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Wood moisture meter for firewood logs - any recommendations?

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Krome10

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Hi

I've got a woodburner coming soon. Can't wait! So I'm just getting together the peripheral bits and pieces I'll be needing, one of which is a moisture meter. I guess it doesn't have to be super accurate. But on the other hand there's no point getting one that's too far out...

Any recommendations?

Many thanks
 

eribaMotters

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I have had open fires and wood burners for over 35 years. It has never crossed my mind to get a moisture meter. You will not need one.
I get calls from friends who have a tree or large branch surplus to requirements. I previously use a 24" petrol chainsaw but now have a 16" electric Makita. It has proved more than capable of cutting anything that has come my way.
I cut into pieces about 200mm long and split with an axe into wedges, bark edge about 70/80mm. Likewise anything up to 70/80mm in diameter or arm section is fine. If greater split it down the centre.
Stacked outside these will be perfect after a year, in fact I'm using some at present cut and stacked about March and they are burning fine.
You do not need to store the firewood under cover. It will hold two types of moisture, firstly in the cells which is what you need to dry off and secondly the stuff on the outside, rain/snow etc which dries off within minutes of you bringing it indoors. My current method is I bring a wheelbarrow full into the garage and tip it onto the floor. I refill the wheelbarrow and leave it in the garage full. When the pile on the floor has gone I empty the barrow out and then go and refill it from stock outside. By the time I come to use it in a few days that outside moisture has gone, as have any insects.
One big bit of advice if you cut your own logs, assuming you follow all the safety guidelines is only ever put your chainsaw to green/freshly cut timber. If you attempt to cut something that has been left standing for months or is dry then you will burn out your chain.

Colin
 

AJB Temple

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I agree 100% with Colin above. I do have a moisture meter but it would nt cross my mind to use it for firewood. Stack one year, use the next. If you buy it in you can buy it dry or fresh cut where we are.
 

AFFF

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I would suggest that you don't bother with the meter. Cut and split your logs to size. Store them off the ground (I use some old pallets) and cover with a tarp. Most log burner manufacturers recommend seasoning your wood for 2 years but in my experience 1 year to 18 months seems fine. Be careful with resinous, sappy wood though it takes longer. You'll know if you've got it right when you sweep & inspect the flue (at least one a year) If there's lots of tar deposits and excess soot then your wood need more seasoning.
 

AJB Temple

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As an aside, our chimney sweep, says the log burner fire should be run very hot periodically. He reckons it helps to clear out the chimney (twin walled stainless in our case, inside brick).
 

Jacob

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Moisture meters aren't very accurate - they tend to measure just the surface dryness.
If you've got some precise scales and can do simple maths you can go scientific - saw off a few representative small samples from your wood, weigh them each, mark them, dry them (microwave or slow cook) and weigh again.
In the end you get to know dryness roughly from weight and feel.
You also need to stack wood a year ahead if you can.
 

Jameshow

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I have a cheap eBay / Amazon one but hardly ever use it.

You get a a feel for dryness tbh.


Get a decent axe though I brought this one from chaenwood

Cheers James
 

Krome10

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Hi

Thanks for all the replies and thoughts.

Not needing one for the reasons given makes total sense. But it will make even more sense in a year or two. We've got 20-30 ash trees that have to come down and - as sad as that it - it should keep us in firewood for many years. So once the process is in full swing, and I know where the wood is from and how long it has been seasoned, then I totally agree I won't need one.

As for now... We've got a load of wood which has been hanging around but in not the best of conditions. A lot of it is - or was - moss covered and quite wet. None of it has been cut or chopped (it's still thick branches and small trunks). I have no experience and for all those reasons I guess it seemed to make sense to start cutting, splitting, and then testing whether it's ready. If it is, great. If it isn't, then I'll need to buy a tonne or so to see off the tail end of winter. And from what I've been reading, a lot of wood sold as seasoned is far from it. Again, without experience and no way to measure, I won't know what I'm getting.

I want to treat my investment with respect and burn decent wood to make sure it stands the test of time.

All of that being said, there's little point in spending big sums on a meter. And if the rubbish ones are rubbish, it would be as good as guessing anyway.

Which I guess brings me back to the original quest for a decent affordable meter :)

I'll keep looking for now, but will bear in mind that I might not find one...

@eribaMotters - I note with interest a lot of what you wrote, especially with regards not covering wood. It's contrary to almost everything I've read. Do you think it holds true in wet Wales (Brecon Beacons)?

Also RE using a chainsaw on dry wood. I wasn't aware, so that's really helpful to know. Like I say - it's all new to me. So that gives another reason why processing wood whilst still green is a good idea. Bowsaw for dry wood then?

@TheUnicorn - I do have a multimeter, albeit a cheap one. But that's well worth ago, especially as I think I'll only need one temporarily.

Thanks everyone for all the suggestions
 

bansobaby

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If you have wood that’s been felled a while it’s going to be a bit of a pain to process. Your chainsaw will cope ok, but splitting it will be hard work.
It’s best to at least ring and preferably split your wood as it’s felled, it’s surprising how much more easily it splits. Assuming of course that you don’t have a hydraulic splitter.
If you have years of supplies of Ash don’t worry about a moisture meter. Ash will burn fine the day after it’s felled.
The state of your chimney will tell you how good your firewood is.
 

Krome10

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I like a challenge. Although I might prefer it whilst sat here in front of my PC more than when I'm out there doing it!!

I've certainly heard that RE ash, but have also read there's more than a whiff of folklore / old wive's tale about it.

Thanks for the tips. I had envisaged processing some of the ash into logs, and leaving others in as large a size trunks / branches as can be moved. Stacking them like that, then processing in years to come. But from what you say that's not such a great idea. Guess I'm going off topic with that, but it has been on my mind and it is something I will post about nearer the time it becomes more relevant and pressing. So hard to know what's best sometimes as you hear such conflicting advice. But one thing I want to ensure is however I store the wood that it will last as long as possible. Might be a decade+ worth of wood. Not sure if it will last long term best processed or unprocessed. Over and out on the off topic :)

Cheers
 

sometimewoodworker

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As for now... We've got a load of wood which has been hanging around but in not the best of conditions. A lot of it is - or was - moss covered and quite wet. None of it has been cut or chopped (it's still thick branches and small trunks). I have no experience and for all those reasons I guess it seemed to make sense to start cutting, splitting, and then testing whether it's ready. If it is, great. If it isn't, then I'll need to buy a tonne or so to see off the tail end of winter.
Absolutely no need even for the case of your fallen wood. As soon as you cut/split a green then a dry branch or section of your pile you will know which it is.

One point that hasn’t been made is chain saw protective gear/training, don’t imagine that just because the pieces aren’t standing or are small that the equipment is less important, it is actually more dangerous once the tree is down.

I learned during the first Dutch Elm fell and burn season and was taking down big 70 year old trees then cutting them into sections that were movable and making 20’ x 6’ x 6’ bonfires, so green wood will burn well like that. 🔥 :giggle: 🔥🔥;)🔥🔥;)

The safety equipment was a bit more limited then but today I would have Kevlar chaps and gloves a cutting jacket a helmet with ear defenders and mesh face guard and good boots.

A chainsaw accident is one of the most nasty kinds as there will be a ¼“ section that’s completely missing. I almost had proof of that as I didn’t have chaps and sliced through the first 2 layers of my army surplus trousers, and that was with a baby 9” bar saw.
 

Krome10

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Fair points and thanks for highlighting them. Yes, I've bought all of the safety gear (minus the jacket) so I'm prepared on that front.

We have someone coming in early spring to fell the trees and at least get us started on the processing. 2-3 days work, and he's said I can be out there with him/them for the duration gaining experience and treating it as training to get me started.

Ta
 

sometimewoodworker

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Might be a decade+ worth of wood. Not sure if it will last long term best processed or unprocessed. Over and out on the off topic :)
If you can rough process it and stack it with a little top protection that’s the best as your stacks will be the most compact, only the bottom layer will rot and only that if you don’t have a base like blocks. But the travellers will be interested if they can see it.
 

sometimewoodworker

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Fair points and thanks for highlighting them. Yes, I've bought all of the safety gear (minus the jacket) so I'm prepared on that front.

We have someone coming in early spring to fell the trees and at least get us started on the processing. 2-3 days work, and he's said I can be out there with him/them for the duration gaining experience and treating it as training to get me started.

Ta
Good to know, chain saw work is fun if you take care, the jacket with a ballistic sleeve is not the most important but I would still get one.
 

Krome10

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Hoping we can hide the wood well. It's quiet where we are and at least some of the sections of garden are well hidden from the road. We've got an unlocked shed with all manner of stuff in it and have not had a problem in the two years we've been here. Fingers crossed though. Don't want to talk anything up! And have heard tales of recent dog thefts not too many miles away.

I'm hoping to make several wood shelters for all of it, perhaps two or three reasonable size ones near the house, and then a large field shelter type thing further down the garden. But it's so difficult to imagine how much there will be so I've no idea how much I'll need. At the very least though I'll be looking to get it all under cover even if it is just stacked on pallets or timbers laid on rocks to keep it off the ground, with tarps on top. I hear @eribaMotters above and it would be a lot less hassle not to cover it. But it's so wet here. And we don't have a garage or outhouses, so it will be a case of from the shelter to the house.
 

Danieljw

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If it stays wet it will rot and attract more beetle and worm infestations.
That quantity of timber (particularly ash) will need to be covered but well ventilated, dont stack it so tight that air cannot permeate.
 

sometimewoodworker

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Hoping we can hide the wood well. It's quiet where we are and at least some of the sections of garden are well hidden from the road. We've got an unlocked shed with all manner of stuff in it and have not had a problem in the two years we've been here. Fingers crossed though. Don't want to talk anything up! And have heard tales of recent dog thefts not too many miles away.

I'm hoping to make several wood shelters for all of it, perhaps two or three reasonable size ones near the house, and then a large field shelter type thing further down the garden. But it's so difficult to imagine how much there will be so I've no idea how much I'll need. At the very least though I'll be looking to get it all under cover even if it is just stacked on pallets or timbers laid on rocks to keep it off the ground, with tarps on top. I hear @eribaMotters above and it would be a lot less hassle not to cover it. But it's so wet here. And we don't have a garage or outhouses, so it will be a case of from the shelter to the house.
Don’t over think it. Something like this
583C26E7-59C6-4C76-BA76-425DA1CA384F.jpeg

Will be enough
 

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