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Preparations for Splitting Firewood

Build the perfect splitting block and prepare to split wood for the colder months.

| November 2017

  • Attaching a tire on top of your chosen splitting stump ensures wood won’t fall down or roll away while you’re working.
    Illustration by Steve Sanford
  • A splitting block is more than just for convenience sake – it is also a safer way to split wood and is better on sensitive backs.
    Illustration by Steve Sanford
  • Brett McLeod, a forester and homesteader who lives on 25 acres of his own, tackles the big questions homesteaders have about living off their land, from splitting wood to growing fruits and berries, in “The Woodland Homestead.”
    Cover courtesy Storey Publishing

The Woodland Homestead (Storey Publishing, 2015) by Brett McLeod is for the woodland homeowner, whether that’s for a large or small property. McLeod provides insight to help you get the most out of your land through sustainable practices. As the months get colder, stocking up on firewood becomes even more important. Learn how to make your own splitting block and choose the best axe for the job.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Woodland Homestead.

Splitting blocks serve several important purposes. First, by splitting on a wooden block, you’re preserving your axe by avoiding rocks. Second, splitting on a block is safer since it gives the axe a known landing spot well away from your feet. Third, a splitting block can save you from having to bend over as far. Your back will thank you!

Begin by selecting a block that is a minimum of 15 inches in diameter and 12 to 16 inches high. The knottier, the better; the knots will prevent it from splitting prematurely. Any species will work, but I prefer elm or sugar maple.

Find an old tire that’s just slightly larger than the diameter of your block. Drill four 1-inch holes in one sidewall, evenly spaced (this will allow water to drain). Use four 3-inch lag bolts with fender washers to screw the sidewall of the tire to the top of the block.

You now have the perfect splitting block that will hold your wood securely as you split it. No more standing up fallen pieces or chasing runaway firewood!

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