Splitting Wood With A Chainsaw

Splitting Wood With A Chainsaw

Winter is coming and you need your firewood, but your axe just broke and you have about a cord of wood left to chop. OR your out in the woods and forgot your splitter, the wood is too large to carry and too big to cut with an axe.  Is it possible to go about splitting wood with a chainsaw?

Noodling wood with your chainsaw allows you to break bigger pieces -0864aqof wood down into smaller more manageable pieces.  But if you don’t have the right equipment or expertise it can be very dangerous.

I have also come into situations where I have had a piece of oak so knotted, so gnarly, that no mater how dry it was I could not split it.  I don’t have a wood splitter, so it’s all done the traditional way with an ax and maul.  I was forced to use my chainsaw to split the wood.

There are some safety concerns to think about when it comes to try to split would with a chain saw. The risk of hitting something hard (rock or metal) that can cause a kickback is much higher.  Kickback is when your chainsaw hits something hard and pushes back up on you.

With that said, if you must split wood with a chainsaw, there are some chain saws and chains that do better than others.

Option 1: Low Kick Back Chainsaw Chains

When looking for chain saws with low kickback it’s not so much the chain saw itself, but the chain to think about.  The more aggressive the chain, the more it will kick back, but cuts better.  There will be a trade off.  Good low kick back chains are designed with raised pieces of metal between each tooth that prevent the teeth from cutting as deep as a standard chain.  Safer but less cutting power.

I love Oregon chains and use them on most of my personal chain saws.  They make both professional, standard and low kick back chains and this is one of the best.  If you want a good low kick back chain alternative for wood noodling or splitting, this is a good one to start out on.

This chain will dull faster than standard chains because its built to bend and fold over instead of jumping off of what ever hard surface you may hit.  I found this out rather quickly when I was trying to split a few pieces of rather large wood with my chainsaw and accidentally hit a rock with the tip of my bar.  The chainsaw did not jump like I thought it was going too, instead it sparked.  I turned off the chain saw to inspect the chain and sure enough a few of the teeth were dulled.

If your new to chain saws or have a chain saw set aside specifically for noodling or splitting wood I would recommend a low kick back chain like this one.  Once you get a better handle on your chainsaw, then upgrade to a more professional chain.

There are several different versions of this chain that fits on different bar sizes.  Check with your manufacture about what size you need.

Best Selling Low Kick Back Chains:


Option 2. Chainsaws With Chain Breaks

Most modern chainsaws are built with chain breaks that activate when kick back occurs.  While there are several different useful models, we will just look at the more popular two models.

Husqvarna 440E 16-Inch 40.9cc 2-Stoke X-Torq Gas Powered Chain Saw

This chainsaw holds a special place in my heart as it was my first.  I LOVED this chainsaw.  I live on 5 acres, populated with oak, fir, pine and madrone.  I gather all my fire wood for the winter myself.   This chainsaw is great for smaller to heavier clean up jobs.  Its great in a pinch and I was able to noodle some much bigger pieces of wood that I would not have been able to cut with my axe.

Like most Husqvarnas, this model comes with a chain break.  I have had a few instances where kickback has occurred and the chain break saved me from a hospital visit.  The chain breaks are positioned is such a way where if kickback happens, the force of the chainsaw coming up will cause the break lever to hit your hand and activate.

My only complaint with the 440e was that I had to increase the throttle so the chainsaw was not constantly cutting off on me.  I’m not sure if it was just set low from the factory or if that’s standard.

If your going to occasionally use a chainsaw to cut wood and just need an all around the house chainsaw, this model can’t be beat.  Is small, light, easy to handle and very maneuverable and perfect for those occasional wood splitting times.

Husqvarna 455 Rancher 20-Inch 55-1/2cc 2-Stroke Gas-Powered Chain Saw (CARB Compliant)

I upgraded to this bad boy from my 440 a couple years ago.  I got to the point where I was cutting much more firewood than I was ever before and needed a more main stay saw.  I could not believe the power difference between this and its smaller 440 brother.  I was able to cut 3 chords of wood without breaking much of a sweat.

Now when it comes to actual splitting wood with this saw I am a little more carefull.  I don’t always make it a habit of cutting wood with my chain saws, but when I do, I would like to have the power to do so and the 455 Rancher has that power.   It also came with a 20inch bar that allows me to get deeper into the wood than I could with my older 18inch bar.  You can expand up to 24inch if need be.

Like most of the models this comes with a kick back chain lock which helps a lot.  The more powerful the saw the more powerful the kick back.  When it does happen your very thankful for tech advances such as these.

If you live in the woods and chop your own firewood, I would highly recommend the 455 Rancher.

Splitting Wood With A Chainsaw Conclusion

While trying to split wood with a chainsaw is NOT recommended, there are times where it may be a necessary evil and if you must make sure you take all the proper safety precautions.  Use chains with low kick back and chain saws which have chain breaks.