According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a cant hook is: “A hinged metal hook at the end of a long handle, used for gripping and rolling logs.” One refinement of the cant hook is the timberjack, which attaches a stand to a cant hook, enabling the user to turn and elevate smaller logs, thus allowing the user to cut those logs without the saw coming in contact with the ground.
I own a 48-inch Ironton Wooden Handle Timberjack. It is an extremely useful tool. It allows me to roll larger logs and elevate smaller logs that I would otherwise have difficulty moving. The drawbacks are that the Ironton Timberjack is heavy, unwieldy, and often has trouble gripping logs larger than 10 inches in diameter.
Earlier this year, I saw an online advertisement for a tool called the LogOX. I was initially interested in the tool as an improved cant hook, since the angle of the hook looked better designed to grip logs of various sizes.
With that in mind, I contacted LogOX to see if I could borrow a 3-in-1 Forestry Tool for testing and evaluation. LogOX Co-Founder and General Manager, Austin Roberts, was kind enough to respond to my inquiry. We began a week-long conversation which culminated in Mr. Roberts agreeing to send me a Forester Package. In addition to the 3-in-1 tool, the Forester Package includes a pickaroon attachment, a hauler holster, and a gear bag.
During our conversation, Mr. Roberts encouraged me to view their 19-minute video. The shipping confirmation repeated this recommendation. The video reveals that Mr. Roberts is not just a desk jockey. He is fit, skilled with a chainsaw, and possesses sound practical knowledge about harvesting timber. The video was filled with helpful tips about how to get the most out of the Forester Package.
Three days after Mr. Roberts agreed to provide the Forester Package, it was delivered.
Opening the Box
The entire Forester Package comes in a box with an outside dimension of 28.5″ X 9.5″ X 5.75″. The tool set is manufactured for LogOX of American steel by the Swisher company in Warrensburg, Missouri. The Swisher company is probably best known for their lawnmowers. LogOX tools are drop-shipped directly from the Swisher factory to the customer. My first impression upon opening the box was that the tools seem to have a reassuringly sturdy construction. If you have held any older American-made tools, you may have noticed that they have a certain solidity in comparison with more modern Chinese knock-offs. LogOX tools seem to favorably reflect their American heritage.
The powder-coated finish is likewise attractive and durable looking. The gear bag also seems to be well constructed, and is also made in the USA. The straps on the gear bag are long enough to allow it to be slung over both shoulders backpack style. The enclosed instructions do a good job of summarizing the main ideas from the video.
The Hauler is the primary component, which the other components supplement. It basically serves the purpose of a much improved set of log tongs. It is easy to use the Hauler to reach down and snag a round or some branches to move them around. It can also be used without modification as a 21″ cant hook.
By adding the Handle to the Hauler, it becomes a 38″ cant hook. The Handle can also be used in conjunction with the PickOX pickaroon head (see below).
Adding the Stand to the 38″ cant hook converts it into a timberjack.
A pickaroon is a short-handled, metal-topped log handling tool with a fixed hook that is curved toward the handle. Adding the PickOX to the handle creates a pickaroon.
The Holster can be attached to a belt to conveniently hold the Hauler while operating the controls of a log splitter or wood chipper.
The CarryOX Gear Bag
The Gear Bag is designed to hold all of the components of the Forester Package.
The First Field Test
My first opportunity to test the Forester Package came when I needed to fell and haul away a pine tree that had grown too tall next to the building where my church meets. The tree was leaning slightly away from the building, making felling it a relatively straightforward task. The scent of freshly cut pine filled the air. I limbed the tree, cut the trunk into eight-foot sections, and then went to work with the Hauler in one hand and the PickOX pickaroon in the other. It was surprising how nice it was to be able to move the brush onto my trailer without needing to bend over. The hauler also allowed me to move the trunk sections more ergonomically. Although I was originally interested in the LogOX as a cant hook improvement, it was the Haulers’ benefits for my back that impressed me the most.
The Second Field Test
My next opportunity for testing came in conjunction with a new neighbor building a house north of me. The builders cut down a number of trees to clear the way for his driveway, and my new neighbor gave me permission to cut those trees up for firewood. So one Saturday morning, I spent a couple of hours bucking and hauling about a half cord of wood.
The area by my neighbor’s driveway was marshy and somewhat torn up by all of the construction. I was able to grab larger rounds without bending over with the Hauler in my right hand, and snare smaller rounds with the PickOX pickaroon in my left hand. This made the task much easier on my back, and was a big help as I made repeated trips over soggy and uneven ground.
The tools did not work as well for my wife. With her shorter legs, she had to lift the tools to get ground clearance while she was using them. This placed extra strain on her shoulders.
The Third Field Test
A week later, I was back by my neighbor’s new driveway, bucking and hauling a full cord of firewood. I was able to use the Hauler effectively as a 21″ cant hook, but received the most benefit from using the Hauler in one hand and the PickOX pickaroon in the other to haul the bucked rounds out of swampy ground.
The PickOX pickaroon worked okay, but I was so impressed with the performance of the Hauler that I decided to order a second one on my own dime. This would enable me to haul equally sized rounds in each hand and thus have a balanced load.
I placed the order later that day, and four days later it was delivered. I was delighted to find that there was enough room in the CarryOX gear bag to accommodate the second Hauler as well.
The Tree-House Test
The next opportunity to test the tool came in conjunction with the construction of a treehouse for my grandchildren. I decided to support some of the corners of the treehouse with sections of old telephone pole that I had salvaged from the tree lot of a nearby community. The Hauler made handling sections of telephone pole dramatically easier than handling them without the tool.
The Mission Trip Test
A group of 32 people from my church traveled to Montana to do some work at a Bible camp run by one of our missionaries. Most of our work was focused on putting new siding and windows on the dining hall and the boys’ and girls’ dorms. The missionary also indicated that he had recently received two logging-truck-loads of firewood (about 30 cord) that could be processed. I took the LogOX tools along to help with that project. Splitting wood by hand can be hard work. Early in the week, about two dozen members of the team indicated interest in splitting wood for a couple of hours each day. Many of these team members were teen boys.
We had only three splitting tools (an 8-pound maul, a 4 ½ pound maul, and a Fiskars splitting axe), so only three people could split wood at a time. I only allowed people to split for two hours each day, since many of them were new to wood splitting, and I did not want to exhaust them.
I noticed that teen boys split wood most vigorously when teen girls are watching. Without an audience of teen girls, many of them quickly lost their enthusiasm. By the end of the week, less than half of those who indicated interest in wood processing were still participating. The majority of those who continued were people who heat their own homes with wood, and who thus had more experience splitting wood.
Our church is located in an area where we burn primarily hardwood in our stoves and boilers. The wood we were splitting in Montana was pine. We could not figure out why about half the rounds that we tried to process split easily, while the other half were almost impossible to split. After a couple of days of frustration, I finally asked the missionary if there was some secret trick to splitting pine. He replied that dry pine splits easily, while green pine is very difficult to split. Testing a random sample quickly confirmed this observation. From then on, we concentrated on splitting the dry pine, and put the green pine aside for further seasoning. This made our task much easier.
By the end of the week, our team had split more than six full cords of firewood. Using two Haulers together really helped my back whenever we were moving rounds farther than I could toss them. Using two Haulers together is so effective that I recommend that LogOX create a bundle that includes this combination.
I asked other team members to write their observations about the LogOX tools. Most of them were too busy or too exhausted to take the time to write. But one young man, “Zeph”, was kind enough to share his observations: “The Haulers are a very effective way to move smaller and medium logs. The only flaw is that the big logs sometimes don’t fit in the Haulers.” Zeph’s observation about big logs demonstrates that he is younger and stronger than I am. From my perspective, if a round was too large to pick up with a hauler, it was too large to pick up.
The LogOX Forester Package is an outstanding set of tools for processing firewood, cutting lumber, moving telephone poles, and other tasks involving large pieces of wood. The tools are well made, durable, attractive, and effective.
My only recommendation would be to offer a bundle that includes two Haulers. This allows the user a better-balanced system for hauling wood.
I heartily recommend LogOX products to wood harvesters everywhere.
LogOX was kind enough to provide me with a sample of their Forester Package for testing and evaluation. I tried not to let this kindness unduly influence my evaluation of the product. I believe that I have succeeded in drawing objective conclusions.