Everyone fancies themselves as a wood chopper. However when you are out in the wilderness it pays to ensure that limbs stay intact...
There is just something about picking up an axe and chopping wood that gives incredible satisfaction.
If it’s a cold day not only do you get the heat from the wood when you burn it, you also get warmed up nicely from the exercise of chopping it!
Statistically though, using an axe is a hazardous activity and the injuries can be nasty. And if you are using an axe at a back-country hut, help is going to be a long time coming if you have an accident. On that note here are some tips to keep you a bit safer:
1) ALWAYS wear boots
2) Chop wood on arrival at the hut, that way you won’t be tempted to do it without your boots on, i.e. once you have sat down with a cup of tea and put your jandals on!
3) Use a stable chopping block
4) Check axe first, no cracks in handle
5) Now for the swing – let the axe do the work, the downward stroke should be propelled almost entirely by the weight of the axe not your muscle!
6) It is more efficient to raise the axe in an arc like fashion, rather than straight up and straight down
7) Fix your eyes on the wood at the point you want the axe to hit it
8) Now remember, you want the front tip of the axe head to make contact with your wood first, so visualise that axe coming down in an arc with the tip of the head on target and adjust your stance accordingly
9) If you have a piece of wood with a knot in it, aim to hit the wood at the centre of the knot and it should split around the knot, but if it is a real tough one the axe may just bounce off it so be ready! Alternatively just throw this bit of wood back in the pile and grab another one!
10) When chopping kindling, get down on one knee, less chance of axe hitting you in the shin – ouch!
11) Be aware -axes supplied at huts generally have a handle made out of steel pipe, which makes them unbreakable but horrible to use, there is no flex in the handle so they tend to jar the user quite a bit. If it’s a cold frosty morning your hands might even stick to it – which can also be painful.
Please note - I am not a male chauvinist but I have observed that its always blokes that rush out and want to chop wood. Is it that very few ladies have the necessary strength and coordination to use an axe safely? If so I am sure there are plenty of exceptions! So ladies, rather than try to prove a point, get a man to chop the wood if you want, it’s nice for us to think there are still some things we can do that women can’t!
Hiking New Zealand and Active Earth New Zealand are all about taking small groups hiking and trekking around New Zealand. We get off the beaten track to many places in National Parks that no other companies (and few individuals) ever get to. Sometimes we stay in simple lodges with good facilities, but more often we sleep in mountain huts or bush-camp far away from civilisation.