To get the most out of firewood, cutting it to the correct length is essential. The pieces need to fit into the fireplace, and they also should be easy to carry. Cut them too small, and you’ve got a lot of unnecessary splitting.
This guide looks at what firewood length is best. To provide accurate advice, we also reached out to some of America’s biggest fireplace makers to get their advice.
What length should I cut firewood?
The ideal firewood length will vary depending on the type of fireplace and whether you’re comfortable lugging big pieces in from the wood stack. As a general guide, the best length for split firewood is 16″ as it is easy to carry and will fit into most fireplaces.
When splitting firewood, aim for a diameter of 4-6 inches if you’ve got an indoor fire. The pieces dry quicker and light faster in the fire. For outdoor pits, split larger chunks as there’s more room, and the wood will burn longer.
- Owners of small wood stoves and fireplaces should measure the width of the opening to make sure the firewood will fit.
- Open fireplaces can fit 24″ or longer wood, which provides a good amount of burning time.
- Small stove or fireplace owners will want to use shorter lengths of wood, such as 12 or 14 inches.
Summary sizing guide for firewood
The below chart shows a simplified way of working out the ideal length and thickness for tinder, kindling, and fuel.
What is the maximum length firewood for a fireplace?
Based on the fireplace manufacturers we contacted, the maximum recommended log length ranged from 16-32″. The average max length from the data we collected was 20″.
Check out the summary table below:
|Fireplace brand||Model||Maximum log length|
|Empire||St Clair Series 3000||18”|
|Empire||St Clair Series 4300||25”|
|Napoleon||High Country 3000||25”|
|Napoleon||High Country 5000||24”|
|Napoleon||High Country 6000||32”|
|Napoleon||High Country 8000||32”|
|Regency||Classic F1150 Wood Stove||18″|
|Regency||Cascades F1500 Wood Stove||18″|
|Regency||Classic F2450 Wood Stove||18″|
|Regency||Cascades F2500 Wood Stove||18″|
|Regency||Pro-Series F3500 Wood Stove||20”|
|Regency||Pro-Series F5200 Wood Stove||22”|
|Regency||Alterra CF780 Wood Fireplace||18”|
6 reasons to cut firewood to a length of 16″
- It’s the right fit: No one wants to chop firewood twice because it won’t fit in the fire. 12-16″ rounds will fit into almost any woodstove.
- It lights easier: Although large logs will fit into bigger fireplaces, they’ll take longer to start burning. Smaller pieces light easier, meaning less time is spent fire-lighting.
- Faster seasoning: Increased surface area results in fast-drying wood. You could shave several months off seasoning time by cutting shorter rounds.
- Easier splitting: Shorter logs are easier to split than longer ones. This is a vital consideration if the felled tree is notoriously hard to tough, like elm.
- Simple to transfer: Firewood cut to 12-16″ is easier to stack and carry into the house when the winter months arrive.
- Easy volume calculations: If you like to calculate how many cords of wood you’ve stacked, then cut 16″ pieces. A cord of wood is 4’x4’x8 ′, so three rows of 16″ equal four feet. Of course, you could use a tape measure, but this is a handy “no-measure” hack.
Watch the video
Prefer to watch? Check out this video that provides some practical advice on how long to cut firewood.
6 types of firewood cuts
Whether you buy pre-cut firewood or chop it yourself, selecting the proper cut for your needs is essential. Some popular options are the standard cut, uncut round, extended burn, chiminea, pizza cut, and wood chunks.
Standard cut firewood is the most common option sold commercially. Rounds of wood are split into pieces that are typically less than six inches. It is an ideal fuel for campfires, home fireplaces, or wood-burning stoves. As a rough guide, expect 25 fires from a rack of wood.
This wood is less processed than the standard cut variety. The logs haven’t been split, so the outside of each log may be covered in bark.
Uncut rounds sold for firewood could be as small as 4″ in diameter, meaning they can be tossed into the fire as they are. They’ll burn longer than standard cut wood but take more work to light. Large uncut logs need splitting before stacking.
Extended burn firewood is much thicker than the standard cut variety. Increased diameter means a longer burn time, but like uncut rounds, this wood takes more effort to start burning.
Chiminea wood is cut explicitly for small wood stoves and chimineas. It ranges between 4-14 inches and easily fits into small spaces. The wood lights easily and gives off a hot flame, but keep in mind the fire it creates is short-lived.
Pizza lovers who enjoy cooking in a wood-fired oven will appreciate pizza cut firewood. It creates enough heat to produce a delicious golden crust and adds amazing flavor to the base.
Wood chunks, or smoking chunks, are cut into a block shape and are the ideal size for smoking food. Each piece is roughly 2″ long, and they burn fast, giving off a lot of tasty smoke flavor.
Commonly asked questions
What size should kindling be?
Kindling is best chopped to a length of 6-8″ and a diameter of roughly one inch. Try to chop pieces that are no thicker than your thumb for easy lighting. The distance from fingertips to elbow is a good yardstick for kindling length.
Do I need to split firewood?
Splitting firewood can be challenging and time-consuming, but it is an important step before burning. Split wood exposes more surface area, allowing it to dry faster and burn easier once it’s in the fire. Splitting firewood also makes it easier to store and transport. Check out our practical splitting tips to make the job easier.
Is there a standard length for firewood?
There is no standard length for firewood. The primary consideration when deciding what size to cut the rounds is the fireplace or wood stove dimensions.
Can I use firewood that is too long for my stove or fireplace?
Using oversized firewood isn’t ideal, as it can break glass doors or cause an unwanted fire if it hangs out the door while burning. Your best option is to cut the oversized wood with a chainsaw, maul, or axe.
How do I store firewood of different lengths?
To store firewood of different lengths, a good option is to use the German stacking method. This method allows you to build up a wall using similar-sized pieces, then toss the odd-shaped bits into the middle of the stack. Check out our firewood storage guide to get lots of practical advice on stacking methods.
The best firewood length will depend on factors like fireplace dimensions and whether you’re okay with carrying larger, heavier logs. Larger pieces typically burn longer, while smaller pieces are easier to light but will burn faster.
You don’t need to overthink firewood length too much. Limit its span to about 16″ for wood that’s easy to stack, carry, and burn.