What is Wood Chopping?
Wood chopping is an exciting sport in which competitors attempt to cut a log or another type of wood. Competitors are known as axemen. Wood chopping has many variations, and competitions can be done to test speed or endurance of axemen. This sport effectively combines strength, speed, and cardio that can benefit any athlete looking for a good workout.
Wood chopping’s origins were in 1870 in Ulverstone, Tasmania. This sport came to life because of two axemen that wanted to see which of them could cut down a tree first. The first ever confirmed record of a wood chopping match occurred in 1872. It was a competition to see who could down a 3 foot 6 inch diameter swamp gum tree. The first open chopping match was in 1877 and there were over 600 people in attendance.
In competition, axemen chop a wooden log, which is placed on top of a second wooden log. However, this second wooden log is not allowed to be used for personal use in the competition. This includes axemen testing their saws on the playing surface log. The logs are measured by diameter and only certain diameter lengths are approved for competition. The specific length varies depending on what the competition is
Wood Chopping Equipment
In the sport of wood chopping, there is one vital piece of equipment needed in order to be successful. A powerful axe that can cut through even the toughest of trees or lumber. A wood chopping axe usually weighs around 7 pounds and the blade is around 8 inches wide. There are several types of saws that all have different uses in competition.
Here is the essential Wood Chopping equipment you should have:
- American Pattern Kindling Axe: Has a smaller blade for more control. It makes it easy to cleave small pieces of wood.
- Maul: This is a mix between an axe and a sledgehammer. It’s heavier with a wider head, which makes it easier to cut through larger logs.
- Straight-edged Billhook: The perfect axe for splitting wood. Can also be used for a variety of other wood chopping jobs.
Wood chopping is designed to help train the human body’s muscular development. This is performed through a regimen of exercises combined with healthy nutrition to produce the best results in competition. During a competition, the goal of an axemen is to chop as many logs of lumber as possible in the given time frame. Competitors' speed and skill are also put to the test to see who wins.
Rules and Regulations
The first main rule of wood chopping is that an axeman is not allowed to start using their saw before the match begins. This will lead to automatic disqualification. During the match competitors must have to pin their axes with at least 3 mm pin length. It should protrude continuously through the head of the axe and handle. Another rule that axemen must follow is that they can’t touch any part of the chopped scarf with their hands.
Just like in any other sport, it’s important to prepare for what the competition will be like. Professional wood choppers practice their craft daily for hours to be ready for competition. When practicing, using a big stump as a chopping surface makes practicing more “game-like”. When stacking wood, using a crisscrossing technique, which is alternating wood between vertical and horizontal directions, creates a stable woodpile.
Here is the common lingo and slang in wood chopping:
- Chatter Marks: Bumpy surfaced lumber or wood.
- End Check: Separation of the wood fibers at the end of a wooden board
- Grain: The lengthened pattern of wooden fibers across a wooden board.
- Heartwood: The central supporting system of a tree trunk. It consists of matured wood meaning that it is done growing.
- Kerf: The path that a saw makes in the cutting process.
- Wane: When bark is on the edge/corner of a piece of lumber.
Laurence O’Toole is a seven-time winner of the annual Easter woodchop competition in Sydney, Australia. This competition is widely thought of as the wood chopping world championships. O’Toole notes that having a strong and stable core, hips, and back leads to good performance. Jason Wynward is a 9x Individual World Champion from New Zealand. He is also a 5x winner of the Australian National Championships.
Events and Competitions
A wood chopping competition has many different variations. A competition can be to measure an axeman’s speed or power. Usually, big crowds will gather to watch and cheer for their favorite axeman. During competitions, axes have a thinner edge. This is because if a competitor hits a dense pine knot, it could potentially take a dime-size chunk out of the edge.
Here are the most popular tournaments in wood chopping:
- Easter Woodchop: This event takes place in Sydney, Australia for over 100 years. It usually takes place in the second or third week of April during every calendar year.
- Lumberjack World Championships: The Lumberjack World Championships have been taking place in Hayward, Wisconsin since 1960. The event features chopping, sawing, speed-climbing, and logrolling.
- STIHL Timbersports World Championships: Located in Prague, Czech Republic, this event occurs every year. There are team competitions as well as individual events. There are over 100 athletes competing from 20 different countries.
What axe should you use?
There are two main types of axes. There is a short handled chopping axe and a hatchet. These two tools provide enough force and accuracy to break small logs, and have enough speed and power to split a larger lump of wood.
Where do you place a log when chopping wood?
The log needs to be on a sturdy and level surface. Then, the log should sit at about waist height. The lower the log is placed, the more you are bending your back. This causes a power loss and can also be a risk of injury.
What’s the best way to wield an axe?
Grip the axe with one hand toward the head of the axe. The other hand should be at the end of the handle. For most people, their strongest hand is at the head end. When swinging the axe, avoid tensing up so you don’t lose any power.
What is a grenade in wood chopping?
A grenade is also referred to as a splitting wedge. It is a lump of metal brought to a sharp point. It’s useful for splitting a large portion of a tree or breaking more stubborn logs that have a tougher resistance.