New Video — Chopping Wood (No. 8)

IMG_20171222_151248166.jpgWe’ve posted a new video outlining our wood-chopping techniques designed to save your energy and joints. This winter we’ll go through about a cord of wood (a cord measures 4 × 4 × 8 ft), all of it split by hand from large-diameter oak rounds. The video discusses the difference between splitting with a maul and an axe. Much of the techniques are informed by Japanese swordwork. Please subscribe to our YouTube Channel!

IMG_20171222_152551244.jpgI would like to add a note about breathing. Chopping wood can be a meditative as well as cardiovascular experience. I find I often get “in the zone” while chopping wood, and as I fully concentrate on what I’m doing, time passes quickly. This pscychological state has been recognized since the 1990s in western academia and generations in eastern traditions. I can bring this state about more quickly if I link my breathing to my actions: comfortable deep breath in while the ax rises followed by an exhalation on the downswing. I forgot to mention the importance of breathing in the video.

The sustainability community is engaged in a lively debate as to whether or not wood heating is ecologically sound. On the one hand, wood is renewable when harvested responsibly. It has embodied carbon that is released when burned, but that carbon would be put back into the environment when it decomposes anyway (although about a third of the carbon stays in the soil when wood is allowed to rot). Burning wood can release particulate matter into the immediate environment, leading to respiratory problems. Out in the country, though, wood is a reasonable fuel for a back-up heating system, as furnaces and other systems can sometimes break down.


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