How To Split Wood Without An Ax

For this project, you’ll need to start with glazed pottery. After allowing the paint to dry for 24 hours, bake it for 35 minutes at 150°C (300°F) in your oven. But not just any wood will do; you’ll need wood that’s the right size for burning, or your fire will go out too quickly or won’t light at all. So, let’s say you’re surrounded by a stack of logs or some downed trees. What do you do? You’ve got to get rid of it.

Learning to split wood, whether with or without an axe, will allow you to create roaring fires for years to come.

Split Wood Without An Ax

How do you split wood with a hammer?


  • Ax
  • Chopping Block
  • Wedge
  • Sledgehammer
  • Safety Glasses
  • Gloves

You should have a fine, heavy axe at the very least if you want to cut wood properly (though you can get by with a good hatchet in some cases). You’ll need a maul, a sort of axe with one sharp edge set into a thick, heavy head, to be more precise. As it is pushed down into the wood, the maul’s form concentrates full energy into the blade, which helps break logs apart.

Even better, you’ll be armed with a maul, a wedge, and a sledgehammer. Many logs can be split in half with a single satisfying maul hit, but larger and/or harder (and damper) logs can require the use of a wedge and sledge combination.

You’ll need a good chopping block, which can be anything from a big, squat log to a tree stump. Consider wearing gloves, boots, safety glasses (or any glasses, for that matter), and a great pair of jeans. That’s it, gentlemen: the tools of the trade.


Contrary to common belief, the best posture for splitting wood is to stand with your shoulders squared off to the doomed tree, rather than one foot forward and the other a step back. This location directs the most force down the length of your swing.

Place your dominant hand directly underneath the ax’s head; when you swing, it will slip down, guiding the blade (or sledgehammer) and growing power. The axe handle should be gripped with your other hand near the bottom. Cut closer to the outside of larger logs, with the blade hitting parallel to an imaginary diameter, on smaller logs (hit with the grain where possible).

If the maul becomes stuck, you have three options: take it out and try again; push in a wedge and pound it through with the sledgehammer; or leave the maul in the log and pound away at it with a hammer (or with another log, if you are sans sledge).

You should be able to break most logs shorter than two feet in length and two feet in diameter with a maul, a wedge, a sledgehammer, and some perseverance. Consider using an electric log splitter or employing a Norwegian man with an impossibly beautiful beard to assist you if your logs are larger than that.

How to split wood without an axe

Now, what do you do if you need to split wood but don’t have the required tools? Sawing through logs lengthwise is a labor-intensive but efficient way to cut wood without an axe. However, we’re going to say you don’t have a saw. Do you have a knife that every man should have? That’s great.

You may usually cut wood with a knife with a fixed blade for slimmer logs. Saw or score a notch in the top of the wood (ideally with a saw, but even a small one like the one used in a Swiss Army Knife would suffice), then hammer the blade into the wood. Use a part of the knife blade close to the handle, as it will be thicker and stronger at this stage. Once you’ve firmly tapped the knife into the wood, use a harder hammer (or another chunk of wood) to alternately tap the back of the exposed blade.You’ll need to cut a series of wedges out of slender staves to break larger pieces of the log without an axe or a proper wedge. Essentially, you’ll be making a series of thin, basic spears. Build a crevice in the wood to be broken with a knife or a very sharp rock, then begin tapping your wooden wedge points into the log. Place the first wooden wedge near the log’s edge and tap it in a little, then the next one next to it, and so on. You should eventually have several wedges embedded in the log that you can alternately focus on. The procedure is time-consuming, but it is efficient.

There are a few other wood splitting tricks you can use to speed up the log splitting process. You might, for example, put an old tyre on your splitting block, position the wood inside the tyre, or tie a bungee cord around the base of the log, and then swing as normal. You won’t have to think about putting pieces upright before each hack because your wood will stay in one position while you break it.

How do you split wood by hand?

Using wood heat

One of the things I look forward to the most about winter is heating with a wood stove. The wood stove offers soothing, dry heat, and I use it for a variety of purposes.

It’s a different story getting fuel for the stove. Finding the trees (we try to use trees that have already fallen), sawing, cutting, storing, and finally using the wood takes a lot of time and effort.

This article will concentrate on actual wood splitting, which will be done by hand. When splitting wood, I discuss various methods, techniques, and safety precautions. Yes, it’s an extremely risky endeavor that you do at your own risk.

Why split wood by hand?

All of our wood was cut by hand by my husband and me. We do this for a variety of reasons.

  • First and foremost, it harkens back to a simpler period. Heating without electricity is not only how our forefathers warmed their homes, but it is also environmentally friendly. It does not necessitate the use of electricity or gas.
  • Second, it’s a very demanding workout. It’s a lot more fun than going to the gym and lifting weights to get in shape. You also get some amazing abs.
  • Third, compared to an electric or gas log splitter, it is less expensive and quieter. Machine splitters will cost thousands of dollars, and you’re inhaling the stinky exhaust. The noise also deters wildlife.
  • Fourth, it gives you a cool vibe. I’m not sure what to tell you if you can’t support someone who routinely wields an axe with terrifying precision.
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Four simple tools you will need

It’s not difficult to split logs by hand. The splitting maul, axe, spike, and wedge are the best tools I’ve found.

  • My splitting maul isn’t one of those “monster mauls” you’ve probably heard of. In the majority of cases, a simple maul weighing 6-8 pounds would suffice. The idea is to use the weight to generate momentum, which will enable the blade to cut through the wood. A typical maul’s blade isn’t particularly sharp. The flat side of the head on the splitting maul can be used to assist in driving a wedge.
  • I’ve discovered that the axe is ideal for smaller jobs and drier wood types. It’s more abrasive than the maul. It’s much lighter, making it more difficult to build up a lot of momentum. As a result, it’s a strong candidate for lighter work.
  • To get the wedge started into a piece of wood, I like to use a hammer. When all I need to do is get the wedge to “stand” in a piece of wood so I can smash it with the blunt end of the maul, the splitting maul is just too bulky and clunky. That’s where the hammer comes in handy.
  • A wedge is an excellent tool for assisting in the splitting of a piece of wood that would otherwise be difficult to break. It’s especially useful for big or thick pieces of wood, as well as knotty ones. Its triangular shape makes it ideal for starting a seam on a piece of wood. Then I can drive it through with the blunt end of the maul.

Technique for splitting wood

The best piece of advice I can offer is this: you won’t start splitting wood like a pro right away. As with everything else, gaining accuracy and expertise requires time and practice.

My method may differ from yours. After all, I’m a woman who isn’t particularly tall. Isn’t it self-evident? In all honesty, I’m not going to be able to use the same amount of muscle strength and momentum as my husband, who is a full foot taller and much stronger than me.

How to split larger pieces of wood?

I suggest using the splitting maul to break a piece of wood that is greater than 7 or 8 inches in diameter. The maul’s momentum will easily break a large number of logs. If your shoe size is greater than 9 or 10 inches, you should try using the wedge.

How to use the Maul

  • Start low and swing the maul so that it comes up over your head. You should use the thrust of your body weight to put it all down on the piece of wood as it is.
  • Keep your “heart” tight as you begin to swing. Standing with your legs wider than your shoulders and slightly bent, tighten your abs and straighten your back. This will not only provide you with a lot of flexibility and stronger muscles, but it will also reduce the chances of pulling muscles.
  • Start with the wedge if the piece of wood is especially wide. If you see a small hairline crack on the wood’s side, that’s a good spot to hammer in the wedge. It will aid in the expansion of the crack, raising your chances of a good maul split on the first try.
  • A large piece of wood would most likely break into two parts until the split. The maul can then be used to chop those two new logs into smaller pieces on its own.

How to split smaller pieces of wood

It takes some practice to determine whether a piece of wood is suitable for splitting with an axe but having done so, I can attest that being able to split a piece of wood with this lighter tool is extremely satisfying.

Since you can easily get the axe stuck, it takes a lot of practice to get good at using it. The point is sharper (and therefore more dangerous) than the maul’s, and it can dig deeper into the wood – which is perfect if it breaks right of way. If the wood doesn’t break, this isn’t a good thing.

In an attempt to push the axe all the way through, you might spend a lot of energy trying to get the axe out of a piece of wood and/or smashing the wood into your woodblock. It’s not much fun in either case.

To get the axe out of a piece of wood, I’ll always knock it loose on my woodblock or just keep beating on it until it’s completely gone. In any case, it’s inconvenient because it consumes a lot of resources.

The objective is to break the wood the first time you use the axe.

How to split knotted wood

Splitting knotted wood is even more difficult. When wood fibers are moving in all directions, they don’t lend themselves to splitting nicely along a seam.

When I need to cut a knotted piece of wood, I usually start with the wedge. I always try to cut the end that isn’t knotted first (hopefully both ends aren’t knotted). That way, I’ll be able to get the split started, and I’ll be able to use my momentum to help me work through the tricky bits.

I hammer in the wedge and then pound it in with the blunt end of the maul. It can be very effective at times. If it’s a particularly knotty log, on the other hand, I could end up expending a lot of energy just to break one piece, and knotty logs tend to split into a lot of irregular bits.

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Tips and Tricks

I hammer in the wedge and then pound it in with the blunt end of the maul. It can be very effective at times. If it’s a particularly knotty log, on the other hand, I could end up expending a lot of energy just to break one piece, and knotty logs tend to split into a lot of irregular bits.

Make use of a chopping board. You should lift the wood to be cut higher so you don’t have to bend when doing so. Your back would appreciate it.

Use chopping blocks of various heights. If you’re short like me, hammer the wedge and cut with the hatchet with a higher chopping block (18-20 inches). When I’m using the splitting maul, I’ll place a log on a short chopping block (only 2-3 inches off the ground). I can’t get enough momentum going splitting wood with the maul on the higher chopping block because it’s too tall.

When splitting larger pieces of wood, place them between two chopping blocks on soft ground (or on a shorter chopping block). You won’t have to lean over as often to grab the pieces if the wood splits this way. (In the video, I use the maul to sandwich a larger log between chopping blocks on the ground.)

Even better, use a tyre. Put as many logs in a tyre as you can and chop them all at once. To get a better height, lift the tyre onto a chopping board, nail the bottom end of it to the block, and load in the wood that way. In either case, you’ll avoid having to bend down and pick up the broken wood after each stroke.

Make sure you have a soft ground or a wood block underneath the log you want to break while splitting it. When splitting wood with an axe or maul on cement, for example, the axe or maul will strike the cement. That’s a easy way to split wood quickly wear out the blade. Furthermore, you raise the likelihood that the blade will bounce off the cement and strike you.

Several bits simply will not break. Because of the many different types of trees that exist, some wood is soft and some wood is rough. Some wood splits easily with little effort. Other woods are so tough that you’re tempted to buy an electric log splitter just to show that log you’re serious.

If you can’t break a log, you can either give up and throw it in the pile, or you can use a chainsaw.

Safety Considerations when chopping wood

To begin with, you must recognize that chopping wood is inherently dangerous. There’s always the possibility of injury while swinging an axe or a splitting maul through the air.

Follow these steps to minimize the risk-

  • Wearing heavy pants and shoes is important. Heavy pants can protect you from flying debris and even the maul if it is thrown at you suddenly.
  • The best shoes to wear are those with steel toes. If you drop a log on them, they’ll help protect your feet. They’re also useful if you miss the log and the maul flies straight at your toes, or any of the other chopping mishaps you can think of.
  • Your palms would be less calloused if you wear leather gloves. Swinging the handles of all the tools creates a lot of friction, which can damage the hands. Gloves also shield the fingers from being pinched when working with wood.
  • Shin guards are worn by some people to help secure their legs more effectively. I haven’t tried it yet, but I can see how useful it might be.
  • Cover your eyes by wearing goggles. When you’re cutting wood, things go flying. It’s also not just the wood. Tiny metal pieces will fly when you bang the maul or hammer against the wedge. When you cut logs, shards of wood fly through the air, and dust particles floating around. A protective layer of polycarbonate glasses would be beneficial to your eyes.
  • Make sure the field is clear. Perhaps the most innocent-looking log has sailed through the yard, often just moments after someone or some animal stood there. It’s impossible to predict when a log would fly through the air.

You may be the most precise woodchopper in the world, but there will always be that one moment when you don’t take care and something goes wrong. It’s preferable to be healthy rather than sorry.

Splitting wood is a difficult task. With these ideas and pointers, you should be well on your way to getting a positive experience.

How do you split wood without a splitter?

If you don’t have a log splitter, use your table saw to cut logs. Using your old table saw to cut logs will make the whole process a lot simpler. This is particularly true if you don’t have access to a maul or an axe and have a large woodpile.

What is the easiest way to split wood?

To begin, you’ll need the appropriate tools, which include a wood splitting axe, maul, wedge, sledgehammer, and a flat surface to split your wood on. We don’t use hydraulic wood splitters, but some people do. Since moving to northern Idaho, we’ve been splitting 16-inch Tamarack Pine rounds instead of the oak we used to break down south. We don’t think it makes sense to use the gasoline used to operate a wood splitter because this wood splits too quickly. For us, chopping block for splitting wood by hand is the most efficient process. We do it in such a way that we can keep up with the wood stove’s demands while just axe splitting wood once a week. Did I note that splitting firewood axe provides us with both exercise and relaxation?

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If you’re splitting wood, make sure you’re wearing the proper safety gear. Safety glasses, earplugs, work boots, and gloves are all included. Working safely saves time in the long run because it prevents expensive accidents that can be prevented with the proper safety equipment.

You can need to sharpen your axe about every three months, depending on what you’re cutting. Once every six months, we sharpen ours. Keep in mind that sharpening an axe removes a small amount of steel from the blade. To do the job, it doesn’t have to be as sharp as a kitchen knife.

If you’re looking for a wood-splitting axe or maul, we recommend a “wood splitters maul” because of the wedged shape’s benefit. When splitting, we’ve discovered that it’s much less likely to stick in the wood. The maul’s steep slope exerts more external pressure on the wood, allowing it to break more easily and effectively. The maul will break wood that splits quickly or with little difficulty faster than a sledgehammer, obviating the need for a sledgehammer. Keep your wedges handy for the gnarly and knotty logs ahead.

You can choose a six, eight, or ten-pound maul depending on the size of your muscles (mine are hard to find). Keep in mind that the maul’s velocity is more critical than its mass when it comes to producing results. To get the best results, you want the maul head to hit the wood as quickly as possible while remaining secure. When you gain experience splitting, you’ll discover that you don’t need to expend all of your energy to split wood properly. You’re either trying to cut rounds that are too long for your muscle mass or using a maul or axe that is too heavy for you if you have to use anything you have to split every piece of wood. To break for any length of time with a heavy maul, it takes a very strong individual to generate the right amount of velocity.

The round you’re about to break should be on fairly firm ground. If the earth is soft, the force of your blow would be absorbed by it rather than the wood, resulting in a waste of energy. When you make contact with the round, you also want your swing to be even.

J discovered that making his chopping block was the perfect way for him to cut wood. To build his wood splitting platform at the proper height, he used an old tyre, eight screws, and four rounds. He selected rounds that were the right height for him and secured the tyre to them with screws. He then used a strap to protect the device a little more.

When you go around and break the round into the desired size, the tyre keeps it in place. Since you don’t have to bend over to preposition the wood after almost every blow, you save time and effort. When not in use, the foundation can be easily stored. He simply disassembles it, breaks the frame, and stores the tyre and screws for the following season. On our YouTube page, you can see it in motion.

Examine the round for current cracks and align yourself with these as your targets when you’re ready to strike. Even, stop hitting the round where there are any knots or gnarly bits. Instead of hitting the middle of the round, the most powerful strike is near the edge. If you hit the ground at a 90-degree angle to the growth rings, it is more likely to break. After you’ve got a good start on the break, strike on the opposite side to split the round in half. If a round begins to break, the others will split more easily and quickly.

I still have trouble with accuracy, but if you can strike within a quarter-inch of your intended location, you should be fine for successful wood splitting. Part of my problem, I’ve discovered, is that I shift my grip in the middle of a blow, which alters the effect. As I previously said, I am still working on it.

Measure the distance to the ground when standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. To do so, place the axe or maul’s head on the ground where you want to hit. Take a half-step back with your arms completely extended. This will allow you to strike with your arms completely extended and lean forward a little. This, according to legend, gives your swing more strength. As you swing the maul overhead, keep your attention on your expected strike point by flexing your knees and bending slightly at the waist. Pull the maul head back toward you slightly with your abdominal muscles and legs at the last possible moment before it hits the wood. This will improve precision and the effectiveness of the blast.

I know it sounds difficult, and you’ll probably figure it out on your own, but we cut all of our wood without causing back injury or pain by following these tips for splitting wood. As you might expect, I’m a sporadic wood splitter; J typically does the splitting and I assist with stacking. If you don’t have a wood stove, you have a variety of options, from cast iron to soapstone, and even masonry stove plans are now available on the internet. Since wood is a renewable energy source, we choose to use it. Nothing compares to the warmth and coziness of a wood fire, in my opinion.

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