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Author Topic: How do you do firewood?  (Read 10666 times)

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Offline bigtreesinwa

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How do you do firewood?
« on: May 29, 2008, 01:09:31 am »
Ok, so I finally acquired some beautiful land with an abundance of timber in Western Washington. I figure I'll have a lifetime supply of firewood from my property if I just can figure out how to efficiently make good use of it.

So I'm wondering how do you guys do firewood? What trees do you cut up, where do you buck them (do you skid them to where you pile firewood or buck them and then haul them), how do you haul the firewood around, and the like.

I see lots of fancy equipment (ATVs, skidders, etc) that I can buy that will make firewood cutting a breeze - but spending $5000 on an ATV or $15,000 on a skidder doesn't really make sense to help me with 3 - 6 cords of wood that I might do in a year.

Basically, I'm wondering if anyone here would like to tell their stories on how they do firewood, and then I'll read them and figure out what makes the best sense for me. It doesn't matter if you live in Washington or Maine or Minnesota - tell me your stories and I'll take whatever I can from them.

Offline breederman

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Re: How do you do firewood?
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2008, 06:55:55 am »
You can spend alot of money on equipment ,but you don,t have to. I use a chain saw and an old Geo Tracker for my "Woods mobile"  I can skid with it but generally cut to length where they lay, as it dose no damage to my roads and I don,t have to worry about damage to other trees along the skid road. A small fwd pickup would haul more cut wood but would be less manuverable in the woods. Besides my back and elbows need plenty of rest breaks!
 If you cut blowdowns and dead trees and then work on ones that obviously should come down you will probably find more wood than you need.
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Offline Ed

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Re: How do you do firewood?
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2008, 08:32:55 am »
All of my firewood and logs that come from our family farm are salvage. Some of the trees are easy to get to, others can be a pain.
I primarily use 2 different toys, uh, tools to get the wood out.
For smaller stuff that doesn't get split, I can usually access it with my 6x6 Polaris. Cut to length, load up the box & head out.
Larger logs I get with the tractor (New Holland 2120). I prefer to skid the logs to a landing point where I can block & stack them for splitting at a later time.

A 4x4 atv or compact tractor with a small trailer works good for firewood cutting, you can get in and around the woods easily with a minimum of damage to the area.

Ed


Offline Dodgy Loner

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Re: How do you do firewood?
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2008, 09:52:33 am »
Even a small acreage can yield more firewood than you can handle.  I made spending money when I lived with my parents by cutting firewood during the spring and summer and selling it in the winter.  They only had 15 acres of forest, and I only cut dead, diseased or deformed trees.  I sold about 5-10 cords a year.

I used a tractor to skid the logs to a central location where I cut them into firewood lengths and split them.  If I had a tree that was inaccessible, I would just cut and split on site, and haul the wood to the tractor.  I don't like doing that, though, because there are more limbs and shrubs to trip you out in the woods than there are in a clear location - not really what you want when you're handling chainsaws and axes.
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Offline RSteiner

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Re: How do you do firewood?
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2008, 03:17:07 pm »
Been at this fire wood thing for 34 heating seasons now at about 8 cords per year.  The method that seems to best for me with the equipment I have is this.  I have a 30 hp. Kubota with a Farmi winch and a trailer that will hold 3/4 of a full cord.  I pull the wood to the tractor, block it into stove length chunks, load them into the tractor and take them to the wood piling area.  Some times I split the load on the spot and throw it in a pile, some times I pile the chunks to be split later.

The split wood gets piled where it will live until it is time to fill the "wood box" a.k.a. the back porch.  I try to have two years wood on hand so I can have good dry wood to burn.  Most of my wood comes either a couple of miles from home or up to 10 miles away.

I have tried many other methods most of them involved handling the wood several more times.  I try not to move or handle each piece more than necessary.  Those who pile their fire wood in palletized loads which they can move with a tractor seem to have an advantage in the handling area.

Randy
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Re: How do you do firewood?
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2008, 04:34:37 pm »
......... abundance of timber in Western Washington. .................... What trees do you cut up, ?

What species do you have that you want to turn into firewood?

Level land, or steep hillside?

Many ways to do it, just depends on how much time you have want to spend, and what $$$ you want to invest in toys tools and such.  :) :)

I've gone from splitting at the stump, and hauling split wood in a trailer to a wood pile, where it was stacked under roof for drying two years.....to pulling in log lengths to a splitting area where the split pieces are stacked on pallets and moved to a drying site for two years (at least), then the pallets of dry wood are moved to the garage for burning. I've a wood splitter and a 33 hp tractor/loader with forks for equipment.  Tops are either cut to firewood length in the woods and hauled in the bucket or cut to short (three firewood) lengths and hauled to the splitting area on the forks.

 
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Offline bigtreesinwa

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Re: How do you do firewood?
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2008, 05:47:19 pm »
What species do you have that you want to turn into firewood?

Here is Western Washington, I have pretty much whatever species of firewood to choose from. I have lots to choose from, starting cheap wood (poplar and cottonwood), traditional Washington firewood (Douglas-Fir and Big Leaf Maple), to prime firewood (Bitter Cherry and Paper Birch).

The fun thing around here with firewood is the diameter of the wood. The bitter cherry runs up to 16" (ground level), the red cedar runs 24", the Douglas-fir runs 36". While one tree holds a lot of wood, it also creates some interested problems because the rounds are huge and heavy!

Offline maple flats

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Re: How do you do firewood?
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2008, 06:48:01 pm »
How much acreage of these do you have? If there is enough I would suggest you mark for a timberstand improvement cutting on a limited scale. Sell the bigger/better logs and process the tops. There must be some smaller loggers in the area that will do a 1 or 2 load harvest. The stuff unsuitable for the mill will give you lots of firewood. Have the logger haul wwhat you are keeping to a landing along with what is being sold. Have a forester mark the woodlot before contacting the logger. Most states have state foresters who will help you with this at no cost to you (unless you count what taxes you already pay) Having a timberstand improvement marking and harvest will help you realize much better forest income in years to come.
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Offline John Mc

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Re: How do you do firewood?
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2008, 10:25:48 am »
Sorry for this long ramble. iI just thought I'd show how my approach varied with the equipment I had available, and the amount of time I could spend away from the house (a 3 and a 6 year old limit free time in the woods). My signature quote on another web forum is "When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem tends to look like a nail"... and my firewood gathering efforts have definitely followed that observation.

I started out felling and cutting to 4 foot lengths right at the stump, then hauling them back to the house in the bucket of the tractor (occasionally with a 12 or 16 footer dragging behind me). Not very efficient, since the bucket doesn't hold much. I'd occasionally make trips out on my "Garden Tractor" (basically a glorified riding lawn mower) with a small wagon behind that to pick up some of the 4 footers I'd left out there. Eventually started using an 8' x 5' trailer my neighbor made from spare parts. This helped the efficiency of the hauling a good bit. If I was short on "away from the house time" (i.e. it's my turn to watch the kids) This is what I stuck with for a while. It let me get a fair amount of wood back up to the house, and I could cut it to stove length and still be around to keep an eye on the kids. When I had more time, I'd cut to stove length right in the woods. Most of the trees I've been taking on my own property were on or near the trails, so this system worked out well for a good while.

More recently, I got into some firewood harvesting a few miles from my house, in a cooperative venture with a group of co-owners on that land. I drove my tractor over (don't own a trailer big enough for it). Generally I would drop the trees, and limb them. Where I could get a chain to them, I'd drag them to trailside, then cut to four foot lengths and load in the trailer. Where the trees were too far in to reach with the tractor, I cut to our foot lengths and dragged them out to the trailer by hand (a pair of hand-held tongs helped with this tremendously. I still spent the whole time wishing I owned a logging winch). I'd use my tractor to run the trailer down to the landing, and then use my minivan to pull the trailer home. (The minivan is rated for 3500# towing, so a half cord of green hardwood plus the trailer kept me comfortably under my towing limit, even in this hilly area). Towards the end of that season, I started cutting things down to 16" as soon as I got them trailside... I figured it didn't make much sense to do some of the cutting, load them into the trailer, then unload and do more cutting when I got home.

I could see that someday I would get to the limits of what was easy to reach on my own land, and I and the others on the jointly owned parcel could also put a logging winch to good use on that land. So, after 6 years of keeping my eye out for a decent used logging winch to fit my tractor, I gave up and bought a new Uniforest 35E logging winch (more or less similar to a Farmi 351). In most cases now, I drop the trees, skid them trailside with the winch, and cut to stove length there, then load into the trailer and haul it home. In some cases on my own property, I just skid the limbed trees back up to the house area, but I plan to minimize that, to keep the mess down.

Before I bought the winch, the joint owners and I were discussing buying an appropriate rope and a snatch block. The plan was to use a tractor or pickup to pull the rope and skid logs. With the snatch block tied to a likely tree or stump, the truck or tractor could just drive down the trail to pull the logs out of the woods and up to the trail. That might have worked, but would probably take two people to operate. Somethign to think about if the hand hauling starts to get old, but you can't justify the purchase of more expensive equipment.

I do all my splitting up near the house. It makes it easier to work in with other chores, and to do short sessions here and there. I also own a 16 ton electric log splitter (the biggest one I could find that would still run off of 110 volt AC). If I wanted to split in the woods, I'd have to drag that out with me. If I had a gas or 3 point hitch log splitter, I suppose I might do some of the splitting in the woods. If I were splitting in the woods, I'd probably go to the pallets with plastic fencing for sides. I'd cut, split, and throw the logs into the pallets, which would probably minimize handling.

Hope some of this helps, or at least sparks some ideas.

John Mc

Small time fire-wooder in a neighborhood cooperative.

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

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Re: How do you do firewood?
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2008, 08:59:02 pm »
When it comes to firewood, I am a little on the lazy side. I cut it to firewood length as close as I can to where I dropped it. Of course I must have tractor access to it. Otherwise I drag it to a trail & then cut it to firewood length. I then place a pallet by the wood & load it. Move it with the FEL to a storage area. Inside area of the pallet is approximately 3 x 5 by 4 high, which is about a quarter chord (as loaded). That is about all my FEL will handle when the wood is green.   It stays on the pallet until I burn in an outside furnace. Handle it twice, once when cut & once when burned.




Offline zackman1801

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Re: How do you do firewood?
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2008, 09:03:46 pm »
when i was cutting firewood about a month back with my uncle we would cut the trees that we wanted, get them limbed up and then get the tractor in with the winch, winch em in and then after we had a few hitched on drag em to a landing that was about 200 feet away, since we were just off the lawn into the woods. after we got about 6-7 hitches out we would then take a short break and cut the smaller stuff into 30" lengths, and we then left the bigger stuff to be hauled to his house by a pulp truck, we were cutting at his fathers house which was only about 10 mins away so it wasnt much for trucking. The stuff we cut up we came back and got with a pick up and a trailer.
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Offline Wallys World

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Re: How do you do firewood?
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2008, 09:18:30 pm »
We have 100 acres to get wood from. We moved here 2 years ago and I haven't cut a live tree down yet for firewood. We usally cut it in tree length and skid it to a central spot where we buck it it and split it. Then we take it to the house. We are supplying 3 houses, my aunt, cousin and ourselves. Luckily all the houses are on the 100 acres so we don't move it too far.
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Re: How do you do firewood?
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2008, 09:35:08 pm »
I am spolied, I have a metavic log loading trailer.  I pick up and load 10 to 16 foot lengths and drive them to my splitter and then hold them at waist height with the loader to cut.  Any too big to lift I put on the splitter with the loader.  Once you have a grapple you will never consider any other method.
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Re: How do you do firewood?
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2008, 09:52:06 pm »
I bought a outdoor furnace instead of a log loading trailer.Maybe next time I'll get one and be spoiled.Now I twitch the wood out tree length and push it up in a pile and saw it 4 foot and wait for it to snow.I'm still clearing the grown up pasture.A 8 inch tree is big in the pasture.Now I twitch out limbs and all and pull up to the brush pile and saw off what I don't want.When I get to the wood pile I saw the limbs off and throw them into the wood pile to be sawed up.When I was cutting for logs,I saw the logs out and saw the limbs off.Those bigger tree limbs really dig up the ground.Than I would pile up the limb wood and pick it up with a trailer.I would pile up the limb wood in one long pile and than get on top of it and saw down through it.Some slow handling the limb wood,but I would burn 2-3 cords of it as year.
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Re: How do you do firewood?
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2008, 09:55:10 pm »
I have been burning wood in one form or another since I was 14 years old washing cars in my mothers garage in the winter to make money (I was a hustler early on). I am at the point where I tend to buy it to feed the wood shop stove. HOWEVER, if I where to begin cutting my own, I would use a trailer w/ either metal crates or pallets with sides as others have shown. The ABSOLUTE key is to touch the wood as few times as possible. load it right onto the pallet/crate and never touch it until it goes into the stove. I try to avoid splitting at all costs (more handling), rounds burn longer anyway. I would use a forklift or tractor with FEL to unload the pallets until needed then move them close to the door and go at it.

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Re: How do you do firewood?
« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2008, 10:55:58 pm »
How I used to do it and the progression toward how it's done on the farm now  :) :)  Went from taking the splitter and old manure spreader to the woods to a processor and elevator.  Wood is no longer stacked in the sheds for our use we just back in with the old spreader or dump truck and dump a couple cords as we need it  8) 8)  We used an H Farmall with an old manure loader to load the processor and a B Farmall to run the old hay elevator to load the dump trailer.  Then an Iron Mule forwarder was added to the mix and a better old elevator powered with a Chinese Honda clone.  A year ago a 753 Bobcat entered the mix, last fall a purpose built firewood conveyor joined the fleet and last Dec an 84 1 ton Chevy 4X4 dump came into play.  Now I want to get the processor in a building over a barn cleaner.  That'll be a couple years. 
 
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Offline rebocardo

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Re: How do you do firewood?
« Reply #16 on: May 31, 2008, 01:43:07 am »
Your best bet is a full sized 4x4, with A/C, V-8/diesel power, and a dump body. I can speak from personal experience, tossing firewood into a bed and then tossing it out can get a bit much after the first two cords in the same day.

Plus, if you decide to sell it, it is much nicer to just dump a 1/2 a cord then to unload it by hand.

I would buck the trees I wanted, take a log splitter in the bed or on a small trailer, split the rounds, then once I have split 2-3 cords, come back to it pick it all up in the truck.

I would lean towards a Ford F-350 7.3 4x4 (mostly for the beefy front drive train) or Dodge 3500 I-6 Cummings. The reason for the diesels is because it uses much less fuel idling, they have the payload capacity for carrying green firewood and the dump body, and they have the low rpm torque you need to get going while driving slow.

I would avoid skidding logs just because of the dirt in the logs, unless you decide to go big buck$ and get a log arch and all that. Just remember when you skid using a cable or chain, have good headache protection.

Offline Rick Alger

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Re: How do you do firewood?
« Reply #17 on: May 31, 2008, 10:54:47 am »
I've done a good bit of logging with skidders and horses. For volume production, skidding tree length to a yard is the most efficient.

But cutting 3-6 cords a year on your own land requires different efficiencies.

Years ago when we had no money, we would selectively cut wood on our own land, split it by hand and pile it on runners in the woods. Then we would let it season a year, and  scoot it out directly to the woodshed with a $150 Welsh pony. (One year when the pony was lame we used a homemade hand sled.) It took less than a week to cut split and pile five cords of wood at the stump, and 2-4 days to scoot it to cover.



Offline John Mc

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Re: How do you do firewood?
« Reply #18 on: May 31, 2008, 11:40:35 am »
Maybe I misinterpreted BigTreesinWa's original post. I got the impression he was looking for low-budget/simple ways of gathering and processing firewood for personal use. I'd love to have some of the equipment described here, but for personal firewood use, even in cooperation with 8 or 10 other families I'm pushing what is justifiable with the equipment I already have (Compact Tractor, logging winch, beater trailer, chainsaws, and miscellaneous tools).

I'd love to have a real log trailer with a grapple loader, a dump trailer or dump bed truck, but that's just not in the cards for me... unless one of the neighbors or friends gets much more serious about this and we can share the cost.

Considering I started with an old Sears garden tractor (mower deck removed, ag-style tires) with a Rubbermaid trailer, a Jonsered 2141 chainsaw and a splitting maul, I'm thrilled to have the equipment I have now... now if I could just stop drooling over all the great stuff the rest of you guys have.

John Mc
Small time fire-wooder in a neighborhood cooperative.

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Offline DKinWA

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Re: How do you do firewood?
« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2008, 02:17:36 pm »
I was just looking at craigslist and there are lots of folks that will cut/split/deliver/stack for less than $200 a cord here in western washington.  If you only need 6 cords a year, I would keep your equipment needs to the bare minimum.  A saw, safety equipment, splitting mall and a wheel barrow or garden cart is about all I would buy if you are trying to cut costs on heating.  If you worked a few hours a week getting your wood, it wouldn't take long stockpile 6 cords.  You also get the added benefit of getting regular exercise which is a real plus if you have an office job.  Sell a couple extra cords a year and you would pay for the the equipment you purchased in no time at all.