Guide: How to Cut Logs Using a Chainsaw

demo of using a chainsaw to cut logs

Fed up with spending money on ready-made logs for your fire?

Why not consider using your own chainsaw? You’ll save money and also contribute towards sustainable forestry. Plus, sawing your own firewood is much more rewarding than buying ready-made.

So how can you get started?

Here’s our essential guide to cutting logs using a chainsaw, saving time, and making your life easier.

Let’s cut right to it.

1. Choose Your Tool

Your first decision is the chainsaw itself. Gas-powered or electric? The right option for you will come down to a few factors, including:

  • Size of the trunks you expect to cut
  • The cutting environment
  • Your budget
  • Your experience

As a general rule, electric chainsaws are sufficient for most. The only caveat is that they need a power source — no good if your wood is still out in the forest!

If you need more pointers, check out our reviews of the top chainsaws on the market right now, including both gas-powered and electric options.

2. Get Protected

Of course, a chainsaw is a serious tool, so your safety is paramount.

Here’s what you’ll need in addition to the saw itself.

3. Size Things Up

All fixed up with equipment? Great.

But before you get to work, you should divide the trunk into parts, by physically marking meter-long sections. This can really streamline the sawing process, as you’ll know where to place your saw every time, without having to remeasure.

4. Decide on Your Cutting Surface

You’ve got two options here.

Option A: Cutting from the Ground

If the trunk you’re going to cut sits on firm ground, it’s ok to saw it from its current position. Just make sure to use a wedge so there’s no chance of it rolling.

A word of warning, be careful not to cut into the ground when using this method. As well as risking damage to the surface, you’ll also make your chain blunt.

  • Start up the chainsaw (running at slow speed)
  • Position over the pre-marked points on the trunk
  • Saw 3/4 of the trunk
  • Repeat for every pre-marked section
  • Rotate the trunk 180 degrees
  • Finish the cut by sawing through the opposite side

Option B: Cutting from a Support

You can make your own DIY support, by cutting a V-shaped groove from a large piece of trunk. This will help protect your chainsaw and it’s also a more ergonomic working position — not to be underestimated if you’ve got a lot to cut!

Just stabilize the support and place the trunk within the groove, then cut through the pre-marked points with a slow running chain.

5. Split the Wood

Once you’ve sawed the trunk, you’ll likely need to cut it down further, so that it fits your fire. Even if the fit isn’t a concern, cutting the wood into smaller pieces will help it dry quicker (and therefore burn better).

To do this, secure the wood horizontally, then saw through the entire length. We suggest doing this to roughly a 10cm depth, then prising the rest apart with the help of a splitting wedge.

6. Maintenance

You’re done! But to make the most of your chainsaw, you’ll need to maintain it for the future. Here are 3 top maintenance tips after using a chainsaw:

  • Only use recommended fuel types and ratios
  • Keep your chainsaw sharpened and tensioned
  • Ensure saw guards/shields are fastened at all times

Cutting Logs Using a Chainsaw

Follow the guide above and you’ll be a chainsaw master in no time!

Itching to get started? Then visit our blog and find out the absolute best small chainsaw for the homeowner.

One Comment

  1. Hi Dean…

    I’ve started to use a chainsaw quite a bit on the forested property we bought recently. I took the Game of Logging course (Level I & II), and am feeling pretty comfortable with my saw, and cutting wood.

    Our wood stove is very small, and so I’m bucking (then splitting) into fairly small pieces. I haven’t yet figured out how to safely cut the last small piece into 2 pieces. I made a sawbuck, but the distance between the vertical legs is larger than the last piece I’m trying to cut in half. So, do you have any suggestions?



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