One of the less glamorous activities that need doing if you’re going to use a wood burning stove over the winter is chopping kindling; and the thing about kindling is you always need way more than you think when you get started.
So, the first good tip about chopping kindling is, when you think you have enough, you’re probably only about half way there, so chop some more, and keep it up till you have twice as much as you do now.
Another good tip about chopping kindling is, wait till the wood is dry. If you try to chop kindling that is too wet, you’re going to get your axe stuck in the wood as often as you split it, which can get real irritating real fast. So, wait till the wood is really dry; the drier the better, and you’ll have a lot easier time of it.
Also, be sure you have a really dry place to keep your kindling once you’ve chopped it. You don’t want it outside under a tarp or something like a lot of people do with regular firewood, you want it in a building of some sort even if you have to keep it in the basement. It’s got to stay dry, because the whole point of kindling is to use it when starting a fire, thus, it needs to ignite really easily.
When chopping kindling, you also want to make sure you’re axe is sharp too, otherwise you’re likely to find yourself doing a lot more work to get your wood to split; which generally means cuts that don’t cut all the way though making you have to tear the two pieces apart afterwards. This can get old really fast, so, make sure your axe is so sharp you could shave with it.
As for the chopping itself. For the most part, it’s best to set your axe just enough into the wood while holding it with your other hand. This shouldn’t take much more than a tap. Then, when you raise your axe, the wood will be stuck to the axe and you can bang the whole works down on a stump. This is the method you should use whenever splitting wood that is too narrow to sit still on the stump for you. It’s safer.
And that is the final tip, your choice for a base for your kindling cutting is almost as important as your choice of axe. A big piece of wood works best, preferably a section of a log. The section you use should be big enough in diameter and heavy enough (meaning still somewhat wet) so that it doesn’t go anywhere when you’re chopping and so that it doesn’t split itself when the axe comes down on it. When sitting there it should be a little above knee high so that you can get the best angle on it.
What’s most important though, is that your axe and chopping block are comfortable for you, because you’re going to be out there a long time on a lot of day.