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What Is a Lumberjack?

A lumberjack harvests trees.
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  • Written By: Ken Black
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 19 March 2014
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A lumberjack is someone who harvests trees for a living for use in paper, furniture, or other wood-based products. The term has largely been replaced by the word "logger," though the lumberjack term is still highly recognizable. The term can also apply to those who demonstrate logging skills in a professional, competitive environment. This may include balancing on logs, chopping through logs, and other such tasks.

Lumberjacks often work long hours, and must travel frequently. They often work at a job site for a couple of months, or even shorter periods of time, before moving on. They may harvest trees that are specifically planted for their wood on private land, or may be permitted to harvest on public land. Public land harvests will usually involve more regulations, which is why moves may be required more often.

Typically, lumberjacks will work in teams to get the job done. In most cases, lumberjacks work in crews of at least six. The most common picture most have of a lumberjack is of the person who cuts down the trees. One of the other responsibilities include running the the harvesting machine, which may be responsible for removing the bark from the trees and making some initial cuts. There will also be those responsible for binding the logs for transport. In most cases, these lumberjack jobs may be done in conjunction with each other. To combat boredom, the members of the crew may switch duties from time to time.

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Those who are looking to become a lumberjack will find the entry requirements are relatively easy. Most can get started with simply a high school diploma. In some instances, jobs may be available even to those who have failed to graduate high school, or obtain a general equivalency diploma. The education needed to do the job is often learned on site during a training period, where a new worker will work with more experienced lumberjacks. It is helpful if the new worker has a mechanical aptitude, is in good physical shape, and can make simple calculations and measurements.

The other thing to consider when looking into a lumberjack job is the working conditions. Though many may find that being outdoors most of the time in a natural environment is appealing, the job site is very loud and very active. Some may also not like the travel involved, or the seasonal nature of the work. When working, the money that can be made is above average for an unskilled laborer, but this is because there are other tradeoffs.

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Discuss this Article

seag47
Post 4

I've watched documentaries on the lives of lumberjacks, and even though they may be making good money, their lives don't seem glamorous at all. Some things are just not worth being rich.

This may be for show, but they do seem like an angry bunch. The crew is always bickering, and swear words are bleeped out every few seconds. No one seems happy to be there at all.

I think if someone made a show about my work and paid me for it, I would do my best to be on good behavior and appear happy. These guys just seem jaded and bitter.

I'm sure that the work is hard, and dealing with heat and hard work is no fun. However, if you don't like what you do even a little bit, shouldn't you consider changing professions?

wavy58
Post 3

My brother and I had a fascination with lumberjacks as children. We had a forest for a backyard, so it wasn't any wonder that we made up stories and scenarios regarding trees.

We pretended to be lumberjacks, and we even came up with our own silly lumberjack song: “Falling trees are coming down; if you hear, they make a sound; falling trees are big and strong; step aside or you'll be gone!”

We would sing that as we went about with our fake plastic saws, pretending to grind into the wood. Of course, the “blades” were not even sharp enough to dent the bark, but in our minds, we were bringing down large oaks.

StarJo
Post 2

@shell4life – It is definitely a risky business to be in. I wouldn't want a member of my family to become a lumberjack, because I would always be worried that they might die in an accident.

Lumberjack tools are dangerous, too. Those scary chainsaws that they use to cut through big trees spell tragedy waiting to happen in my mind. Someone could fall on the saw, or it could fall on someone, and either way, the person could die or become mutilated to the point that they could never work again.

I'm just glad I don't know any lumberjacks personally. I worry enough about my dad, who works in a lumber mill. I can't imagine how concerned I would be if he were the one actually out gathering the trees.

shell4life
Post 1

My great-grandfather was a lumberjack. I never got the chance to meet him, so all I have are stories passed down from my grandmother to my dad.

He died in a logging accident, which is really no surprise, considering the nature of his work. A tree fell on him, and he was killed instantly. He was working with two other men at the time, and they saw it happen.

My grandmother was only nine when he died, but she remembers him well. She said that he had “lumberjack thumbs,” meaning that they were huge and rough from dealing with tree bark and wood all day. She even said that they had turned a brownish-green shade.

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