Chopping Your Own Wood

When’s the last time you built a fire with wood you chopped yourself? It’s far more satisfying than likes on a Facebook post. Here’s why you might want to give it a try before the winter ends.

My picture with a touch of art from Prisma.

My picture with a touch of art from Prisma.

I had the axe, the wedge, and the sledgehammer. I slammed the axe down into the thick round log. It stuck, hard. No way it was coming out. So I started in with the sledge. A few good blows and the crack spread. My hopes rose, I slammed harder. 

Then the sledge’s handle snapped. 

It was old anyway. But now I had an axe deep in the wood, like an idea deep in a book, and I needed to get it out. I put the tools away and pulled off my gloves. No more time to deal with it this day.

Like any problem that’s hard to solve, I relegated it to the subconscious. A few days later I bought a new sledgehammer and let those inner workings out. This sledge held as it drove the axe through the first log. I whacked with the axe again, then the sledge.

Another piece split, now the round log was in quarters. My confidence rising, I put one of those quarters on the chopping block. I swung the axe hard again, and in one clean split the quarter became an eighth. No sledge needed. The sound was a swift crack. I was getting better at this.

After a half hour, I had a good stack and tired arms. My work was done for the day. I felt fantastic and ready to conquer the next challenge. Maybe I also felt great because chopping wood increases testosterone in males (it's a research study, not a pill ad...).

So if you know someone feeling down this winter, give them an idea: tried chopping any wood lately? Or doing any hard work with your hands? When you're stuck, sometimes you just need physical effort and tangible progress to show you the way forward.