Processing firewood - some tools and tips

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British Red
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Processing firewood - some tools and tips

Post: # 259737Post British Red »

We have been discussing wood burning stoves for home use and firewood , so I thought a few pictures of how I render wood might be interesting. I don't plan to show large trunk sectioning or felling techniques here – just some of the tools useful for ground work and how to use them.

First up, I am going to use a chainsaw and other cutting gear. For me that means suiting up with PPE. Chainsaw accidents without protection are the kind of mistakes you only make once, so lets not mess about with this!

I use a “bib and brace” style set of trousers and a chainsaw jacket, to top this off I’ll wear a helmet with visor and ear protectors, chainsaw gloves and steel toe capped, cut resistant chainsaw boots. Jacket and gloves are less necessary for this task - but boots and trousers very much so since you are cutting downwards - always ears and eyes should be protected using a saw.

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Chainsaw PPE by British Red, on Flickr

Suitably dressed and looking like a fluorescent gimp (but a safe one) we go out and confront the frozen logpile. A lot of this is “green” wood and needs time to season out, but I also have some dry stuff under cover

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3) My log stack by British Red, on Flickr

Dry stuff once cut and split goes into the wood shed. Note that the shed is floored out with old pallets – this keeps the split wood off the floor and lets a breeze in underneath. This shed isn’t ideal – it needs less walls to get a breeze through, an I will be building a better one for seasoning as time permits

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4) The wood shed by British Red, on Flickr

Tools wise I will be using an electric chainsaw with a 14” bar. I have petrol saws as well and they are invaluable where there is no power. For this sort of processing though, electric saws are lighter and a lot less hassle when you are constantly picking up logs and putting down the saw.

I will also use a bunch of hand tools – A 6lb maul, 6lb sledge hammer, steel wedges, 3lb axe and a pry bar

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5) Hand tools by British Red, on Flickr

Getting ready to cut, the first thing I do is to set up my cutting yard making sure I have plenty of room to work, no trip hazards or slip hazards ( a real problem in the snow & ice). I have studs that fit in the soles of the chainsaw boots - invaluable working on wet tree trunks or frozen ground.

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6) The cutting yard by British Red, on Flickr

First I’m going to section up an awkward piece of a medium trunk, I’ll use my large saw horse for this. This horse has some features I particularly like. Multiple supports mean I can work alone and not need to keep moving the log – I can make multiple cuts and the pieces stay supported. Notice also that there is “sacrificial” wood on the horizontal bar. If the saw blade goes too far, it hits wood – not metal!

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7) Large saw bench by British Red, on Flickr

I don’t propose to show how to maintain or operate a chainsaw in this article – I believe the best place to learn this is with hands on instructions on a proper course. I will explain why I am making the cuts I am doing though.

Here is our awkward log – these Y shapes can be very tricky

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8) Large log by British Red, on Flickr

Thankfully the gripper plates on the large bench mean I can support this piece with one limb upwards. The first thing to do is to remove the smaller limb to give a straightish trunk

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9) Limb off by British Red, on Flickr

I can then take rounds off each end leaving just the awkward “V” section

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10) Sectioned down by British Red, on Flickr

The rounds can be split into useful stove sized pieces using the maul

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11) Maul Work by British Red, on Flickr

Sometimes you encounter a piece too large or with awkward grain and the maul won’t split it. In this circumstance, insert a steel wedge into the cut made with the maul

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12) Fitting a wedge by British Red, on Flickr

The wedge is pounded in with the sledge hammer. Eventually a crack will form. If the section is very wide or stubborn, an additional wedge can be inserted further along the crack and the wedges pounded alternately. I have used up to four wedges to split rounds several feet across

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13) Driven wedge by British Red, on Flickr

We are now left with the V section. Where large limbs meet like this, splitting is very difficult as the grain runs in multiple directions

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14) V Section by British Red, on Flickr

The easiest way to deal with this is to saw through the log at the join of the V

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15) Sawn V by British Red, on Flickr

The divided piece can then be split, but start from the side furthest from the join leaving the awkward wiggly grain as a lump.

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16) Maul from good side by British Red, on Flickr

There we have it – the awkward Y piece rendered

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17) Rendered Wood by British Red, on Flickr

Having rendered some large wood, I have some smaller stuff to cut as well. For this I prefer my smaller portable saw horse

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18) Light saw bench by British Red, on Flickr

This bench is equipped with a spring tensioned safety chain – you can probably see a spring, chain and handle at the bottom left of the picture above. Here’s a close up

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19) Spring, chain and bar by British Red, on Flickr

The chain is wrapped under the log pulling on the spring. The handle passes through one of the links of the chain

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20) Safety chain engaged by British Red, on Flickr

The end of the handle locks into one of several teeth as shown below

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21) Safety chain locking bar by British Red, on Flickr

This chain clamps down the log and prevents it toppling off the horse after cuts. This allows more cuts to be made without re-positioning the log

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22) Supported log by British Red, on Flickr

These smaller rounds can be burned whole, but are quickly split with a 3lb axe. Splitting them allows them to dry more quickly and stack more easily.

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23) Axe splitting by British Red, on Flickr

If you are doing a lot of firewood - consider investing in a hydraulic splitter - they don't save much time per log - but you can carry on all day!

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Log Splitter by British Red, on Flickr

I hope this might provide some ideas on useful equipment and techniques for processing firewood.

Red
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Re: Processing firewood - some tools and tips

Post: # 259754Post demi »

really interesting. seems you are fully equipped for every situation!

we just have a couple of axes, hand saws and an electric table saw. and lots of elbow grease from my fit hubby! :lol:

we end up using those y logs as wee seats in the garden if we cant split them.
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Re: Processing firewood - some tools and tips

Post: # 259756Post boboff »

Wow, there was me thinking that as you asked to buying a chain saw you might be a novice, you most certainly arn't that!
Excellent information I love the saw horse especially! Brilliant.
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Re: Processing firewood - some tools and tips

Post: # 259759Post British Red »

I was answering the question not enquiring mate :lol:

No harm, no foul :mrgreen:
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Re: Processing firewood - some tools and tips

Post: # 259761Post greenorelse »

Please, what do I search for when looking for either of those benches, BR?
There is no question. Cap and Share or TEQs is the answer. Even Cap and Dividend!

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Re: Processing firewood - some tools and tips

Post: # 259766Post oldjerry »

I do admire all this hi-tech safety stuff,but it would be a shame if those determined to live frugally( either by choice or necessity) were put off heating their place with wood,if they were to think that ALL of it is absolutely necessary.|'ve managed for the past 40 odd years with tough steel toecaps,ex army gaiters, a damn good pair of leather gloves and some ear plugs.I've still got the same number of toes and fingers God gave me.You can knock up a decent saw horse for next to nothing.A decent new Stihl runs about 300,but you can get them second hand(double check the bar is good).
Look after the chain as though she was your favourite mistress,and most of all use a bit of Common Sense.

(Incidently,for splitting,the Little hydraulic things are a bit crap,if you can find a 'grenade'(sharp metal cone used as a wedge,they work easier and more quickly than a regular wedge)

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Re: Processing firewood - some tools and tips

Post: # 259767Post Green Aura »

We just use a Smart Splitter. It chops logs with no requirement for accuracy on my part, which is good :lol:
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Re: Processing firewood - some tools and tips

Post: # 259770Post British Red »

HI mate,

The big one is an oddball - I got it for £20 in a garden centre that was closing down

The little one is available all over - heres one

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/DRAPER-FOLDIN ... 8619203053

I wouldn't pay that much though - think I paid less than half that - wait for the sales :)

This type are quite good for lots of small wood - its the stop start of loading a log at a time thats a pain

Image

or this type that clamp your saw down so you can feed with one hand and saw with the other - safe, but doesn't handle larger wood well

Image

About £75 - but you can load about 20 logs at a time and just run the saw down the stack - very clever!
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Re: Processing firewood - some tools and tips

Post: # 259771Post British Red »

oldjerry wrote:,if you can find a 'grenade'(sharp metal cone used as a wedge,they work easier and more quickly than a regular wedge)
Hmm - I have one of those - don't get on with it well to be honest - you can't split large sections with one (the cracks just stop) and I find it hard to "start" - a maul leaves jest the right hole to start a conventional wedge. Mine is rusting on a shelf somewhere - I think of it as "a solution looking for a problem".

As for protective gear using a chainsaw - I don't think of it as high tech - just common sense. Chainsaw injuries are horrific and fast. Sure you might not have one. You might not have an accident in a car either - but seatbelts are still a good idea.

I'm all for economising, and yes, a second hand saw, or home made saw bench, are a great way to do it. But I absolutely wouldn't suggest economising on chainsaw boots, trousers or a helmet - just my opinion - your life - your risk :)
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Re: Processing firewood - some tools and tips

Post: # 259777Post boboff »

Thanks Red, I got one of those Oregons on the way now, it looks so much easier to cut the lengths I cut out of the hedge margins with.

The You Tube Video looks good, as are the funny comments from people saying how much easier it is to drop the logs straight of the tree!

I will feed back on it after I have tried it out, the only way to cut productively with the normal saw horse I have is to have two of you doing it and the wife works when it is sunny!
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Re: Processing firewood - some tools and tips

Post: # 259779Post British Red »

Love to hear how you get on with it boboff - I saw a guy using one and he must have had 15 or more logs stacked in and was just ripping down a big stack - looked very handy and he liked it. DO let me know how it goes?
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Re: Processing firewood - some tools and tips

Post: # 259783Post delineator »

Hi Red
Really impressed with this thread very informative and loaded with good tips and advice, thanks for taking the time to share your experience.
Thanks

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Re: Processing firewood - some tools and tips

Post: # 259784Post boboff »

Indeed, it's the sort of thing that makes this site so bloomin wonderfull ( Durgans posts being the other, obviously)
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Re: Processing firewood - some tools and tips

Post: # 259785Post delineator »

Hi Red
Forgot to ask does the larger log bench you have a brand name on it. Looks a nice bit of kit.

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Re: Processing firewood - some tools and tips

Post: # 259786Post British Red »

It doesn't sadly. Place had a stack of them. Wish I had bought them all at £20 and sold them later :icon_smile:
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