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Splitting Wood vs Sawing Wood For Woodwork: What’s The Difference?


cutting wood

cutting wood

When it comes to cutting wood, splitting and sawing are the two most common methods. However, these two methods are significantly different. The differences range from the tools that you use to the mode and pressure applied when one is cutting the wood.

Here are five key differences between wood splitting and wood sawing:



1. Axe for Splitting vs Saw for Sawing

A major difference between splitting and sawing is the tool that is used. Splitting - which involves chopping the wood into different pieces - requires one to use an axe. A wood cutting technique that dates back to ancient times, wood splitting can also be done using other tools including a hammer and a wedge, a side knife, a froe, or a splitting maul. Wood is often split along its grain.



On the other hand, the main tool that is used in sawing is the saw. When cutting wood with a saw, you can opt to cut along or across the grains.


 

2. Rugged Shapes vs Precise Shapes

Sawing is used to cut the wood into precise shapes using accurate measurements. Carpenters use this method to cut the wood they need to make wooden items. Perfecting the sawing technique takes practice. However, you need to have basic sawing skills to cut wood if you want to implement a do-it-yourself construction project. Sawing with a handsaw enables you to maintain control in the cutting process. With patience, you can get the size and shape you want.

On the other hand, wood that is cut by splitting will often have rough edges and rugged shapes. This is because the splitting process isn’t as refined as the sawing process. In most instances, wood splitting runs down the grains of the wood while sawing can run along or across wood grains.


3. Precise Measurements vs No Measurement At All

Carpenters use the saw to cut the wood they need to make wooden items. This means they always have the actual measurement of the wooden pieces they need to build the items they want. When sawing, carpenters use tape measures to establish the size of the wood they need and where they need to cut it from.

To make their measurements precise, carpenters use squares and pencils to place marks on the wood so that they know where to cut. This isn’t the case with splitting. Some people use the splitting method to cut the wood they need to construct basic things like uneven or log fences. However, in such cases, precise measurements are rarely taken. Instead, carpenters or homeowners just split the wood without paying too much attention to measurements.

splitting log

splitting log

4. Securing the Wood vs Leaving It Free

You need to place your wood on a stable surface to saw or split it. In both instances, the surface has to be raised above the ground. If you don't do this, you are likely to continually drive your maul or axe into the ground when splitting the wood.

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This can cause the tool to get blunt with time. Instead, place your wood on a hard surface such as a concrete or tree stump before you embark on splitting it. You need to do the same when sawing your wood.  Attempting to saw the wood from the ground can be inconvenient as the saw will keep touching the ground. This will slow down the cutting process.

The difference between splitting and sawing is, however, evident in the way you hold the wood in place during cutting. When splitting wood, you don’t have to place your hand on the wood or clamp it to cut it. While splitting, you only need to ensure that the piece of wood you want to split rests on a stable surface before hacking it with an axe or a maul.

This isn’t the same for sawing. Before sawing, you need to stabilize the wood by either clamping it or holding it in place with one of your hands. This is necessary because you’ve got to apply pressure on the wood with the saw as you cut it.

Since the wood isn’t clamped while splitting, the technique doesn’t work well with long wooden logs. If you are looking to cut such pieces into smaller pieces, you are better off using a gas-powered log splitter to cut the logs into smaller pieces before splitting them.

 

5. Striking Wood vs Applying Pressure

To split wood, you need to strike the wood several times using an axe or any other wood splitting tool. The most effective way to fast track the splitting process is to identify weak spots on the wood, particularly points that show signs of natural splits, and strike those consistently. For instance, cracks that run from the center of a log are great places to launch your split.

Sawing, on the other hand, works by applying pressure while moving the saw up and down the wood in a consistent manner. At the beginning of the sawing process, light pressure is applied to the saw. The pressure is increased as the carpenter finds a good balance. Ideally, the sawing process should be accurate and smooth.

Carpenters stop the up and down motions every so often to align the saw with the cutline for a straight cut. The sawing motion is continued consistently until the wood is almost breaking off. At the point, the cutting motion slows down and less force is applied to prevent wood splintering or cracking. At this stage, carpenters hold the wooden piece that is almost cutting off to prevent splintering due to weight.

 

The Last Word

Splitting and sawing are common ways of cutting wood. But each method serves its own purpose and, therefore, has its own place. The choice of which cutting method to use largely depends on what you want to use the wood for.

Wood splitting is mostly used to cut firewood and logs for the construction of informal items such as uneven fences that don’t require precise measurements or shapes. Sawing, on the flip side, is used to cut wood that carpenters want to use to make formal items like beds, tables, and chairs. This cutting method works well if you want to cut the wood into precise shapes and sizes.

 

 



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