How to Build a Cordwood Cutoff Saw

Building a cordwood cutoff saw can make building projects much easier. This article includes safety tips and a cutoff saw blueprint.

| May/June 1982

Here's a home-built tool that could very well become the Cuisinart of stackwood construction: The cordwood cutoff saw's length stop adjusts to trim logs for different wall thicknesses. The square piece of metal simply butts against the frame to stop the saw's rise.

Whether you're putting up an inexpensive outbuilding, adding an attractive wall to your home or even erecting an entire dwelling, there are few building methods that can match the low cost, speed, and ease of construction of the stackwood technique. In fact, cordwood masonry has resulted in the arrival of more enthusiastic mail here at MOTHER EARTH NEWS (concerning both the numerous articles in our magazine and the three cord-wood structures at our Eco-Village research center) than has any other building idea we've yet explored.

And, frankly, we're not a bit surprised by the construction method's popularity . . . since erecting a stackwood wall isn't much more difficult than piling up an orderly heap of firewood. What's more, the finished product — with its interesting patterns of log ends and masonry — is both distinctive and beautiful.

Well, we've got good news for would-be wood stackers. MOTHER EARTH NEWS' Eco-Village staffers have come up with a piece of equipment (it was inspired by Jack Henstridge, our Cordwood Construction Seminar instructor) that makes building with firewood even easier and produces logs that are all equally long and properly squared off at the ends.

Benefits of the Cutoff Saw

For small cordwood projects, it's perfectly feasible to section all the timbers by hand, but we've found that a cutoff saw is a real timesaver for larger jobs, such as MOTHER EARTH NEWS' cordwood barn. If you're contemplating a significant stackwood project, then, you might do well to start by assembling a cutoff device.

How to Build a Cutoff Saw

We made the tabletop for our cutoff saw from some 2-by-6-foot tongue-and-groove pine decking that we had on hand, but less expensive standard "two-by" lumber (in any appropriate combination of widths) would work just fine. Do be careful, however, to locate the carriage bolts no more than 6 inches from the working end of the top, making sure that the saw chain can't possibly hit one of them.

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