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Buy Tree Length Logs or Buy Already Split firewood

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by isipwater, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    One REALLY important thing to consider that nobody has mentioned. You thinking about, looking at, and adding up #'s for 1 to 3 years of wood/work/$. BUT, if you will start burning primarily every year, you should instead think about LONG TERM, 10 or 20 years, especially since you said your "young". So if you think short term, 2 or 3 years from now (which will come VERY quickly), you will be in the same predicament and be posting the same questions. So what you should be thinking about is how will I do this now, AND keep it going each year for 10 or 20 years.

    In that case, buy a saw, and buy a splitter. IT will cost you more upfront, but in the log run will save you money. And then you have the convienience of bucking and splitting whenever you want or have free time instead of doing it all at once....

    I bought a 22 ton splitter recently, and am now kicking myself for not buying it a long time ago....

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  2. Waulie

    Waulie Minister of Fire

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    My vote:

    Buy logs. Buy Chainsaw. Hand Split.

    But, I'm cheap.
  3. jeffesonm

    jeffesonm Feeling the Heat

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    I've got 10+ cords split all by hand over the last year or so... if you've got the time, and you're in decent shape, and you like doing it, use the Fiskars. Get lots of wood and either chainsaw or just discard the crotch pieces... not worth the energy.
  4. daveswoodhauler

    daveswoodhauler Minister of Fire

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    Note sure if this has been asked yet, but here goes:

    Have you ever operated a chain saw before? (Meaning, for at least a few hours or so?)

    Reason I ask is that you may want to start of a bit smaller to see if it works for you....i.e. Not being completely overwhelmed when the tri axle drops off 8 cords of log length in your yard.....I can't imagine buying log length and splitting with a Fiskars. Also, you need to look at the time involved. (I have three young kids, so time is a big factor for me)

    Cutting and splitting 8 log cords even with a good saw and splitter is a ton of work.....it might not be the right choice to jump all in. Good luck
    isipwater likes this.
  5. isipwater

    isipwater Feeling the Heat

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    I like your logic. Save $900 by getting tree length logs, get a solid and reliable chainsaw, and try splitting the wood with a mau!
  6. isipwater

    isipwater Feeling the Heat

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    I do have three small kids; I do have time but not a ton of it. This is a difficult choice. I suppose I shall give it some more thought. Everyone here is so helpful! Thanks.
  7. paul bunion

    paul bunion Minister of Fire

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    You don't need a ton of time all at once, an hour on an evening, a few hours on Saturday morning, and after a few months it will all be processed. Remember stacking time will be the same no matter what route you take.
  8. Paulywalnut

    Paulywalnut Minister of Fire

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    You seem to be young enough to handle c/s/s by hand. Buy what equipment you can. if this is something you think you're going to enjoy, invest in a splitter. I hand split with the maul and sledge and chopper 1 for 25 years. I get my splitter tomorrow. My left thumb and wrist are always sore. It will be a help with a splitter but I will still split some... especially red oak.:)
  9. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    Buy cut and split to start out and try to find some classes on proper chainsaw usage. Unless you don't value your time and like to cut and split wood for the exercise, you really don't save any money buying log length for two cords a year due to the initial cash outlay. If you are in the 8 to 10 cord usage, then it does save cash.

    Cutting and splitting is the most risky aspect of burning wood. more than a few folks have been injured from chainsaws and without the right safety gear the injuries can be quite gory. Even with the right gear, if you don't know how to use it you still can get nailed, thus take a chainsaw course before you get any bad habits. Even splitter can cause nasty injuries, basically splitting is quite repetitive and its easy to end up with a finger in the wrong place.

    Just realize given the time of the year that no matter what type of wood you buy, cut and split or log length that is highly unlikely that it will ready to burn for this winter.

    By the way, I cut trees and split by hand and my usage is 3 cords a year. Then again I am up north where oak isn't readily available so its white birch and red maple for me that's easier to split.
    isipwater likes this.
  10. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    I split all of my firewood by hand, and I really enjoy the splitting. I can tell you that when we're at scout camp, a large majority of the reasonably fit scouts and adults enjoy splitting too. If you have to go out and split 4 cords this weekend, then a hydraulic splitter is what you need, but to split two cords per year, well that isn't even enough, let alone too much. I find that splitting for fifteen minutes is very relaxing. Do it every day and it is relaxing plus a small workout. It is also cheap.

    I have taught many 11 year olds (the first year of Boy Scouts) to split logs and the ones who are able to handle the Fiskar's all look forward to splitting logs at camp. They are lousy at the tough pieces, but a log load should be mostly straight stuff and shouldn't have too many tough pieces. If you haven't used a chainsaw, I bet one of your friends has and could show you the basics. Respect the saw and be careful, and I think you'll be fine. The $900 bucks you can save will buy a nice chainsaw, a maul or two, and you'll have money left over.
    Scols and isipwater like this.
  11. DaveGunter

    DaveGunter Member

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    Save yourself even more money and buy some good PPE before you buy a saw, chaps, helmet with shield, or eye protection, ear protection, gloves, and safety boots, all much cheaper than a visit to the emergency room or worse.
    Snigg likes this.
  12. lumbering on

    lumbering on Feeling the Heat

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    You don't have to buy log length or pre-split.

    You can often buy a truck load of rounds already cut to 18" or so. All you have to do is split them.
  13. Soundchasm

    Soundchasm Minister of Fire

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    I've always wondered why they don't call "painting" Prep And Cleanup instead. It'd be way more accurate. All the angles these guys bring up are important, and your yard can get some long lasting scars from a big truck after a rain, let alone the wood. Seems all the trees on my property were 60+ years old and really tall, and come down at predictably inconvenient intervals. So clean up is a huge part.

    Back to the prep thing, my pet peeve is to handle the wood the minimum amount of times. You can call each split by name when a season's work load gets jumbled. It'd be good to start off with a manageable amount. You can get a work system together to test for the next load instead of discover some cart before the horse after a bunch of work.

    Had some guys work on a monster cherry that came down. It had been blocked (insurance work), but I wasn't going to lift any of them. They showed up with a 4-way splitter that had an arm that lifted rounds. It couldn't have taken any longer than 1.5-2 hours per cord with that machine. But everything needed to be well-staged so the workload made perfect sense. One guy bringing rounds, one guy running the splitter, two guys stacking and moving splits. It was beautiful. And boom it was over!

    But when it's one lonesome soul out there, I accept if a job is two man-hours with two people, it's three man-hours by myself. There's nobody to bring that one screwdriver, or hold this for a second, etc. So building up your playbook one game at a time is the only show in town. Each season you'll get way better and enjoy it more.

    I've probably split 12 cords with my little electric splitter. Those gas powered models are so fast and powerful it's hard to relax and enjoy it. But if you have to get it done, rent the most powerful one in the store!
    isipwater and MrWhoopee like this.
  14. Newwave

    Newwave Member

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    Where I live in suburbia I have a relatively small storage/staging area for wood. Getting log lengths delivered and then me processing sounds great and I do enjoy doing that on my own schedule. However, I don't want my yard to look like a sawmill; don't have the time to invest in splitting several days a week to accumulate the needed wood and plus I'm not as young and strong as I used to be. I prefer to use my Fiskars X36 and chainsaw for those pieces needing extra TLC. I have no pictures for all this but will upload some when I can figure out how.

    Around here firewood is going for anywhere from $175 to $300 depending on who you buy it from, the type of wood and what time of year. The firewood is never seasoned and actually ready to burn although it is sold as such. We all know different from experience. The firewood at that price is typically delivered and dumped. You do the stacking and normally you are disappointed in the entire process with both quantity and quality.

    What I did: I found a local nursery/garden center that sells firewood. Two years ago I bought 2 cords of splits that he had stacked on pallets about 5-6 feet tall with shrink wrap around them. Like most of us I had been burned by short loads and junk wood in the past from other suppliers so this way of buying wood appealed to me. This past March I went to the owner and made a deal for buying 6 cords at a time, delivered and stacked on pallets that he supplied. What many folks don't realize is that firewood sellers often buy their wood from suppliers and are actually just firewood deliver guys. Nothing wrong with that. I dealt directly with the garden center owner, got the same price as the re-sellers since I was buying multiple cords, I got the wood already split, they delivered and stacked the wood on pallets they brought with them and the entire process was done in one day. They brought 3 guys plus a crew leader/driver. They did a great job stacking, I got the full measure of wood I bought, they cleaned up great and I gave the crew leader a tip to be divided among the guys however he wanted.



    Result: My yard was not torn up by gigantic trucks driving on the lawn and the driveway is not monopolized by logs for weeks and covered in sawdust, my firewood is neatly stacked on pallets along the property line, neighbors and friends frequently compliment/comment on the appearance of the wood pile. I can scrounge enough to keep me busy splitting and stacking to satisfy my desire for that. The price I paid was $130 per cord delivered (not including tip) and stacked as I described above. I bought enough wood to last me about 2 years at current usage rates. Added to the wood I already have I now have 3+ years on hand C/S/S. The wood I bought is not ready to burn now and I knew that when I bought it. I just checked several pieces and I get 24-28% readings. There is a small amount of red oak and hickory but mostly maple, ash, beech and some I can't identify.

    The owner Frank gets the wood delivered free in log lengths/rounds from local tree services who would otherwise have to pay to dump the wood. He processes year round but mostly during the slow season to keep his guys working. He seems to sell the wood basically for what the labor costs him to process and deliver plus a small profit (maybe). It's a totally cool cycle of taking wood that would otherwise be put into a landfill, recycling the chipped material into mulch/compost, selling the logs as processed firewood and customers getting good quality firewood at a fair price, guys kept working that may otherwise be laid off and it seems to work out fine for everyone.

    I plan to do the same thing again next March with another 6 cord, delivered and stacked. As long as I can keep on buying at or about the same price I really can't justify a splitter and the accompanying work to get the same amount of wood for more money given the time I have available.

    Anyway, that is what works for me. Welcome to the forum and best of luck to you. YMMV.
    Soundchasm likes this.
  15. Soundchasm

    Soundchasm Minister of Fire

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    Newwave, that is an awesome post.
  16. lumbering on

    lumbering on Feeling the Heat

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    I would absolutely pay 130 per cord to keep or stay ahead. I find it costs WAY more than that around here. This nursery wouldn't happen to be in New York, would it?
  17. tsquini

    tsquini Minister of Fire

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    Go with the logs. Get a chainsaw. Get your second chainsaw first. A good saw will make your life so much easier. Then get an splitting axe.

    As for the splitter, I have been processing logs for 5 years. I ended up getting a splitter 2 years ago. I split the straight wood by hand. It is quicker that way, a splitter is easier but it is slow. I use the splitter for the knotty wood or the rounds that won't split after 3 good tries.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2013
  18. Charles1981

    Charles1981 Minister of Fire

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    I order 6 chords log length at a time.

    takes about 8-10 hours of actual time for me to buck the pile split over 2 days. Usually split over 2 days (~4-5 hours a day). Get the stove length bucked pieces stacked close together as you can manage.

    Rent a 32ton log splitter at home depot for 100$ for 24 hours the night before. Wake up at 7am the next day and split from sun-up to sun down with my wife. Usually get the entire 6 chords split and stacked.

    About 3 days of really hard work a year. Get the chord @90$/chord log length. Factor in the splitter rental and I am getting everything at ~106$ per chord per year.

    I've thought about purchasing a splitter but dumping the 2000+ into a 32 ton splitter is really difficult decision to make. The 20 ton splitter I have used previous are slow as hell and still cost 1300 new at TSC. So the 32 ton rental from home depot is amazing to me at 100$ once a year.

    Basically renting once a year to split 6 chords to me is worth it. It would take 20+ years to pay off a good serious wood splitter ~32 tons, and I don't really want a 20 ton mediocre splitter.

    Now that I am ahead about 2 years as well I may not even need to rent a splitter for some time because now that i have 12 chords split and stacked I am just leisurely splitting wood by hand now and keeping up over the course of the year.

    I think buying a splitter is a bad idea unless you are selling wood, or physically can't split anymore.
  19. Ram 1500 with an axe...

    Ram 1500 with an axe... Minister of Fire

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    Buying a splitter is not a bad idea, all situations are different, I contemplated renting vs buying for some time, now that it is in hind sight, I am glad I bought my 22 for only $1000. I can split what I want, when I want, I have my kids work the control while I do the grunt work, it is a great one on one time with the kids. I work a lot so I don't have a lot of time to get it all done fast, an hour here and there is the way that works best for me, I'm in no rush anymore now that I'm many cords ahead of the game, and I got there by doing it a few hours a week every week.....
  20. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    FYI from someone who just finished researching and looking at splitters for 3 months, then buying a 22 ton. MOST of the 20 or 22 ton splitters are FASTER (faster cycle times) than the 27, 30, 34 and 37 ton splitters. Now having said that, I find the speed of the splitter the least of the issue, if you really pay attention to the mechanics of splitting, most of the time is NOT spent at the splitter. It's spent fetching rounds, placing/positioning properly on beam, throwing splits, moving and positioning 1/2 splits that require additional splits... Also, now that I have a few cords split under my belt with the 22 ton splitter, I can tell you with 100% curtainty, there is nothing it will not split, that a 30 or 37 ton splitter would split. First of all, my old 5 ton electric splitter which is now on Craigs list, basically split just about everything I ever gave it. Sure, I had to reposition some crotchy rounds a few times to coax them into splitting, but after 3 or 4 years of splitting with it, I had exactly 3 peices of wood that it just would not split. The 22 ton spit those 3 without blinking an eye. The point being, there wasn't/isn't a hole lot of difference between 5 tons and 22 tons of splitting force. So I doubt the difference between 22 and 30 is much besides possibly the longevity of the splitter (they are probably built heavier duty and may last longer...).

    Just keeping it real. ;)


    Oh, PS- My 22 ton was $950 at Home depot (1200 less 20% off coupon).
  21. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    " I split the straight wood by hand. It is quicker that way, a splitter is easier but it is slow."
    I dont agree with that at all maybe if you have a slow splitter, split wod by hand for a little over 25 years but bought a splitter a few years ago, once you get the hang of using the splitter and get a system it is very fast, I know you can split wood fast by hand but cord for cord a good hyd. splitter is gonna come out on top.
  22. paul bunion

    paul bunion Minister of Fire

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    I also figured in the cost of installing a trailer hitch on my car (and any future one) when making a decision to buy a splitter. $200 plus installation for a trailer hitch was a significant chunk of buying a splitter outright.
  23. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    "Car" ? What is a car?
    Soundchasm likes this.
  24. teutonicking

    teutonicking Feeling the Heat

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    I like owning my own splitter. If you plan to burn wood for many years then it pays to own your own splitter. You never know when you are going to get a good free score on craigslist, or if a neighbor has a tree they are cutting down and will just give you the wood. It will pay for itself in the long run, both in monetary terms and in convenience. You can get a good 22 ton splitter by Huskee for $900-1000.

    Same goes for a good chainsaw. I'd recommend a Stihl MS-261.
  25. Waulie

    Waulie Minister of Fire

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    Splitting by hand can definitely be faster if you only have a short amount of time each time to split wood. If I have an hour or two, I can split WAY more wood by hand then if I had to gas-up, check oil, haul around, etc. a splitter. Actually, since I'm splitting 95% ash, I'm pretty sure I could out split a splitter without even counting the other stuff. That's until I get tired of course.

    That said, If you have a whole day or a good chunk of the day to just split wood, then yes, a splitter would definitely be faster. It is less fun, though.

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