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Norwegian Wood by Lars Mytting
Chopping, stacking and drying wood the Scandinavian way

Have you read it? I love this book. It contains truly excellent information for anyone with an interest in sourcing, storing and processing wood for fuel. It’s also great for anyone who likes chainsaws, axes, stoves and fires – that’s pretty much everyone I know!

People obviously have a very long relationship with wood as fuel but knowledge is easily lost when necessity is removed. Norwegian wood brings that knowledge back by the log basket full. Much of what is human evolved round a wood fire – speech, humour, culture.

Norwegian wood is an easy read with many excellent photos. Author Lars Mytting has a lifetime of experience to draw upon but more importantly he has hundreds of years of cultural history behind him. The Norwegians know a bit about wood as fuel and all aspects of the topic are covered in a lively and interesting way. He tells us that Sweden alone gets through three million metric tonnes of wood per year – that’s 340kg for every man, woman and child and that oil rich Norway still derives 25% of its heating from wood.

There are little gems to be found at the turn of every page, from the height and positioning of a chopping block, to axe design and the properties of different wood species. We learn some of the history of stove development and more efficient burning. Tips and techniques abound – what is “strip barking” and why might you do it? The old tyre trick and how to make a months worth of kindling in a few minutes.

Those of us who process our own wood can easily relate to the emotive explanations of why it feels so satisfying to cut and split and stack and dry. These feelings of satisfaction are explored and explained through the author’s long relationship with the process and he gives us some great insight as to why it is so much more than just a physical labour. He says about the woodpile “Its share price won’t fall on the stock market. It won’t rust, it won’t sue for divorce. It just stands there and does one thing; it waits for winter. An investment account reminding you of all the hard work you’ve put in to it.”

Norwegian Wood takes us on a journey from the living forest, all the way to the fireside in winter. When is best to cut and what should tools should we use? It can be hard work, how can we use nature and a few clever tricks to make life easier, and warmer? How to be safe when working? You can find the answers to these and many more burning questions.

Some of the statistics quoted are not only interesting but seriously useful for anyone working in the solid fuel industry. Chimney sweeps in particular can get great benefit from this book because they spend so much time in the company of their customers. Useful facts and interesting information are gold dust for the sweep that looks to give their customer the best service. With the information in this book, sweeps can offer their customers something new every year for many years. It’s also very nice to be confident of the accuracy of the information, as Mr Mytting references it all for us. There are still far too many myths and misconceptions when it comes to wood as fuel. Read the book and armed with your new knowledge, you can easily explain away the fiction and the fables.
It’s a great read for anyone who processes their own wood. It really is required reading and reference for anyone that works in the solid fuel industry and you’ll find yourself dipping back in again and again. There is an enlightened stove installer in North East Scotland who gives a copy away with every new installation! His customers are certainly getting a good start with their fire.

Norwegian Wood. Buy it, learn it, love it.
Lawson Wight