wood chopping 101


I am now a firm believer that every woman should chop down a tree at least once in her life. Talk about empowerment.image

Nothing as satisfying as hearing that crack in the middle of the log, right before it splits in half. Ok, I can think of few things, but you are just being petty.

Meet Max.image_7

You know? Max, the axe.

Don’t you name your tools? What about your TOOLS?


Just me then.

We are at a friend’s house. “Hey, quick question.” I email him earlier in the week. “Can I come over and chop down some trees?”. Yes, my friends receive the strangest emails. The most beautiful thing is that most of them do not even blink.

“Totally”, he says.

When I finally show up, he nods at me. “I’ve been warning trees all day”.

Before coming here I actually Google “how to hold axe” at home. [One day, my computer will be seized and the search history will be used against me in a conviction for crimes against humanity.] Countless websites come up, demonstrating how achieve a spiked up look with Axe hair spray. Yes. That’s exactly what meant.

Italian shows me proper form. Wide stance. Firm grip. Over head and down. Couple of logs are destroyed in the name of education. I’m mesmerized.

There is something alluring about a man who knows his way around an axe. (Excellent, I have just popped up on the radar of every axe murderer out there.] The chips are flying in all directions. Given his experience in forestry, something tells me this is harder than he makes it look.

Finally, he passes the axe. I sigh. The prospect of just watching him chop for the rest of the evening was kind of tempting.

I pick the thickest log I can find (overachiever much?), and start chopping through it. After going through a couple of inches of tree flesh, I rotate it and keep going. Few minutes later, I have something that resembles a giant apple core.


Ugh. Now what? It seems that each swing brings me no closer to actually splitting the damn thing. I’m frustrated. “It’s a brainfuck”, I complain to Italian, who’s sipping on a beer and seems quite content. “It’s a log”, he reminds me calmly. Best lesson of the day. I may need to remember that multiple times during the Death Race.

It’s a log.
It’s a river.
It’s a mountain.

Zen, motherfucker. Zen.

Meanwhile, the log still looks like a tortured apple core eaten by a beaver with an orthodontic problem.

“Stop taking little Noah swings, and chop like a freaking adult!”, Italian says. Noah is his nephew. He is 10. So in this context, it’s not a compliment.

I take a breath, and with my best kettlebell swing form, let the axe land at the very centre of the apple core. It neatly splits in half. Apple core no more. I am triumphant.


1. Focus.

2. Find a man who knows what he’s doing.

3. You can’t muscle through the wood, you have to let the axe do the work for you

4. If you lose patience, you will lose a leg. Or at least a finger. Take a breather, then resume with good form.

5. Do not hold the axe with the death grip. Squeezing it tight will do nothing for your end result. Firm, but relaxed grip is all you need.

For best effect, I also suggest the following:

  • Pick another favorite recreational activity.
  • Select a (completely arbitrary) body part, and insert it into the tips above, instead of the word “axe”.


You are welcome.image_9

Signing off,

Posted June 13, 2013

5 responses to “wood chopping 101”

  1. tormuse says:

    I can identify with this post because several years ago, I was at a cottage that had a wood-burning stove. There was plenty of pre-cut wood available, but I wanted to try my hand with an axe “just for fun.” 🙂 The difference is my axe wasn’t as nice as yours and I didn’t have an experienced woodsman offering advice. The best advice I got at the time was from my then girlfriend who suggested I be careful not to accidentally chop off my foot. (I know it’s good advice because she’s a paramedic!) 🙂

    Anyway, after about a million little Noah swings, I was exhausted, but I finally cut all the way through. After that, I stuck with the pre-cut wood, lesson learned. 😛

    • Solo says:

      Haha, oh man – that WAS good advice. 🙂 I realized that once you get the technique down, it’s actually not that bad – you gotta let the axe do the work, so to speak. 🙂

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