How Much Wood Could a Woodchuck Chuck?
This paper attempts to answer the question which
has been nagging mankind (and, probably
to a somewhat lesser degree, womankind)
throughout the ages. Namely, how much wood could a woodchuck
This author hypothesized that a woodchuck could, given the opportunity,
actually chuck a hell of a lot of wood!
And keep darn warm in so doing!
There were three phases of data collection:
Ten years off the grid, during which a 600 square foot cabin tucked
into a Southern Quebec forest was heated first with a box stove
and later a Round Oak.
During the same period, a wood-fired kitchen stove was used to prepare
all hot meals.1
Annual wood consumption during this phase averaged five solid
cords (15 runs).2
To make room for Liselyn's grand piano, the kitchen wood stove was
replaced by a propane stove and heating chores were assumed by
an airtight Cadet.
Annual wood consumption fell to two-and-a-half solid cords (8 1/2 runs).
Phase III was marked by a move into the New House, whose
square footage is roughly four times that of the cabin.
In the New House, a catalytic-converter type Dutchwest convection
heater (large model) on the first floor, and a Findley wood kitchen
stove fulfill heating requirements as well as a good portion of
The Dutchwest is quite an efficient stove, but the Findley burns
wood lickety-split. Combined annual wood consumption ranges between four and
six solid cords (15-18 face cords), with four to four-and-a-half being
the average since 2007.
Through pains-taking research, the author of this study has determined
that he reduces the average solid cord of block heating wood to about
The following methodology was used to
gather the required statistics (and wood) during the study:
- Fall tree using chain saw3
- Buck tree into blocks with chain saw
- Split blocks manually with 6 pound splitting maul
- Chuck splits into trailer
- Draw trailer to drying area
- Chuck and stack splits for drying
- When seasoned, chuck splits back into trailer
- Draw trailer to basement
- Chuck splits into basement
- Chuck splits to far end of basement
- Chuck splits into ranks piled on skids
- Wait for winter's arrival...
- Chuck splits onto wood dolly
- Wheel wood dolly to wood waiter
- Chuck splits from wood dolly onto wood waiter
- Convey splits to first floor using wood waiter
- Chuck splits from wood waiter to storage area
- Daily, as required...
- Select split from storage
- Open stove door
- Chuck split into stove
- Close stove door
- (Repeat as required)
- Thrice weekly...
- Remove ash pan from stove, and
- Chuck ashes into outdoor ash barrel
- Replace ash pan in stove
First, collating the statistical information gathered during
Phases I, II, and III, the author obtained the following data:
||Splits Annually||Number of Years
||Total Cords||Total Splits
|Total|| || ||30||
Next, in consultation with List #1, the author infers the following:
|Step #||Wood Chuck?
||Number of Wood Chucks|
|26||Yes, in aggregate
So, how much wood can a woodchuck chuck? Detailed analysis of
the data reveals that over the past thirty years this author and
woodchuck has chucked
142.5 solid cords x 400 splits per cord x 10 chucks per split
for a grand total of
570,000, or 218 chucks.
Furthermore, while a previous study (by the author's grandmother, Thusnelda)
claimed that "he who heats with wood is thrice-warmed", this present study
conclusively demonstrates that the actual number of times wood-chucks are
warmed is closer to ten times.
1This phase of the study spanned the
years between 1972 and 1982, a period during which global warming
was not yet so evident.
During that first phase, old man frost was known to pay his last visit
as late as the end of the first week of June, and his first visit
coincided with the end of the Ayer's Cliff Fair, during the waning
days of August.
January temperatures in those days commonly remained below 0-degrees F for
weeks at a time. Day and night, -20 F was a frequent reading on the kitchen
On at least one occaision, the mercury outside the Cabin's
single-glazed kitchen window descended all the way to the
bottom of the scale at -40 F. (For all you metric folks, that would be -40 C).
A 'solid', or "full" cord measures 8' x 4' x 4', or 128 cubic feet.
A 'solid' cord is made up of three "face" cords (aka 'little'
cords, 'stove' cords, or, simply, 'runs').
Each 'run' measure 8' x 4' x 16" (1/3 of a 'solid' cord).
The author's reckoning of just over 400 splits per solid cord is based
upon firewood prepared for the purpose of heating. When split
for cooking purposes, the number of splits can rise by 50% or more.
Description of wood-cutting apparatii used over the course of this study:
Weighed approximately as much as a hog ready for market.
Brought this one with me from California and it was
probably more suited to redwoods than the species of
Southern Quebec. When it would start it ran really
Not sure if this company is still in
business, but I'd sooner pluck Thusnelda's old wooden
two-man saw out of the shed than use another McCulloch.
18" Max RPM approx 800
Circa 1955. Weighed approximately as much as an Evinrude
10 HP outboard motor. In fact, I believe this model
actually was an outboard motor originally and was
converted to a chain saw.
Weighed approximately as much as a bag of Portland cement.
This saw turned pretty slow by modern standards but performed
well and lasted for many years.
18" Max RPM 12,500
I was reasonably happy with this model except that
carbs wore out pretty quickly and replacements from Stihl
go for about a third of the cost of a brand new complete saw.
16" Max RPM 13,500
Lighter than the last model, mostly due to smaller fuel
and oil capacities, but hey, I can only cut for so long
now without getting "white hand" anyway, so it's just as
well as I take a break.
The best saw I ever owned. Relatively light, plenty of power, always
starts and runs year round. Apart from new chains, one new bar,
and routine maintenance to air filter and spark plug it has demanded
little attention and no repairs.