On firewood

4th June, 2017

   Iíve had the pleasure of working on firewood during todayís Co-op workday, and noticed that a little friendly advice would save work, effort and money, and make things easier on quite a number of people.


   The people who are cutting wood up into lengths are doing about one-and-a-half times as much work as is needed. The trick is to measure up the longest piece of wood that will comfortably fit into a particular stove or fireplace. Until you get your eye in, actually measuring is a good idea. One way is to have a stick cut to the right length, and placing it on the log to determine the next cutting spot.

   In the Lodge, we have the kitchen stove, which needs short lengths, a couple of Nectre heaters, and the boiler down below, which accepts long bits and odd shapes.

   Well, we currently have LOTS of short lengths that will fit in the kitchen stove, some wood for the boiler, and practically none the right size for the Nectes. When the kitchen-size ones are burnt in the space heaters, or worse, in the boiler, the cost and effort of the extra chainsawing is wasted. Two seconds spent measuring would hugely increase the useful output.

   Some pieces of wood are just barely too long for space heating, so they need to go into the boiler. This is also a waste.

   A final point is that a bit of a branch sticking out makes a piece of wood difficult to stack, and may prevent it from fitting inside the heater. Please snip it off flush.

Hydraulic splitter

   As a rule, I donít like using fossil fuel for jobs that can be done by hand, but this splitter is a wonderful tool, especially with the hydraulic lifter. I am a convert.

   Split the wood small enough to be perfect for the stove the length makes it ideal for. Imagine you are putting this piece of wood into the fireplace. Will it be too large and awkward? If so, then split it again. This especially goes for lengths that have a substantial knot, because they are hard to split by hand, meaning that something the right length for a Nectre has to be used in the boiler.

   Another consideration is that thinner pieces of wood dry faster.


   Stacking is an artform, something like stonelaying. In both, you should rely on gravity to keep the stack together. Otherwise, there is a risk of collapse. It is not nice to have a future user buried in an avalanche.

   The principle is that every piece of wood should lie horizontal, or lean toward the wall. Then it canít fall anywhere. In a freestanding stack, do a double brick wall, with the two stacks leaning against each other.

   There is a tendency as you go up for bits of wood to start leaning the wrong way. The solution is to lay a thin, flat piece crosswise, along the length of the stack. This will tilt the ones above it toward the wall.


   So, there you have it. I hope my words will improve the Lodgeís firewood supply.


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