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Cleave, split, stack and dry your own firewood

If you are planning to use your wood burning stove or fireplace this fall and winter you need to make sure that your wood supply is filled with suitable firewood. You could, of course, go to the store and purchase logs of wood, but in most cases the supply of wood can be found when you cross your own threshold. You might need to saw, cleave, stack and dry the wood yourself, but that is not difficult at all. We will tell you how!

Saw wood

You got a hold of a nice couple of tree trunks from the woods. What now? First you need to cut the trunk into pieces. Make sure you pay attention to the size when you start sawing. After all, they do still need to fit inside your stove or fireplace! You should, of course, use the right tools when cutting the trunk into pieces: a tree saw. After cutting the wood into nice pieces you need to cleave it.

Cleaving wood

Cleaving is a type of woodwork where you split wood into pieces. You need to cleave wood because the bark and the sapwood don't burn as easily as the wood in the core. An additional advantage is that cleaved wood dries faster. But more about that later.

If a log has a diameter of at least 10 cm it is wise to split it. When you cleave wood it is important to use the right tools. With the wrong tools you create an unsafe environment for yourself and your surroundings. Always use a sharp splitting axe and you could potentially also use a wedge. Splitting wood by hand with an axe takes some getting used to. For that reason we wrote an individual how-to: how do you split wood. 

PRO-TIP: Use a WoodStrapper to keep the wood in place.

After sawing, splitting, cleaving and chopping you will be left with a substantial pile of wood. What now? You need to let the wood dry.

Stacking and drying wood

You should always allow firewood to dry properly. Wet wood doesn't burn well, smokes and produces particulate matter. This could clog up your chimney. In addition, it is bad for the environment.

You shouldn't take the term 'dry wood' too literally. After all, you won't be able to find bone-dry wood anywhere. Dry wood contains between the 12 and 20% moisture. When dry, wood contains a lot of loose bark and cracks.

The drying time of wood varies per wood species, but on average you should let wood dry for at least two years. So after cleaving the wood you need to stack it somewhere dry and ventilated but protected from the rain. Outside underneath a shed, for instance.

1 or 2 days before you start using the wood we recommend you take it inside to make sure it will become bone-dry. A storage place close to the stove or fireplace would be perfect. Afterwards all you need to do is light it and enjoy a warm crackling fire.

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