How To Split Wood With An Axe

When you plan on having a fire, you’re more than likely going to need to chop up and split some wood with an axe. Some people really enjoy this activity, while others really hate it.

However, most people who hate doing this task only hate it because they haven’t been taught how to do it properly and effectively.

How To Split Wood With An Axe

When you know the right technique for splitting wood with an axe, it can really turn what feels like a chore into something fun (You might want to check out How To Replace An Axe Handle to help you better your wood splitting)! 

In this article, we’ll be going over everything you need to know about splitting wood with an axe and how you can do it effectively and efficiently in no time at all. 

What Do You Need To Split Wood With An Axe? 

Before you can go ahead and start splitting wood, you need to make sure you have the right tools. So let’s have a look at what you’ll need now.


Of course, the first thing you’re going to need is wood. You might think that you need a specific type of wood, but honestly, you can use any wood. Once you have the right technique down, you’ll be able to split any wood with ease. 

You need to make sure that the wood logs you are going to be splitting are between 16 and 20 inches (or 40 to 50 cm) long. This will make them much easier to split and if they are any bigger, you will struggle.

So keep them to this length as much as you can. 

Splitting Axe

Next, you need to make sure that you have the right axe. You can use a splitting maul, which is designed specifically for splitting wood, but for this guide, we’ll just be talking about splitting axes. 

Splitting axes are proper axes, but their cheeks are thinner than those on splitting mauls and wider than those found on standard axes. The edges of splitting axes are lighter and less blunt than splitting mauls too.

Although splitting mauls are good, splitting axes are far more versatile. 

Splitting Wedge

A splitting wedge is an optional choice, but honestly, it will make splitting wood a whole lot easier for you. When you remove your splitting axe from your freshly split wood, the wood itself will close back up as soon as you remove the axe.

The splitting wedge actually prevents this from happening and keeps the wood open, ready for the next swing. 

Splitting wedges can also help you to split the wood a bit faster, with fewer swings. You can use more than one wedge as well if you want, so a splitting wedge is definitely a tool you will want to consider using. 

How To Split Wood With An Axe

How To Split Wood With An Axe

Now you know what tools you’re going to need, let’s have a look at how you can successfully split wood with an axe. 

  1. Start with your footing. You will want to stand with your feet being placed evenly, shoulder-width apart. Don’t exaggerate your stance as this will limit the use of your hips, which you need for maximum swinging power. 
  1. Raise your axe above your head and let it drop. You don’t need to worry about your strength or power, just let the axe drop, it will do all the work for you! 
  1. While the axe drops, let your dominant hand slide down the axe and meet your other hand. Your dominant hand should start at the base of the axe head. 
  1. While the axe is dropping, you need to bend your knees and pull your hips back. This will add extra energy to your swing, which makes splitting the wood a whole lot easier. 
  1. This point is especially important if you’re working with lager rounds of wood. You need to aim for a point that is in the middle of the edge of the wood round and the actual center of the wood. This is easier than aiming directly for the center because larger logs are harder to break. Once you’ve done this a few times, it will become second nature. 
  1. One final point to take into consideration is that you need to start at one end of the log and work your way across to the other end. Trying to split the center will take more time and effort, and it is essentially a waste of time. 

Safety Tips

It is very important when you’re splitting logs of wood with an axe that you keep as safe as you possibly can. 

One important safety tip you should always follow is to make sure every log of wood is set very firmly on any surface you are using to split it.

If the log isn’t secure, it can wobble and even fall off, which can deflect your axe, leading to it bouncing back off the surface or even making contact with your foot. 

If you’re new to splitting wood, make sure you have the right safety equipment. This includes things like safety goggles, gloves, the correct footwear such as steel-toed boots (Also check out How To Wear A Boot Knife), and thick work clothes. 

It’s always in your best interest to also have another person around the area when you’re splitting wood. They can take care of carrying the wood and sorting through it, but they also work as a safety precaution in case you injure yourself. It’s always safer to work with someone than to work alone! 

One of the best ways to make chopping and splitting wood safer is to use a chopping block. A chopping block keeps the wood from wobbling and causing injury, and it also helps in keeping your axe and tools from getting damaged. 


Once you have the techniques and safety tips down, you’ll find that splitting wood is actually a whole lot easier than you initially thought it would be.

It will take you a few tries before you get the method down, but once you do, you’ll find that splitting wood can actually be quite fun! 

Just take your time and remember to stay safe! 

Tim Roth
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