or wood chopping
is a sport that has been around for hundreds of years in several cultures. In wood chopping competitions, skilled contestants attempt to be the first to cut or saw through a log or other block of wood. It is often held at state fair
A state fair is a competitive and recreational gathering of a U.S. state's population. It is a larger version of a county fair, often including only exhibits or competitors that have won in their categories at the more-local county fairs....
s and agricultural show
An agricultural show is a public event showcasing the equipment, animals, sports and recreation associated with agriculture and animal husbandry. The largest comprise a livestock show , a trade fair, competitions, and entertainment...
Areas of practice
Wood chopping is practiced in regions where forestry is or has been an important part of the economy:
- In North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...
: in Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...
and in the north of the United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
- In Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...
: in Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...
, the Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...
, the Alpine region of France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...
, the Basque Country
The Basque Country is the name given to the home of the Basque people in the western Pyrenees that spans the border between France and Spain on the Atlantic coast....
, other parts of Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...
(mainly in Asturias
The Principality of Asturias is an autonomous community of the Kingdom of Spain, coextensive with the former Kingdom of Asturias in the Middle Ages...
Cantabria is a Spanish historical region and autonomous community with Santander as its capital city. It is bordered on the east by the Basque Autonomous Community , on the south by Castile and León , on the west by the Principality of Asturias, and on the north by the Cantabrian Sea.Cantabria...
, but also in Castile
A former kingdom, Castile gradually merged with its neighbours to become the Crown of Castile and later the Kingdom of Spain when united with the Crown of Aragon and the Kingdom of Navarre...
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...
- In Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...
and New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...
Many wood chopping events are handicap
Handicapping, in sport and games, is the practice of assigning advantage through scoring compensation or other advantage given to different contestants to equalize the chances of winning. The word also applies to the various methods by which the advantage is calculated...
events, where the axemen start at different times, depending on how fast they are expected to chop through the log. In New Zealand and parts of Australia, each axeman's individual handicap is recorded in performance books which are graded on how many events they win and how many events they enter. Championship events are scratch events with no handicap, and typically use larger diameter logs (375 mm).
Handicap events may use logs of 250 mm to 350 mm, depending on the skill of the competitors. All competitors have the same size log, the handicap is based purely on time.
This event is done by an individual cutting a scarf
A scarf is a piece of fabric worn around the neck, or near the head or around the waist for warmth, cleanliness, fashion or for religious reasons. They can come in a variety of different colours.-History:...
in one side. Once the first side has been completed the individual starts cutting another scarf on the opposite side, slightly higher than the first, generally about two inches higher but can vary with each axeman’s individual preference.
This event is when the axeman stands on the top of the log and uses a downwards motion to chop the log in two as fast as possible. This is done by cutting a scarf in the front side and then turning around on the block and completing it from the other side. These scarfs are generally offset from each other, the degree of offset depending on the size of the log and the axeman’s preference.
In this event the axeman cuts a small pocket in the side of a pole and jams a wooden jigger board with a metal shoe on the end of it into the hole. The shoe is designed to grip into the wood when pressure is put on it from the top. After the axeman has climbed on to his first board he then cuts another pocket. Once up on his second board he proceeds to cut the block on the top of the pole. This event goes up to three boards high. The axeman goes up one side of the pole and cuts their first scarf in the side of the block. Then the axeman comes down and repeats this on the other side of pole. This event is seen as the marathon event of wood chopping and it typically lasts three to five minutes. In the spring board the axeman only goes up two boards high. In this event the axeman makes a large scarf in the front of the log unlike on the ground where it is usually half and half. The axeman then turns around on the top board and chops through the block using downwards blows only. This event lasts 50 to 80 seconds, much less than the jigger board.
Single saw or single buck
This event is often considered the hardest discipline in wood chopping. The competitor pulls and pushes a razor sharp saw specifically designed for the event. The saws vary in length from five foot six inches to six foot four inches. The saws cost between $1500 and $2000.
Double saw or double buck
This event consists of two people pulling and pushing a saw to cut a log. It is far faster than the single saw event as there are two people using the saw yet times for this event can be 2 or 3 times faster in the same size wood. The saws used in double tend to be a lot hungrier, that is, they cut and draw more wood out with each stroke. This, however, makes it far harder to push and pull the saw.
In this event the axemen use identically tuned and sharpened chainsaws to cut through a log, once downwards and once upwards, within a 3 inch space of wood. The competitor starts with their hands on top of the log. On a buzzer the axeman picks up the saw and pulls the starting cord and then makes his first cut downward, then his second cut upward. If the saw does not start that is just bad luck and they get a slow time. If the axeman takes over more than the allocated wood then they are disqualified and no time is recorded.
This event is often the crowd favourite and certainly the loudest. It uses a large homemade methanol-run chainsaw. The saws used by top competitors are typically snowmobile engines cut in half and are far heavier than regular chainsaws. The start for this event is exactly the same as the stock saw except the log is bigger and the axeman has to do three cuts: the first in a downwards motion, the second upwards, and the third down. This event is the fastest by far, lasting between 5 and 7 seconds.
- Axes are the main piece of equipment used in the sport of wood chopping. As there are many different types of wood, there are naturally a large variety of axes.
- Purpose-built racing saws have developed over the years into two different types – the Peg and Raker saw and the 'm tooth' saw. There are a number of different suppliers of gear that sell to the select market of wood choppers. Some of these vendors are Tuatahi Racing Axes and Saws, Jp Mercier, and Aussie Speed Axes.
Different types of woods
Many different types of wood are used in the sport and they vary between countries. Common woods used in competition in Australia are gum, mountain ash, woolley butt and poplar. The most common woods cut in New Zealand are radiata pine (Pinus radiata
), poplar and Pinus strobus
. Woods cut in America include white pine, alder, aspen frozen wood and cotton wood.
The Basque Country
The sport is called aizkolaritza
Basque is the ancestral language of the Basque people, who inhabit the Basque Country, a region spanning an area in northeastern Spain and southwestern France. It is spoken by 25.7% of Basques in all territories...
"wood-chopper". The sport is very popular and competitions are common at most festivals.
The town of Arsichofa is known for their expertise in wood chopping. They have won three national championships in Canada; their champion wood choppers are Sam Helyar and Justin Yun.
New Zealand is a leading country in the sport of wood chopping, currently having the world's top two competitors, Jason Wynyard and David Bolstad
David Kelvin Bolstad was a New Zealand representative woodchopper. He was STIHL Timbersports Series champion five times between 2001 and 2008. His father Sonny Bolstad was also a New Zealand representative axeman. David Bolstad died suddenly in 2011 after winning a competition in the town of...
(Died 19/11/2011). Competitions are generally held at A & P shows, but there are also shows dedicated to wood chopping.
Australia is also home to some of the best axemen in the world. They have very large shows that run for up to 10 days with over 100 competitors at each show. These shows are often run within country and agricultural shows.
Following the revival of the sport in late 2000's, due to Alex Manshaw's public displays of textbook chopping, the sport has seen a rise in popularity. Various tournaments have taken place in London and the annual national championship in Cobham
- Towns or districts :* Cobham, Kent, England* Cobham, Surrey, England* Cobham, Virginia , multiple places- Other place names :* Cobham Intermediate School* Cobham Sports and Social Club...