A Guide to Choosing Wood and Wood Cutting Tools

A compendium of useful knowledge on wood cutting and wood cutting tools, including which wood's best, splitting tools, how to split wood, wood fuel value, wood splitability chart and wood cords and piles.

| September/October 1987

This wood-burning almanac has all you need to know about selecting wood, wood cutting and wood cutting tools. 

A Guide to Choosing Wood and Wood Cutting Tools

From the crash of a newly felled tree in the woods to the first weak fingers of flame in a newly lit fire back home; from the resounding hollow "whomp" of a maul busting rounds to the deep, radiant warmth of a roaring stove; from the fundamental security of a well-built woodpile to the pioneer's pride in working for your home's heat — wood burning offers a continually fulfilling sequence of basic rural pleasures.

Getting wood in is work, hard work, lots of work, sometimes dangerous work. Turning cords of standing timber into stove pans of ash is far more time- and labor-consuming than turning up a thermostat dial with your thumb and forefinger.

But for millions of Americans, the rewards far outweigh the effort expended. Consider: A wood-burning home has a true hearth, a center of warmth that pulls family and friends together during the cold winter months. The task of gathering wood is exercise with a purpose — each billet you heft will serve your family. Last, getting heat from trees directly connects you to the natural world, just as harvesting fresh corn connects the gardener and bagging a winter's worth of venison bonds the hunter.

Recently we at MOTHER got to read some wonderful testaments to the allure of wood burning. It happened when we sat down to judge the "Great Woodpile Contest" announced last fall (in MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 102). Oh, we'd expected that the dozens of entries we received would be varied-in fact, they included everything from a dome-stacked children's playhouse in British Columbia to a Minnesota yard containing 135 (!) stacked cords. But we were surprised by the deep affection often expressed by people for their hills and walls of cordwood.

The enthusiasm of these wood stackers inspired us to do some extra word stacking of our own. In their collective honor, we have created the following special section, "MOTHER's Wood-burning Almanac." These pages both announce the winners of our competition and share a four-cord pile of useful wood-burning lore — to help us all heat our homes for winters to come.

11/16/2007 7:09:42 PM

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