THE firewood thread

Discussion in 'DIY / Self Sufficiency' started by Ole and Lena, Aug 25, 2014.

  1. Ole and Lena

    Ole and Lena Chillin' With My Peeps

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    With a healthy chill in the air tonight, thought I'd talk firewood. Tools, old time tricks, new technology, scrounging/sourcing free or low cost wood, species selection, woodlot management etc are all fair game. I'll testify to my credibility on this subject having worked as a logger, studying forestry in college, burning wood all my life and studying woodcraft under some of the best oldtimers in the North Woods.

    Lets start with tools today. I just bought a 59,9CC Echo chainsaw. Going out on a limb a bit here, being a long time Jonsered/Husky guy but it's got good reviews and seems to be a solid, well put together saw for $400 out the door equipped with quality Oregon chisel chain and a 20" bar. Preliminary handling and performance on a couple light logs in the backyard is good. I should have a more detailed report by Dec. when I get into some serious wood.

    A quality chainsaw is a must for anybody considering heating with wood in a cold climate. If it says Jonsered, Husqvarna or Stihl it's a pretty safe bet to be a good machine. We'll see about the Echos. If you only use wood occasionally, say less than 2 cords a year you can get by with a big box store Poulan or similar, but if you can afford it, the quality saw will give you better performance for more time with less maintenance. For any serious firewood cutting, I'd say 50cc and 18" bar would be the absolute minimum I would consider. If your typical tree is under 12", a 50-55cc "pro" saw will be a firewood making juggernaut for you. My Jonsered 2152 has served beautifully in this regard for 6 years cutting about 8 cords of hardwood per year with minimal maintenance. Finally had the carb rebuilt last year. For larger trees or any production logging, I'd step up to the 60-70cc range. If you're an experienced cutter, "chisel" cutter chain will seriously outperform "semi-chisel" or low profile chain. The only time I use semi-chisel is when I am cutting very dirty wood.

    If you can afford a gas splitter great. I prefer the cost and exercise of hand splitting. I use a Fiskars firewood axe. Gronfors Brukks and similar designs are truly awesome but expensive. Stihl also makes a quality splitting axe. Forget the Hudson style axes and heavy wedge mauls for splitting. The first is not designed for serious wood splitting but works well for kindling or very straight grained wood, the second is outdated garbage. If you really hate your back, get a 12 lb wedge maul. You'll work twice as hard for half the wood I can make with my Fiskars. You should almost never have to drive a wedge with a sledge unless you're making timbers. It is good to have one around to free the occasional chainsaw bar pinched in a kerf or axe stuck in a log though. They make nice .22 targets too. Just drive it into a stump and plink away. 2 of them driven into a stump make a good field expedient vice-clamp to work on tools or sharpen saw chain.
     
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  2. HugHess

    HugHess Chickrack Addict

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    Go BROWNS
    Thanks for the thread. Will definitely have to follow this one.
    You are the first person to put a smile on my face with the thought of 'chills' in the air soon to come, and the very best way to combat it! Lol. Didn't think that was possible, especially in August.
    Bless you just for that!
    Just bought the 'ol man a Husqvarna chainsaw a couple of months ago...I have zero experience in the chainsaw department.
    Hope I did alright?
    Thought I did, with the reviews and 'research', but you know how that can go.
    Told him I wanted an axe for my birthday...we'll have to see if he ponies up!?
    I like that you would rather chop with an axe...that's what I figured...he can cut the 'big' stuff and I will hack away to make the final product...
    Cheers to a 'toasty' winter....
     
  3. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    After a lifetime of 2 cycle maintenance headaches, I'm now a firm believer in the (yes stupid expensive) premixed synthetic fuels you can get now at the store in the quart cans... I don't use that much yearly that it's overly expensive in the grand scheme and it's cut my annual maintenance on all my 2 cycle tools to pretty much nothing, where before it seemed like I was tearing something apart every season...

    As for wood, whatever is available at the time, I don't want to get into the debates as it's certainly a hot debate in the Midwest where everyone insist you use seasoned OAK or some other hardwood or you will kill yourself... I personally don't buy the nonsense and I will use what is available an adjust my burn patterns appropriately... I recently have been using a lot of skid and pallet wood, I can pick up a decent amount all summer for nothing and they stack great even before I cut and bunk them... They stopped chemically treating pallets decades ago and most are hardwood anyway...
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2014
  4. RichnSteph

    RichnSteph Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've got an 025 Stihl that I bought back in 2000 or so that still fires up with a half dozen pulls after sitting for months on end. It's one of the few things I ever bought brand new. This fall it's going to get a workout as I have a huge pile of oak and walnut to dive into and block out for the fire place and BBQ pit. We don't need firewood often down here but I like to have it for a little fire when we have guests over. It makes the house more cheerful and happy.

    RichnSteph
     
  5. Ole and Lena

    Ole and Lena Chillin' With My Peeps

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    http://www.baileysonline.com/Forest...uper-Splitting-Axe-with-28-Handle.axd#reviews This is my favorite splitting tool. Spendy, but effective and well built. Even splits elm fairly well.

    As for wood, I burn a lot of what I can scrounge too. I talked to some neighbors and got permission to cut in one's woodlot 1/2 mile down the road. Mostly box-elder... pretty poor firewood... but the proximity to home makes it attractive and it's pretty easy to process. So long as I can scrounge up some quality hardwood to mix in, it keeps the house warm. This winter I'll finally get to cut some oak and maple nearby, hence the bigger saw. Pallets are generally pretty good firewood too but beware of pine pallets. Some are extremely pitchy and will deposit big-time creosote in your chimney. Processing them can be a pain too.

    My personal picks for firewood in my part of the country based on btu content, ease of processing and clean burn are as follows from best to worst. Sugar maple, Black Ash, Green ash, Red Oak, White Oak, small elm (small enough to not require splitting), Red maple, Birch, Silver Maple, Box elder, Aspen, basswood. The latter 2 produce very little heat per volume but make great kindling and are useful when only a small fire is desired rather than an all night burn. Other trees such as walnut, bitternut hickory, butternut, black cherry and ironwood also make fantastic firewood but are not present in large enough quantities locally to utilize extensively. If limited to conifers, I'll burn white or black spruce. In a pinch way up north, standing dead jack pine is usually dry enough to burn right off the stump if you find yourself at a Canadian cabin in subzero weather with a depleted woodpile (speaking from experience). Stay away from any of the pines or balsam fir as they will deposit heavy creosote in your flue. White cedar makes fantastic kindling though.
     
  6. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps


    Seasoned pine will leave no more cresote then seasoned oak if you adjust your burn properly, more air & hotter flame when running pine you don't kick it down to a low burn like you do hardwoods, that is what causes the excess cresote build up combined with improperly seasoned pine... The problem is many people run their fires the same way as they do for hardwoods out of habit usually or ignorance and/or don't properly season the wood and this will cause excess creosote build up, no matter what kind of wood is used...

    Feel free to explore the "pine = bad" myth busting in a Google search... http://bit.ly/1luXT5v
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2014
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  7. wyoDreamer

    wyoDreamer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Living in Wyoming, we didn't have much choice on what we burned. The Ponderosa Pine was 8 miles down the road, the Lodgepole Pine was a 2 hour drive. Lodgepole split better and you could get a larger diameter, and had a 0.6 better BTU value. We burned 8 cord of wood a year. 6 cord of Ponderosa and 2 cord of Elm we purchased from a rancher in Nebraska. The elm was for the cold nights of February. I wasn't a fan of the elm - it really stinks when you burn it.
     
  8. RichnSteph

    RichnSteph Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Adkins Texas
    Ole and Lena,

    Which Fiskars do you own? I went to get the old splitting axe out of my grandfathers shed and was horrified to realize it's an 8lb splitting wedge welded to a 3.5' long piece of pipe. No way in heck is this old man swinging that thing. I don't remember it being that angry looking as a kid.

    RichnSteph
     
  9. CanuckBock

    CanuckBock THE Village Ijit

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    My Coop
    Hmmm...Father was a faller...so wanna take a stab at how many of Mother's dryers his wool-socks-fulla-sawdust he kilt?

    Use to brag that although his house furnace was an oil/wood combo...he never had a drop of oil in the tank...no matter.

    Moved away many decades ago but never have kicked the wood stove habit. Nothing warms like wood heat. [​IMG]

    I married a cabinet maker gone grader men...so lots of op to get wood out in the bush. We burn spruce and pine but as of late...it is birch we be bucking to length, loading, hauling, unloading, seasoning, splitting, hauling, stacking and then finally hauling to the wood boxes in the Man Porch for storage pre actual burning.

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    Was running outta places to stow the rounds!​

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    I know my Hero uses a Husqvarna, but just a small saw...well small compared to my Father's rig. It has been a loong while but them fallers on the Northern WEsT Coast use to pack the biggest saw possible (Huskies...) with bars that were 36 if not 48 inches long--real grunt work but the trees were huge; Red Cedar, Yellow Cypress and the usual Spruce, Fir and Pines. I know we bought one off one guy that was trying to show off and it became rather too much for him to keep hauling it about in the bush...monster machine but we have it for running in the Alaska mill and don't care how much it weighs versus how portable it is. [​IMG]

    Had a SIL once say that firewood was easy...well it mighta bin fer her...as she tried not to break a nail as she did the only handling of wood by picking a piece from beside the hearth and tossing in in the stove...

    Tompall Glaser: Never forget that, "Firewood is Easy!" Sure Hon...I guess you don't earn your second slice of booberry pie working up a sweat to keep yerself and the fam warm, eh?

    I like doing my part to help in the firewood escapades. That way when it's -50C and the winds are whistling up a Northerner...I can honestly sit inside toasty warm knowing I earned that right to do this slothing too. [​IMG]


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    So the birch we bin getting is from trees cut for right of ways. Pretty durn sinful, the size of these trees but we have no say in what lives or dies when it comes to pushing pipe so the best we can do is make sure those trees go to good use.


    My spouse will cut a load of wood after work...haul it home and I take over the off loading. He runs the splitter (3 ton) and uses the tractor bucket (Kabota) to haul the splits up and start dumping them into temporary piles.


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    He piles that firewood up high when she is split...

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    The stacked rounds become piles of splits awaiting stowing them away...

    The stacking part...well that is my game. [​IMG]


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    When you burn as much wood as we do...you gotta come up with some way to store it so it dries out and stays dry...thereby the walls of wood were begun. Some people might make investments in stocks and bonds. Not us--no way! Our investment in ourselves is in our walls of wood. Virtual bricks of gold I figure...especially when the weather is cold and you want to survive it in warmth and style. Bring on the wood, the firewood a plenty. [​IMG]

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    Small rounds are nice to burn...so long as they are DRY! Make a good night log, eh! [​IMG]

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    My walls of wood run 21 now and I am dang proud to keep them topped up and full.

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    I'd like a few more but heck...how many cords is one suppose to use up?


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    I don't run the chain saw or the winch to drag the rounds up a plank into the pickup--that's a blue job I guess...and yeh, I said ele winch...got a problem with that concept eh? You see the wood...two rounds fill the pickup box and well the one dog thinks they are rather fine perches up outta the snow and ice.

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    Right now, we are plumb full up...all twenty-one walls of wood are brimming to over flowing and yet...still more splits sit and wait.

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    Nice to have that in reserve...you cannot always count that you won't get busy and not have time to manage your firewood needs decently.

    I like to stack wood at -10C/14F...no bugs and t-shirt weather after going thru an Alberta winter and coming out the other side. That way I figure the wood has all summer to have those winds blow and dry her out.

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    Not jest stock piles of firewood but walls of double dutying privacy & wind break too [​IMG]

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    Besides, not sure about you guys but I like to see the firewood all stacked up...gives you a nice sense of security knowing it is banked and waiting there. Takes all the urgency out of getting her put up and by. [​IMG]

    Wood stove runs 24/7 starting end of September and don't stop until about middle of May as far as constant. Might get at best two months (mid June to mid August) of decent no fires at all needed weather here in the igloo.

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    Gotta be pretty serious about wood as a heat source when you got a wood stove in the Man Porch! [​IMG]

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    So that's my story on our walls of wood...maybe not much in regards to the actual dynamics on the tree falling part though. When we are not harvesting pipeline right of way birch, he kinda targets the dead standing and windfalls--stuff that is already dead and leaves the other live trees to keep on growing. The more they grow, the more wood is available, and more wood means one can surely keep those HOME FIRES A BURNING!
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    Doggone & Chicken UP!

    Tara Lee Higgins
    Higgins Rat Ranch Conservation Farm, Alberta, Canada
     
    K.Riggs and Beekissed like this.
  10. Ole and Lena

    Ole and Lena Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wright Co Minnesota
    Canuck, great post. Especially the pictures of the wood stacks. Really shows the dynamics for proper drying. Single or double row, open to the air on both sides and racked off the ground on skids allowing air to chimney through the pile. Wood dries mostly out the ends, not the sides. Properly stacked, even green hardwood will season well within a year. Pretty wet and snowy here, I like to top my open piles with some flat splits about 2X8" to shed the shed rain water and snow melt. Those flat splits also make for a hot burn when you need fast heat. If you have wood with loose bark like oak or elm you can use the bark slabs for this or some scrap plywood laying about. Never tarp a rack, it will trap in moisture and grow fungus. There is also a teepee method to open air drying that works well in dryer areas. It's a decent option to start the drying process when cutting in winter and hauling wood to the farmsite isn't practical until spring/summer.

    Don't feel bad about those large birch logs. Birch is a short lived tree, they would likely die soon anyway. Firewood is a good use.

    I'll try to post a link to the Fiskars axe. They make a few different models. Basically the longer the handle, the more splitting power you'll have. If you have easy wood like birch, spruce, maple, one of the shorter ones will do. If you've got stubborn logs, go for the big one. http://api.viglink.com/api/click?fo...25-Super-Splitting-Axe-with-28-Handle.axd#rev...
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2014

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