Drying (a lot of) firewood

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JimJay

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All that bending over and lifting.......No thanks!

My in-laws - both in their 80s - can split several cubic metres of oak and ash logs in an afternoon with the electric splitter I bought them, including lifting them before and stacking them afterwards. They used axes for the job all their lives, up until their late 70s, and scoffed when I turned up with it but would never go back now....

The splitter takes 50cm logs (length and, technically, diameter but will easily handle bigger diameter ones) and it doesn't take much time at all for a chainsaw to cut longer ones down to that length.
 
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Krome10

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I process all my firewood by hand, with a variety of different sized saws, a bunch of wedges and old axe heads, and a sledge hammer. The splinting axe rarely comes out of the shed nowadays. I much prefer to split long lengths into 1/2, 1/4, or 1/8s - depending on the diameter - and then saw them down into log length from that. I do mainly process ash though, so not sure how that approach would work with other types of wood.

I appreciate that doing it all with handtools isn't for everyone, but I find it so enjoyable and satisfying and will continue like this until health or age stop me!

Good to hear that keeping it off the ground is the main and most important thing. I tend to get a bit obsessed with covering my various piles any time rain is forecast!

One other thing, I'm sure I've read that spruce and the like usually needs longer to season than hardwoods. Is one year definitely enough?

Cheers
 

JimJay

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Do you have to lift the log onto the splitter ?
I process all my firewood by hand, with a variety of different sized saws, a bunch of wedges and old axe heads, and a sledge hammer. The splinting axe rarely comes out of the shed nowadays. I much prefer to split long lengths into 1/2, 1/4, or 1/8s - depending on the diameter - and then saw them down into log length from that. I do mainly process ash though, so not sure how that approach would work with other types of wood.

I appreciate that doing it all with handtools isn't for everyone, but I find it so enjoyable and satisfying and will continue like this until health or age stop me!

Good to hear that keeping it off the ground is the main and most important thing. I tend to get a bit obsessed with covering my various piles any time rain is forecast!

One other thing, I'm sure I've read that spruce and the like usually needs longer to season than hardwoods. Is one year definitely enough?

Cheers

My wife and I are "belt and braces" folk. I had a covered metal wood-rack built along one side of the house, holding about 15 cubic metres. It's obviously cheaper buying wood earlier in the year and drying it yourself. The belt and braces aspect comes in because we're both fairly immune to the cold, so our wood-burning enclosed fireplace is only lit a couple of times in the winter, for visitors. Apart from that, we don't really bother with heating and our winter indoor temperature is between 6 and 8C (42-46F) - and colder in my subterranean workshop; outside is around -30C or colder.

I last restocked the wood-rack about 6 or 7 years ago and the oak and ash logs are all now more like balsa wood - firewood here tends to come with a full complement of "passengers". But it's most definitely now dry! :D
 

pgrbff

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Do you have to lift the log onto the splitter ?
Splitter similar to this. I don't have a tractor, so not mine, but locally wood is the fuel of choice. I split the shorter stuff by hand but 70-75cm is just to slow.
 

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DJT48

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Log splitters involve much more handling and they are a lot slower than a properly maintained and well used splitting axe.
Ah, but when you get to 70 or more, you'll find that you are slower with the splitting axe than you are with the log splitter.😜
 

Adam W.

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I have perfected my technique, so that I only touch the ring with my hands once it's split and I very rarely use wedges. I break the ring down by knocking lumps off the outside and not trying to split it in half from the start. It's much easier and quicker that way.

Hopefully I will still be able to swing an axe at 70, as I think it's good exercise and not to strenuous. Plus it keeps me out of the way.
 

JimJay

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Log splitters involve much more handling and they are a lot slower than a properly maintained and well used splitting axe.

That's one opinion - but it sure as heck isn't mine! I've felled plenty of big oaks and split the chainsawn lengths by hand but it certainly wasn't fun, even years ago: I did it because there was no other choice. I can split serious logs with an electric splitter in seconds, for hour after hour - and without feeling it the next morning.

Nowadays I'm again left without a choice as I can't handle an axe with my arthritic hands but this time it's what I would do even if I had a choice. I've got many better things to do with my time and energy than posing as Gimli.... :D
 

Jameshow

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I have perfected my technique, so that I only touch the ring with my hands once it's split and I very rarely use wedges. I break the ring down by knocking lumps off the outside and not trying to split it in half from the start. It's much easier and quicker that way.

Hopefully I will still be able to swing an axe at 70, as I think it's good exercise and not to strenuous. Plus it keeps me out of the way.
What do you mean breaking the ring down??
 

Adam W.

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What do you mean breaking the ring down??

@ 1:12 in that second video, she starts by knocking the edges off the ring she's splitting and works around the outside to make it smaller and smaller. Then she splits it in the middle.

If you knock pieces off the edges, you only have to split grain on one side of the piece ( but you need to practice letting the axe fall over onto the ring as you split it, like in the first video.) Instead of having to fight against the grain compressing the axe or wedge on all sides when you start splitting big rings from the middle, which is a lot harder and much more work.

The smaller the ring gets, the easier it is to split. If you've got a large knot (a big branch coming off the stem), it's best to work either side of the knot and on the other side of the pith, and then chop what's left of the knot up with the chainsaw.

Trouble is that these days, people think that they have to Rambo their way through splitting wood, which wears them out. It's easier to use a bit of old time axe savvy and split with finesse all day long.
 
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ecokestove

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I much prefer to use an axe to split wood. I love the sound the wood makes as it splits.

I groan when I see people on TV using an axe. They have no clue how to handle one.
 

GweithdyDU

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What do you all do with the waste, as in all the twigs, needles etc? We're thinking of buying or constructing a briquette machine to make composite logs. A bit pricey to buy, but if you have access to a lot of brush, sticks, needles, bracken soft rush, sawdust, paper, horse dung, etc. I've worked out it'll pay for itself over about 2 winters. Go halves on it with a friend and you'd be quids in after the first winter. Being a busy-bees, we favour one that you can set up and leave churning them out, but there are plenty of plans on the interweb for a more labour-intensive but much cheaper machine. Once you've sussed that not using them like regular logs is the way forward, we find the composite logs are long-lasting in a modern (ish) multi-fuel Rayburn. Mind you, we also just shovel up the giant donkey turds (it's the donkey that's 'giant', not the turds!), dry them on a rack over 2 fine days and then just load them into the stove. One full coal bucket heats a full tank of hot water to almost boiling and no smell! I'll survive the cost of living crisis I guess! Now all I need to do is try and work out a way of strapping a basket to the donkey's rear end for 'harvesting' his poop!
 

GweithdyDU

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You could try a "grenade" they readily available. Google will help .they are shaped to twist as you knock it in the centre . Lot less effort.
I use one on ash beech crack willow and yew works a treat. Got mine in a set,made by Roughneck .came with heavy axe and small axe.
Tony
The 'grenades' are fantastic, but I advise getting two. On the very very rare occasions that one get stuck, using another one, sometimes from the opposite end, is the way to get the stuck one out. But yes, for splitting gnarly cussed logs, they're often the only thing that'll work short of cutting up the grain with the chainsaw.
 

gog64

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We have had to have 5 big Picea abies felled for safety reasons after the shock of Storm Arwen, so now have a pretty significant stock of trunks, everything from abour 28" diameter down to 8". (hence my questions in another post about my Stihl 048AV!). All piled up against our garden dyke at the moment and I'm debating what's the best way, and when, to process it to feed the stove next winter. Split a couple of the biggest rounds this afternoon, which took about an hour with axe and wedges. At some point, will need to hire a proper powered splitter; is it sensible to cut it all into log lengths a.s.a.p, then hire the chipper as soon as it's finished, or to leave it to dry out some more in rounds before getting the splitter? Unfortunately, my log stores are already full of part-dried stuff, so the new stuff will have to stay out.


To answer your question. IMO process asap. It makes the job easier & will reduce drying time a great deal. I season for the first year outside. IBC crates with the plastic bottle split in two (like a pyramid) & wired on as a roof. Cheap & effective.

As for the off topic stuff:

That lady splitting logs made me smile. Tiny little straight grained rounds like that are what I pick out of the pile for small children to "have a go" with! Great fun.

Hultafors axes are beautiful and surprisingly reasonably priced for what they are. Definitely among my favourite tools. If I want to split some wood by hand though, my go to is a Fiskars X27. If you haven't tried one, you should.

We use about 8-14 cubes (not builders bags) a year and I don't get to pick and choose what it is. If I'm lucky someone will offer me a tree or two that's come down. I'll split some of the smaller straight stuff by hand because it's fun. However the bulk of it gets split using my hydraulic splitter on the back of a tractor. It has a table and lifts up and down on hydraulics. I don't care how young and fit you are, some rings can be barely rolled onto the table. To suggest that you can split by hand as fast as a splitter is just plain wrong. I've never used one of the electric ones, but suspect that the blade will move a lot slower on those, but will no doubt still get the job done.
 

dickm

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Thought folks might be interested to see what I'm managing with wood grenade, odd wedges and son-in-law's splitting axe. Chose a round with a whorl of branches, as these tend to be the most difficult to split in my experience. First image shows the starting point.
The second shows the grenade driven in; if you look closely, the bubbles round the grenade show how wet the wood is.
Needed a second wedge to force the split open, then got to the end point with the splitting axe.
Took about 10 minutes, which I reckon isn't bad for someone approaching 78th birthday!IMGP5355R.JPG IMGP5367R.JPG IMGP5368R.JPG IMGP5369R.JPG IMGP5370R.JPG
 

Jameshow

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Thought folks might be interested to see what I'm managing with wood grenade, odd wedges and son-in-law's splitting axe. Chose a round with a whorl of branches, as these tend to be the most difficult to split in my experience. First image shows the starting point.
The second shows the grenade driven in; if you look closely, the bubbles round the grenade show how wet the wood is.
Needed a second wedge to force the split open, then got to the end point with the splitting axe.
Took about 10 minutes, which I reckon isn't bad for someone approaching 78th birthday!View attachment 134513 View attachment 134514 View attachment 134515 View attachment 134516 View attachment 134517
Second only to oak tree stumps I have a couple with grenades going no where!!
 

Adam W.

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Depends on your technique. This winters pile 24 cubic meters or so all split by hand, and it didn't take long to split or stack using the "young ladys' technique" all knotty and horrid.

Oh, and done with a Hultafors splitting axe. :Winky: So why on earth would I want a Fiskars with a plastic handle, it would probably give me blisters and is likely to be too thick, as I prefer a slim shaft which flexes ?

IMG_5458.JPG
 
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Adam W.

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What do you all do with the waste, as in all the twigs, needles etc? We're thinking of buying or constructing a briquette machine to make composite logs. A bit pricey to buy, but if you have access to a lot of brush, sticks, needles, bracken soft rush, sawdust, paper, horse dung, etc. I've worked out it'll pay for itself over about 2 winters. Go halves on it with a friend and you'd be quids in after the first winter. Being a busy-bees, we favour one that you can set up and leave churning them out, but there are plenty of plans on the interweb for a more labour-intensive but much cheaper machine. Once you've sussed that not using them like regular logs is the way forward, we find the composite logs are long-lasting in a modern (ish) multi-fuel Rayburn. Mind you, we also just shovel up the giant donkey turds (it's the donkey that's 'giant', not the turds!), dry them on a rack over 2 fine days and then just load them into the stove. One full coal bucket heats a full tank of hot water to almost boiling and no smell! I'll survive the cost of living crisis I guess! Now all I need to do is try and work out a way of strapping a basket to the donkey's rear end for 'harvesting' his poop!
Pimps and Faggots !

You may have to look that one up.
 

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