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Different heights & Power Gear

Post in 'The Gear' started by Hestia, Mar 12, 2008.

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  1. Hestia

    Hestia New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2008
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    Loc:
    Eastern MA
    My dh is about a foot taller than me (he's 6'6") and quite a bit stronger. We are just beginning to heat with wood, (hooking it up on Friday!) and need to think about the gear. I know that we should have a couple of items because of our size differences (a maul, for example) but can we get by with one chain saw? How about the splitter (we only want one, but what do we need to think about for different heights?) I have been reading here about issues with bending and using the splitter, and bending very low too much does bother him. It is not an issue for me.

    We will be on the lookout for a splitter, a chainsaw, possibly a utility trailer.

    He works part time at Lowes, and is going to keep an eye out there. He does get a discount. However with the power tools, better safe and well working than sorry. Any advice on height/strength difference and the power gear?

    Last, we were thinking for the first year: get our feet wet and have the wood delivered green/split; build wood sheds; give it some practice in splitting smaller splits with hand tools; buy the power tools at off season prices, and; get into bigger splitting work next year. We already have 2 cords stacked for next winter on pallets covered with tarp (had it delivered in October, and bought the stove when it went on sale.) Good plan for newbies, or should we just jump in and spring for the gear/have a half a truckload delivered (of a grapple load) with oil prices the way they are? Money is an issue, but we will be spending it on either the gear or the oil. Any advice welcome.

    Hestia

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  2. tkirk22

    tkirk22 New Member

    Joined:
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    I suppose the first question is if you have trees available to cut down? Or are you planning on just buying grapple loads? How wide are the trees and what type? How much wood are you planning on burning next year?

    If they are big trees then you will need a big splitter. If they are generally under 10" diameter then you may be able to get by with a small electric on a homemade stand.

    Hand splitting is an option and you should have something that suits each of you. A small and large chainsaw would be nice but not a necessity unless you are dropping trees at a remote location. Then having backup saw is not a bad idea. I use a midsize 026 Stihl with a 16" bar. It's adequate for the trees I cut but wouldn't be good for a really big tree. Then again I don't have many really big trees to cut and my electric splitter wouldn't split them anyway.

    I guess I'm saying, start with the wood you can get and select the tools to process it.

    A utility trailer is not a bad idea. There's always ads on craigslist for down trees and cut wood.

    Cut and split now and worry about the sheds later.
  3. kevin j

    kevin j Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2008
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    Loc:
    minnesota us
    I think your plan of easing into and learning is a good one. spend just enough to get into the task at hand, read on Hearth and AS sites alot, and in the coming months by the time you need to make a decision you will kow a lot more.

    You can certainly use the same saw. Since their are two to cut, you may end up with two anyway: a small top handle trimmer and another limbing saw, or a limbing saw and a big bucking saw. So if you start with a small homeowner saw that both can use, you won't likely throw it away but simply add a different type of saw later. Say start with a small ms180, very capable and safe, then later add a 50 or 60 cc size bucking saw.

    Help other people cut and split, use their equipment, see what you like or don't. keep notes.
    Once someone has spent money on a product, they tend to defend the choice and see the good points. Human nature. Using stuff your self is the best test.
    I know my eventual choices of saws and spliiter are a lot different now than when it was armchair reasoning and reading.

    Eventually, if you stay at it, you will end up with some fairly expensive equipment that will last a lifetime. Onoy question is how long the trail of disposable stuff behind that decision : )

    It's mostly for the fun and the satisfaction. I don't save money by doing this......


    welcome aboard
    kcj
  4. Hestia

    Hestia New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2008
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    40
    Loc:
    Eastern MA
    Thanks for the answers!

    Kirk22:
    I suppose the first question is if you have trees available to cut down? Or are you planning on just buying grapple loads? How wide are the trees and what type? How much wood are you planning on burning next year?

    We know someone who said that we could have some trees that had fallen down. My dh had a look, and some look like oak. Bottoms are rotted, but there is a lot of good wood. We will need to haul it out of their woods. That was why I was considering the grapple loads. We do not have a truck (wish we did!) and I don't relish the idea of hauling it into and out of our station wagon. (That was why I was thinking about the trailer. We have a couple of older Volvo Wagons that just keep going and going.)

    If they are big trees then you will need a big splitter. If they are generally under 10” diameter then you may be able to get by with a small electric on a homemade stand.


    My dh would prefer an electric - we will be looking at both electric and gas.

    Hand splitting is an option and you should have something that suits each of you. A small and large chainsaw would be nice but not a necessity unless you are dropping trees at a remote location. Then having backup saw is not a bad idea. I use a midsize 026 Stihl with a 16” bar. It’s adequate for the trees I cut but wouldn’t be good for a really big tree. Then again I don’t have many really big trees to cut and my electric splitter wouldn’t split them anyway.

    We will be purchasing only one chainsaw to start - can anyone recommend a lightweight one that I could use? It was amazing how much more I enjoy (and am more accurate with) hammering with a hammer that is smaller than the massive one my husband prefers.)

    Cut and split now and worry about the sheds later.

    Thanks for that advice. I guess you're right - I can always build them in the summer. Just thought it would be easier to stack the wood as it was split.

    Kevin J:

    Thanks for all the practical advice. I think we need to go help out someone my dh works with to get a feel for the equipment. It is a little scary - I've never used a chain saw, however I am good with tools that fit well.


    It’s mostly for the fun and the satisfaction. I don’t save money by doing this......


    Well, that makes me sad. I am hoping that we will save some money (and be warmer in the process!) Our house is just under 2,000 sf (a spread out ranch), we keep it at 60 and lower - I figure that with the cost of oil hovering at $3.60+ a gallon, we will spend over $4,000 on oil this year. We will be looking into solar for our hot water in the future, but we would love to cut our oil bill in half, at least. It will be very satisfying to help keep our family warm!

    Thanks also for the welcome!
    Hestia
  5. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    Well to start with, you should each get your own PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) in appropriate sizes and so forth - You probably couldn't wear his, and he shouldn't wear yours (unless he's planning to go to bars and do Monty Python numbers... %-P ) This is especially true if you will be working near each other with a chain saw. Search for other threads on details, but minimum should be a helmet / faceshield / earmuff combo, chainsaw chaps, and steel toe boots, preferably chainsaw rated (chainsaw boots are MUCH more expensive, but the safety people say the added protection is well worth it.) Chainsaw gloves are good but not essential, however I would consider some sort of work gloves to be vital, along with stout pants, long sleeve jacket, etc. They are slightly less protection, and more money, but I prefer the more form fitting goat or pig skin leather with spandex back "technical" style gloves over the old fashioned one size (doesn't) fit all leather / canvas style, they give me more grip and better "feel" for what I'm doing. - you may want several different pairs depending on what you are doing - the rubber coated stretch fabrics are great when handling wet wood, but are to "grabby" when swinging a sledge for instance...

    Eventually you will probably want multiple chainsaws, but that would be more for doing different things than for using at the same time - typically something small for limbing and other light work, and a large saw for bucking and felling. If money is an object, you can get a home-owner grade "disposa-saw" such as a Craftsman, Poulan, or low end Husky - pretty much anything you'd find at a "big box" store - it will probably have a much bigger bar than it should, try to get something with 3cc of engine per inch of bar length. INSIST on a saw with a chain brake! Avoid "top handle" saws as they are harder to control, mostly they are intended for tree climbers that worry about mobility and weight... If you can however, look for a "Pro-grade" saw - they are more money, but are better in every respect than home-owner saws, more durable, better size / hp / weight ratio, higher quality construction, easier to service, etc...

    If you get a splitter, I'd say you only need one, and I'd probably go for anything in the ~20 ton gas powered range with horizontal / vertical operation. For two people the fastest way to split with one of these is for one person to sit on a short log in front of the cylinder with the unit in vertical mode and does the splitting, while the other person feeds the operator rounds and takes away the splits. However you can also do well with hand splitting. I would advise several (at least 3-4) wedges, with your favorite sledge to bash them with, as splitters, plus possibly splitting axes or mauls - if you have different size / strength profiles, I'd probably get "his n hers" on those. I'd say the sledge and wedge is more important as you can get just about anything to split with a wedge, but some logs just won't give it up for a maul.

    If you have a car that isn't suitable for hauling, and will be gathering, then a trailer is a good idea, with a Volvo, probably all you will need / want is one of the low budget utility trailers - be sure to watch your towing capacity limits, wood is heavy and it's easy to GROSSLY overload, which can be hard on the vehicle, as well as dangerous to other road users.

    If you are getting log length delivered, then a trailer is less critical. However you may want to think about wheel barrows or log carts to make moving your rounds and splits easier. I use the Harbor Freight firewood cart that we bring wood into the house with to move splits and small rounds (up to about 10") but find above that the cart doesn't like the load and tends to bend. I use one of the cheapo green plastic garden carts for medium size rounds (up to about 18-24", or as much as I can comfortably lift) - not my first choice, but it's what I have... For larger than that, I use a 2-wheeler box/barrel cart to minimize the lifting. Big diameter tires are more important than width, but both help. A single wheeled wheelbarrow is a pain, wood tends not to balance well...

    Sheds are useful, but not essential, if you do a search you can see lots of alternatives in low budget designs. I like my current ~8x16', 6 cord shed, but if I were starting over, I might be tempted by some of those portable car shelter type units - lots of capacity, not much money, easy to build, etc.

    Hope this helps,

    Gooserider
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