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"How to buck a log with the fewest waste chunks"

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by fire_man, Sep 1, 2010.

  1. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    Seems like every time I buck a log I end up with annoying scrap ends. I burn 'em anyway but its much more extra work handling chunks than splits. My 11 year old kid TJ (darn kid) came up with this answer to reduce the chunks:

    1. Decide the shortest length split you want. For the Fireview its 15"
    2. Divide the length of the log by the split length. Say its a 70 inch log so 70"/15"=4.67
    3. Multiply the fractional remainder by the split length. 0.67 x 15" = 10"
    4. Divide step 3 by the whole number in step 2. 10"/4 = 2.5"
    5. Add step 4 to split length. 2.5" + 15" = 17.5"

    So cut each round to 17.5" and you will end up with exactly 4 rounds. If I had cut them all 15 inches long I would have ended up with a 10 inch chunk. With the Fireview I want the maximum number of long splits for a long burn.

    I know the last round will end up shorter than the rest by about 3/16" x number of cuts, but unless its a really long log to start with its no big deal. Most people don't want a calculator when they cut wood, but I think it's less work than dealing with all the chunks. If the round ends up TOO LONG just set a max length and stick to it. Refinements/corrections are welcome!

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  2. Shari

    Shari Minister of Fire

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    Waaaayyyy too much thought processes going into this. It all burns so who cares?

    But if you 'want' to be truly scientific, you have not deducted the width of the kerf of your cuts.

    Shari
  3. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Yer kid's a genius...give him the chainsaw, you hold the calculator. :lol: Rick
  4. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    You missed the line in my post "I know the last round will end up shorter than the rest by about 3/16” x number of cuts". That's for the Kerf!
  5. PapaDave

    PapaDave Minister of Fire

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    This year I've been using a tape to measure as I cut. I start with 16", do a couple cuts then measure the remaining log. What's left gets divided into equal lengths.
    So, most of these are 8 footers, with some a little longer. If I cut everything @16" the last one's going to be a little less than 15" for an 8 footer.
    If the log happens to be longer than 8', then the last couple rounds might end up being 17-18". No big deal, and it's not anything that slows me down either. Pretty easy once you start doing it.
    When I was eyeballing the cuts, I had a larger spread in size. Now that I've got the shed, uniformity is the name of the game.
    I adjust to keep most stuff under 18", just makes handling a little better for me. YMWV
    No calculators here, I'd never get anything cut.
    Shari, I actually spent some time last year figuring out how much wood is lost to kerfs and bark loss.
    Started getting ugly, so I quit. :coolsmile:
  6. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    My head hurts. :)
  7. Shari

    Shari Minister of Fire

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    Mine also.

    Cut it, split it, stack it, season it, burn it.

    Shari
  8. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    I just cut 16-18" for each one until I get towards the end of the log. When I'm looking at it I may see that if I take an 18" that may leave me with 10" or something like that, so I'll just cut that remainder in half (18+10=28, so I instead do two 14")
  9. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    You missed the point again. Chunks don't stack.
  10. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    I hate that when it happens! Again?
  11. SKIN052

    SKIN052 Minister of Fire

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    You an me both. Learned that trick after the first chord I bucked.
  12. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    Kids right!
  13. PapaDave

    PapaDave Minister of Fire

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    You said it in fewer words than I did, but basically same thing. The description is more difficult than the work.
    With over 3 years worth of wood ready, I'm obviously "cutting, splitting, stacking, seasoning, and burning. :coolsmile:
    I may start on year 4 this fall, or maybe I'll wait til spring. Where's my calculator?
  14. Shari

    Shari Minister of Fire

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    Well, then, I must be doing something different around here. My chunks are split and chucked in between stacks. They season well and burn just fine.

    Shari
  15. whotheguy

    whotheguy New Member

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    For me, after I fell a tree I just pull a tape from the FAT end to the SKINNY end and mark every 48" until I run out of tree or get below 3" diameter. If I can't
    measure out a full 48" on my last pull of the tape I cut to the nearest 16" mark.

    Hope this helps.
  16. ggans

    ggans New Member

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    With my stove I get to cut it all short, the shorter the better, 4 to 8 inches works for me...lol
  17. John_M

    John_M Minister of Fire

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    Danno +1
    John_M
  18. maplewood

    maplewood Minister of Fire

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    +1
    I understand the dilemma - you don't want little chunks left over to try and stack into your piles.
    TJ's method is very mathematically creative, but I think overall you'll be able to stack less in your woodshed: you'll have some pieces 18" long, some 15.5" long, and a lot in between. Volume-wise, if you stack one seasoned row tight against another, there will be a lot of 0.5" to 6" spaces between the butt of one stick in one row to the butt of its partner in the adjacent row. If you cut it all at 18", and only have one or two sticks that are shorter as noted by Danno77, you'll have much fewer of these gaps, therefore more wood in your woodshed volume.
    Besides, measuring 17.5" for the entire log is too much tapemeasuring.
    It's a chainsaw cutting firewood, not a razor blade cutting model airplane struts. :)
  19. ckarotka

    ckarotka Minister of Fire

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    I measure out two hand widths from thumb to middle finger. That's about 16-17" and cut. If I cut in the woods the "ulgies", as stated in another thread, get left in the woods. If I'm cutting at home they go in one of two pallet bins for the shoulder season.
  20. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    And all these years I have been eye balling it and never have pieces I can not stack.
  21. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    HehHeh . . . I love this thread . . . well other than the fact that my head is spinning . . . so many numbers . . . lots of numbers.

    It's not rocket science folks . . . it's cutting up wood with the goal of having the wood fit in the firebox.

    Here's my simpleton Mainiac system . . . it's not fancy . . . I don't use much math . . . no Mingo markers . . . no tape measures . . . no deducting for loss of wood due to the kerf . . . and if the truth be told sometimes I do end up with some chunks . . . but the system works for me.

    I start on one end of the tree . . . usually near the butt . . . lay the saw down on the log (or eyeball it) and using the 18 inch bar figure that's where I want to make the cut . . . my stove takes 22 inch wood . . . I like the wood to be a bit smaller since I don't have a compelling need to have every square inch of space filled with wood in the firebox . . . and since I'm not a perfectionist I can live with 18-20 inch wood . . . which means I may not have the prettiest stacks in Maine . . . but the wood fits in the stove . . . the wood is seasoned . . . the wood stacks up nicely (except for the chunks -- more on them in a minute) and the wood burns and keeps me warm . . . and that for me is the end result. My wood stacks are not designed to be art or admired . . . although I do look at them frequently . . . they're there to keep me and my wife warm.

    So what do I do with the inevitable chunks? Easy . . . I either toss them on top of my stacks where they sit quite happily or I toss them in my Chunks, Punks and Uglies Pile -- a pile of wood I use for camping, fire pits and those shoulder season fires in the Fall when I don't necessarily need to fill the firebox to the brim or use the best wood. And while it may be self evident: Chunks = that wood which is quite a bit smaller than 16 or 18 inches. Punks = wood that has a bit of punk on it, but it will still burn fine. Uglies = twisted, gnarly or mangled wood that just will not stack well at all.

    All that said . . . I think it's pretty cool that your kid came up with a system and was able to apply the math skills learned in the classroom to a real life experience!
  22. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    I have neither the time, nor the inclination to use a tape measure on my logs, figure out the best divisor for the split length and then mark the logs before I buck them...especially not after I just felled a 40 foot tree. If I had that kind of time on my hands the grass would be cut, the house painted and all my firewood would be cut, split and stacked months ago.

    Eyeball the length to about 18-20 inches, take the chunks and toss em in their own pile for quick heat when you need it and be done with it. Cutting to length by eye is very easy once you've done it a couple times.

    I stack all my wood on pallets in face cord-type of rows, aech row is flush with the edge of the pallet, usually leaving me a foot or airspace between the stacks more or less. All my chunks and odd sized bits of wood, gnarly pieces and basically anythign that I cna't safely put into a stack just gets tossed loosly into the air space between my neat stacks. As I burn the front stack, the chunks get used up as they get exposed.
  23. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    I agree 100%
  24. gerry100

    gerry100 Minister of Fire

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    More cutting , less math equals more efficient woodburning
  25. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Thanks! I had these trash barrels just full of 10" chunks every week. Now I have a solution!

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