From the leafy suburbs of Melbourne to world champion wood chopper
Laurence O’Toole sponsored by Komatsu Forest
From a kid who grew up in the leafy eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Laurence O’Toole’s choice of hobby-turned-career was vastly different to most city dwellers. Instead of the norm of footy, cricket and the like, he chose wood chopping.
“Wood chopping was pretty much a separate life to all my other friends and weekend activities.
While they all played football I went chopping at country shows with my dad and from a really young age I knew that I wanted to try make a career out of it,” he said.
And what a choice it was .... he is currently sponsored by Komatsu Forest and has competed against some of the best in the world, all around the world, and has been highly successful.
His favourite discipline is the underhand chop. He ranks in the top three in the world in both underhand and standing block chops and is current US Open Champion in both these events.
Now 196cm and 92kgs, O’Toole said he has “been chopping since I could walk, and I’m 37 now”.
He is a third generation world champion and learned from his father.
These are the events Laurence competes in:
Underhand chop – the competitor stands with feet apart on a 30-35cm white pine log. At the signal, he begins to chop through the log with his racing axe.
Standing springboard – a discipline based on the need for old time loggers to establish a cutting platform above the massive root bases of old growth trees; the competitor uses an axe to chop pockets into a 270cm poplar pole and then place 15cm wide springboard platforms into the pockets
Hot saw – the athlete uses a customised chainsaw with a modified engine, usually taken from a personal watercraft or snowmobile
Single buck – the lumberjack makes one cut through 50cm of white pine using a single man cross-cut saw. The competitor may have a helper wedge his cut into the log to prevent the saw teeth from sticking.
The underhand chop is O’Toole’s speciality. While it looks potentially dangerous, he said he only “cut my foot once when I was 7 doing what I had been told not to do, other than that nothing”.
Lumberjacking, is “more of a part-time job for me than a hobby. I practice a couple times a week”, O’Toole said.
“I’m sponsored by Komatsu Forest and they want me to go everywhere I can. I travel all over Europe, North America and Australia to compete.”
His results so far this year are pretty impressive:
Hotsaw elimination World Championship in Webster WV USA
USA triple crown Underhand, Standing Block and Springboard at the American Nationals in Morgantown WV, USA
Teams relay World Champion, Canadian Underhand and Standing winner.
Hotsaw World Championship winner at Powell River, British Columbia, Canada
Lumberjack World Championship Underhand winner at Hayward, Wisconsin, USA
Overall, Laurence’s best USA summer yet, being the first Australian to win major Hotsaw races in America with his new Komatsu Forest Hotsaw all whilst driving 18,000 km across the country to participate in all events.
August:- 1st @Brisbane Ekka 300mm standing block hard hitting Australian championship
August:- 1st @Royal Adelaide show 300mm uh hard hitting Australian championship
“I’m still based in Melbourne but I spend the majority of the winter months in America on the lumberjack circuit.
“I like pretty much all outdoors stuff, fishing, wakeboarding and I love training in the gym,” he says.
I’m still based in Melbourne but I spend the majority of the winter months in America on the lumberjack circuit.