How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck – Exactly?

woodchuck1Numbers are a big part of my job here, as is looking at data in new and different ways. In light of that, I thought I’d share some interesting information I found as I was getting ready to start at Popular Woodworking.

Back in the ’90s, a couple of scientists decided to answer the burning question of “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” We know, of course, that the answer is that a woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could. But these guys wanted to know exactly how much wood would be chucked. (“The Ability of Woodchucks to Chuck Cellulose Fibers” by P.A. Paskevich and T.B. Shea; Annals of Improbable Research vol. 1, no. 4, pp. 4-9, July/August 1995)

While a woodchuck doesn’t chuck wood, it will chew wood. So Paskevich and Shea got 12 woodchucks and gave each woodchuck a 2×4 to chew on. On average, the woodchucks each chewed 361 cubic centimeters of wood per day, or 15.3 percent of a board foot. I’m assuming that these were pine 2x4s, so your average woodchuck would have slower going through hardwoods. Using the Janka hardness scale to account for differences in wood hardness, I figure that if a woodchuck will chew 361 ccs of pine per day, it will only chew 311 ccs of mahogany per day.

So if you have a woodchuck going to work on a New England secretary that contains 30 board-feet of mahogany, I figure it will take about 227 days for the woodchuck to finish it off.  For pine, 30 board-feet would take about 196 days.

Curious to see how long a woodchuck would take to chuck your latest project? I’ve created a handy woodchuck wood chucking calculator to crunch the numbers for you.

Just enter the number of woodchucks you have chucking, the board-feet of wood to be chucked, and select the wood species from the drop-down menu.

Click the link below to see the calculator. (It’s an Excel file). It will take you to another page, then click the link there to open or save the file.

Woodchuck Wood Chucking Calculator (Mac)

Woodchuck Wood Chucking Calculator (PC)

–Mike Wallace

6 thoughts on “How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck – Exactly?

  1. Jeff_in_KCMO

    crap, are you suggesting I have been in the wrong all these years and I should have been taking into account possible woodchuck chucking loss when calculating how many board feet of wood to purchase?

    The wife is right, yet again.

  2. Mike Wallace Post author

    A reader left a comment on the Woodchucking calculator PC download page asking about how finishes might affect the rate at which a woodchuck chucks. If I can find the data, I’ll add it in to the calculator.

    In the meantime, all I have to say is that if we’re talking about eating wood, the only appropriate finish is Tung Oil.

    (and Bender just told me not to quit my day job.)

  3. DonPeregoy

    I was a little apprehensive at first – but after reading this blog I think you’ll fit right in.
    Thanks Don

Comments are closed.