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Actually determining the cost of free wood

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Badfish740, Jan 15, 2009.

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  1. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

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    Since it seems to be the popular question around here these days...

    http://www.forestry.iastate.edu/publications/F-335.pdf

    Obviously the math needs to be customized, but the link above takes you to a formula developed by the Iowa State Forestry Extension for the cost of cutting your own cord of wood. By this formula wood is costing me about $75.00/cord so...

    "Free" wood cut, split, stacked by me - $75.00/cord
    Local price for delivered, split, stacked wood - $150.00/cord
    166 gallons of heating oil (one cord worth of BTUs) - $332.00 (2.00/gallon)

    So I guess $50.00/cord split, stacked, and delivered is the magic number as far as putting down the saw. However, that would never stop me from picking up a roadside score on my way home from work ;)

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  2. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    that is on line with what I was thinking 30 bucks (but i would pay 75.00 if done for me)
  3. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Well wood is plentiful around here and the cheapest its ever been was $20 a face cord back in the day. Now it's $60 a green face cord....it take 3 face cord to equal a cord.

    so according to Badfish's numbers...if I understood them correctly it hasn't been worth it to burn oil around here since the late 70's.
  4. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Don't need any fancy formulas. All you have to figure is how much it cost you to scrounge the wood. Cost of saw, gas, oil, and the gas for vehicle to haul the wood, etc., etc. I highly doubt it would cost many people $75 per cord though. If that is the case (and I did not look at that web page), then they probably figure about the same for those who cut from their own land. After all, we pay taxes on that land too!

    I haven't put a pencil to it for a long time but maybe next year I'll keep track of costs.
  5. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

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    The formula involves depreciating the cost of the saw and vehicle used to haul the wood, taking into account the amount of time it takes, round trip distance, etc...my numbers are a little high because where I cut is about 60 miles round trip from my house. However, my numbers would be much higher if I had to pay for fuel, which I don't. So in short, as long as you find a close source, you're ahead of the game.
  6. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    For a lot of us, not all, if we didn't spend time cutting we'd just end up doing nothing anyway.
  7. awoodman

    awoodman Member

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    How about if the same saw is going for 15 yrs,l and throw in a $1000. splitter ,and don't forget the valuable exercize you get.

    Also factor in the furnace not comming on and the saving of propaine.

    Here is one to factor in free wood from a tree service where you pull up they load you're trailer.
  8. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

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    I'm not knocking anyone here-I'm a scrounger through and through who has three "free" cords split and stacked out back as we speak. I'm just saying, everything has a cost. When I cut wood from the property I just picked up recently (trees have been felled, I just buck them and load the rounds) it costs me $75/cord mostly because of the mileage. If I were able to find a tree service where I could pick up wood that's already been bucked into rounds close by I'd probably halve that cost. The point I was trying to make is that even though it's not free it sure still beats buying it or the equivalent amount of oil.
  9. leaf4952

    leaf4952 Member

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    I haven't got money. I haven't got much muscle, knowledge, or time. But there IS wood around. SO... I will grow the muscles, develop the knowledge, and find the time ! I haven't the luxury of the choice.
  10. bsruther

    bsruther Minister of Fire

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    That formula doesn't work for me at all except maybe for cain saw use. My main source of wood is 1/2 mile away and most of it is delivered by tractor in eight foot lengths. My secondary source is about a mile away and I get enough wood from my main source not to bother going further. I consider the labor and time spent to be recreation and recreational activity usually costs money so I figure I'm saving money in that department. They forgot to add in the cost of beer, but I guess umbe drinkin' that anyway.
    I guess if I had to put a cost on it, maybe 3 to 5 bucks per cord seems about right.
  11. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    I count only my own time (it's recreation for me, so that's free) and fuel. A truck and a saw are a given for me. I can't remember not having both.
  12. Lumber-Jack

    Lumber-Jack Minister of Fire

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    I have often tried to quantify the cost of burning wood as opposed to just using the heat pump in my house and have found it impossible to break it down into numbers, because there are so many factors to consider, and some you just can't accurately put a number on. Although $75 a cord sounds reasonable, when you take in other factors it could easily change that amount. For instance, like Bigg Red I consider going out and cutting my firewood with my family recreation, something like going fishing. How much might you spend on a day fishing trip with the family? If you can come up with a figure for that, then you can take that amount and subtract it from the price of a cord of wood, which happens to be the usual amount I can collect in a day with my family and still have some fun.
    But if I look at it from another angle, if I spent the day working at my usual job as a contractor instead of using up that time collecting firewood? Well, I don't even like to think about that, because in terms of pure numbers I would come out way further ahead just going to work and taking the money I make and buying firewood (or even using to pay the heating bill), but I don't find it nearly as fun and relaxing as getting firewood, and I also miss out on that family time. Not to mention that if I just went to work all the time I end up in a higher tax bracket and end up just giving a lot of that money to the government. I can go cut wood for a month and don't have to give any of it to the government :)
    Here is another thing to consider, burning wood is a time consuming endeavor that extends beyond cutting and stacking the firewood, there is the constant moving of firewood, and splitting kindling, and tending the fire, and cleaning around the stove and the ashes and the chimney. It is lot more work that just turning up the wall thermostat. And while we are on to that, on thing we usually get out of a wood stove that is far superior to most other heating options is excess heat. You know, that nice toasty feeling that feels so good when sitting around in front of the fire when you come in out of the cold. How do you put a price on that? Maybe by figuring out how much it would cost to simulate it with a gas fireplace or one of those cheap electric fireplaces. Of course neither one really measures up to a real wood stove, so I guess in the end you have to just say that heating with wood is priceless. :)
  13. CowboyAndy

    CowboyAndy New Member

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    The only things that I consider when figuring how much it costs me is gas/oil and chain sharpening. Works about to be somewhere near $15 per cord.
  14. zipper1081

    zipper1081 New Member

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    OK here is how I look at it, this is my 3rd year of heating with wood. I cut all my wood off my neighbor that has 140 acers. It a family afair for us Me,my wife & 11 year old daughter & 2 golden retrevers. We cut wood toghter we have a good time in the woods. Breathing fresh air & spending time with each other. you can't put a price on that . If I came off that hill with a load of wood & some one was setting at the bottom & had $75 in hand for my load of wood I would not take it. I dont care how you figure it in my eyes I cut wood for FREE. Give me a year or two and I may change my way of thinking. LOL
  15. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

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    I hear you. The time outside/with family definitely is priceless, I'm have an preoccupation with comparing wood vs. oil vs. anything else out there. Also, no matter what a cord of wood is going for (IMHO no one is ever going to sell for less than $100 anyway) my other preoccupation is hoarding supply ;) Wood is pretty easily stored so long as you have a decent sized yard, so I add to my supply whenever possible. If I were on my way home with a cord I just cut for free and I passed a sign saying "FIREWOOD-$75.00/CORD" I'd go home, dump off my free cord, turn around and go get the $75.00 cord, and return home knowing that in one day I increased my supply by three months!
  16. TreePapa

    TreePapa Minister of Fire

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    Well last weekend I picked up a "free" load of pine -- big 'ol rounds from a tree the owner said had been over 100 years old (pine bark beetle is devestating the pines around here; seems that most of my free wood lately is pine). The rounds were so big I couldn't get 'em in the trailer (old p/u bed, rather high to load heavy stuff). I was gonna rent a splitter and split it right on site, but there is only one rental yard 'round here that has them, and they were already out for the day (Saturday) and due to the economy, the rental yard is no longer open Sundays. So I hired a laborer from the street corner to help me. I told the guy I'd give him $50 a few hours work - I had planned to take all and thought it would be 2 to 3 loads. After one load, I was finished (the laborer, much younger than me, was still good to go). I paid they guy $50 anyway 'cuz I don't like to go back on my word (which is part of the reason I took the wood even though it was too big for me to load myslef -- I told the homeowner I'd get it out of there).

    Anyway: laborer - $50, splitter (when my back feels better; splitting these hugh rounds and quarters with the maul would be just too much for me) probably $75 (depending on how long it takes). Gas, maybe $5.00 (not to far, but milage towng that beast fully loaded is rather low, plus an extrt trip to get laborer, etc.). Total cost $130.00. There's a guy is Sylmar (a few miles away) who advertises pine for $100 a truck load so I come out about $30 behind on this one. Usually I come out ahead but usually I pass on things I can't lift into my truck. This was the first time with the trailer, so I was over-ambitous. I'm sure I'll get some better deals so I come out ahead in the long run.

    Peace,
    - Sequoia
  17. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    Yep. I do like the cost savings, though. I figure I'm saving substantially. It's the intangible things you mention that mean the most to me. But oil is getting too expensive. I 'voted with my feet'.
  18. awoodman

    awoodman Member

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    Before we bought this place in the country (and became debt free) we had a place in the city. It had a creek in the back yard that flooded and hundreds of acres of undeveloped woods behind our house in this neighbourhood. I worked for the parks an rec. in K.C. at that time and they tore apart some structurs and threw the 2x lumber in the dumpster. I was fortunant enough to bring it home and built a 30' bridge across the creek. I got an ATV and built a trailer and started hauling all the dead oak I could burn.

    Those were the days it was beautiful in those woods ,ravines,medows ,deer ,turkey. Eventualy got my spliter and was in hog heaven. I lived their for for 18 yrs. and the wood cutting and hauling stuff I have surley must have paid for itself by now. :lol:
  19. CowboyAndy

    CowboyAndy New Member

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    like i mentioned earlier, i only factor the cost of gas and oil... I dont count the cost of the saw because i would have bought it anyways to get caught up with some trimming around the property anyways, nor do I count the cost of the trailer because 1) i only paid for half of it 2) i use it for other things as well. As for my time, well if I wasnt out cutting I would be doing non productive things like watching tv or going fishing (not that it isnt productive, but...)
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