Cutting wood for the winter months has been a fall tradition in my house for a few years now. We don’t use a ton of wood, but there is something really satisfying about listening to a fire crackling in the fireplace with a glass of red in hand. These comforts are made all the more satisfying with the memory of the hard work that earned them fresh in my mind.
When the air becomes crisp, the leaves start to turn and the light becomes long, I get excited for (tree) hunting season! A couple of weeks ago my wife and I got ourselves a new wood permit, found a legal piece of land to harvest from, and cut down a tree using our Hultafors Qvarfot Felling Axe we bought at Kent of Inglewood a couple of years ago.
I should say that cutting down a tree with an axe is a pretty hefty workout, and one that should not be done if you are unprepared. The best way of learning how to safely harvest your own wood is to pick up a copy of Bushcraft: Outdoor Skills and Wilderness Survival by Mors Kochanski. Kochanski offers a lifetime of experience, and also some great hand-drawn diagrams to help you get your footing.
The major problem I’ve had with harvesting wood in the past is that without a chainsaw, processing a tree into logs takes an extraordinary amount of time and a herculean physical commitment. Unfortunately, I use so little wood that renting or even borrowing a chainsaw seems silly. I have historically resigned myself to using a bow saw for this task. This often results in diagonal or twisted cuts, unchopable logs, and a trip to my parents’ house to borrow the chainsaw anyway.
My new Silky Pocketboy, after its first 2 hours of work.
When I heard that we were going to be carrying the Silky Pocketboy saw, I couldn’t wait to see what it could do! These small hand saws are really popular in the bushcraft community - they’re said to cut like magic. They’re also said to have a blade back that is thin and sharp enough to scrape a hide in a pinch. I can’t speak to its hide scraping abilities, but I picked one up to see what it could do with firewood.
We took our newly felled tree home, and I thought I’d make a couple of cuts with the Pocketboy. Being a bit of a skeptic I wanted to really put it through its paces, so I started with the hardest cut; right at the base of the trunk - a cut too wide in diameter for the saw. I was stunned at how easy it was! The cuts were super smooth. Despite being a thin blade, it did not veer or twist in the cut, it did not buckle or bend. It just sailed right through. The cuts were laser straight, making it really easy to cut around the circumference of the log and meet in the middle. I thought maybe I was lucky on the first try, so I did another. And then another. Two and a half hours later, I had about 20 perfectly cut logs ready for splitting.
The Silky Pocketboy next to my proud pile of wood.
I have fallen hard for the Pocketboy - what a great tool! I will definitely have it around for all future firewood, keep it in my camping kit, and have it handy for cutting our Christmas tree stump to fit in the tree stand.