A wood stove is such a wonderful thing to have.  I grew up with one, and when I lived in apartments, I really missed it.  There is nothing like having your home warmed by a crackling fire.  Sitting down in front of a fire with a warm cup of tea and a good book is one of the greatest things in life (I think).  But to have this you need wood.  And lots of it.

Not only wood, you need DRY wood.  Last winter my parents did not prepare well and half way through the season they ran out of wood.  They had to go into the woods and buck up fallen trees which were still wet.  It is very difficult (although Not impossible) to start a fire with wet wood.  And once you get it going, you better not let it go out!  Treat those coals like your very own children.

So if you have dry firewood, you need to take care of it.

It needs to be stored in a dry location. If you can’t put it under a roof, a very good (waterproof) tarp will work fine.

Stack your firewood. Some people will leave it in a messy pile.  This is a mistake for three reasons.  One: the pieces are unstable and when you remove one, another may fall and injure you.  Two: although in theory your wood is dry, there may still be wet pieces.  Staking them makes it easier for them to dry completely.  And Three: it’s easier to cover and takes up less room.

Your chopping block should be large, solid and squarely seated on the ground. Place it on flat ground with a minimum of five feet on all sides.  You need plenty of space to swing your axe, and for flying pieces of wood.

You need an axe and a maul. If your wood doesn’t have too many knots, and isn’t extremely hard, your axe should do all the work.  However, this ideal kind of wood rarely makes up your entire cord or two, so be prepared with a maul for those harder to chop pieces.

When getting ready to chop a piece of wood, place it in the center of your chopping block.  Be sure it does not wobble. You may need to shift it around, or flip it over until it sits straight.

Stand an axe length away from your chopping block.

• Clear the ground around your feet so you have a solid place to stand.

• Place your feet shoulder width apart for the best stability.

• Grab your axe with your right hand near the head and your left hand about two inches from the heel of the handle. (If you are lefthanded, reverse the hand positions)

Bring the axe straight up, DO NOT bring back over your head.

• Focus on a spot on your chosen piece of wood. You should always try to chop the wood with the grain.  If you have a larger piece of wood, aim for one of the corners. Remove the four corners, then chop the center in half.  Aiming for the corners is also a good way to chop smaller pieces for kindling.

Bend your knees and swing in a smooth arc.  As you swing, let your right hand slide down the handle to meet with your left hand. Do not use your arms for power.  Put all your weight behind your swing.  The let out a loud grunt (I’m serious, this actually helps.)

Repeat above steps. Before each swing readjust your feet.  Be sure you are always stable.

When chopping wood you must always keep your focus.  If you do it correctly, you will be fine, but if an accident happens it may be serious.  Steve has had a few close calls in his day.  One time he was lucky and the axe stuck in his boot, right between his toes.  Another time he sliced the side of his calf.  I have never hit myself with the axe, but I have had many pieces of wood fly off the chopping block and hit my feet, legs and hands.

Be Careful!!  and have fun…it’s a great way to get out aggression and it’s a good workout!