If you’re like many people looking to lower their heating costs in today’s inflationary times, using firewood to heat your home during the colder months can take a big bite out of your heating costs.

This is especially true if you are game to cut your firewood. Cutting your own firewood can be a great way to save money, but it’s important to do it safely.

how to cut firewood
Woman cutting firewood with a maul

In this blog post, we will discuss the best safety equipment to use when cutting firewood, as well as the best tools and tips for doing it properly.

Stay safe and warm this winter by following our advice!

Let’s get into it!

How To Cut Firewood

When it comes to cutting firewood, safety precautions should always be your top priority. After all, you’re dealing with sharp tools and heavy pieces of wood.

Wearing the proper protective gear is essential to preventing injuries.

Make sure you have a good pair of gloves, goggles, and ear protection before you start cutting.

3 Eye Protection Options

Safety Glasses

When it comes to eye protection, there are three main options: safety glasses, safety goggles, and face shields. Safety glasses are the most basic form of eye protection and will usually suffice for general wood cutting tasks.

Safety Goggles

Safety goggles provide a more snug fit and offer better protection from dust and flying debris. Even though safety glasses are somewhat more uncomfortable, I believe you’ll appreciate the extra protection they give.

Choose ones that are scratch-resistant and feature foam padding and air vents. Most safety goggles also accommodate prescription glasses, which is fantastic.

Face Shields

Face shields provide the highest level of protection for your entire face. And because face shields can be easily flipped up between cuts, they feel less restrictive and open.

Face shields work well at keeping wood chips out of your eyes, nose, and mouth. But dust and smaller chips can still fly in beneath a shield since it is open at the bottom.

Many people also like to use a face mask or a neckerchief over the mouth and nose to prevent wood fibers from entering their lungs.

Hearing Protection

One of the most important pieces of safety equipment when working with a chainsaw is hearing protection. Chainsaws are incredibly loud, and prolonged exposure to that noise can cause serious damage to your hearing.

There are a few different options when it comes to hearing protection. Earplugs are the simplest and most affordable option. They’re also easy to store and don’t require any batteries.

Earmuffs are another option and offer a higher level of protection than earplugs. They’re also adjustable, so you can get a snug fit.

The downside to ear muffs is that they can be bulky and cumbersome.


Electronic Earbuds

The third option, which happens to be our favorite, are electronic earbud hearing protection devices.

These earbuds use batteries to cancel out the noise of the chainsaw.

They may more expensive than earmuffs, but they offer the best protection and greatest comfort.

These in-ear hearing protectors are comfortable to wear and have a lower profile than earmuff-style protectors. Many earbuds utilize a durable metal stem with a flexible wire that can be stretched around the back of your ear to keep the bud in place.

No matter which option you choose, make sure you wear hearing protection every time you use a chainsaw. Trust me, your ears will thank you later.


When working with a chainsaw, it is important to wear safety chaps. Safety chaps are made of sturdy, durable material that can help protect your legs from the sharp blades of the chainsaw.

Chaps can also help to deflect flying debris and other potential hazards. Wearing chaps can help you stay safe while working with a chainsaw.

Chaps are a type of protective gear that is worn over your clothing and secured at the waist and legs. In the event of an accident, you’ll be relieved you wore them since they can help prevent significant injuries.

Safety Gloves

When cutting, moving, or even stacking firewood, having a decent pair of gloves is critical. There are several choices available, including leather work gloves, anti-vibration gloves, and even Kevlar-lined gloves.

They all work great; it’s simply a question of finding a pair that fits you comfortably and offers the protection needed for the task at hand 🙂

Safety Boots

When cutting firewood, the most common injuries happen below the waist. That is why you should wear chaps when working with a chainsaw, and safety boots when cutting firewood or using a chainsaw.

Always wear sturdy steel-toe boots or safety shoes with a protective reinforcement in the toe to safeguard your feet against logs that may come crashing down on them.

Although most safety boots come with steel toes, not all companies use steel. Some companies use a composite material that performs similarly to steel.

Because you’ll be creating a lot of wood chips when cutting, be sure to wear boots (not safety shoes) that come up high enough on your ankle to prevent wood chips from getting stuck in your socks while cutting firewood.

Good quality safety boots will last a long time and are something you will appreciate for many years.

Wear Head Protection

It is critical to wear a helmet when cutting down or limbing a tree. You may never know when part of the tree could break off and fall on you, resulting in significant injuries or even death.

You can buy helmet packages that include eye goggles and ear protection.

Protect your back: always lift properly

When lifting heavy logs, always use proper form to avoid injuries. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend at the knees to lower yourself down to the log.

Grab the log with both hands and lift with your legs, keeping your back straight. As you lift the log, keep it close to your body to avoid putting strain on your back. Once the log is lifted, carry it to where you will be stacking it and then set it down gently.

Consider using a Log Jack

When cutting firewood, it’s important to use the right tools for the job. One of the most important tools is a log jack. A log jack is a tool used to elevate logs off the ground so they can be cut into smaller pieces with a chainsaw. This helps to prevent the chain from hitting the ground, which can cause it to dull.

They’re also known as “log lifters,” “cant hooks,” or simply a “peavey.” They all function in the same way, but some include a blunt end and others include a metal spike.

Log Jack’s can be a real back-saver if you’re working with dead trees or large logs or logs that are difficult to cut.

Consider using a Sawhorse

Another handy tool to consider is a good quality sawhorse. Sawhorses provide a stable platform to elevate logs off the ground at a comfortable working height, making it much easier and safer to cut them into smaller pieces.

There are a few different types of sawhorses available on the market, but for cutting logs into firewood, we recommend using a heavy-duty steel sawhorse. These sawhorses are specifically designed to be used with saws and can support logs up to several hundred pounds.

When setting up your sawhorse, make sure to place it on level ground. If you’re cutting firewood on a slope, make sure the sawhorse is level from front to back and side to side. This will help prevent the logs from rolling off the sawhorse while you’re cutting them.

Once your sawhorse is in place, position the log you want to cut on the sawhorse so it’s stable and won’t roll off. If the log is too long to cut on the sawhorse, you can use a chainsaw to trim it down to size.

Be sure to cut your wood to the proper length

The standard length for firewood is 16″. A cord of wood measures 4’high x’4 wide x8′ long, consisting of three rows at 16″ w per row (x3 = 48″). However, you are in control of your saw and free to cut to whatever size you want!

Some people prefer smaller logs that are lighter and easier to load into a smaller wood stove. While others prefer a longer piece of wood for large fireboxes, fire pits, and wood furnaces.

Just be sure to plan and check your wood-burning device to select the ideal firewood size. And when in doubt, go with 16″ to be safe.

We find it handy to use a measuring guide with markings at 16″ to quickly mark the logs before cutting. A simple piece of strapping lumber with markings at 16″ will do the trick.

It’s time to start cutting: firewood cutting tools


A gas or electric chainsaw will quickly turn your trees into firewood lengths ready to cut

When it comes to cutting firewood, the first thing to consider is choosing a quality chainsaw. There are a variety of different chainsaws on the market, and each one is designed for a specific purpose.

If you’re cutting logs that are larger in diameter, such as a tree trunk, you’ll need a more powerful saw. Conversely, if you’re only cutting smaller logs, you can get away with a less powerful saw.

Another important factor to consider when choosing a chainsaw is the length of the bar. The bar is the part of the saw that actually does the cutting, and it comes in a variety of different lengths.

Again, the size of the logs you’ll be cutting will dictate the length of bar you need. A longer bar will give you more cutting power, but it will also make the saw harder to maneuver.

The Husqvarna 455 R-20″ chainsaw is a great example of a chainsaw for cutting firewood. Its 3.49 horsepower output and Smart Start functionality make it simple to use for any amount of firewood cutting.

Once you’ve chosen the right chainsaw, there are a few things you can do to make the job easier. First, make sure the chain is properly tensioned. A loose chain will cause the saw to bind and can be dangerous.

Second, be sure to keep your chain sharp. A dull chain will make cutting more difficult and can also be dangerous.

Bar and Chain Oil

The bar and chain oil are one of the most important parts of a chainsaw. It keeps the chain from getting too hot, and it also lubricates the saw. There are different types of oils, and you should always use the type that is recommended by the manufacturer.

Be sure to keep an eye on the oil reservoir level. A good rule of thumb is to top off the chain oil with each fill-up of gasoline.


The next thing you’ll need to do is mix your gas and oil. Check your owner’s manual to find the minimum octane level of gas needed (typically it’s 50:1). You’ll also want to add a fuel stabilizer if you think the gas will be sitting for a few months. Stabilizers help keep the gas fresh for longer.


Wedges are essential when it comes to felling trees, bucking logs, and chopping firewood that has already fallen to the ground. Wedging a tree will help to direct the tree to fall in the desired location.

A plastic wedge acts as a felling lever and can also help prevent your chainsaw from getting trapped in the wood while cutting logs being cut on the ground.

Felling involves cutting the standing tree and dropping it in the place you want it. Limbing is the removal of the branches from either standing or downed trees. Bucking is the process of cutting the downed tree into appropriate lengths.

MU publication G 1959, Basic Chain Saw Safety and Use.

Axe & Splitting Maul

Axes are available in several weights, sizes, and forms. Each has a different purpose depending on the job. Using an axe to de-limb a fallen tree before bucking or chunking it is an excellent way to get the job done quickly.



And of course, when it comes to splitting logs into firewood, axes or mauls are the best choices for manual tools.

Log Splitter

A gas-powered log splitter is the best tool if you need to cut logs into pieces quickly. Cutting logs manually is hard work. It is much faster than using an ax, and it doesn’t require as much effort. You can simply place the log on the platform and let the machine do all the work.

Our favorite way to carry firewood indoors

So, now that you’ve successfully seasoned your firewood, it’s time to bring a load of dry wood indoors for the fireplace! The LogOX Sling won 1st place with our product review team here at Today’s Cottage Living.

LogOX Sling

If you click the Learn More button below the product image and watch the short video demonstration of the LogOX in action, you’ll quickly understand why this is our favorite way to carry firewood.

They call it ‘The World’s Most Ergonomic Firewood, Kindling, and Log Carrier‘ and we agree. This Made in USA (Patented) log carrier, features a unique cross-body strap design that balances the weight across your upper body like a messenger bag, causing far less strain on your back, arm, and shoulder, while also facilitating easier loading, unloading, and movement. 

We also love the way your arm hooks into the canvas carrier, allowing you to freely open the carrier with one arm, and load with your free arm. And they even thought of including a flashlight for those dark visits out to the wood pile. Very clever.

Related Article: If you’re trying to decide on the ideal type of fireplace or wood stove, we have a comprehensive guide. Click here


When is the best time to cut firewood?

It’s better not to wait till the last minute to cut firewood. Firewood is best when it has been seasoned for at least 6 months, depending on the sort. If you burn unseasoned wood, it will be more difficult to light and emit a lot more smoke than if you had dried it out first.

If you can split and stack in early April, your winter firewood should be seasoned in time for the following fall/winter.

Is it legal to cut trees for firewood?

Generally, it is legal to cut trees for firewood on your property. However, there may be some restrictions in place depending on where you live. It is always best to check with your local authorities before cutting any trees.

As long as you have the proper permits and follow all the regulations, cutting firewood should not be a problem.

How to keep your chain sharp?

A dull chainsaw not only makes cutting logs harder and more time-consuming to cut but is potentially more hazardous than a sharp one since it exposes you to kickback. Kickback happens when the front of the saw snags on the wood and the bar is sent flying up and back towards you.

There are DIY chainsaw sharpening tools but they take some experience to perfect.

We recommend taking your dull chains to your local chainsaw service provider to have them sharpened. The low cost is worth it. Many shops now use computerized sharpening devices that do a great job.

You may also want to consider purchasing one or two extra chains to have on hand when your chain gets dull. It only takes hitting a few rocks to dull a chain so being able to quickly swap chains is a great time-saver.

How to select the best type of wood for firewood?

It’s also important to understand the characteristics of various firewood types. Ideally, you’ll want a tree that isn’t only dry but has tightly packed fibers that burn for a long time. This will result in less firewood being required.

You’ll also get the added advantage of burning clean, dry hardwood rather than any tree with a high resin or sap content. When burning a moist or sap-heavy tree, soot may accumulate and clog the chimney.

It’s also a great idea to consider preserving our ecosystems by removing trees that can regenerate themselves after being cut down.

What is the best length to cut firewood?

The recommended length to cut logs for firewood is 16″. A standard cord of firewood measures 4′ high x 4′ wide x 8′ long, made up of three rows with each row measuring 16″ in width. Therefore, 3 rows x 16″ per row = 4′ wide.

However, if you have a smaller woodstove or wood oven, you may want to cut your firewood into more manageable 12″ lengths. There are no set rules.

Firewood measuring stick
Firewood lengths = 16″
Used as driveway marker

To keep my wood piles even and straight, I made a handy measuring stick from a piece of cheap strapping material. I quickly lay the stick on the log and make a small indication marks at 16″ so I’m assured of standard lengths. I either make these indication marks with the chainsaw, or Ideally I’ll use a can of spray paint.

As a side bonus, in the winter months I use these sticks as driveway markers for the plow guy!


Now that you know how to cut firewood like a pro, be sure to practice safe techniques and always wear your safety gear. With a little bit of practice, and by following our tips above, you’ll be chopping wood like a seasoned lumberjack in no time!

Thank you for sharing your time with us at Today’s Cottage Living!

Disclosure: TodaysCottageLiving.com participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for publishers to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Greg Jones

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