Words by Stuart Kenny | Photography by Matt Tween
There aren’t as many people with beards here as I thought there would be.
There’s a giant poster describing the mechanics of a chainsaw on the wall to my left, a Timbersports-branded pick up truck to my right, a sign-out form for tractors on the wall behind me and a shiny STIHL MS661 chainsaw 20 metres in front. But there are not as many beards here as I thought there would be, and not a flannel shirt in sight.
I’m at an introductory taster session for the STIHL Timbersports series; a sport consisting of various competitive challenges based on “historic lumberjack traditions”, all of which make use of either a saw, an axe or a chainsaw.
Today, we’re trying out three disciplines; the Stock Saw, the Single Buck and the Underhand Chop. The Stock Saw involves chainsawing two circles, or “cookies”, from a 40cm tree trunk with one downwards and one upwards cut. The Underhand Chop requires competitors to chop through a horizontal 32cm thick tree trunk with an axe while standing on top of said tree trunk, and the Single Buck involves taking a cookie off a 46cm-diameter tree trunk with a huge two-metre cross-cut saw with a handle at one end.
You can see why I was expecting beards and flannel shirts then? I had even avoided the razor myself for a month in anticipation of the event – though my attempt at a beard served more as a reminder of why I don’t do ‘Movember’ than providing any sign of axe-wielding competence.
But while there might not have been a lot of facial hair on show, there was a lot at stake.