Chopping a Tree in One Swing

What’s the largest diameter solid living tree (of any wood hardness) that can be chopped in one swipe by a human?

Assume the human is wielding any unpowered implement such as an axe or perhaps a razor-sharp katana. No chainsaws or lightsabers.

A single chop is defined as the implement cleaving through the entire diameter. (no cracking or splintering needed to help fell the tree)

What is the best tool for the job? And who would be chosen to do the chopping? Would you want Barry Bonds or perhaps a giant lumberjack?

I’ve hung out with some of the best speed choppers in the US. In the east we chop on clean white pine, usually cut in square cants. I’ve seen some really good lumberjacks playing with 6"x6" cants and with special setups, and they could chop through in 2 hits, one on each side, using competition axes.

Based on that I think they might be able to cut through a 5"x5" with a single swing.

Racing axes are what you’d want to use. Roughly 6 pounds of razor sharp steel.

Yeah, I saw a TV demonstration of lumberjack chopping. They were penetrating about four inches, but they said that you don’t try for maximum penetration, because your axe will bind up. A Six by Six wouldn’t be strong enough to avoid bending around the blade unless it was held in some jig or other.

However, a live tree six inches in diameter is gonna sway a bit as you hit it. I don’t know if that makes enough difference, or you can learn to strike downward enough to compensate for the sway, and not get bound up from the tree bowing around your axe. I have seen a guy go almost through about a four inch Dogwood once, but he had a regular axe. Not quite a through and through hit though. (Dogwood is fairly tough, treewise.)

There almost has to be an official world record for this.


I doubt it. I’ve spent a lot of time around logging and timber sports competitions and I’ve never heard of something like this. Maximum dimensions for a single chop would be impossible to set up fairly.


This is the guy I’d want to try it. He’s a 7-time world champ and holds the underhand chop record.