In Search of the Perfect Chopping Block

By , June 4, 2010

For better and worse, chopping blocks have been much on my mind these days.

A good chopping block is, of course, essential to chopping firewood. When I find a block I like, I cling to it until it’s hammered to flinders, not just because of its usefulness as a tool, but because I’m just too stingy with firewood to let a single round go to waste, even for the sake of easing the process of making more.The block I’d been using for a long time has worn out. I tried replacing it with a round of cottonwood salvaged from the beach, but it has proven to be too soft, and too small to keep its balance in the chopping area.

When I cut up a deadfall that had drifted over from the Katzehin River a couple of years ago, I used the root wad as a chopping block on the beach. The splayed roots gave it a lot of stability on the uneven rocks, so I decided to make it my new block. The process of getting it off the beach and into the dooryard led to my recent fall.

Ironically, within a couple of days of putting that block in place and trimming it for best balance, a neighbor brought his chainsaw over and bucked up some of the big log that recently washed up on our beach. I’d planned to use one of those rounds as a chopping block when it eventually got cut up, I just hadn’t expected that to happen so soon. I actually had to trim the outer rings of a round to make it small enough to fit the chopping area. It’s ready to go into service, but I’ve still got that root wad in place! If I remove the root wad, then my tumble will have been for naught. And yet, the new round will be a far superior chopping block.

It remains to be seen whether I’ll be sensible or stubborn about this. Place your bets!

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