Skip to main content

Item of the Week: A Wood-Splitting World Record, 1982

Wed, 05/29/2024 - 19:08

From the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection

Have you ever wanted to set a world record? It might seem like an impossibly lofty goal, but for Richard Sawyer (b. 1946), it was well within reach.

Sawyer began his career as a restaurateur, co-founding the popular Salty Dog eatery on the water in Noyac before pivoting to become an arborist and chimney sweep. He founded his own local tree surgery business, Treely Yours, in 1976 and became interested in splitting wood after seeing a woman use a wood-splitting wedge and thinking, “Hey, I could do that.”

This image from The East Hampton Star’s photo archive captures Sawyer training to set a world record in 1982. He is seen using a newly patented quartering wedge, a device used to split logs into four roughly equal pieces that are then used as firewood. The photo was taken as Sawyer practiced for a chimney sweep convention in Vermont, where he set a world record for hand-splitting a cord of hardwood.

To put that in perspective, a cord is a pile of wood totaling up to 128 cubic feet, usually measuring eight feet in length and four feet in height and width. A cord can weigh up to 5,000 pounds. In Stowe, Vt., where the convention was held, Sawyer split a cord in 43 minutes and 33 seconds. Later that summer, he shaved his time down to 32 minutes and 30 seconds.

Log-splitting, while seemingly a fairly simple task, does require robust physical fitness. To train, he lifted weights, split wood, and ran eight miles every day. When he wasn’t splitting wood, Sawyer (a Vietnam War veteran who was open about his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder) wrote poetry.

Some may remember him sharing his poems publicly, including at the Ross School in November of 2008.

Julia Tyson is a librarian and archivist in the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection.


Juneteenth: ‘This Is American History’

Following the establishment of Juneteenth as a federal holiday in 2021, commemorating the final enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation, education efforts have grown throughout the community. “At the end of the day, this is something that should be taught because this is American history,” said Georgette Grier-Key, executive director of the Eastville Community Historical Society in Sag Harbor.

Jun 20, 2024

Georgica Pond Group Taps Assemblyman Thiele as Next Director

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. announced in February that he would not be seeking re-election in November after nearly 30 years in state government. For those wondering what his next act would be, the suspense is over: Mr. Thiele has been named executive director of the Friends of the Georgica Pond Foundation.

Jun 20, 2024

Jerry’s Team Is Re-Elected

There were no surprises in the East Hampton Village election on Tuesday. Mayor Jerry Larsen, Chris Minardi, the deputy mayor, and Sandra Melendez, another village trustee, all ran unopposed and were re-elected to four-year terms.

Jun 20, 2024

Your support for The East Hampton Star helps us deliver the news, arts, and community information you need. Whether you are an online subscriber, get the paper in the mail, delivered to your door in Manhattan, or are just passing through, every reader counts. We value you for being part of The Star family.

Your subscription to The Star does more than get you great arts, news, sports, and outdoors stories. It makes everything we do possible.