The Springboard



Two of three chopping disciplines in STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® are over in 20 seconds (often faster with the right combination of log, axe and athlete). The third one may take a minute or more, but still requires an axe, skill and precision to complete. It also requires a second tool, or set of tools, that sets the event apart and gives the Springboard Chop its name. That tool is the Springboard, one of the simplest but most important tools in a competitive lumberjack sports athlete’s gear stash.

The springboard was first made for working in the woods. Uneven terrain or the rootswell of a tree would require a lumberjack to grow several feet to reach the tree with an axe or saw, or bring a ladder at all times. Carrying a springboard would give instant, portable, adjustable elevation that can be installed in a tree after a few deft blows with an axe. In STIHL TIMBERSPORTS®, the springboard gives a competitive lumberjack sports athlete an elevator to reach the block secured to the top of a 9-foot pole and a stable platform to chop off his block. Although it looks like standard 2x8 foot wood with some paint on the bottom…there is a lot more to the springboard.

One end of the springboard is a flat, wooden board. The top is usually covered with grip tape or some other form of traction aide to give the athlete sure footing during the chop. The bottom can be covered with sponsor logos, stickers or just regular paint to seal up the board and protect it from the weather or the hazards of transit. The middle of this sandwich is a wooden board, cut to the size and shape specifications of the competitor. Longer arms and legs may encourage a longer board to gain leverage since they’re farther from the tree. Athletes with larger feet may make their boards wider; almost resembling dancefloors. Some competitors are comfortable with more “spring” in their springboard and choose a species or board thickness allowing noticeable flex with each swing of the axe. Wood species for the board is the athlete’s choice, with Basswood, Tulip Poplar, and Cedar the most common used.

The other end is a metal shoe that is custom ground to lock the springboard into a tightly v-ed notch in the springboard pole. These metal additions – sometimes called clips – attached to the board have a thin, slightly upturned lip that is roughly perpendicular to the top surface of the board. Each of these is carefully cut and ground to the athlete’s specifications, which can vary based on competitor size and experience. When jammed into the v-cut notch, these clips grab the top of the board hole and lock the springboard into the tree, actually burying in the wood fibers for grip. An athlete, through years of competing and thousands of board holes, develops an eye for what kind of board hole his boards will grab and hold in best.

Axes and saws are the first tools that come to mind when talking about competitive lumber-jack sports athlete gear. Those axes and saws can get an athlete through five of the six disciplines during a competition. A simple-looking board, with a sharpened metal shoe on one end, is a vital addition to the gear collection.