Garden Diary - December 2012

Tuesday, 12 December 2012
Cutting Firewood: A Well-Designed Sawbuck

So much wood to cut. We have this family of chainsaws:

Front, from left: Homelite with 14 inch bar, gasoline engine. Troy-bilt with 10 inch bar, lithium ion battery.
Back, from left: Stihl with 18 inch bar, gasoline engine. Remington with 8 inch bar, NiCad battery.
Homelite with 16 inch bar, gasoline engine. I only use the two battery powered chainsaws.

There's a lot of cutting for all the chainsaws to do. While Paul does all the larger wood and a fair bit of the smaller stuff, my share is restricted to the brush to be piled in the woods as discards, and branches that, though small, are burnable. Our wood burning stove takes wood cut to18-inch length. It's awkward, bending over to cut when the branches are on the ground, and tedious when you're cutting one branch at a time. Somewhere in my memory I seem to recall a sawbuck that we had back in Connecticut. What's a sawbuck? Not to be confused with a sawhorse, which are pairs of legs that clamp on to a sturdy board to make a temporary support. A sawbuck is a device for holding smaller firewood to be cut to lengths usable in a stove or fireplace. An X at each end, another in the center, and lengthwise boards to hold everything together and stabilize it. The branches to be cut are placed in the upward facing "V"s of the end pieces. Clear as mud from that description, I suppose.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Try this, rather than having me try to describe it more accurately.


Paul looked on line, made several improvements, sketched it out, and then built one for me to use. Some changes: his is collapsible, for easier storage. Rather than carriage bolts he used dowels. Little nicks in wood are O.K., not a good thing if the chain of the saw hits metal. And to secure the dowels he not only glued them, he drilled through the edge of the board concealed when the sawbuck is open and screwed the dowel. The upper edge of the two upper horizontal boards is tapered.

And he added this length of green dowel from an old broom or some such. What's that all about?

Extend it so one end is at the "stop" mark, and the other end will be 18" inches beyond the end of the sawbuck.

I can pile a bunch of branches on the sawbuck, able to cut multiples and at a convenient height.

Here's an end view. Isn't it a handsome thing! He even made a separate piece
to fit over the branches and steady them. That doesn't work well. It jiggles too much
from the vibration when I'm cutting. But I don't really need it so it doesn't matter.

Of course Paul had to try it out first, as my model for this photo shoot.
First, cut off the overhang at each end.

Then, cut at the midpoint marked on the sawbuck.

Done. Several branches neatly cut to 18-inch lengths and no stress on my back.

And at the end of a cutting session, fold it up for convenient storage. All that's left
is to sweep up the sawdust and save it to make fire lighters, a handy girl scout craft.

It may not be Christmas but this is a wonderful present.

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