Trying to burn freshly cut wood can be a nightmare. This is because it retains a lot of water, so even lighting it can be very difficult. If you do manage to light it, wet wood gives off much less heat, dies quickly, and creates a lot more smoke.

Although drying wood is a long process and requires serious forward planning, once you’ve cut and stacked your wood, time will do the rest for you.

Here is our handy guide to chopping wood:

It doesn’t matter whether you’re buying or cutting your own firewood – both should be done no less than 6 months before you plan to burn it. If you’re looking to burn the wood around the start of Autumn, cut or buy your wood around Spring time.

Collecting wood a year in advance will ensure it is definitely dry come time to burn. If you live in wet areas, remember that moist climates can affect the speed of drying.


Most wood you buy will already be split, but if you’re doing it yourself, choose a spacious area to wield a saw or axe without obstruction.

Keep your area clear of children and pets, and check behind you before each swing.

It is always best practice to favour level ground over an uneven surface for your chopping block.


You want to cut your logs to the specific dimensions of your furnace or fireplace. Take the dimensions of where you’re going to burn the logs and subtract three inches (7.6cm) from either the length or width, depending on how you insert the wood.

Mark where to cut on each log and then use your saw or axe to divide them into equal rounds. For those who live in a wet climate, cutting smaller rounds will mean they dry faster. Having uniform lengths of wood makes stacking much easier.


With your chopping block on level ground, set a round on top with the cut side facing up. Saw or chop the round into halves from the top down, repeating as needed with each subsequent half until they are of the desired size.

Even if your fire or furnace will fit a whole round, it is best to cut them anyway as bark seals moisture and makes it more difficult to dry.

Remember: the smaller the pieces, the quicker they will dry.