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.
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.
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.
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.
The cut should go approximately ¾ of the way through the trunk – don’t cut all the way through in order to avoid sawing into the ground and damaging your chainsaw. Repeat the process at all the marked points.
Turn the trunk over – you may find a felling lever helpful. Don’t forget to secure the trunk against rolling away again before you continue working.
Finish the cuts you started from the opposite side. Your metre-long pieces of wood are ready for further processing into firewood.
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.
To make your cutting stand, first use the saw to cut a V shape out of a log. The width of the V you cut should be equal to the diameter of the trunk you are chopping into firewood.
Position the cutting stand so it’s stable and place a log into the V. Hand lifting tongs can make this easier. The trunk should be firmly in the notch, with no leeway – you can additionally secure it using wedges or small pieces of wood if required.
You can now cut through at the marked points. Be cautious of the wood falling on to your feet.
Reposition the length of wood on the stand if necessary. Repeat the sawing process until you have finished cutting all the pieces.
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.
You can quickly split the wood lengthwise using a splitting wedge rather than a chainsaw for cutting. First secure your piece against rolling away.
Drive the log into two parts using a splitting wedge. Cutting a notch with your chainsaw makes it easier to insert the wedge, then strike it until the wood splits. Depending on the thickness of the trunk, you may need to split the halves again, into quarters.
The resulting split wood can be further processed on the sawhorse, to create handy pieces of 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.
Place a piece of wood on the sawhorse and secure with a rubber band or chain. Now you’re ready for the final stage of cutting your timber into firewood.
Start the chainsaw safely and start cutting.
Be wary of cutting too close to the saw horse - move the wood reguarly to prevent accidental damage.
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.
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.
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