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 chuck?

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!

The Study

There were three phases of data collection:

Phase I
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

Phase II
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
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 winter-time cooking.

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.

Initial Assumption

Through pains-taking research, the author of this study has determined that he reduces the average solid cord of block heating wood to about 400 splits.


The following methodology was used to gather the required statistics (and wood) during the study:

List #1
  1. Fall tree using chain saw3
  2. Buck tree into blocks with chain saw
  3. Split blocks manually with 6 pound splitting maul
  4. Chuck splits into trailer
  5. Draw trailer to drying area
  6. Chuck and stack splits for drying
  7. When seasoned, chuck splits back into trailer
  8. Draw trailer to basement
  9. Chuck splits into basement
  10. Chuck splits to far end of basement
  11. Chuck splits into ranks piled on skids

  12. Wait for winter's arrival...

  13. Chuck splits onto wood dolly
  14. Wheel wood dolly to wood waiter
  15. Chuck splits from wood dolly onto wood waiter
  16. Convey splits to first floor using wood waiter
  17. Chuck splits from wood waiter to storage area

  18. Daily, as required...

  19. Select split from storage
  20. Open stove door
  21. Chuck split into stove
  22. Close stove door

  23. (Repeat as required)

  24. Thrice weekly...
  25. Remove ash pan from stove, and
  26. Chuck ashes into outdoor ash barrel
  27. Replace ash pan in stove

The Data

First, collating the statistical information gathered during Phases I, II, and III, the author obtained the following data:

Table #1
PhaseCords Annually Splits AnnuallyNumber of Years Total CordsTotal Splits
I5 2,0001575 30,000
II 2.51,0005 12.55,000
III5.52,200 105522,000
Total  30 142.557,000

Next, in consultation with List #1, the author infers the following:

Table #2
Step #Wood Chuck? Number of Wood Chucks
1No 0
2 No0
3No 0
4 Yes1
5 No0
6Yes 1
7 Yes1
8No 0
9 Yes1
10Yes 1
11 Yes1
12No 0
13 Yes1
14No 0
15 Yes1
16No 0
17 Yes1
18No 0
19 No0
20No 0
21 Yes1
22No 0
23 No0
24No 0
25 No0
26Yes, in aggregate 0
27 No0
Total  10


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 window thermometer.

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).

2 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.

3 Table #3
Description of wood-cutting apparatii used over the course of this study:

Make/Model Specs Notes
McCulloch I-43 22" 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 crappy.
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.
Pioneer/620 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.
Pioneer 620 18" 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.
Stihl/028 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.
Stihl/034 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.
Husquavarnah 353 16" 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.