Kids and Young Adults: If you are under 18 I need to talk to your parents if you’re going to submit to the challenge. 18 is the legal age of adulthood in my country and I don’t want anyone’s parents thinking I’m responsible for encouraging their offspring to undertake a dangerous activity. Before you leave comments, submit pictures, etc., have them contact me through the contact tab on this website.
No Pressure: In conclusion, consider taking on such a challenge thoughtfully. I don’t want to discourage people in general, obviously I think it’s overall a good idea for a certain type of person at a certain level of skill, and believe there are many potential rewards. For people at any level that are on the fence, planning to spend a year warming up and getting gear together in a feeling out process is probably a great way to go. After all, you may not know if you like the work or not. Fixing up an old axe or tuning up a new one, learning to sharpen, and w chopping are a lot to take on for a first season. If you end up with a quarter cord or more this year, you are welcome to submit your entry. I just don’t want anyone making commitments they can’t keep. You can simply let me know that you are thinking about doing the challenge, or just tell me when you are part way through, or even when you’re finished. I’m good with whatever as long as you aren’t getting yourself into something that you will regret, or that will put you under an unsafe degree pressure. Whatever the case, you can leave comments to that effect on this page.
Saws: I’m making one single exception for saws, which is making the back cut when needed for safety reasons. You can’t really wedge a back cut made with an axe, so making a back cut with a saw opens new possibilities for wedging trees in the direction you want them to go, which may be needed for safety or to prevent hang ups or damage to other trees. Most of the time you won’t need to and you’ll get little enough experience making felling cuts as it is, so don’t use this out if you don’t need it. I have never used it. On the other hand, certainly DO use it if it seems necessary for your safety or might prevent the damage or death of important adjoining trees! Otherwise, NO SAWS, that’s the whole point.
Mauls and Splitting: You may use splitting mauls for splitting the wood, but I would very strongly encourage you to use whatever axe you fell and buck with as much as possible. You might be surprised what you can pull off with good aim, technique and strategy. I do all of my splitting with whatever axe I’m using for the other processes involved. If I can’t split it but it fits in the stove, I leave it as an “overnighter” log, which I actually have a shortage of this year. If it needs to be split and the axe is not enough, I chop out a couple of rough wooden wedges on the spot and use those. Tim of Oxbow Farms was skeptical that he could split the wood with an axe, but encouraged him to keep at it and after trying the golf swing method for a while, he’s a convert. You can do whatever you want, but you will learn a lot if you really stick with your axe and concentrate on your aim and technique.
Achievement levels: The levels are 1/4 cord, 1/2 cord, or 1 full cord, or more. 1/4 cord gets recognition and your picture or video featured in a video and web page. 1/2 cord and up gets a merit badge that I make from leather which I tan here on the homestead. It’s sort of like the boyscout merit badge for accomplishing something, but way cooler! I’m still working out the details on that, but the prototype looks pretty cool. 1 cord gets the badge plus a pocket axe strop. You can watch the making of the strops in my video series following that entire process. They are made entirely from scratch from materials gathered here. Clearly for anyone surpassing a cord that is a reward in itself,
Deadline is June 1st 2017: If you live in the southern hemisphere, contact me and will figure something out. I honestly haven't given much thought to how to deal with that problem. Suggestions welcomed.
Send me pictures of you with your finished stacks of wood or post a video and write as much as you want about the experience or not. I’d love to hear about your experience and I’m sure others considering the challenge in the future would as well. Be sure to include the axe or axes you used. If you make a video and don’t have a way to post it, we can work out a way to get the footage to me so I can edit it into another video or post it on my channel.
Tim @ oxbow farms youtube channel has already finished a full cord and is thinking about doing a second cord because he’s having so much fun and learning so much. Watch his cordwood challenge playlist.
hub I have an official page that is the Hub for the project. Please leave all relevant declarations related to the cordwood challenge there rather than on any of my youtube videos.
Resources: I can only offer so much support on technical advice like felling and gear, due to limitations of time and energy as well as qualification in many cases. Please avail yourself of whatever information is out there on axes, chopping, felling trees, forestry, etc., but be critical. A list of resources appears below. Even though I feel I’m not the best person to do it, I’ll be making some videos on axe use and safety in support of the project. Hopefully some of those will be out sooner than later. I can’t completely endorse anything as entirely accurate, “correct” and relevant, these seem to be some good sources of information. I would recommend consuming all of them.
Mors Kochanski, Bushcraft Excellent book all around and great axe use and safety stuff. A must read.
Dudley Cook, The Axe Book And outstanding work focused on using axes for firewood processing. Another must read.
Peter McClaren’s Axe Manual Read free online. Somehow I just discovered this book, so I haven’t even read it yet, but it looks potentially amazing.
Bernard S. Mason Woodsmanship A great old book with considerable detailed axe information. Download it here for free
Woodcraft and Camping, E. H. Kreps Download free:
An Axe to Grind Government manual on axe use, maintenance and safety download free
Best Axe Use and Safety Videos Playlist Some great stuff in here all around and a few exemplary examples of axemanship!
Cordwood Challenge Playlist. Any supportive videos I make on axe use and safety will go in here.
Websites, Forums Etc: There are no forums of discussion type groups I know of that are solely or primarily focused on working axes. If you know of one, please let me know.
AxeConnected The Vido's axe website. Infrequently updated, but deep insightful content from long time axe users.
Facebook's Axe Junkies Over 20,000 members strong. Axe Junkiest seems to be the hub of internet axe culture Lots of advice available on restoring, handles, sharpening and such, and there are a lot of knowledgeable members that will sometimes comment on practical questions.
Reddit's AxeCraft Not a lot on practical application, but again some experienced knowledgeable members. I've had some good conversations there.
Have fun and try to stay safe!