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2019 Axe Cordwood Challenge

Discussion in 'Firewood, Heating and Wood Burning Equipment' started by Multifaceted, Jan 19, 2019.

  1. Multifaceted

    Multifaceted Firewood Hoarder, Axe Enthusiast

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    Nearly three months after my surgery, I decided to take up the axes and start the ACWC again since my injury put a swift end to my completion last year. This year, I am determined to complete the challenge, and it will be more of a challenge for me due to my recovering knee. Stay safe and happy chopping!

    Here's a pic of the aftermath, video to follow:
    [​IMG]

    Here are the rules:
     
  2. Multifaceted

    Multifaceted Firewood Hoarder, Axe Enthusiast

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    As promised, here is the compiled and edited video footage I took from yesterday's efforts. Just one ash tree, but it's a start, and frankly — a pretty good start!

     
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  3. H-Ranch

    H-Ranch ArboristSite Guru

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    Good to see you're getting around with your new knee. Admittedly, I fast forwarded through most of the video, but saw enough to see you swinging with your brace on. Pretty soon you'll be able to go without that.

    I see he has 2 categories now: fellers challenge and buckers challenge. If he would only add the splitters challenge I would qualify as I easily get several cords a year split by hand! (A lot of us here would qualify for that.) Maybe defeats the purpose of the challenge...
     
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  4. Multifaceted

    Multifaceted Firewood Hoarder, Axe Enthusiast

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    Yeah, it was a long video, I know.... this was my first attempt at editing footage of this nature, so next time I'll probably shorten it up. Most of the other ACWC videos can be a little long too, typically those who view or sub to ax swinging or related videos are watching techniques and the effectiveness of the chops, so I figured I'd include that in my content for either praise or critique.

    I've actually had the brace off and walking freely for about 2 months now. I only wear it while working outside as an added safety precaution. Walking around on wet, muddy, and snowy ground can be uneven or slippery, the brace just gives me added stability and rigidness on that leg if something were to happen. This level of activity has been approved by both my PT and surgeon :) — but for now, only if it is on mostly flat ground. Uneven terrain (like in the bush) will come with time as my strength returns and the graft is fully integrated with my body. Fortunately, I have at least 4-5 small to medium sized trees than are easily accessible by me on flat ground, so they can keep me busy until my recovery progresses.

    I understand what you're saying, though splitting with an ax is certainly not as strenuous nor does it require as much skill as felling, limbing, and most importantly - bucking with an ax. The majority of this challenge is bucking. Having a properly ground ax and good technique is the difference between an efficient worker and calling it quits due to exhaustion. These are dead skills, long replaced by crosscut saws and power equipment. A lot of people think this challenge, or using axes for anything other than splitting is stupid. Often, when I tell others about this, they look at me as if I had two heads...

    As someone who splits all of my wood with an ax (not a maul), I am in your camp sharing that sense of pride of executing a laborious task by hand. You know, the minimum requirement for this challenge is a 8' long by 4' tall rick. The length of the cuts doesn't matter, so for most that's a half cord - easily doable if your willing and able. Who has time for this? I really don't either, but I want to make the time for it. With this challenge and these skills, you either get it, or you don't. It's definitely not for everyone.

    I am eager to get back out there today, but the rain on top of the snow we had yesterday is very slippery with the overnight freeze, and the wind is blowing very hard right now. I'll probably go into the shop and work on a few projects instead, right after I tend to the wood stove.
     
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  5. LondonNeil

    LondonNeil Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Likewise a splitting only challenge I could enjoy personally. All my wood comes from a tree service so no felling and not loads of bucking for me to do. Splitting only isn't the same challenge though I can see. Tbh, splitting axe cut rounds looks hard and dangerous! I'll stick to saw cut, a block and the x27..... And live vicariously, admiring your efforts!
     
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  6. Trapper_Pete

    Trapper_Pete ArboristSite Operative

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    seems like a lot in chip is wasted bucking with an axe
     
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  7. Multifaceted

    Multifaceted Firewood Hoarder, Axe Enthusiast

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    It's not as much as you might think, maybe enough to fill up a 5 gal bucket or the same weight as 2-3 average splits. I'll rake it up after the ground dries up a little better. The chips make great kindling.

    Check this video or on that very topic:
     
  8. DSW

    DSW ArboristSite Guru

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    I'd be interested if I had a good axe. Bucking would be slow but it wouldn't be the end of the world.
     
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  9. Multifaceted

    Multifaceted Firewood Hoarder, Axe Enthusiast

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    Heck, even a cheap axe with a proper grind will perform just as well as an expensive premium axe. I mean, it's literally a sharp piece of steel attached to a stick. Bucking, while the majority of the work when processing firewood with an axe, it can go fairly quickly and efficiently with good technique. That's the whole point of the challenge, to refine these skills.... If that's your thing :)
     
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  10. Trapper_Pete

    Trapper_Pete ArboristSite Operative

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    I cut a bunch of wood with an axe/ hatchet when I was a kid , we would go camping and grandpa had a half hatchet or some call it a carpenters hatchet hammer pole on one side blade on the other . I might have had a bit of ADHD the inability to sit still just give him a hatchet tell him it has to be dead or down and turn the kid loose in the woods.
    at some point I was able to pack my dad's ax a 36" plumb 3 1/2 pound Michigan pattern I still have that ax and use it.

    one year I though I hit pay dirt with the drift wood all sorts of it shoved far up on shore by some storm and nice and dry through , but man was that hard wood.

    about the time I packed the full ax I of course thought I could buck 16 inch in diameter logs then found out they were really to wet to burn decent.

    I wonder if that was the reasoning behind the "boys Ax" give the kid an ax and a pocket knife as soon as he is old enough and challenge him to go find fire wood like the **** of the past.
     
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  11. Multifaceted

    Multifaceted Firewood Hoarder, Axe Enthusiast

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    No doubt, dead wood can someone be so dry it is incredibly hard. The ash I was chopping in my video was along those lines, though not the hardest I've cut.

    I've always interpreted the boys axe as in between a hatchet and a full sized axe, hence "boys axe". Kind of like a hand-and-a-half sword was called a "bastard sword"; not quite a greatsword, but larger and heavier than a long sword.
     
  12. Trapper_Pete

    Trapper_Pete ArboristSite Operative

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    most certainly a between ax between hatchet and full with a 2 to 2 1/2 pound head and 20-24 inch handle.


    it seemed there was a boys rifle , a boys ax , every kid had a pocket knife probably more things than that , if dad had one likely the boy had one also.

    I remember having a light claw hammer maybe 15-16 oz and a half a 6 foot folding ruler and a nail apron. I was probably about 6-7 when they started letting me go on the roof and shingle during roofing parties.
     
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  13. Multifaceted

    Multifaceted Firewood Hoarder, Axe Enthusiast

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    Light axes and/or boys class axes are some of my preferred types to use. In my video I used a 2kg (4.4 lb) Basque axe on a 23" haft, then for the majority of the work I used a Kelly 2.5 lb double bit cruiser on a 28" haft. Another favorite of mine is a restored Hults Bruk single bit 2.25 lb on a 28" haft. Light axes lend more acceleration, though heavier axes apply greater force in certain situations. There's an axe for every job.
     
  14. James Miller

    James Miller Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I'd be interested in giving this a try. Need to learn how to sharpen and rehang the old craftsman that's been sitting in the corner forever first.
     
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  15. Multifaceted

    Multifaceted Firewood Hoarder, Axe Enthusiast

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    See page. 29 in this pamphlet (PDF warning):

    http://www.bchmt.org/documents/education/AnAxetoGrind.pdf

    Here's the accompanying video series:

    I prefer to use mostly a double-cut/single-cut bastard mill file to work the taper and angle of grind. The double cut removes a lot of stock, the single cut cuts smoother and is great for getting up close to the edge. Use the reflection of your cuts as a guide while you file.

    Lowes sells decent files of this type: https://www.lowes.com/pd/Kobalt-8-in-File/4326447

    I would avoid newer Nicholson files as they are not as aggressive and tend to skate over even some of the softer hardened steels.

    PM me if you want some pointers or have questions, I'm relatively local to you.
     
  16. DSW

    DSW ArboristSite Guru

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    I don't have any chopping axe.

    Few years back my buddy picked up a head, I put it on a handle I personally carved, it was very rough, used it for a while, got in a pinch and was using it as a wedge one day and it split.

    Had a cheap fiberglass axe, handle actually felt good but it broke, head was dull, was going to add a wooden handle and try to make it sharp but ended up losing it.

    I've got two Estwing hatchets and a Fiskars splitting axe right now. I've fell one tree each with them in the last year but bucked with a saw.

    I'd like to have a Basque or a Gransfors in 28-32 inches but we'll see.
     
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  17. bowtechmadman

    bowtechmadman Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Type of wood matter? Thinking it would be some pretty darn good core exercise to fell and buck...might just have to look for an appropriate axe. I would also need to learn how to keep an edge on one.
     
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  18. Multifaceted

    Multifaceted Firewood Hoarder, Axe Enthusiast

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    The Basque axes are superb tools. The short handles are a little odd at first, but they are exceptional for bucking.

    Nope, so long as it is wood. The main thing is to not use a saw of any sort. There is only one exception that rule and that is if you need to back cut and wedge to safely fall a tree in a certain direction, but otherwise - no saws allowed.

    It is great cardio and upper body exercise!
     
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  19. DSW

    DSW ArboristSite Guru

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    I'm in.

    I went ahead and ordered a Fiskars chopping axe. It's not a glamorous axe but Fiskars makes a good working product for a great price.

    I'll keep my eye out for something that I can put some work into myself. I've got Hickory out back and wouldn't mind doing some rough widdling. :)
     
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  20. Multifaceted

    Multifaceted Firewood Hoarder, Axe Enthusiast

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    That's awesome! Your Fiskars should work very well, it doesn't need to be glamorous — it's a tool, and should be used as such :)
     
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