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Evaluating Downed Wood

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by WarmGuy, Nov 17, 2008.

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  1. WarmGuy

    WarmGuy Feeling the Heat

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    Today someone offered me some wood from his yard. There were some 18 inch diameter pine trunks and some 15 inch diameter logs each about six feet long. Some were right on the ground, others were stacked two high, and some parts of the trunks were cantilevered out, and not touching the ground.

    The guy said that they were cut down one year ago. We live on the coast in far northern California.

    I cut a truckload, and I have to evaluate whether it's worth going back for a few more loads. Some of it was pretty punky. All of it was damp through, but most of it felt pretty solid. Pictures below.

    How can I evaluate whether this will be worth burning? I wouldn't burn this until 2010 or 2011.

    Other variable: Just got a new saw, and I want to cut something!

    Thanks.

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  2. myzamboni

    myzamboni Minister of Fire

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    I'd get it an burn it, but I'm not too picky. Just split it and stack it off the ground. You might go through a little more than normal, but free wood is free wood.
  3. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    same here burn it and find out!
  4. Jeff S

    Jeff S Feeling the Heat

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    I agree,if its free and easily accessible,burn it,especially if your just starting out.
  5. WarmGuy

    WarmGuy Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks.

    I'm wondering whether there are any techniques for evaluating the wood. For example, knocking on it, or seeing how far a screwdriver can be plunged into it.
  6. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Just kick it. If it's spongy, you will know. Even spongy stuff burns after it dries out. I cull out lots of dead fall and standing wood to burn. I use the real spongy stuff for the first row next to the ground as sacrifice wood.
  7. bsruther

    bsruther Minister of Fire

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    You'll know if it's good or not when you split it. Sometimes you can tel by the weight or the density of the logs too.
    Some of those logs in the second pic look kind of spongy on the end. Give them a split and see what you get.
  8. Vic99

    Vic99 Minister of Fire

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    Take it.
  9. caber

    caber New Member

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    I cut a lot of downed wood, most of which has been down 5+ years. I use a hatchet to see how deep any rot or softness goes. If I get a thunk somewhere, I cut some sections and see what it looks like inside. Almost always good stuff.
  10. Rizzy

    Rizzy New Member

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    That wood doesn't look to bad, I've seen worse. I burn wood that looks like that quite often, it burns fast and hot. The local forest here in Southern Kalifornia is full of bug eaten/rotten pine like that. The bark falls off when you split it, and it splits easy.
  11. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    I'd burn it too.
  12. CowboyAndy

    CowboyAndy New Member

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    Depending on the amount of work, go for it. I had a stash of logs behind my garage that were there before we bought the house (5+ years) they were punky as hell, but ince split and dried out they burn hot and fast, great to take the chill off and get the fire kicked up in the morning.
  13. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Put me down for "burn it."

    Since this is the first year of burning for me I scavenged some standing dead and downed wood (but off the ground). Most of it is decent . . . some punky stuff which will dry out if you get it under cover but keep it exposed to the air when possible. For some pieces which were beyond punky and heading to the "rotten" stage I would discard them (future mulch) or if there was some decent wood I would simply split off the rotten or super punky section and keep the good piece of wood.

    Honestly, some of this wood looks better than some of the wood I scavenged.
  14. Bubbavh

    Bubbavh Feeling the Heat

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    I'll also go with the burn it!

    Got some just like it in my softwoods pile, the spongy stuff when it dries out burns up almost as fast as you can stuff it in!
  15. jpl1nh

    jpl1nh Minister of Fire

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    I agree, burn it. Here is what I don't burn: garbage, painted, stained, or varnished wood, plywood or particle board, plastics or rubber, colored paper. All in all, I burn wood, most any wood. I burn some pretty crumby punky stuff at times, it can't be green and it's got to be dry. I burn lumber (no PT!) Aside from that (did I miss anything?) if it's wood, it's seasoned, and it's dry, I burn it! Some people have their stacks of nothing but oak, ash, or whatever. I've got plenty of really good wood too but I use that when it's really cold out, like 15 or below. The dogs are happy, my stove burns clean, I don't build up creosote, I've got all the wood we ever need, and most importantly, my wife's happy!
  16. WarmGuy

    WarmGuy Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks for the advice. I got a total of four truckloads (about 1.3 cords), and I've started splitting it. Some of it is a little marginal, but you never know when a good scrounge score is going to come in, so I think it will be worth it.

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  17. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

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    Good call. The property that I just scored on has a couple of trees in the back that have been down a while but so long as they're not totally bug riddled I'm going for it. Free wood is free wood. I know, I know, the cost of time, gas, chains, bar oil etc...but as my better half says (even though sometimes I deny it) this is a "hobby" of sorts. I'd rather be out the woods cutting and splitting than sitting behind my desk at work any day!
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