Standing Block Chop


 Standing Block Chop

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To the casual observer, the standing block chop may resemble baseball. It involves swinging a razor sharp axe instead of carefully crafted wood bat at a 12-inch diameter, white pine chopping block. Successfully cutting a standing block is more than just smashing on log with maximum horsepower; more than beating up a wooden piñata. Care must be taken to present the axe with a slope that allows the axe to cut the wood fibers and slice into the block just like old time loggers did to fall the giant timber that built our great nation.

The standing block chop preparation starts before the contest begins as competitors are randomly assigned a 12-inch diameter white pine chopping log. The log is secured vertically in a stand that functions as a bit of a lumberjack light socket. A flat tray supports the weight of the log approximately two feet in the air while four “dogs” or spikes are driven into the block to hold it securely. Choppers then draw out their desired chopping scarf marking first a slightly lower front face before marking the back of the block. The chopper stands firmly on the chopping stage and swings at the chopping block like a golfer would approach the tee.

In the standing block chop, contestants look to cut approximately halfway through the log on the front using the pattern of drives and chips to lift out chips of wood and allow the axe to cut deeper into the log just like the other chopping events. They will then set a final series of powerful drives directed upwards before running to the other side of the log and repeating the pattern of drives and chips on the backside of the block. The first blows will always be up hits on both the front side and the back side of the log - a practice born in part from safety as a hit that glances up will likely swing away from the lumberjack while a down hit will head towards his leg or foot. As the chips clear, the competitors will look to completely sever the block by striking powerful downward drives. If a chopper has done his homework and held to his intended chopping scarf, the final down blow will drive the block off and leave a large pig's ear of off set, uncut wood, some times as much as three to four inches thick. Slab nails are installed at the widest portion of the scarf on the top of the block for both the front and the back side so the opening up hits do not split the log apart.

Chainmail protection on a choppers feet and lower legs keeps blows that may glance out of the block due to bad axe presentation from causing a trip to the lumberjack sewing shop. Otherwise, slab nails and waiting for “Go” in the cadence are all it takes to complete this version of timbersports golf. Competitive times are around 20 seconds with Matt Bush holding the U.S. record of 13.15 seconds to cut the front of the log, run to the other side and cut off the back
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