“The best way to think of firewood is an investment account: Add to it slowly and steadily over a long time to maximize your investment.”

That sounds like good advice, particularly when facing the prospect of cutting firewood or cutting logs by hand!

Many people supplement their home heating with firewood for a wood stove. It’s hard to imagine the very hard labor that would be required if we could no longer obtain fuel for chainsaws and log splitters to cut and split our firewood.

For the preparedness-minded,

Cutting Firewood With A Crosscut Saw

Not only will you need a good felling axe, mauls, and other gear to accommodate felling, bucking, cutting, and eventually splitting your wood – one of the crucial tools (in a time without access to fuel) may be an appropriate crosscut saw to cut the logs into usable lengths.

A good crosscut saw and the tools to keep it sharp and trued may be critical assets for those concerned about worst-case long term survival.

Be aware — No matter what kind of saw you use, cutting firewood by hand is ALL WORK. The correct saw will make it easier (but it’s still going to be hard work). You (or someone in your group) will need strength, stamina, and lung capacity to cut through logs of firewood!

For small logs and limbs, say less than about 4″, a bow saw will work. A bow saw is okay for bucking or cutting small pole wood.

If you’re cutting up serious logs, a properly sharpened crosscut saw is the only way to go (assuming you’re out of fuel)! Although this method of cutting logs is going to kick your butt, you would be surprised how well a maintained crosscut saw will cut.

Crosscut Saw For Cutting Logs

Crosscut Saws basically come in two tooth styles for cutting logs…


Tuttle (Champion) with two cutting teeth to each raker tooth.


Perforated Lance with four cutting teeth to each raker tooth.

It is most common to use the Tuttle Tooth style for hardwoods, and the Perforated Lance Tooth style for cutting softwoods. However, many have used each interchangeably throughout history.

Razor Tooth Saw

I have this one, a ‘wicked sharp’ 21 inch Raker Saw which I purchased online a number of years ago. It has been great for general purpose around the property.

Raker Tooth Saw, 21 inch

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One Man Crosscut Saw – 3 feet

This large saw is used mostly in forestry work and the crosscutting of large logs, but in recent years it has been purchased by people aiming to cut their own firewood in a more traditional fashion.

One Man Crosscut Saw - 3 feet

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Two Man Crosscut Saw – 4 feet

This large saw is used mostly in forestry work and the crosscutting of large logs.

Two Man Crosscut Saw - 4 feet

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Crosscut Saw For Cutting Firewood (Smaller)

Maybe you don’t want something as big. A smaller saw for camping and cutting smaller sizes for a campfire. Or a small saw for around the house, cutting branches and such.

A good option for this might be a Bow Saw: Bacho 24″

Or a Razor Tooth Folding Saw, such as this one which is available in varying lengths.


Small stoves (requiring smaller pieces) will work you to the bone.

Wear gloves always while cutting or handling.

Procure or make your own blade protector for safety while not in use.

Cut wood as green as you can get (easier).

Try to get the logs raised to a comfortable height.

Use shims/wedges so the cut doesn’t pinch the saw blade.

You will also want to know how to sharpen the teeth yourself, and have the equipment to do it. You will need a small file (mill Bastard – probably a six inch), a saw set gauge, and a setting hammer.

A crosscut saw manual from the USFS.

If you are planning for long term survival, or survival with a lack of petroleum fuels, you might want to consider how you would replace your existing chain saw with a proper hand tool, albeit very calorie-intensive (rather than gas guzzling).

Either look for a new one-man crosscut saw (there are still a few companies who make them) or look for used at yard/garage/estate sales, or antique shops, or ebay, etc. If you live in warmer climate zones you might not be as concerned about cutting firewood as those who live further north…

Continue reading: A Hand Pull Saw For Your Carpentry Preparedness Toolkit

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