How to Split Large Tree Trunks for Wood

Updated February 21, 2017

Buying firewood can be costly, especially as of 2009, with most bundles of firewood averaging £3 for only six or seven pieces of wood. Splitting your own wood can be much more cost effective. Wood splitting is still performed by many homeowners, and with traditional yet effective tools. The woodsman's axe and splitting wedge have been used for centuries to manually split all sizes of wood. Splitting large tree trunks or stumps can provide a large quantity of firewood, though takes a bit more effort than simply chopping away at a smaller log.

Cut any remaining roots away from the trunk or stump of the tree by using an axe or a hatchet. You can use the dried roots as smaller kindling along with your firewood.

Place the round trunk upright onto a secure chopping block. You can use an existing flat level tree stump if one is available.

Place a splitting wedge just a couple of inches from dead centre on the top of the tree trunk. Tap the wedge in place just an inch or two with a sledgehammer or a smaller maul.

Stand in front of the trunk holding a sledgehammer securely with both hands at waist level. Bring the sledgehammer up across your body and over your head. Slam the sledgehammer down onto the splitting wedge with extreme force.

Finish by cleaving with an axe, or replace the wedge and continue splitting with the sledgehammer until the wood has been split to your satisfaction.


You can use a splitting axe for smaller tree trunks.


Always adhere to proper safety standards when using an axe or sledgehammer. Wear adequate eye protection when splitting wood to avoid getting splinters in your eyes.

Things You'll Need

  • Axe
  • Hatchet
  • Splitting wedge
  • Sledgehammer
  • Smaller Maul
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