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Best way to burn 4x4s

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Hass, Dec 29, 2012.

  1. Hass

    Hass Minister of Fire

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    I have an infinite supply of 4x4s and get a few 4x6s every once and a while.
    They're used for shipping plate steel, used in between cutouts as spacers, etc... We get them from steel companies constantly year round. They're all rough cut, so they're not typically 3.5"x3.5", sometimes they're 3.5"x4.5" or 4"x5", etc... Always hardwood, but the species varies... Probably 50-60% Oak, but the rest is anyones guess.

    I've been burning them the last 2 years, but I keep thinking... there has got to be a better way to burn these.

    I burn them log cabin style, 4-5 on the bottom N/S, then 3-4 E/W then another 3-4 N/S if I can fit them depending on my ash level. This is usually good for about 30-35 hours. Usually I like to leave 1-2" in between each piece... sometimes it's more because I don't want to pack it too tight.

    This year I wanted to make sure I had good dry wood so I bought a cord of Ash. Burning this wood makes me dream of getting more out of the 4x4s! I switched to the Ash because even though the 4x4s are Kiln dried, they're still very wet. Usually 18-19% on the outside and 22-23 on the inside. A little too damp for my taste, but they still burn great after I burn it on high to drive out the moisture.

    With a full load of ash, I get about 60-65 hours @ 20-30F outside temp.
    So it makes me wonder, how can I burn these 4x4s better. If I stack them all up in there, there is just enough air space like typical cord wood. Should I split them all in 4? But then there's still a flat edge.

    I figure you guys are the burning experts, so there has to be a better way to do it.

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  2. Crane Stoves

    Crane Stoves Burning Hunk

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    Duxbury, MA.
    I would mix in your 4x4's as your burning your ash all season long! 1 or 2 4x4's with each reload of ash you do.
    On another note: I used to get these same pieces of 4x4 and 4x6 and sometimes pallets were so huge and nice i would take off the large pieces and i used to run this stuff through my planner to use it for countless projects over the years! I take some pics of a few things i threw together with these hardwood freeebies and you guys will love it! Ive seen oak, mahogany, cherry all used for this stuff and it always felt like xmass time as ran this stuff through the planner:p
    Standingdead likes this.
  3. ohlongarm

    ohlongarm Minister of Fire

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    Did ,I hear you correct 60 to 65 hrs,on a load of ash,hell BK needs to give me a refund I don't believe my King could do that,but I never tried.
    ScotO likes this.
  4. TimJ

    TimJ Minister of Fire

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    OLA, those Kings will eat alot of wood. What time do you get up in the middle of the night to reload it ?:cool:
  5. NW Walker

    NW Walker Member

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    Yeah, wow, those are some serious burn times. If you didn't miss a decimal point, I need to get my hands on one of those BK Chinooks!
  6. Thistle

    Thistle Minister of Fire

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    Been a couple years since I brought any home,but I used to get 1-2 pickup loads of dunnage gathered throughout the year from various job sites I worked at.Anywhere from 2 x 2 to 6 x 6,3 ft to 12 ft long.Most common sizes were 3 x 3 & 4 x 4,all rough sawn/air dried,some was pretty green.Most was native hardwoods such as Red/White Oak,Cottonwood,Soft/Hard Maple,even some lower grade Black Walnut,Hickory & Black Cherry.With a few Doug Fir & Southern Yellow Pine for good measure.

    Summer 2007 I brought home 50+ linear feet of bone-dry 3 x 4 Black Cherry that was with a load of steel from Pennsylvania.Several clear pieces 2 to 4 ft long,after cutting out knots & defects.Still have most of them,its good material for small boxes,woodturning etc.The scraps were used in my smoker.

    All came in on various flat bed trucks/tractor trailers hauling steel beams,rebar,concrete forms & all kinds of other material/equipment used at commercial construction sites.
  7. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    I'd split a few of the 4Xs at 45° & mix it in here & there to create some spacing.
    Mix in some of the cord wood, ash, too.

    How is it burning?
    Is it putting out enough heat to keep the house warm?

    You might be doing pretty good already ;)

    Pictures of a full load?
    ScotO likes this.
  8. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    My Dad has heated his shop for about 20 years with dunnage lumber like that. Most of the stuff he gets are softwood 2x4s though.

    60 hours, as in ~2.5 DAYS on one load of wood?

    Chinook 30 has a 2.75 cu/ft firebox, a bit smaller than a Princess.

    Let's say filled it right full with 2.5 cu/ft, that is about 1/50th of a cord.

    Ash is about 18,000,000 btu per cord. 1/50th is 360,000btus. The stove is listed at 80% efficient so that is 288,000 btus. Now not counting any time running it on high to get the wood going, the cat heated up, etc on 60hrs that only works out to about 4,800 btus per hour.... less than a 1500 watt heater.

    I suppose in theory it could work out with a small well insulated house. At warm temps like 30* I usually just make one small fire a day.
  9. Paulywalnut

    Paulywalnut Minister of Fire

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    I did notice that OP Hass has some of his dunnage that is Oak. I would weed them out.
    stack them like cordwood for a year or two. They've probably got a higher moisture count
    than the other types of 4x4's.
  10. NordicSplitter

    NordicSplitter Feeling the Heat

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    Sacrifice one season of burning the 4x4's. Store up as many as you can, cut them to length and log cabin stack them. Come back next season and start burning. They will burn much better for you.
  11. Hass

    Hass Minister of Fire

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    Yep, I use them for random other things too. Even though we don't just make Heat Exchangers, we also get a lot of the brass/copper/nickel etc... tube crates. So there's hardwood 1x6-8" pieces in there... Talk about nice wood... :) A buddy of mine has his cathedral ceiling in his living room made all from the crates that he broke apart and ran through a planar

    I used to do this actually, I would put the ash on the bottom so it'd light off quickly, and put the 4x4s on top (unsplit however). The 4x4s take a bit to start up if there's only coals left.
    Great heat, usually 72-74 in here. Colder it is outside, stronger the draft... So warmer the stove runs... It's something I never actually thought about when I bought it. So if it's 40F outside, it's 72-74 inside if I burn on 1... If it's 15F outside, the stove burns hotter and it's still in the 72-74 range.
    Sometimes it gets a little too warm if I leave it burn too long after reloading... The girl doesn't seem to mind. The cats love it.

    You're right on the money boss. If you look up some of my older posts, I have all the math laid out comparing it to the other BK stoves, etc...
    Keep in mind my house is 792sq/ft, and I just gutted it 2 years ago (finished last year actually... well, almost). Still have a lot of work to do yet but bulk of the job is done. I think the Chinook would've feel through the floor if I plopped it down without putting in new floor joists!

    60 hours @ 20-30F... I burn up to about 40-45F... Those burns are a little bit longer. :) The chimney temp usually falls to ~100 or so... But the cat is still active and no smoke.
    Typically at 20-30F the chimney is ~190F. 18' Chimney.
    I sweep monthly because of this... I use a soot eater so it takes nothing more than 10 minutes. My biggest complaint is that the chimney cap tends to get clogged up, but once you stick the soot eater all the way up there and beat it around the stove runs like a champ again ;)

    This is my current plan. I figured I'd come here and ask for some advice to figure out the best way to split them or leave them whole.

    Pictures Pictures....

    Typical Ash load... There's maple mixed in here and there.
    [​IMG]

    Here's a small load of the 4x4s
    [​IMG]

    Taking some home... I don't care much about the truck... It was free from the girl's dad, leaks coolant, and is about to fall apart anyway... So I'm just finishing it off.
    I might put a flatbed and a plow on it next year... Make one up easy enough. I couldn't find a flag, so I sprayed some liquid Penetrant on a piece of cardboard and used some E70s-6 wire to attach it... There's cops EVERYWHERE where I work, so I just wanted to make sure. It blew off about 2/3 of the way home anyway.
    [​IMG]

    I got tired of my wood getting wet in the rain/snow... So I decided to use scrap wood and make a little enclosure. It looks like hell, but works like a charm. The house is getting sided in the spring, so I don't care too much. It makes my life easier for now and was fun to build. There's 3 more rows added on to there since then... (going left/right). I stack the ash on the other side behind where I was standing at the time
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Ash when it was delivered... 1 dry cord, $330
    [​IMG]


    I burn the leftover 4x4 pieces on weekends when I have time to tend to the fire more than once a day. They're the little scraps that weren't long enough when I cut down the full length boards. Sometimes they don't burn fully through the night, like last night... I had to burn the stove for a little bit to warm the place up. She doesn't seem to mind :)
    Nice clean glass still, even though I rarely ever burn hot. The only time I've cleaned the glass this year was for thanksgiving when my parents came over for dinner. :)
    [​IMG]



    Digging through my pictures I found this... With a random 2x4 I had laying around.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    This is about as hot as the stove ever gets. It does have a convection deck so it's not the true stove top temp... But I've got it to 550 once. Usually 500-525 seems to be the max.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    and since I'm putting up pictures, here's my latest addition... a random buddy I found when I was going outside to cut some floor. Those aren't spots on my camera... lots of burrs, fleas and dirt.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    He stayed outside my door for about a week trying to run in every chance he got...
    Girlfriend loves how friendly he is, and nobody else in the area claimed him so he went to the vet...
    He was 6lbs and bony as all heck... So 3 months later he still wasn't gaining weight... So back he goes, only to find out he lost another pound!... $300 later, we find out he had a bad bladder infection and he's hyperthyroid. So he's starting to gain some weight now. :)
    I don't know what happened to his ears though... Either frostbite or bad sunburn... His fur still hasn't grown back on them.

    Part of the cat family now.... :)
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Sorry for all the pictures, I go overboard sometimes! :)
    harryfatcat likes this.
  12. harryfatcat

    harryfatcat Member

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    That dunnage is a great score, I get some sometimes. Good job rescuing the cat!
  13. clemsonfor

    clemsonfor Minister of Fire

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    nice to see other cat lovers. The wife really likes them but I do as well, they grow on me and I love them all. She works at a vet.

    The ears on white cats I think is common, we had one growing up and his were always funny looking.

    We have a straggler that's the neighbors that around here lately, likes up more I guess, but we have 8 of our own, they love the stove!


    But about the wood, I would stack that stuff as tight as I could!
  14. BobUrban

    BobUrban Minister of Fire

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    I work as a sales rep for a veterinary surgical device company and we sell the stuff vets use to fix those issues so I am glad you took in the cat. I am a dog guy and have rescued many. On the donnage note - when I was working as a welder we would get a ton of that wood used to stack and separate steel on job sites and I think about it often as it would be great fire wood for the "easy" free. You are fortunate to get that. My friend who owns the fab shop and steel company burns a lot of it in his stoves and also did his kitchen hardwood floor with donnage. Good stuff

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