This post was sponsored by STIHL because they supplied the chainsaw and safety equipment. However, the project is my own and Swedish cut fire logs really are things we make and use at home. I figured it was about time you learned how to make your own too, and am happy STIHL partnered with me on the project!
We’ve been making our own Swedish torches for a few years after having noticed them for sale–in exchange for real money–at local stores. “I have a chainsaw, I can totally make those,” I thought, and that’s how it started. Due to having an inordinate amount of firewood and a family with a healthy appetite for backyard campfires, this firepit accessory is one of the most in-demand products we’ve “manufactured”; can’t stop, won’t stop… starting a campfire has never been so easy.
Honestly, if I have one important tip for you–and it’s not related to product choice or how to make the cuts–is that if you have a tree taken down, ask the crew to leave pieces of the trunk in 2-3′ lengths and recycle those to create your own collection of Swedish logs. If you ask nicely, they might even knock a bit off your bill, since there’s less for them to muscle away. Follow the below tutorial and cut the Swedish torches while the wood is still green, and then let them dry in a sheltered spot until it’s campfire o’clock. One-time burn logs like this are ideal for small fires. They ignite easily and burn from the inside with great air circulation and very little maintenance.
Start by familiarizing yourself with the world of chainsaws. I’ve been a long-time supporter of battery-operated power tools because they’re lightweight, easy-to-use, considerably less intimidating, and you don’t have to futz around with the oil/gas mixtures. The STIHL battery-powered chainsaws perfectly meet those expectations. The product I’m using in this tutorial is the MSA 120 C-BQ which is part of the Lightning Battery System® line of products. With a ¼” STIHL PICCO™ saw chain, it’s marketed as a product that can make 100 cuts on a single charge, depending on the size of the branches and logs you’re powering through. I’m also sporting appropriate protective workwear for my hands, eyes, ears, and legs, and wearing long layers because any amount of chainsawing usually means I’m probably going to be showered in splintery wood chips.
This project is best for those occasions when you have big, unsplit logs, and when the logs have a diameter greater than ~10″.
Turn the log on its end. If there’s any doubt that it won’t be balanced (be wary of very tall logs, or narrower logs) put cinderblocks around the base to help it remain upright and stable.
The cuts you make need only to be 3-6″ deep across the diameter of the log. If you put the chainsaw right up against the log, the sharp chain will eat through while you balance the saw – no “sawing” motions necessary with chainsaws, as the blade does all of the work. If the blade doesn’t reach all of the way through the log, switch sides and repeat the cut from the other end so that it’s an even depth.
Rotate your position and cut additional “pizza slices” into the top of the log.
There’ll likely be a bit of sawdust in the crevices you cut; don’t make extra efforts to clear the tracks you made because the dust will act as kindling when you’re trying to light the log.
Topple the log so that it’s on its side, and cut it down to a 7-10″ log. The few inches of solid wood beneath the “pizza” cuts will increase the length of time your log burns.
Once cut, you can tip the log upright again and cut another Swedish log from the wood that remains.
When you’re ready to ignite one of your cut logs and start a campfire, rest the log with cut edges upright. If there’s a lot of sawdust in the cracks, they will catch quickly and the log will immediately begin to burn from within. If you have trouble igniting due to lack of sawdust, form a small pile of kindling on top of the cut log. As the kindling catches and the embers fall down into the cuts of the Swedish log, it will quickly ignite itself, and burn quite evenly from the inside to the outer edges of the log. So cozy, so easy! Stockpile them when the opportunity strikes, and you’ll always be ready to get the fire started.