1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)

newbie questions, moisture, etc.

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by phishheadmi, Nov 6, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. phishheadmi

    phishheadmi New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2008
    Messages:
    59
    Loc:
    Northern MI
    Hey everyone,


    I've decided to burn wood for the first time this year! I've purchased a used Vermont Castings Defiant Encore (Cat model) have rebuilt most of the working parts of the stove and expect to have it fully installed within the next two weeks. Now, I must turn my attention to my firewood supply. I have on my property about 10 maple trees that I cut about 14 months ago...they're currently 30' lengths waiting to be bucked up and split. I also have hundreds and hundreds of 8' lengths mostly maple that were cut around the same timeframe, maybe 3-4 months older. I had thought that with this wood being over a year old I'd be fine to burn it, but after reading posts in here it sounds like it may still be too wet. How do I determine moisture content? What's the ideal m.c.? I know I should have had this cut and split months ago, but it was kind of a last minute decision to put the stove in. I hate the idea of buying wood, do you think this wood will burn? I also have lots of tops with good firewood that were cut around the same time. Next year I'll be much better prepared, but what do you suggest for this winter?

    Also, could anyone with the same model stove suggest the most convenient length to cut? I know the stove says it takes 18" lengths, but the griddle opening seems like it would be a struggle to squeeze in an 18 incher.

    Thanks,
    Matt

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2008
    Messages:
    15,972
    Loc:
    Anderson, Indiana
    Get that wood cut and splitt asap your not in a spot!
  3. phishheadmi

    phishheadmi New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2008
    Messages:
    59
    Loc:
    Northern MI
    Well...yeah, I'm working on that one...I'll get a couple cord cut and split tonight and put up in the garage with a fan on it. I just put an ad on craigs list to trade two cords of unseasoned for one cord of seasoned...hopefully I'll get some callers on that...anyone in Northern Michigan interested I'd love to hear from! In the meantime, I'll put up as much as I can to dry, maybe buy a load or two or maybe even some bio type bricks...there's a new company around here making them and they have pretty good deals right now. Hopefully, some of the older wood will be dryer than I'm thinking!
  4. gerry100

    gerry100 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    Messages:
    529
    Loc:
    NY Capitol Region
    It will dry somewhat in log lengths but not nearly a years worth.

    I'd get it cut and split relatively small as soon as possible and cover.

    If you stove says 18" max - cut around 17". 18" "recommended" usually meansthat that size piece fits asily.

    Take a "sharpie" and mark your chainsaw 18" ( or 17") back from the nose of the bar. You'll have a useful guage for cut length, you'll wind up with consistent legths and not too many "longs".
  5. phishheadmi

    phishheadmi New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2008
    Messages:
    59
    Loc:
    Northern MI
    Nice tip with the sharpie Gerry, thanks!! Sure beats the 18" measuring stick I had planned on using! I'll store a couple cord in the garage to try and dry it out quickly, the rest I'll store outside under cover.
  6. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2008
    Messages:
    3,700
    Loc:
    CNY
    Did you get a reading from those 8' logs piled up, they sound like limbs to me.

    If you have enough 4-5' that are dry enough then you're good for this year. If you don't have a moisture meter, get a campfire going, then on a well established fire throw a couple of your test splits on. Look for any water weeping out on the cut ends...this observation process takes time and is best done with an adult beverage in hand. If the splits burn without weeping water you're golden.

    Good luck I know it gets bitter cold in MN...and sitting by a hot stove after a days ice fishing is a beautiful thing.

    edit to add...seems to me a VC cat owner stated that his manual said those stoves prefer a higher than normal moisture content to work at prime. Maybe you can d/l a pdf manual to clear that up...hate to give ya bad advice.
  7. phishheadmi

    phishheadmi New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2008
    Messages:
    59
    Loc:
    Northern MI
    savageactor7,

    Thanks for the advice, I'll definitely give the campfire method a try...with a few frosty, cold beverages of course! Actually, all the wood I have is trunk sections. My dad and I both put in our own driveways, mine last year, his two years ago. The properties were both really wooded, so we had tons of firewood...we bucked the trunks into 8' lengths and stacked them, then chipped all the limbs, branches, etc.

    We're actually in Michigan, but it's pretty cold here too...we're in the Northern Lower Peninsula which gets slammed with lake effect snow...over 150" last year! I actually have the original manual for the stove, but I don't recall seeing anything about burning a higher moisture content, I'll have to check it out. I'm not worried about build up in the chimney...I can keep that in check, I just don't want to ruin the new cat I just paid $200 for!

    Thanks again, take care!

    Matt
  8. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2008
    Messages:
    15,972
    Loc:
    Anderson, Indiana
    "I’ll definitely give the campfire method a try...with a few frosty, cold beverages of course!" Now your on track!!!
  9. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2008
    Messages:
    3,971
    Loc:
    Shelton, WA
    Get your tape measure out and cut a couple different lengths. This will take you 10 minutes and then you'll know exactly how long you want your firewood.

    Keep in mind, shorter rounds split easier - longer rounds stack better - there's no such thing as "too short to burn."
  10. gerry100

    gerry100 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    Messages:
    529
    Loc:
    NY Capitol Region
    If the stove says 18" length , that length should go in one end at a time easily. 17" give a liite more air foow for rampming up the burn but obviously does not pack as well for overnite.

    Up to 20" will probabaly slide in kitty corner if the diameter is not to big.

    What you want to avoid is getting a piece half way into a stove full of hot coals and lighting one end on fire before finding out it won't fit.
  11. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    9,226
    Loc:
    Lake Wissota
    You can still burn wood that is a little wet in your stove, but make sure you burn it with lots of air in the bypass mode til the sizzling has stoped, then engage the cat. This may take 20-30 minutes per reload and you may lose some heat and efficiency but you got to do what you can. The smaller logs and tops should be closer to dry than the trunks. Split some and put it next to your cheek and if it feels damp and cool it may be too wet. Other ways to determine dry wood is knocking 2 pieces together making a crisp crack rather than a dull thud, bark pealing away, weight, and the Hearth.com favorite bubble test.
  12. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    848
    Loc:
    St. Louis, Missouri
    I think the rule of thumb for moisture content is 20% or less. 15% is better, 25% is worse. 30% is only 10% more than 20%, but twice the moisture of 15%, and seems to be where I run into disappointing "wet wood" burning problems. The last 10% going from 20% to 15% takes the longest, the first 20 or 25% from standing tree to firewood sized splits is the fastest.

    Ash has about the least moisture of common firewood species when still standing and alive, while standing red and white oak is much higher in moisture content (mesquite, willow, and a few other less commonly burned species have even more moisture and may require up to two years to dry for good burning). Silver and red maple dry much faster than sugar maple or oak. Small diameter rounds or splits dry quicker than large, short lengths faster than long, in sunshine faster than in shade, with the bark off faster than with the bark on, etc. IMO, you really need a meter to know for sure.

    A $20 moisture meter lets you know for sure what you have.

    Test the innermost part of a split by re-splitting it. Pro lumber guys sometimes put screws deep into a piece of lumber to use as conductors for their moisture meter (splitting isn't always an option), but doing that with firewood may be more trouble than re-splitting a new piece each check.

    I received some pine from a neighbor this year that I thought was VERY dry. It was light-weight, checked a lot on its ends, made a nice hollow, ringing sound when bonked against other pieces, all the bark was gone, I would have bet money it was very dry, but it wasn't. After wondering why pine could be burning so slowly, I finally cracked open a piece and checked it with my cheap, $20 Harbor Freight Tool moisture meter. It was around 30% IIRC. A real surprise. That stuff was as light as a feather and looked dry as hell.

    If you buy (or trade for) "dry, seasoned" wood, you might want to take along your moisture meter and split open one of the larger diameter splits to be sure of what you're getting. "Dry, seasoned wood" I've obtained around here was notoriously less dry than I expected. It's hard to argue with a moisture meter. Even if the wood has been cut, split, and stacked for a year (fudging expected), the "stack" may have been more of a "stacked pile", may have been largely contacting the earth (keeps it damp), may have been "stacked" much longer than it was "split and stacked", etc. The wiggle room for "dry, seasoned firewood" descriptions is endless and plausible deniablility abounds.
  13. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    The Encore firebox is slightly tapered top to bottom... the bottom will take up to about a 21" round - barely. The top just under the griddle will be a bit tough to get a 17" round in. The other issue is that when loading the first rounds are easier because you are going in through the griddle on a pretty good angle. As the firebox fills up, it gets so you pretty much are going straight in....

    I target my splits for 18", which works pretty well top to bottom. I have a 20" bar on my Dolmar, which has very agressive dogs on it, so it's really about 18" effective length. Makes a good measuring stick...

    In practice, I end up with most rounds between 17 and 19", and a few a little longer or shorter - mostly the "oddball cuts" when working around branches, crotches, etc... I'll put anything from 14" to 20" in the main wood pile, with anything over about 20" going into the "cut down" pile for a second trimming, and anything under 14 going into the "chunk box".

    When burning, I mostly stuff the stove with splits, but I push them to one side or the other, and stuff a couple chunks in on the end, or sometimes if I'm home, just fill the stove full of chunks knowing that I'll be needing to reload more often than with large splits.

    As to size, I go for a range, but keep the max at no more than about 4-5" on the longest side. More than that starts to be a bit of a challenge to get through the griddle hole. (I only open the front doors for cleaning the stove or maybe if lighting it...)

    Gooserider
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page