10 Ways to Cut Firewood Without a Chainsaw

A Chainsaw – tool with which you can accomplish many tasks, such as tree felling, limbing, bucking or even pruning; but what if you don’t have this sort of tool in your arsenal, and you have a load of firewood to cut?

Fortunately, there is more than one alternative which can be used instead of a chainsaw, but remember, they’re alternatives, and should never replace the real deal, if possible.

Crosscut saw

Image by Christopher Sessums via Flickr

A crosscut saw looks very much like a regular hand saw: it has a handle, and a blade attached to it.

They come in many varieties and for many purposes – as example, stiff bladed and heavier saws are more designed to cut felled trees into rounds for firewood, while flexible and lighter ones are more suited for cutting actual trees down.

These saws come in many types of teeth patterns: plain teeth, champion teeth, great american teeth, etc., which are made for a specific type of cutting.

They also commonly come in two forms – for single, and two person use.

In my opinion, this is the best alternative to a chainsaw for cutting firewood.

I mean, just look at the thing go!

Bow saw

The name of this hand tool comes from its shape, which clearly resembles a bow: in the past and still to this day, the bow saw was primarily used for woodworking.

A bow saw is a type of frame saw, which means that the blade is kept in tension with the help of either a twisted cord or turnbuckle.

The thing can be easily used for cutting firewood, in this case, cut already felled trees into desired length logs for firewood.

This Bahco is a great and affordable option you can purchase on Amazon (affiliate link).

Hand saw

A hand saw is essentially a crosscut saw, but more suitable for work with one hand.

They too come in many shapes and sizes, different teeth patterns suited for specific tasks.

Reciprocating saw

The time has come for power tools. A reciprocating saw is a tool which has a blade in the middle of it that moves back and forth making the cut.

These types of saws, just as many other power tools, come in corded or cordless forms. They also support many different types of blades used for either cutting wood, wood with nails, or plain metal.


Yet another power tool that can also be used to cut firewood.

It probably won’t be suitable for use on actual felled trees, but if you have straight planks, pallets or something along those lines, you can use a jigsaw to cut them up into firewood.

Circular saw

Once again, it is probably quite impossible to use the tool as it is on already cut down trees, but if you have something like pallets you want to cut up and burn, this tool is best for the job (here’s an article i wrote about using pallets for firewood).

An axe

Image via Pxhere

Well, you probably did expect this to appear here, didn’t you? An axe, even though a very primitive tool, is a good alternative to have for a chainsaw.

Axes have been used in tree felling for ages, but as time passed, people discovered that saws, or in this case, crosscut saws are not just better in cutting already felled trees up into logs, but also for cutting the actual trees down.

Human force

You can turn ordinary branches, small trees, planks, or scrap wood into firewood without using any sort of tools, be it hand or power.

Basically, you can split the wood by placing it on an elevated surface, and then standing on it to split in half, or into desired length.

You can also try jamming the branch, or some sort of wood between two close trees, and then applying force to it by walking back or front to split it.

Folding saw

Popular in bushcraft community, this saw is know for its portability and effectiveness.

People often times take exactly these types of saws when they go for camping trips, or generally anywhere outdoors, because they are easy to store, effective and lightweight.

Wire saw

An extremely portable tool that can be used for making firewood.

The tool can easily fit just in your pocket, and be a great alternative not only to a chainsaw, but even a folding or hand saw.

You can also turn the regular wire saw into a bow saw by finding a flexible branch, hooking the wire on both ends, and bending it into a bow shape, simulating the look of a bow saw.

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  1. I have a child’s play house and swing frame that had to come down due to the wood being rotting, I’ve pilled it all up ready for cutting up for fire wood. Would I be able to use a circular saw for this job ? .

    1. You definitely can, although that might take multiple cuts from different sides as the circular saw blade might be not as large as the swing frame.

      If the wood is painted or treated in any way i would highly suggest not burning it as it does release dangerous chemicals. Also, if it’s rotten to the core it might be more of a waste to use as wet wood can cause creosote to build up inside the chimney.

  2. Thanks for the article, reading this made me smile. I routinely look up info on firewood, meat smoking, DiY projects and tools. Being a working-class man of modest means, I make point of keeping my hobbies & lifestyle budget- friendly as well as simple.

    For a few years I’ve been cutting firewood & grilling wood using hand tools, slowly transitioning into more power tool use due to wear and tear on my middle-aged, gangly physique. Cordless saws (a recip & a circ) are quite convenient for cutting in many scenarios and many types of wood. They split the difference between the efficiency of a chain saw and the smooth, clean work of a hand saw, w/o the drawbacks of either (noise & mess vs. manual labor-intensity).

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