Cut Firewood the Easy Way

With the right tools and some creative thinking, you can create a less strenuous system for processing firewood on the homestead.

  • If the log to be sawn needs to be lifted, I use the pallet forks or backhoe to lift the log to a height convenient for cutting, and then cut the log.
    Photo by Kevin Gleaves
  • I load the firewood rounds into a walled pallet using a backhoe with a thumb attachment.
    Photo by Kevin Gleaves
  • I pick up the loaded pallet using a loader with pallet forks and then deliver it to the splitter.
    Photo by Kevin Gleaves
  • To put the rounds on the splitter beam, I use a hydraulic crane made to mount to the receiver hitch of a pickup truck.
    Photo by Kevin Gleaves
  • I split the round and toss the pieces onto a pallet. Then, I take the loose pieces and stack them tightly in an upright pallet.
    Photo by Kevin Gleaves
  • I then move the pallet of split firewood to a storage area. I have multiple pallets, but probably will never have enough for all the storage I need. In this picture, the pallet was already on a dolly when it was filled at the splitter.
    Photo by Kevin Gleaves
  • If the pallet isn’t already on a wheeled dolly, I’ll put it on a dolly with the tractor and wheel it into the area next to the stove.
    Photo by Kevin Gleaves
  • I toss the firewood into the stove, and I have heat!
    Photo by Fotolia/Hamik

At 98 years old, economist and activist Scott Nearing said, “Well, at least I can still split and carry in the wood.”

Unlike Scott Nearing, most of us mortals find out well before our late 90s that we’re aging, and cutting firewood just emphasizes that fact. I’ve been burning wood ever since Mother Earth News published plans for making your own woodburning stove out of a discarded hot water heater in the January/February 1978 issue (you can also view the plans). It seems like every year since then, I find a new ache or pain when cutting wood. As my orthopedist says, “Everybody over 60 years old has degenerative disc disease. It’s just that some folks have it worse than others.” If you, like me, are the “some folks” who have it worse, cutting wood definitely gets harder and harder as the years go by.

To find easier ways to process firewood, you should take a look at all the steps that you now perform to turn a tree into heat. It should quickly become apparent that many steps involve lifting and transporting. Moving firewood is usually more work than actually cutting and splitting, and is definitely hard on your back.

So, the first step is to review how you cut firewood and write down all the steps you perform. Then, you should analyze what tools you have available to help with or eliminate each step. Don’t limit yourself to the tools I’ve listed, because you may have tools that aren’t available to me.

What Works for Me

I have a compact utility tractor with pallet forks on the loader and a backhoe with a thumb. I have multiple pallets with 16-inch-high sidewalls. I also have a splitter with a hydraulic crane that serves as a log lift. Here are my steps for creating firewood while saving my back:

1. If the log to be sawn needs to be lifted, I use the pallet forks or backhoe to lift the log to a height convenient for cutting, and then cut the log.

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