Cordon off the area involved to ensure that falling branches can safely descend without harm. If wires are around where the branches are being cut, be very careful to cut in small lengths which do not threaten the wiring from telephones or electricity. If an accident happens, have the telephone number of the fire brigade ready. If you are worried about this aspect, seek professional help.
From the tree.
When branches are trimmed from trees, any excess twigs need to be stripped from the wood. This offers a wonderful opportunity to the gardener to produce bark for the garden, leaving the wood intact for cutting. Bark and excess twigs can be removed using a bark stripper, although if one is not available, simply chop of the excess with a bow saw or large snips, depending upon diameter.
Cutting to length.
The wood will need to be cut to length with a chainsaw. Smaller branches can be cut using a bow saw. The length is determined by the size of fire or woodburner, since if the lengths are too long, this is not efficient and the wood will require further cutting. The normal length for firewood is around 50 cm, though some woodburners take longer wood. Check the length required and cut all branches into lengths as required.
Splitting the rounds of wood.
The rounds which are formed in the last stage will need splitting. This can either be done with an axe or a log splitter. Log splitters on the front of an agricultural tractor make an ideal tool to split the logs down into rounds. The log is placed against a rotating blade which in turn splits the wood into managable thicknesses.
Often, even after log splitting, the logs need to be made smaller. Place the wood in question on a firm block of wood. A complete round of hardwood makes a super base for the wood. Stand the wood in question in an upright position, and swing the axe so that it hits the log in a central position and slices into two separate, more managable logs.
Often people make the mistake of thinking that freshly cut wood is fit to burn. What this does is not good for chimneys or for the flue of a woodburner since the wood is still «green». Wood needs stacking and storing for a period of two years, thus making the rotation process vital to supply wood for each winter season. The wood, in a stacked state, has time to dry out, and get rid of those resins which cause the damage to woodburners or chimneys.
Kindling is the small wood used to light a fire. This needs to be cut into small lengths and dried out. To cut this, use of offshoot branches, and usually large garden snips will be sufficient to cut the wood into lengths. Stack the wood to dry.