How to Chop Logs
Practise on small, slender logs, chopping them in short lengths until
you understand something of the woodsman's art of "logging up a tree";
then and not until then should you attempt to cut heavier wood.
If you are sure-footed and absolutely certain that you can stand firmly
on the log without teetering or swaying when leaning over, do so. You
can then chop one side of the log half-way through and turn around and
chop the other side until the second notch or "kerf" is cut through to
the first one on the opposite side, and the two pieces fall apart. While
working stand on the log with feet wide apart and chop the _side_ of the
log (not the top) on the space in front between your feet. Make your
first chip quite long, and have it equal in length the diameter of the
log. If the chip is short, the opening of the kerf will be narrow and
your hatchet will become wedged, obliging you to double your labor by
enlarging the kerf. Greater progress will be made by chopping diagonally
across the grain of the wood, and the work will be easier. It is
difficult to cut squarely against the grain and this is always avoided
when possible. After you have cut the first chip in logging up a tree,
chop on the base of the chip, swinging your hatchet from the opposite
direction, and the chip will fall to the ground.
Having successfully chopped off one piece of the log, it will be a
simple matter to cut off more. Chop slowly, easily, and surely. Don't be
in a hurry and exhaust yourself; only a novice overexerts and tries to
make a deep cut with the hatchet.
Be careful of the blade of your hatchet; keep it free from the ground
when chopping, to avoid striking snags, stones, or other things liable
to nick or dull the edge.