Cutting Guide

How To Cut Firewood With A Chainsaw – Tips & Techniques

When it comes to transforming a formidable log into stackable firewood, nothing beats the raw power of a chainsaw. 

Don your gloves, goggles, and ear protection—it’s not just smart; it’s crucial. With your log secured firmly on a stable surface, you’re ready to go. 

As you start your chainsaw, let the hum of the engine signal the beginning of your woodcutting journey. Your cuts should be smooth and steady, a testament to your focus and control. 

Now, let’s dive deeper into the art of cutting firewood with a chainsaw, ensuring you’re well-equipped to handle this rugged task with finesse and safety.

How to cut firewood with a chainsaw safely and efficiently


First things first, safety is the key. When handling a chainsaw, safety should always be your top priority. Before you begin, ensure you’re wearing appropriate safety gear, including gloves, safety glasses, sturdy boots, and chainsaw chaps.

Ensuring the optimal functionality of your chainsaw holds immense significance. It’s imperative to conduct a thorough inspection to verify its excellent working condition. Take a moment to ascertain that the chain possesses the sharpness it requires and that it is appropriately tensioned.

Equally vital is confirming that all safety features, including the proficient operation of the chain brake, are effectively in place.

Step 1: Prep Your Workspace

Clear an area around your log. You don’t want tripping hazards while you’re wielding a chainsaw. Remember, safety first! You’re not doing the Hokey Pokey here, you’re about to cut some serious wood!

Step 2: Check Your Chainsaw

Before you start your chainsaw, make sure it’s in good working order. Is the chain sharp and you didn’t make chainsaw sharpening mistakes?

Is the tension correct? If you’re using an electric chainsaw for the first time, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with your tool. Don’t just dive right in; read the manual, and understand the safety procedures.

Step 3: Start Your Chainsaw


Secure a firm grip on your chainsaw, clasping it with both hands, as you position yourself with your feet comfortably spread apart, maintaining a shoulder-width stance. You’re not a flamingo on a tightrope, you want to be stable and balanced.

Step 4: Make Your Cuts

The rule of thumb is to cut one-third of the way into the log, then roll it over and cut the rest of the way. This helps to prevent the chainsaw from getting stuck or “pinched” in the wood. Ever had your chainsaw stuck in a log? It’s about as fun as getting your tongue stuck to a frozen flagpole!

You might be wondering, How to cut a log lengthwise with a chainsaw? Well, it’s similar to crosscutting but requires a bit more attention to detail. Position the chainsaw at the end of the log and cut along the length, taking care to keep the chainsaw level for a smooth cut. Sounds simple, but remember: slow and steady wins the race.

Step 5: Monitor Your Chainsaw’s Performance

Here’s a hot tip: If your chainsaw loses power under load, it could be due to a few reasons like a dull chain, poor lubrication, or a clogged air filter. Don’t just power through it. Take the time to diagnose and fix the issue. Your chainsaw will thank you, and your firewood will be cleaner cut too.

Step 6: Clean Up

Once you’ve cut your logs, it’s time for cleanup. Don’t leave your workspace littered with wood chips and debris. Remember, a clean worksite is a happy worksite. Also, this might be a good time to consider how to remove a stump with a chainsaw, as stumps can be a tripping hazard.

You’ll want to cut as close to the ground as possible, and then make a series of cuts across the top of the stump, creating a grid-like pattern that can be chiseled out.

NOTE: Always remember to turn off your chainsaw when you’re not actively cutting. Chainsaws aren’t known for their conversational skills; they’re loud and can be distracting.

Why Learn This Skill?

Well, cutting firewood with a chainsaw is a practical skill, especially for those living in colder regions or anyone who loves a crackling fire. Here’s why learning this skill can be beneficial:

Self-Sufficiency: No more buying pre-cut firewood or waiting for delivery. Cut your own when you need it.
Cost Savings: Cutting your own firewood can save a significant amount of money in the long run.
Exercise: Believe it or not, cutting firewood is a great way to stay fit!

Advanced Techniques for Cutting Firewood with a Chainsaw


Ever watched a master chef slicing and dicing like a pro? That’s how you want to be with your chainsaw. Not just a chainsaw user, but a chainsaw artist, if you will.

Use the Bucking Spike

Bucking spikes are your best friend when it comes to advanced chainsaw techniques. Use the bucking spike to pivot the chainsaw through the log. This technique reduces fatigue and increases control.

The Bore Cut

Next up, we have the bore cut. This is where you plunge the chainsaw straight into the wood, rather than slicing from the edge. It’s a bit like digging straight into the middle of a cake – scandalous, but effective! Bore cutting is especially useful when you want to avoid kickback.

Know Your Tension and Compression Zones

Understanding tension and compression zones in the wood you’re cutting is crucial. Tension zones will tend to pinch the top of the chainsaw blade while compression zones will pinch the bottom. Cutting from the right direction based on these zones can save you a lot of hassle.

Understanding the Anatomy of a Log for Effective Cutting

You might be thinking, “Anatomy of a log? You’re pulling my leg, right?” Not at all! Just like humans, logs have their own anatomy, and understanding it can make your cutting job a whole lot easier.

Know Your Wood Grain

The grain of the wood is the direction in which the wood fibers are aligned. Cutting with the grain, rather than against it, makes for easier and smoother cuts. It’s like petting a cat – go with the fur, not against it!

Identifying Heartwood and Sapwood

The heartwood is the denser, dead wood at the center of the log, while the sapwood is the outer, living part of the tree. Sapwood is generally easier to cut, while heartwood can be denser and harder. Knowing where these areas are in your log can help you plan your cuts effectively.

Ensuring the Longevity of Your Chainsaw for Firewood Cutting


A chainsaw is like a good horse. Treat it well, and it’ll serve you faithfully for years. So how do you ensure the longevity of your chainsaw?

Regular Maintenance

First up, regular maintenance. Check your chainsaw’s air filter, chain tension, and oil levels regularly. A well-oiled chainsaw is a happy chainsaw! Read the fully detailed Chainsaw Maintenance Checklist!

Proper Storage

Next, proper storage. Store your chainsaw in a dry, clean place away from dirt and dust. Remember, your chainsaw is not a garden gnome. It does not enjoy sitting outside in the rain and snow!

Avoid Cutting Dirty Wood

Lastly, avoid cutting dirty wood. Dirt and grit can dull your chainsaw’s blade quickly. If you wouldn’t rub sandpaper on your chainsaw, don’t cut dirty wood!

Related: Can You Cut Wet Trees With A Chainsaw?

NOTE: Remember, even the best chainsaw can’t perform well if it’s not taken care of. Maintenance might feel like a chore, but it’s worth it in the long run.

So, there you have it, some pro tips and tricks to turn you from a chainsaw newbie into a firewood-cutting master. Remember, practice makes perfect, and every log you cut brings you one step closer to chainsaw mastery. Now, get out there and show those logs who’s boss!

Frequently Asked Questions

How to cut firewood on the ground?

To cut firewood on the ground, avoid letting the chainsaw’s bar touch the earth. Roll the log to cut from the top, supporting the log to prevent pinching.

What size chainsaw do I need to cut firewood?

The size of the chainsaw to cut firewood depends on the log size. Generally, a bar length of 14-20 inches is suitable for most firewood tasks.

What is a good chainsaw for cutting firewood?

A good chainsaw for cutting firewood is reliable, easy to handle, and has sufficient power. Popular choices are those with 14-20 inch bars and engines between 30-60cc.

How do you cut logs into lumber with a chainsaw?

Cut logs into lumber by using a chainsaw mill attachment. Align the mill to your desired thickness, and cut along the length of the log, keeping the chainsaw steady.

How do you split large logs with a chainsaw?

Split large logs with a chainsaw by making a series of cuts along the length of the log, spaced according to the desired size of the splits, and then breaking them apart.

How do you hold logs while cutting with a chainsaw?

Hold logs while cutting with a chainsaw by using a sawhorse or log holder, ensuring stability and reducing the risk of the log rolling.

The Wrap-Up

Prioritize Safety: Always wear the right gear and follow safety protocols.
Maintain Your Equipment: Keep your chainsaw sharp and in good working order.
Use Proper Techniques: Apply the cutting methods outlined to avoid common pitfalls.
Clean Workspace: Keep your area tidy to prevent accidents and maintain workflow.
Practice Makes Perfect: Each log cut hones your skill towards chainsaw mastery.