Bark Up or Down? Firewood Splits Norwegians

By Chuck Ray | Posted: 12/16/2013 11:22AM

 

Chuck Ray, PennState, Associate Professor of Wood Operations That great title comes directly from a recent New York Times article of the same name. It seems that one well-meaning Norwegian author inadvertently tapped into the subconscious passions of millions of fellow Norwegians with his 2011 best-seller Hel Ved (Solid Wood: All about Chopping, Drying, and Stacking Wood - and the Soul of Wood-Burning).

From the author's website, and as translated by my Google Chrome browser, are these details that bring the art of firewood preparation to life for vedfolk everywhere...

"The response after the release has been pleasing great. A plethora of nice readers have shared their own experiences with wood, especially if stacking methods and axes - in fact, I have also received acknowledgments from owners of old Partner saws, as thanks for the book restores these saws status as a professional tool, and not as one hobbysag! But first and foremost, the response has shown the importance of burning wood for Norwegians. There is a hushed, rational part of everyday life for much of the population.
The book is intended to be useful even for the fist run vedfolk. Along the way, I even tried out most of the methods described, with varying success and steep learning curve. I have dried kindling oak in oven, struggled to build round stack, been unlucky with vertical orientation of pine. At the same time I hunted wood-burning soul. But vedentusiastene is a peoples who do not necessarily like to formulate their involvement in words. However, it is visible in the tall, sharp-nearby stacked in fresh putty in old black ovens, in open sheds with long angled wall to the south. Therefore, the book is a lot of method, because it applies emotions articulated through method." - http://www.larsmytting.net/Hel_ved.html


Apparently, as the Times article explained, the topic seemed like a good one for television in the land of the Midnight Sun. The docile folks of the Earth's skinniest country (geographically and bodily) are tuning in to the new fad of "slow TV", where they can watch, between episodes of sweater-knitting and train-riding, a twelve-hour special dedicated to wood burning - four hours of discussion, and eight hours of watching a fire.

Sounds like fun. Perfect for holiday viewing.

Apparently, though, the firewood episode was more controversial than the producers ever imagined. It seems that a large number of viewers texted in during the show that the wood was being stacked all wrong...that the bark should face down in the stack.

The controversy was, that a comparable number of viewers texted in that they were shocked to see that the wood was not being stacked with the bark side up.

I suppose that the unfortunate wood stacker in the show was a moderate and stacked pieces both ways, thereby inciting both the conservative bark-uppers and the liberal bark-downers.

You just can't beat Norwegian reality TV for action...slow action, anyway.

Somehow, I don't think the NFL will ever have a team in Oslo.

But the future of Norway's Olympic wood-chopping team looks bright.

Hel Ved is apparently coming out in English any time now. Now that's a book I'd like to receive for Christmas....hint, hint, family.

READ MORE BLOGS BY CHUCK RAY

Great Designs in Wood - The NWFA 2013 Wood Floors of the Year

Potatoes and Wood Panels

The National Wood Collection at the Forest Products Lab

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About the Author

Chuck Ray, PennState, Associate Professor of Wood Operations

Chuck Ray

Dr. Charles D. “Chuck” Ray is Associate Professor of Wood Operations Research at Pennsylvania State University. His specialty is in the area of operations research, specifically those operational issues that confront the majority of the wood products sector. He previously spent 15 years in research and quality management for two large building products corporations, Temple-Inland Forest Products and Louisiana-Pacific. Ray is the sixth generation of his family to work in the sawmill industry, the Ray Brothers Lumber Company, established in East Texas before the turn of the last century. He can be reached at cdrpsu@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @ChuckDRay. He maintains an Extension website for Penn State at http://extension.psu.edu/woodpro and also writes a blog on all wood issues called Go Wood which can be found at http://gowood.blogspot.com.

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