Ole and Lena

8 Years
Jul 22, 2011
Wright Co Minnesota
Last year here in the Midwest, with the propane prices spiking, one's woodstove became much more than an amenity to make the living room nice and cozy. Some of my extra firewood became a very valuable barter commodity when I needed my pickup fixed midwinter also.

Hopefully by now if you live in a cold climate you've got most of next years firewood split and stacked to dry (cutting wood in the summer is not fun). Thought I'd start a thread on some useful tips on wood gathering, processing and burning. First the basics, tools.

Chainsaw: Your saw should say Jonsered, Stihl, Sachs Dolmar, Husqvarna or Echo (IMHO in that order) on the side and should not be purchased new at a big box store. The extra $20 you'd spend on the same model of "farm grade" saw in a Husq. or Stihl at your local power equipment dealer will pay off in terms of helpful service if you need to bring it in for repair or routine maintenance. If you upgrade to a "pro" model saw for serious firewood cutting, that is the only option for a new saw. As far as used saws, that's a gamble. A chainsaw is subject to abuse even when used properly and professional cutters tend to use them until they are not worth fixing. Unless you're a good small engine mechanic and can get a couple of the same model to cannibalize parts, you're better off getting a new saw. Here in the North, where a 5 cord winter is not uncommon even with a high efficiency stove, a saw should have at least a 50cc engine. 60 or better if you will be cutting a lot of trees larger than 16" diameter. My wood supply runs on the small side so I've done well with a 52 CC Jonsered. 8 years old, only repair was fuel filter and carb kit.

Splitting tools: I've found the Fiskars firewood axes to be phenomenal splitting tools. They must be kept sharp. Much lighter to swing than the old murder mauls but split just as well or better. If you can afford a Swedish Gronfors Bruks or similar, God bless you and have fun. I'm still looking for a cheap used one. They are awesome. Forget the Hudson axe, wedges or triangle maul. They will split wood but the Scandinavians have perfected the splitting tool. Don't know much about gas, electric or hydraulic manual splitter. Never needed one. The next section will tell about that.

Wood selection: There are a million opinions on this. Most of your choices will be determined by whats available locally. I have access to Green ash, Box Elder and Silver maple. None are particularly good firewood. Ash is not bad but hard to process and it grows in the swamps around here so just getting it out is a pain. There are many charts available on BTUs, ease of processing and burning charachteristics. Use those as a guide to select which woods available to you to utilize. Sometimes something that splits really easy such as Red Maple will be a superior choice to gnarly old White Oaks even though it has significantly fewer BTUs per cubic foot. Why do I not feel the need for a gas splitter? I use the chainsaw. If there's a big knot, I cut through it to make 2 shorter pieces that can be split. If the cluster of knots is just too big or recalcitrant, it goes in the bonfire pile.

Feel free to add tips from your operation and tips on the woods found in your area of the country. Happy cutting!

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