Cutting firewood with a chainsaw: working effectively and safely

Using a chainsaw to cut your own firewood is certainly more cost effective than buying logs, and can also be more sustainable. Here’s how to do it.

Log stack after cutting firewood

Protective equipment when cutting firewood

Always wear personal protective equipment when working with your chainsaw. This includes a helmet, cut protection trousers, safety boots, and more. The operating manual for your product contains more details on this. Before you use your chainsaw for the first time, fully familiarise yourself with the tool and ensure it is in flawless condition before each use. On request, your STIHL dealer will be happy to prepare your tool for its first use, and will also advise you on models and sizes of protective clothing that you can try at your leisure. Please remember that personal protective equipment is no substitute for safe working techniques.


Cutting to length

To get started turning a fallen tree into firewood, we recommend cutting all the timber into metre-long pieces that are easier to work with. This can be done directly at the spot where the tree was felled, if permitted. You can cut with the wood directly on the ground if it’s flat enough, or with the help of a cutting stand that you quickly make yourself.

Tips for sawing a log on the ground

If the trunk is lying on an even surface of solid earth in the forest or the lawn in your garden, you can use your chainsaw for cutting the trunk while it is directly on the ground – though you should ensure that the chainsaw doesn’t hit the ground, as this will blunt the chain. The very first step before you use the chainsaw to make firewood is to ensure that the trunk cannot roll away. Do this by securing the log with wedges or smaller pieces of wood.

A DIY cutting stand for sawing long trunks on

If the surface of the ground is not suitable for working on directly, you may need some kind of stand to help you: this not only protects your saw chain but also your back, because it means you will be working at an ergonomically appropriate height. You can quickly cut a log support from another piece of wood. Always make sure that any wood you are cutting with a chainsaw is secured in place and not able to roll away.

Splitting the lengths for firewood

Metre-long pieces of trunk probably won’t fit in your fireplace, and thicker trunks need to be split for ease of use – in any case, smaller pieces of firewood will always dry better than large logs. This is important, as damp wood burns less readily and releases soot and smoke.

Processing into firewood

It’s best to use a sawhorse when processing split lengths of wood and smaller branches to create firewood. A sawhorse helps you set up safely, and also offers the greatest possible working convenience for cutting firewood.

A man wearing chainsaw PPE is lifting a STIHL chainsaw off a saw horse beside a large stack of firewood.

Storing firewood

Before the firewood is ready to burn, it needs to dry for about two years, during which time it must be stored correctly to dry well. Stack individual logs in such a way that air can circulate between them, and protect the wood from rain and moisture.

Close-up of a piece of firewood in a sawhorse

Rapid Duro chain - carbide tipped

With the Rapid Duro 3 saw chain, STIHL has brought to market a chain with carbide tips for medium-power chainsaws. Its teeth are no match even for dirty or particularly tough wood. It also stays sharp for up to ten times longer than standard saw chains.

Summary: cutting firewood with a chainsaw

  • Depending on the subsurface and task, you can work directly on the ground, on a sawhorse, or on a cutting stand 

  • Personal protective equipment is required for cutting firewood with a chainsaw

  • Collecting wood in a forest requires the owner’s permission or a permit, and may be subject to restrictions