Anyone with determination can split kindling for a wood stove or fireplace, and yes that includes women. In fact this article was prompted by a woman recently widowed, who asked for advice on preparing for winter. She has a wood stove and there is some wood cut but no kindling as her husband generated the kindling from his woodworking.
The question made me realize some questions, or rather answers to questions, need to be specifically geared for women … although most of our library at HomeTips4Women.com is useful to women and men. It was rather fun researching this answer as it involved talking to several women, including one woman builder. Please share your ideas too for similar Q&As (just leave a comment below) as we will all benefit.
Home Owner Question
I can’t pick up my husband’s heavy power tools, let alone learn to use them safely and comfortably. What “female friendly” tools can I use to cut smaller wood pieces into kindling for my wood stove?
Before getting into the “technical answer” let me suggest that learning a new skill takes the right tools, practice and patience. If you don’t have a lot of time, you should ask for help learning how to use a new tool, as most people learn faster when they get simple tips from listening/watching others do what they want to learn. Maybe you have a friend or neighbor? There are also handyman services (some owned by women, i.e. Marie Leonard, Marie’s Home Improvement offers this option and Judy Browne teaches Workshops for Women) that are willing to teach you how to handle typical jobs around the house yourself. With a little help, you will gain more skill and confidence to get the job done.
At the same time, there are very few professionals who will do everything themselves. My first recommendation is to invest in the right tools and learn how to use them for those chores you’ll be doing many times over the years you own a home, i.e. patching holes and prepping walls to insure a great paint job are good skills to develop where learning to hang sheet rock (also called drywall), tape and mud it is probably a once in a lifetime event. Listen to yourself tool, as some jobs are better left to the professionals.
Home Professional’s Answer
You have several tool options depending on what type of wood you plan to use for kindling. We don’t think buying kindling is necessary.
- While most guys are comfortable with a chain saw, women find them heavy, awkward and don't like using chain saws.
- You can use an ax or hatchet to split firewood and make smaller pieces for kindling. You'll also need a wood base, i.e. a tree stump, underneath the piece of wood that you're cutting.
- A kindling maul is similar to an ax and the end of the blade is rounded (not pointed) to help when you need to rock the blade back & forth to extract it from wood.
- A safer alternative is using an iron wedge (like the blade of an ax) and a sledge hammer or mallet to avoid having to swing a sharp object.
The best tip of all is a great source for kindling wood. Look for old pallets (Craig's list or FreeCycle recommended), as these will be easier to break down and cutting these wood strips is a good source of kindling.
You'll need to use a small power saw and here are 2 from Black & Decker that the women I spoke to recommended. The first one shown is a Black & Decker Power Saw, #PHS550B, and it weighs only 8 lbs. Below is Black & Decker's Handisaw, #CHS6000 and only 3 lbs, but it has the strength to cut kindling.
Note: Unless you are really handy, with the strength and stamina to cut your own wood, you should buy one or more cords of wood several months before you need. Later in the season it becomes more difficult to find quality wood and it needs time to dry out after delivery.
In all cases you want to focus on safety. Wear safety glasses in case wood goes flying, heavy duty gloves as long as you still have a good grip on the handle of your tool and steel toe boots are also a good investment.