Sawing your own firewood with a chainsaw

Whether it’s for the fireplace in winter or the fire bowl in summer, sawing your own firewood is much more fun than buying ready-made firewood. Making your own firewood also promotes sustainable forestry where only as much wood is used as can be regrown. This protects the substance of the forest and considerably reduces the long transportation routes involved in the wood trade. Of course, this also applies to trees that are cut down in your own gardens and meadows; they too can be made into firewood.

We have compiled a few useful and practical tips for you that will make sawing firewood even easier in future.

Sawing your own firewood is easy if you use a chainsaw.

Sawing firewood with a chainsaw like a professional.

Protective clothing from head to toe

Even firewood cutters need the right protective equipment when working with a chainsaw. You should wear face protection or safety glasses to protect your face and eyes when working with a chainsaw. When using a chainsaw you will also need ear protection, such as ear plugs. You will not need this when working with a cordless chainsaw like the MSA 200 C-BQ.

Want to know more? Click here to see our Personal Protective Equipment article or find out for yourself directly via STIHL Personal Protective Equipment.

Firewood being cut on a sawhorse

The right protective clothing is essential when working with a chainsaw.

Making firewood out of tree trunks

We recommend that you first cut tree trunks, logs and branches into manageable one-metre lengths. You can do this at home in your own garden or in the forest. The smaller logs can then be easily cut into convenient pieces of firewood on the sawhorse.

First, we will show you a simple way to cut a thick tree truck to length, whether on the ground or on a self-made support which allows you to work more ergonomically. We will then explain how to split the one-metre logs and prepare them for sawing on the sawhorse.
First, divide the trunk into equal parts and mark them before you start cutting them down to length. Then you will know where to position your chainsaw for the next cut later on. You can use a forest tape measure for example and mark the trunk with a Marker PRO  or ECO marker spray with a spacing of one metre.

Carving up the trunk on the ground

If the trunk is on a surface which permits the use of a chainsaw, such as on firm ground in the forest or the garden lawn, you can cut the trunk to length where it is. However, before you start sawing, make sure that the trunk cannot roll away. Use wedges or small pieces of wood to hold it in place if necessary.

A tree trunk being sawn on the ground using a chainsaw.

A tree trunk can be sawn where it is lying if it is stable and on suitable ground.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Start up the chainsaw and position it on the marked points with the chain running slowly. Saw about three-quarters of the way through the trunk. This prevents you from cutting into the ground with the chainsaw. Repeat this procedure on all marked sections.
  2. The trunk then needs to be turned – simply use a felling lever if required. Please remember to ensure once more that the trunk cannot roll away before you resume work.
  3. You can now finish cutting on the opposite side. Find out how to split the one-metre logs in the section “Splitting thick trunks and one-metre logs”.

Watch how the individual steps are carried out – from marking to cutting through the trunk – in a video.

Sawing a trunk on a self-made support

If the ground is not suitable for working on directly, you can use a support. Not only does this protect the chain, it is also easier on your back because it provides for a more ergonomic working height. All you need is a small support for the logs. You can even do it yourself by cutting a groove in a piece of wood. Again, make sure that the wood is always firmly in place and cannot roll away.

A tree trunk being sawn on a support.

The tree trunk can be easily propped up and cut into pieces with the help of a support.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. To make the support, first saw off a piece of the trunk and make a V-shaped groove. The V-shaped groove should be as broad as the width of the tree trunk you want to rest on the support and cut.
  2. Make sure the support is in a stable position and then place the trunk on it. Hand lifting tongs can help to make your work easier. The trunk should not have any leeway and can be additionally held in place with wedges or small pieces of wood if required.
  3. You can begin cutting the marked points with a slowly running chain to achieve a clean cut. Make sure that the sawn-off section does not fall on your feet.
  4. In order to avoid cutting into the support the next time you cut, bring the trunk back into the right position if necessary. The sawing process is repeated until the whole trunk has been cut to length. In the following section, find out how to split the one-metre logs into firewood.

Splitting thick tree trunks and one-metre logs

No matter how you sawed up the trunk, the wood ultimately needs to be cut into pieces of the right size for your fireplace. Smaller logs also dry better. Drying is important because damp wood does not burn well and causes soot and smoke.

Firewood being cut on a sawhorse.

Thick trunks need to be split before they can be put on a sawhorse.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Place the one-metre log horizontally on the ground and ensure it cannot roll away. The secured wood can now be cut down the middle along its entire length – around ten centimetres deep.
  2. You can then prise the log apart using a splitting wedge. It is easiest to use the wedge if an indent for the wedge is first cut into trunk. Depending on the thickness of the trunk, it is advisable to split the halves again.
  3. The split wood pieces can then be made into smaller pieces of firewood on the sawhorse.

Making thin trunks, branches and split pieces into firewood

If you want to make small-diameter trunks, branches or pre-cut one-metre logs into firewood, you can use a practical sawhorse. This allows you to position the wood securely and offers maximum comfort when producing firewood.

A trunk being made into firewood on a sawhorse, step-by-step.

Thin trunks are best cut up on a sawhorse.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Put the wood on a sawhorse and secure it with an elastic cord or a chain to prevent it from rolling away.
  2. Start up the chainsaw safely and position it to begin cutting.
  3. You can now cut the wood properly on the sawhorse, log by log.

You can see how to secure the wood firmly on the sawhorse and how to position the chainsaw for cutting in our video “Cutting firewood on a sawhorse”.

For more information on chopping firewood, we recommend our article Out of the woods, into your living room! Chop your own firewood.  Do you still need the right tools for cutting your own firewood? Whether you need a chainsaw, sawhorse or cleaving axe, STIHL offers you a broad product range.

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