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Drying Wood & other related questions

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Deep Fryer, Jul 6, 2009.

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  1. Deep Fryer

    Deep Fryer Member

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    Hello Folks!

    Hope everyone had a great 4th of July weekend. I spent saturday & sunday splitting wood, & got maybe 80% of it done. I had 5 trees (3 red oaks, 1 black birch & 1 maple) cut in february, two of them were dead (both oaks). On top of that I had two beech trees that I secured last summer from my neighbors who were cutting them down. In any case, after much splitting I have quite a few bonny piles of wood that I would like to season propperly. All these trees have been sitting on the ground already sectioned.

    My questions are as follows..
    whats a good way to stack the splits? I have a lot of wood & I want to get it off the ground. Last year I had (2)- 2"X6"X10' with 18 spacers forming a horizontal ladder type racks. They worked ok but were highly ustable after I stacked it past the 6' mark.
    I do not plan on building a shed for this purpose at this time. Would a 4X4 type platform be more suitable for this task.
    Leaving/stacking it on the ground is not a good option righ guys? I dont have access to pallets or a way to transport them so unfortunately thats not an option for me, but I could build something since I have a good bit of lumber laying around, what do you guys think?


    Covered vs Uncovered?- I woud think covered would be a good idea for obvious reasons. I plan on using tarps to cover the wood but with spikes holding the tarp off of the wood (kinda like a tent) so that air circulation is not hampered. does anyone have other alternatives that they could suggest?

    Time to dry? Do you think the trees that were cut in february would be ready for use by say... around december of this year? or am I way off the mark on this one? :cheese:

    Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you!


    EDIT: Thank you Mods for moving to the propper venue. Sorry for the redundancy as I see other threads on similar subject :red:

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  2. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    If only people knew that all of the mystery can go away for a very, very small investment. I think every wood burner should own a moisture meter. How long it takes to season wood is dependant on a lot of variables, not the least of which is weather. Does stacking differently make a difference? That's arguable. For me the bottom line is this - stack in the most convienient way possible for your given location and buy a moisture meter. Check your wood once a month or so (split it and check it in the middle). And PRESTO - you have all the answers right there in your hands. You can experiment with covering some stacks while not covering others, etc. You have the power, my friend...

    In my humble opinion your wood won't be in particularly great shape this year. But I'm a gasser guy so to me "super dry" is where I need to be...

    Here is the winner: http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=96472
  3. Deep Fryer

    Deep Fryer Member

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    Hello Stee!
    And thank you, I was planing on the moisture meter after reading some of the other threads.
    Thanks for the link as well, that looks like a nice unit ;-)
  4. Pagey

    Pagey Minister of Fire

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  5. Deep Fryer

    Deep Fryer Member

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    Hello Pagey!
    Thats exactly what I was looking for as far as options, very much grateful to you sir.
    I am getting a little bit dissapointed though as it seems that a lot of this wood wont be usable for this year.
    I just dislike the idea of having to buy wood, on the other hand, I will be in good shape for next year :)
  6. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    I wouldn't give up on 2009/2010 just yet. Perhaps you could score some Ash yet this year? Perhaps find some other species that dry quickly (Cherry maybe)? Otherwise, buying seasoned wood for your first year would likely be a good investment compared to struggling to heat with green wood. You'd probably thank yourself...and you'd burn a lot less.

    FYI - processing dead trees can be a bit like the lotto. I scrounged up roughly 2 cord of standing dead last summer/fall. It was super dry (bark was long gone) and 100% good to go by the start of the heating season last year. So don't give up until you really know what you've already got. And keep your ears open for more wood. You'll always want more wood....
  7. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    Try and find some white ash or black locust. If stacked now, they will be good for this winter.
  8. Deep Fryer

    Deep Fryer Member

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    Thank you for the encouragement guys, I'll keep an eye out for some. I have that one maple tree, that, though not big should probably give me close to a cord+- and I do have the Beech that I scored last year and that I believe will be usable.

    So it seems with this hobby/sport/compulsion of ours we have to be thinking about a year or so ahead.
    I guess I should start thinking about securing more wood :)
  9. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Ok Fred. Look closely at this picture. Also look at the first row and you will see some saplings we cut. That is what is under the wood piles. The saplings are different sizes but most are quite small. They are just enough to keep the wood up off the ground and allow some air under the stacks. You can't find a better or cheaper way to stack your wood.

    You also mention covering the wood. The wood pictured was cut last winter. It was split last spring. Today, in July, that wood is still sitting exactly as pictured and will stay that way until about November or December (before snow starts piling up).

    We always leave our wood uncovered the first summer which allows for the most evaporation of moisture. We stack it so the wind hits the sides and hopefully the stack gets a goodly amount of sunshine. When we cover the wood piles we use old galvanized roofing mostly. However, when we run out of roofing we will use some old tarps but much prefer the roofing.

    The wood you see pictured here will not be burned until after about 4-6 years. It will be well seasoned and give the maximum amount of heat and the least amount of creosote.

    [​IMG]
  10. Deep Fryer

    Deep Fryer Member

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    Hello Dennis!
    You sir are an artist, those are beautiful wood stacks (I have admired them in some of the other threads), I see you only do the hatch/# patterns on the ends of the stack, thats very interesting & makes for some good stability.
    How tall are the bigger stacks Dennis, I'm thinking 5'+?

    I like the idea of the sapplings but I'm going to have to rig up some surplus 2Xs instead since I dont have access to young uns.

    The amount of time to season this stuff is starting to freak me out, 2,3,4+ years! I would need a good amount of land to keep a revolving supply of wood ready to use. This is something I am going to have to think about. A cord of wood goes for around $220.00-$250.00 but though they claim that is is seasoned I am sure that term is being used a little freely if you know what I mean.

    Well at least the pressure to stack it and cover it is alevieated a bit, I will probably spend the next couple of weekends finishing the spliting process & then start the stacking.

    Thank you for all your advise Dennis, it is greatly appreciated ;-)
  11. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Fred, those stacks are all 4' high. Over the years we've found that even if the stacks start to lean (because of frost heave) that stacking higher than 4' they might tend to fall or at least look awful. So we stop at 4' or thereabouts.

    I actually started stacking in just 8 foot long rows but ran out of space so extended them to 16'. Therefore, they have another hatch in the middle. Looks odd, but works okay. And if I do sell any of the wood, it is already measured out by the cord. Three rows 8' long makes a cord.
  12. Deep Fryer

    Deep Fryer Member

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    Thank you Dennis! I'm new to this so this is very helpful. I know last year I had 10'L rows about 7' high(& only 22" wide) & they were structurally no good so I knew I wanted to do things differently this time around.

    Thanks again!
  13. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    You are welcome Fred, and you will do just fine.
  14. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    Fryer,
    I don't think most people here would suggest that you need to season wood more than two years for use in a wood stove. There are lots of people on this forum who will tell you that the denser woods, such as oak, hickory, sugar maple, etc., need more than a year of seasoning after splitting to be ready to burn, and that two years does almost any wood a lot of good. Maybe after three years, oak might be even a little better than it would be after two, but I think most here would agree that two is enough. A few high achievers are years ahead with their wood collection, so you will read of a few guys who season wood five or six years or even longer, but I don't think many would argue that it is really necessary to season it that long. It would be nice, and I bet the wood is nice and dry, but I don't know if it is really necessary to season wood for years and years.

    So, if you're figuring how much storage space you need, I would figure on three years' worth as the about right. That way, in the fall you can have this year's wood, next year's wood, and have space to start stacking wood for the year after that. its not like you can't get by with less, but three years' space, or about 12 to 15 cords (4 or 5 per year) for an average burner would be great. You will also need some space to pile up logs, stack rounds waiting to be split, etc. It takes a lot of space to be a wood burner.
  15. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Wood Duck, perhaps you are reading something into some posts that is not there. At least I do not recall anyone stating that more than 2 or 3 years are needed for seasoning any wood.

    However, if you can season your wood longer, then by all means do it! Not only will the wood be nice and dry for burning, but it is better than money in the bank. Every time I pass my wood piles I get pleasure in seeing them and I also see dollars.....lots of them. I am not a young man now and for some odd reason I see plenty of guys my age and older who can no longer get out to cut and put up their wood. That is sad and I hate to see it. Yet, I know that because of my age there could be a winter or two when I won't be able to cut and split wood leave alone the stacking. If that does happen, I am prepared. If it doesn't happen, I'll be thanking the Lord for sure and keeping these bones warm by our wood stove.

    I've posted many times on here about guys getting more than a year's supply of wood and I'll continue to do so because it is the best thing to do if burning wood. I'll probably even post about how much wood I have after cutting next winter....but that in no way says that everyone should do the same as I. Heaven forbid! Let's not all be alike!

    So I still say, Fred, you are doing just fine. Keep up the good work.
  16. maplewood

    maplewood Minister of Fire

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    I've burned a lot of wood that had dried for less than a year: white and yellow birch and white maple. Yes, it will burn better after a year, but it still burns. I would burn what I've got before I buy someone elses wood.
    Where will you store your wood after the drying season, if you are going to burn it this year? Inside, where it can continue to dry? Or will it be outside, and you carry in a few days worth at a time?
    For sure get a moisture meter. I got mine this spring after reading about them here, and am watching my new piles dry with statistics to prove it.

    Happy heating!
  17. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Wood seasoned less than a year, while it might burn, is more an exercise in futility and you end up burning much more than you should. BTDT more than once. I've burned same year, next year, and 3 year seasoned wood and can say the difference is quite noticeable.

    Ash, if well laid up to dry, I would burn same year but Birch, never.
  18. Deep Fryer

    Deep Fryer Member

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    Guys, thank you all for your time, I greatly appreciate it.
    I think that some of the Red Oak & Blak Birch that I cut in february I will consider to be ready for use in the dec 2010-january 2011 depending on the moisture level readings I get next year as we approach the heating season.
    I went through about 5 cords last year & only burning at night & 24/7 on the weekends & was surprised I used up that much, but as has been alluded to here I dont believe that wood was well seasoned at all.

    Hi Maplewood, Moisture meter? Definitely!, I want to get this down pat & make the most of my efforts. Once the wood gets all split I will be stacking & probably cover it at some point but it will definitely be stored & seasoned outside. Plus I did see some termite activity on some pieces so inside storage is out of the question.

    Hello Wood Duck! I think your estimate of having 3 years worth makes a lot of sense & also tells me I have a lot of work still ahead of me. I am begginig to understand just what I have gotten myself into here :cheese:

    Dennis, just a quick question, how wide are the three 8'L rows that make up your cords-4' wide?
    so that your cord stacks are 4'W x 4'H x 8'L is that correct?!


    Once I get the moisture meter I will sample the Beech that I secured last summer & see what kind of readings I begin to see.
    I'll also take a closer look at how that maple that I have looks (moisture wise) as some of you have mentioned this as a good candidate for this year.
    This might seem like a silly question but are we looking for a moisture reading of 0/zero or some other number, is zero even approachable (besides in a desert setting)? Also, what about the dead oak trees that I had, wouldnt they constitute as having been seasoning for the years that they were dead (these dead trees were not on the ground they were still upright) I suppose ultimately the moisture meter will have the final say right!?
  19. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    Your target for seasoning should be in the 20% moisture range. Less is better but I doubt you'd see less than 10% on a regular basis. For gasifiers the suggested range is 15-20% for optimum operation. Typically this takes 2 years on most wood. I think I hover at or near 20% more than I ever get to 15%....
  20. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Fred, the wood is cut to 16", so the 3 rows do measure 4'. And yes, 4' x 4' x 8' = a cord of wood. You probably noticed one row not completely filled but there was still some not stacked; actually more than enough to fill that row. That means that last winter I cut a little over 9 cords of wood. Not too bad when we burned only 3.

    As for the moisture meter, I have never used one nor do I plan on it. I still believe in just giving Mother Nature the amount of time she need and your wood will burn nicely.
  21. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Maplewood, most of us at one time or another have burned wood that has dried less than a year. It mostly depends upon what type of wood you are burning but also depend upon how you handle the wood; how it is split, stacked, etc.

    It sounds as if you are implying that wood will dry only during the summer when you ask about storing wood after the drying season. Methinks you will find that the drying season lasts much longer than just the summer. Wood will continue to dry in the winter months even if left outdoors like we do.

    btw, what we do is during the winter months we stack wood under the carport right at the end of the porch. I'll move the wood either with a Garden Way cart or just hook the trailer onto the atv. I'll do this usually once every 2-3 weeks in the winter months, starting in late October or early November through April.
  22. Deep Fryer

    Deep Fryer Member

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    Hi Stee, thank you for getting back to me with those numbers, I suspected as much, now I have a reference point for any readings I might encounter in the very near future.


    Hi Dennis,
    Now that I have learned a few crucial facts I will proceed accordingly, mainly in that I plan on stacking in a "confirmed" cord format. This will enable me to know exactly how much wood I am using up in a given season. Also & equally important, I need to secure more wood and there is never a wrong time to get more wood . I also think I might have to invest into a log splitter as opposed to renting one which is what I did this last weekend. It was a Troy Build 27 ton unit which worked very nicely & gave one the option of using it vertically (preferred) or horizontally.
    My hat is also off to you sir (not being a young man as you mentioned) for being able to do this kind of work which is not easy but is very rewarding.
    As for the moisture meter I think for me personally it will be a useful tool to have while I learn the ropes ;-)


    Is the verdict still out on dead wood that was not on the ground, does that have to be seasoned???
  23. wendell

    wendell Minister of Fire

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    No, dead wood still needs to be seasoned. I am currently splitting a large dead elm and the lower trunk is still measuring at 37% and the upper branch measurements are in the upper 20's. The lower stuff is going in my 2011/12 stacks, the upper stuff will hopefully be ready by February.
  24. Deep Fryer

    Deep Fryer Member

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    Thank you Wendell, I'll keep that in mind :)
  25. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Answer: It depends. I've had some standing dead elm that burned fantastic and some standing dead elm that I could tell right away would not burn well. Like BS I don't use, or plan to buy an moisture meter -- not that it isn't a bad tool, it's just I plan to give the wood time and split and stack it appropriately . . . and after awhile you can get a "feel" for the wood -- in terms of the way it splits, feels compared to similar sized pieces of wood of the same species, etc.

    In general I would say it is possible to find some standing dead wood that can be burned right away, but in general you're still better off letting the wood season for a bit.
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