Woodchopping

ali

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Getting a wood burning stove installed next month. In preparation for next year I've sourced some logs, bought an axe and set forth swinging and splitting. Great fun and for my first attempt quite pleased with myself as I didn't amputate my leg below the knee. 2 hours of wood chopping unleashing my inner lumberjack and then went and polished off the simple goal. So a good day.....my question is geared towards any strong person who knows about the art of wood splitting from a biomechanical and correct efficient technique standpoint, ie should the axe or maul come down in a straight line from the top of the swing? And is it advised or ill advised to rotate the sides? Thinking along the fms model of balance, to use your strong side too, not always your stronger side but safety and control would perhaps be an issue. Would like to hear from the experienced loggers out there. Thank you.
 

Harald Motz

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Certified Instructor
The nice thing about "making wood" (as we say in my landscape) is, that it makes you warm many times. When you go into the woods to chop down a tree. Then when you laden a trailer to transport and then unload it at home.
Then when you chop the wood, and pile up the pieces. And eventually in cold evenings sitting in a warm oven heated room. This is very fine manual labour while exposed to fresh air. I love it when I do it.
My technique when I chop wood is to swing the axe up in a straight line (I turn my hips a little bit sideways to have room for swing the axe), and down in a straight line, as it makes it much easier for me to hit the wood where I intend it to hit, as opposed to if I would rotate with my arms. This is only my experience, and I chop wood roughly once a year.
 

ali

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I'm starting the rop soonish. Wood chopping is going to be my one of my variety days! Out sawing a felled tree today in the woods.....yes, fresh air surrounded by autumnal colours, manual work, something in it for sure. I have a long list of physical and varied activities to do out with my dog.....sawing trees is my new one, my dog just sits there quite happy chewing sticks. All in all, a very pleasant pastime!
 

Matts

More than 300 posts
I love to split wood. It really puts me in a great state of mind, and seems completely effortless when it's going well. Being on this forum, I thought about it as sort of a reverse swing, in the way the hips/abs work. As for technique, set the ax on the log with a straight lower arm (hand nearest the base of the ax) to give an aiming point, then rotate shoulders towards the top hand side (starting with that hand close to the head), then slide the upper hand down, get balance at the top, and snap hips back hard and fast. Try to keep the lower arm straight to maximize the arc/speed. That makes the top-hand shoulder move a little outwards as you descend, but not much. Keep the hands, shoulders, and arms relaxed except for what you need to grip and provide counterforce for balance.

When striking, don't pay attention to the target or worry about precision- you want to go right through to the stump. If you miss, practice lining it up better at the start. As for handedness, like golf and batting, it's more dependent your legs- most people have a "pivot" leg that they naturally are more comfortable setting the hip, for instance when kicking a ball. The pivot foot should be on the same side as the lower hand. If you can do it well both ways, more power to you. As Harald said, you'll be very warm this winter!
 

ali

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Thanks Matts. Very therapeutic isn't it? Earthy and the axe makes you focus on not chopping off your toes. I've not attempted an opposite stance yet, think I will try soon though. Those get ups hopefully have primed me well. Are you an axe man or a maul man for splitting?
 

Matts

More than 300 posts
Ali, I learned with axes, and like them better, but have to admit I've been using a Council Tool 6lb Maul the last couple years. I sharpen it by hand, and it really pops the wood.
 
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