from Chapter 9:
Søren Eriksson and the Game of Logging
AFTER YEARS OF LOOKING AT ADS for "Illustrated Swedish Manuals" in the back pages of magazines, I finally sent for one. It was about cutting pulpwood.
Shortly thereafter, I attended an exhibition of "Swedish techniques and practices." It was put on by a slightly built, middle-aged man with a bad back and an accent like your Uncle Ole. He wore baby blue pants and an orange jacket, and what he did was cut down trees. Boy, did he ever cut down trees! Like I'd never seen before. His name was Søren Eriksson.
Eriksson is the leading proponent of Swedish manual logging methods in the United States and Canada. He is also founder of the "Game of Logging." He has logged and trained logging crews all over the world in safe, efficient manual methods of timber harvesting. I've heard him described as the world's first millionaire pulp cutter.
Eriksson doesn't do tricks with his chain saw or perform feats of strength. What he does is apply "ergonomic" principles to woods work. He is obviously very skilled, but the main appeal for me is that he demonstrates and explains his every action so that you can understand what he is doing and actually apply it to your own woods work.
This is not a case of Eriksson possessing skills that the rest of us can marvel at, but cannot do ourselves. Remember those mail-order vegetable cutting gadgets on TV that the demonstrator uses to make roses out of potatoes and cut two-foot spirals out of a single carrot? You buy one and all you can cut is the end of your finger. Eriksson's demonstration does not leave the viewer with that kind of frustration. He teaches not just a set of techniques, but a philosophy.
Most woods work in North America has traditionally been just bull work: young, strong guys muscle their way through the timber until they either are hurt or their backs give out, at which point someone else takes over. Nobody ever taught anyone else how to cut pulp and firewood because it was assumed that there is nothing to learn: just put your back into it and go. Well, it isn't so, and Eriksson's demonstrations over the years have shown that it isn't.
I guess the main thing I learned was that pulp cutting can be a profession and should be approached in a professional manner. I've applied this philosophy to all my woods work in the years since I saw my first demonstration, and I can truthfully say that my efficiency has improved at least 25 percent. Not only do I get more work done, but it is done more safely, and I enjoy it a lot more.
What impressed me the most from the first Eriksson demonstration I saw was the felling of a big, branchy, leaning red pine. About one hundred interested people, as well as several local television crews, were standing in a semicircle around the tree. Eriksson not only felled the tree safely with that crowd around, but at the point where his felling cut was almost completed, he stopped, shut off his saw, and explained what he had done up until then. I'm sure he used gestures in his explanation, but I doubt if anyone saw them, since I'm sure every eye was on the crown of that tree, expecting it to fall at any minute. It didn't. It fell when he wanted it to, where he wanted it to, against the lean into a clearing.