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By hand or by power: how do you cut your firewood?

Posted by on Friday 28 October 2011 in frugal, wood stuff | 2 comments

I’ve just taking advantage of another lovely autumn morning to cut some more wood for use over winter.

I was enjoying the sweet victory of finishing another log when I accidentally grazed the blade of the saw against my finger. It’s nothing – the hint of a graze, it drew red but not drops of blood – but it did make me grateful for the eleventeenth time that we use handsaws to slice the logs into stove size pieces.

John’s dad bought us a circular saw as a present last year – I believe it was ex-display or similar, so too good to be missed in his eyes – but we’ve not used it. John’s dad uses it when he’s working here (to save bringing his own) and I think John himself has used it once — but after his own handsaw/cut-hand incident a few weeks ago, I suspect he’s unlikely to use it again.

We’re … not the most graceful people. It’s not that we’re inattentive, we’re just clumsy. Sure, it takes longer but it’s not too hard work with a decent coarse-wood saw – we like the exercise that handsawing gives us desk-dwellers and that the wood gets to warm us more than once. We also like our fingers – it’s how we make our money, tip-tap-typing away at our desks – and dislike risking them unnecessarily.

But rejecting the metal menace sometimes feels like a bit of a Luddite manoeuvre. It also feels hypocritical: for example, we’re happy for John’s dad to use his big petrol chainsaw to cut a big tree into splittable logs (the splitting is done by hand) rather than us going at it for half an hour with a two handed saw.

If you use wood as fuel, do you cut it by hand or do you use power tools?


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  1. Carl Craven

    We rely on wood down here in Uruguay. Last year we had a tree taken down, it was a medium eucalyptus (though still big) I went to it splitting the logs they left us with with an axe, but some of the logs were too long to split.

    We had to take down another smaller tree in the garden, see we invested in a chain saw. We use the chain saw to cut logs too long into smaller splitable logs. I use a splitting axe that I am quite handy with or should I say was, as it broke recently, we use a smaller axe for small pieces and a garden saw. The garden saw got a lot of use last winter reducing small split logs and branches into sizes suitable for my small burner.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with the chainsaw. It gets very little use and 5 minutes can save me a days worth of toil and some jobs are almost impossible with the tools I have otherwise.

  2. datacreata

    Although we have our logs delivered, when the odd ornamental tree comes down in our garden we use an electric alligator saw. Our leylandii hedge is beginning to die with this disease/bug thing spreading like wildfire. When it is ugly enough, we will have it chopped down, then process and store all the trunks from it – hopefully! Found your comments very interesting re living a frugal life – commented on it on my own (very new) blog – hope you don’t mind. Made me think and realize that like you, we want to live a good life, simply, relatively cheaply but not in an austere sense.

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