How to Cut Firewood Fast

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Sitting in front of a fire is romantic. Building a fire is satisfying. Cutting firewood is boring.

Bunch of firewoods ready to chop

Get it over with as quickly as possible while still observing all the safety protocols by checking out the tips in this article how to cut firewood fast.

Safety Tips for Cutting Firewood Fast

  • Stop when you’re tired. Most accidents occur at the end of the day or when the operator is becoming fatigued. If you’re thinking about ways to speed up the cutting process, that might be a sign that you need to take a break.
  • Wear the right protective equipment. Before heading out to cut firewood, you should be wearing heavy, snug clothing with sturdy boots. Clear plastic safety glasses protect your eyes from splinters, chips, and sawdust. Cut-resistant gloves offer some protection for your hands.
  • If using a chainsaw, some additional protection is needed. A pair of earmuffs stuffed with acoustical foam will protect your hearing from the noise of the chainsaw. A set of chainsaw chaps made from cut-resistant material protects your legs from the blade of the chainsaw should it slip or kick back.

How to Cut Firewood Fast

If you have access to a chainsaw, that is undoubtedly the fastest way to turn trees or logs into firewood. When cutting firewood without a chainsaw, a bow saw is the best option to move quickly through your woodpile.

Cut Large Logs Into Firewood Fast With a Chainsaw

The sharp teeth of a powerful chainsaw can turn large logs into food for your fireplace much more quickly than a hatchet or maul. Here’s how.

How to cut firewood fast method
  1. Don’t sacrifice safety for speed. Chainsaws are widely considered to be the among the most dangerous of all power tools. A spinning metal chain sharp enough to cut through wood deserves your attention and respect. Shaving off a few minutes of cutting time isn’t worth shaving off part of your body, so never try to rush the cutting process. Learn how to cut firewood safely.
  2. Use a gas-powered chainsaw. Gas-powered chainsaws are more powerful than electric chainsaws. They are able to chew through wood more quickly, speeding up the overall time of your firewood cutting project. Looking for a chainsaw designed to cut hardwood will ensure you have plenty of power.
  3. Use an appropriately-sized chainsaw bar. The bar of the chainsaw should be two inches longer than the diameter of the log you’re starting with. An 18 inch chainsaw can handle logs no more than 16 inches in diameter, while a 24 inch chainsaw can cut logs of 22 inches in diameter. 
  4. Mark your cuts. The standard length for a piece of firewood is 16 inches. Use a forest measuring tape and spray paint to mark your cuts along the log at 16 inch intervals.
  5. Buck the tree (if necessary). If you’re working with a large felled tree, you won’t be able to immediately load it into a sawhorse or log holder. Cut it into smaller pieces first. Start by cutting ¾ of the way through the tree in several places, then roll it onto its side and finish the cut. This keeps your chainsaw out of the dirt, where it will quickly become dull.  
  6. Load the log into the log holder or sawbuck. Now that the log is small enough to handle, get it set up in your log holder or on a sawhorse. Cut the lines you marked in step three to turn the log into firewood-sized rounds. Make the cuts as straight as possible, so the firewood stands up during cutting. You can often use a smaller chainsaw for these cuts.
  7. Chop the round in half. Place one of the 16-inch tall rounds onto a tree stump. Brace it with another piece of wood to either side. Cut directly through the middle of the log, stopping about an inch from the bottom of the round.
  8. Split the round. Stop cutting and set down your chainsaw. Pick up the wood round, and turn it over. Lift the wood and bang it sharply against the stump or another piece of wood to split the two halves from each other.
  9. Cut into quarters. Repeat the same cutting procedure with both halves. You now have four perfectly-sized pieces of firewood that are exactly the same length. They should stack easily and burn efficiently.

Use a Bow Saw to Quickly Cut Firewood by Hand

Bow saws are a quick way to cut smaller branches into firewood.

Bunch of firewood to chop
  1. Choose an appropriately sized saw. A bow saw is a type of crosscut saw, similar to the coping saw but much larger. It consists of a metal frame that holds a metal blade. Bow saws come in several standard sizes: 21, 24, 30, or 36 inches. The larger your saw is, the larger wood it is able to cut through. Bow saws can fell trees with a diameter less than half the size of the blade.
  2. Protect yourself. Gloves will protect the skin on your hand from being scraped or scuffed as you manipulate the wood. Closed-toe shoes or boots are a good idea in case you drop a log. Long pants are essential to guard your legs.
  3. Clean and lubricate your blade. Rusty blades don’t cut well. Use steel wool to scour the blade of any rust, and a few drops of light oil spread with a rag will have it looking brand new.
  4. Avoid trapped blades. When the cut piece of firewood presses toward the remainder of the log, it can trap your blade and bring cutting to a halt. You can free the blade by pounding a wedge into the top of the cut, but this takes time.

Instead, arrange the log on your saw buck or in your log holder so that the wood will open up as you cut it. The waste should drop away from the log rather than toward it.

  1. Cut the wood. Place the edge of the blade on the wood. Draw the saw back and forth across the wood, applying pressure with each stroke. Each piece should be about 16 inches long. You can measure and mark the wood or eyeball it.

Conclusion

Use a high quality, gas-powered chainsaw to quickly turn large logs into firewood. For smaller branches, a bow saw is a convenient manual solution. When cutting firewood, observe all safety precautions and don’t cut corners to finish the job more quickly.

Ellenkate grew up on job sites run by her family’s construction company. She earned her theater degree from The Hartt School, a prestigious performing arts conservatory in Connecticut. Her design and DIY work from her Chicago loft was featured in the Chicago Reader and on Apartment Therapy.