A Beginner’s Guide to Chopping Wood
When I moved to my homestead it had been decades since I’d chopped wood. It was intimidating thinking how much wood I’d need to chop for use in the wood stove. Although I have a propane fired-furnace, I keep the thermostat very low in the winter and supplement with wood stove heat. Wood stove heat produces a wonderful cozy feeling and doesn’t cause stale dry air to get blown around like a forced-air furnace does. Not to mention, I got all the wood for free (money-free that is, I collected it myself in the woods – paid in sweat).
I started chopping with a very small, lightweight axe – I’ll call her the Graceful Lady Training Axe. Every time I looked at the gigantic man-sized axe laying in wait near the woodpile it made me nervous. I had visions of taking a serious chunk out of my shin, blood spurting everywhere, and not a neighbor around for miles to hear my screams. However, once my aim and precision improved, I started using the Heroic Man-Axe and there have been no gruesome events to relate. It doesn’t take a lot of upper body strength to chop wood – aim and precision are the key.
Training Axe dimensions:
Handle length 27″
Axe head length 6.5″
Axe head thickness 1″
Weight 2 lb
Handle length 36″
Axe head length 7.5″
Axe head thickness 1.5″ (plus some ‘wings’ that stick out)
Weight 4 lb
You can watch while I demonstrate my woodland woman technique (more like girly-girl, but its fun anyways):
WOOD CHOPPING TIPS
- With its long handle and heavy axe head, my Prince Valiant Man-Axe supplies power and momentum without requiring much sweat and effort on my part. Its a moderate workout without being exhausting.
- While it seems counter-intuitive, its actually better to use an axe that’s slightly dull. A sharp axe will stick in the logs and its annoying to pull it out.
- Chopping dry wood is much easier than chopping wet wood which is mushy and causes the axe to bounce back.
- Place your feet wide apart for a stable base of support and to minimize the likelihood of chopping one’s shins. Aim to swing the axe in the middle between one’s legs so if you miss the log you don’t get hurt. Wear shin-guards if you want to feel safer.
- Focus your eyes on the spot you want to chop and as you lift and swing the axe keep your eyes on that spot.
- Use a large, stable, solid block of wood as a chopping block.
- Try to remove bark prior to chopping as the log will split more easily.
- Chopping frozen wood is surprisingly easy – it chunks off like neat pieces of ice.
Chopping wood has become one of my favorite activities here on the homestead. Its a fresh-air-sweet, meditative way to spend time outdoors, get some exercise, and do something productive.
A Woman’s Guide to Chopping Wood