How to create the perfect firewood

Nothing else can compare when it comes to an open fire – whether it’s a wood-burning fire in your home or a fire pit in the garden to help you extend warmer nights with a beer in hand, a roaring fire is a man’s best friend.

Of course, in order to create a fire worth showing off to neighbours and friends, you need the right components – most important of which is the firewood.

We’ve shared the answers to 6 key questions in relation to firewood to keep you in the know and ensure you’ll always be a man who can make fire.

When should I cut firewood?

Unfortunately, it’s not just a case of chopping down wood and throwing it on the fire. There is a recommended timeline which dictates when to chop, split and season firewood to ensure your fire-burning activities can be enjoyed to their full extent.

Late winter and early spring are often cited as the best months to cut firewood. This is because the trees will mostly be bare so they’ll be easier to cut down without their leaves and it gives the wood substantial drying time across the warmer months.

Once the wood has been seasoned (see below) and had time to dry, it becomes easier to split so this activity can be taken on towards the end of summer.

Of course this is a general guide, the time taken to produce the perfect firewood depends on the type of wood.

Can I use any type of wood?

In theory, yes. However, the length of time wood takes to season depends on its density. Hard woods such as oak take longer to dry and season but provide a longer-lasting fire.

Softer woods such as pine are easier and quicker to take through the process but burn faster meaning you’ll need more wood.

If you’re just getting started and want wood for the winter ahead, opting for a softer wood is probably best, but if you’re thinking long term it’s a good idea to go for higher density wood which will save you money and energy in the long run.

How should I cut firewood?

When it comes to using your chainsaw to cut the wood, ensure you’re fully kitted out with all the relevant safety equipment. As a minimum, you should wear a pair of chainsaw shoes, trousers, gloves and helmet.

You’ll also need a saw horse to ensure the wood is held in place and is secure before you start to cut.

Try and get the ends of the logs as flat and square as possible, so when it comes to splitting the wood it will stand more sturdily and make the task a little easier.

Of course, the size you cut your firewood to is all dependent on what you’re using it for but the smaller the pieces the quicker it’ll season and be ready for use, but also the quicker it will burn.

McCulloch’s range of petrol chainsaws are all about getting the job done safely and quickly – leaving you more time to sit back and reap the benefits of your handiwork. They are lightweight and packed with additional innovative features. As with all McCulloch tools, innovative technology allows us to do things differently.

In the case of petrol chainsaws, the innovation of the OxyPower system provides extra engine power without the excessive emissions or extra fuel consumption. Alternatively, a battery powered chainsaw which uses Li-Ion batteries will ensure optimum performance for the duration of the job because they keep tools working at peak performance right up to going flat. This type of chainsaw is not only quieter than petrol powered chainsaws but they require less maintenance. There are no spark plugs or starter cords to contend with – once they’re charged they are ready to go!

A typical rule of thumb would be to use a chainsaw with a bar length of 12-16 inches when chopping firewood on a saw horse.

chainsaw

What is splitting and how do I do it?

Once you’ve cut your wood down to size, you’ll need to split the wood. ‘Splitting’ is simply chopping your wood logs along the grain to reduce their density. This makes the wood easier to burn.

To split the wood you will need an axe. The type of axe you will need is either a splitting axe or a splitting maul. It’s preferable to use a splitting axe rather than a splitting maul because it is lighter in weight and specially designed to actually split the wood along the grain rather than chop – you’ll get arm-ache much quicker if you use a splitting maul!

When you have your wood and preferred axe ready you will need to source a cutting block – this could be the trunk of a tree or a large, heavy flat piece of wood. You should never use concrete or free chop on the ground.

The wood should then be placed on the block and you can then begin splitting taking extra care to use two hands a good distance apart avoiding ricochets.

How do I season firewood?

This part of firewood prep that requires the most patience! Depending on the type of wood, this can take anything from six months to two years, so it’s always a good idea to create a bit of a system season-by-season, so you’re never without a supply.

Ideally, you’ll have all your wood prepared for seasoning before the warmer months arrive, so you can allow it to dry out naturally outside. It’s important to ensure airflow in and around the logs is continuous, so keep them directly off the ground and away from any walls. The top of the wood should ideally be covered with a waterproof sheet so any rain can run off without soaking it, but keep the ends of the stack open to allow air to circulate and moisture to escape. Try and lift the bottom logs from touching the ground, otherwise these cold become damp an unusable.

How do I store firewood?

If you’re lucky enough to have a log store, you have the perfect place already sorted. For those looking to purchase one, it’s worth considering where it is in relation to the fire in your house – where possible, you want to minimise the distance you’ll need to carry the logs from and to. A utility or cloakroom are ideal, or you can simply invest in a container or basket to pile the logs in and store by the fire for easy access. Of course, if you’re using the logs for an outside fire, there’s nothing to worry about.