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)
  1. DTrain

    DTrain Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Messages:
    226
    Loc:
    Stow, MA
    So i've been combing thru the forums at this site since I got my stove in last week. Lots of great stuff. I've been able to answer alot of my questions that way. But one thing I came across, is "shoulder season"? Not sure what that is. Can anyone fill me in. Also anyone have a quick moisture content number for me. I have about a cord that is definitely dry. But the other two are only seasoned about 5 months. I am getting readings around 22%, but that was using a resistance table using a multimeter.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. swagler85

    swagler85 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2012
    Messages:
    1,195
    Loc:
    NE Ohio
    Shoulder season is milder cold weather months. Where you won't burn full time or need really high btu wood. Late fall- early winter and springtime would be shoulder season.
    topknot likes this.
  3. DTrain

    DTrain Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Messages:
    226
    Loc:
    Stow, MA
    Ahh...gotcha. I really only have oak to burn right now. I have some ash but I don't think it's seasoned long enough. What wood would most be trying to burn in shoulder season.
  4. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2012
    Messages:
    2,069
    Loc:
    SW Washington
    DTrain, welcome to the forum.

    I would encourage you to go ahead and buy a regular moisture meter like this one or something similar. http://www.amazon.com/DUSIEC-Handheld-Digital-Moisture-Content/dp/B004KWAQAI/ref=sr_1_2?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1353118296&sr=1-2&keywords=moisture meter Anything else is guesswork and it's just too important IMO. The magic number to shoot for is 20%. Split a piece open and put the pins in parallel to the grain on the fresh surface. They're pretty accurate.

    Five months is probably not going to cut it, but a measurement will tell for sure. Oak is great in any season, of course, but the consensus is that it takes 2-3 years to get dry enough.

    I'm using mostly alder this season because it's okay if it burns up pretty fast since the weather is not cold. If I had oak (I wish) I think I'd save it for winter.
    Curly likes this.
  5. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2010
    Messages:
    3,357
    Loc:
    Rochester,Ny.
    I like ash year round if I could only have one type of wood..that would be it.
    Oak and real dense woods are great if you lay it up for 2 or 3 years or more..otherwise problematic!
  6. firewoodjunky

    firewoodjunky Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2010
    Messages:
    116
    Loc:
    Central/Western MA
    If you cut your own wood, shoulder season consist of chunks, hunks, cookies and punks. I also use white pine during this time of year. It's a good way to save your "better" wood for the colder weather and it makes use of wood that may otherwise just rot in the woods or a landfill.

    Of course, if you are swimming in dry oak (a couple of years split and stacked) there is nothing wrong with using that!
  7. DTrain

    DTrain Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Messages:
    226
    Loc:
    Stow, MA
    Thanks. I have lots to learn. But this is atleast something I'm very earger to learn about. So I noticed that the pile I have stacked that was split in January was a mixe of oak(mostly) huge rounds, ash, maple I think. The smaller ash and maple rounds out of that pile take off when I put them in the stove and had a great burn yesterday. They were smalller splits and appeared much more grey on the ends and split surface. The oak from that pile, much less so. Some fires are hard to get up to temp and the stove temp dives quickly when I shut the air down a bit. I'll be sure to look up that moisture meter.

    My first load of wood was about 1.5 cords worth of giant rounds. I think I sounded green, and he gave me really really big rounds and more than a few of junction pieces. Not easy to split if at all. Mostly oak. Second was about 2.5 cords of logs dumped in the drive from a local tree removal company. Lots of oak, ash and maple. Logs were much easier to deal with. Any tips for ordering my wood? Central Mass.
  8. DTrain

    DTrain Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Messages:
    226
    Loc:
    Stow, MA
    FirewoodJunky... Good point. I was all excited to burn my nice splits i've been working all year on, and I have a whole pile of chunks, shingles, and such. That's what I should be burning. I know it takes me about 3-6 minutes of sawing to get thru a round, I shouldn't waste'em. And I do have some pine sitting back there that I thought I wasn't supposed to burn. I better splitt that stuff up too, eh!
  9. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2012
    Messages:
    2,069
    Loc:
    SW Washington
    If at all practical, I would try to keep them sorted in similar species and age. I ended up with a mixture of three species, all different ages and I had to split down and measure way more pieces than I should have. If you keep them separated, you can be more confident that several measurements will represent the whole batch.
    Beer Belly likes this.
  10. firewoodjunky

    firewoodjunky Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2010
    Messages:
    116
    Loc:
    Central/Western MA
    I don't really know any wood dealers in MA, sorry! When I first moved into my house I got a few cords from a local guy, I can't say it was bad, but I also can't say that it was seasoned either :) Luckily for me, I stumbled upon this site and immediately starting scrounging. Then I hooked up with a local arborist who was dumping dump truck loads in my driveway. Then I happened upon a screaming deal on a large woodlot that abuts my property, so now I just cut my own (it's all blown down trees, I don't think I'll ever have to cut a live one unless it's in the way of a quad trail, which is unlikely). If you don't want to scrounge/cut your own, and you have some space, I would probably order two years worth of green and get it stacked. That way you know it's seasoned and you aren't paying a premium price for questionable wood...After that, you can just get a year at a time of green wood to replace what you burnt.

    Or, start hitting craigslist, talking to friends, buying that landscape company some beers and you will be surprised how fast it adds up.

    The first year or two, or possibly three, is the worst. If you can get three years ahead then you just hafta coast.

    I also should have added that shoulder season wood encompasses lower BTU wood (i.e. pine, spruce, poplar, white birch, etc). I have about a cord and a half of poplar stacked for next fall/spring, although I may regret having it based on some reviews of that wood :) A friend of mine needed it removed so he could install a new septic, so I saved him some money by taking it down. In addition to that, I have around a cord of white pine. For me, I just season my shoulder wood for one year. The good wood stays in the stacks for two or three years.
  11. DTrain

    DTrain Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Messages:
    226
    Loc:
    Stow, MA
    Ok, so I'm gathering that I better keep on trucking getting ahead of this thing. Keep bucking, keep splitting. Sounds like everything I have will be great, NEXT YEAR! I was hearing, or wanting to believe tha 6-9 months was enough. Thanks for all the info about what to use and when. I'll know to snap up some other stuff for the shoulder season. Stuff I passed up this year. Pine has a bad wrap, then?

    If I take some of my oak that is underseasoned and split smaller will that help season quicker, and also allow me to burn better now/?
  12. corey21

    corey21 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2010
    Messages:
    2,241
    Loc:
    Soutwest VA
    To me shoulder season means i do not need to burn 24/7 i am still in shoulder season burning now.

    Oak takes a long time to season like 3 years.

    I see no issue burning pine as long as it is seasoned like all firewood should.
  13. swagler85

    swagler85 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2012
    Messages:
    1,195
    Loc:
    NE Ohio
    Pine will burn great for if properly seasoned like any other wood. Look up some past threads on this, great topic here. Also like others mentioned you will benefit from separating your species. That oak should really wait to be burned for another year if you can afford to. Welcome to the forum!
  14. firewoodjunky

    firewoodjunky Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2010
    Messages:
    116
    Loc:
    Central/Western MA
    Smaller splits will help. You are going to struggle with that oak no matter what - sorry!

    Six to nine months is borderline for some types of wood - ash, white pine, poplar, maybe - a full year is better.

    Oak - as much as it probably stinks to hear this, at least two full years.

    The good thing about pine in New England is that no one wants it. You can get as much as you can process on craigslist. Just tell then that you have an outdoor boiler ;) It's not worth explaining! If you get pine split and stacked between now and late December it will be good to go for next fall. It's all BTU's, burn times are shorter that's all. It's a fantastic wood for when you are at home, need a quick fire to take the chill out of your house, need to burn down some heavy coaling in your stove or need a quick two or three hour burn before you load up with the good stuff. I would say get as much as you can. I have been increasing my soft woods every year and always seem to want more. It goes quick but it's very useful.

    Hang in there, like I said the first year is tough but you can get through it. This site is an incredible resource!

    And it was poplar that has a somewhat questionable reputation. Some like it, some can't stand it. I have never burned it yet, so I will let you know what I think next year.

    As far as I know, everyone here who has burned pine has been pleasantly surprised. Some won't go out of there way for it because they would rather spend time processing higher BTU wood (very understandable) but beggars can't be choosers. For me, if a tree comes down on my property, it gets bucked, split, stacked and burnt (in one to three years depending on the species).
  15. DTrain

    DTrain Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Messages:
    226
    Loc:
    Stow, MA
    Well, thanks guys. I'm all in. Convinced the wife that we needed the stove, I filled her parking spot in the drive with logs, I "messed" her yard with large stacks of wood, left her inside with the little ones for many hours so I could go out side and buck, split and stack, all the while trying to look like I wasn't having too much fun. So I'd better keep keeping her warm and happy if I know what's good for me.
    nola mike, bryan, Seanm and 1 other person like this.
  16. BobUrban

    BobUrban Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2010
    Messages:
    1,712
    Loc:
    Central Michigan
    regarding "shoulder" season it is common practice to burn up some funky splits, chunks, smalls and "lesser" quality wood for many of us but I will guarantee anyone here who has mountains of perfect split oak under 20% we would burn it in October!! The deal is that you will want smaller fires during that time of year or you are burning with the windows open, LITERALLY!

    Most just covet the really good stuff that is high BTU(Find a chart on the google or here for BTU's) and we save it for cold weather to have the ability to fill the stove tightly and get longer burns. The weird splits and chunks make loading a perfect fire box impossible and subsequently leaves space that is not wood - shorter burn cycles. If all you have is perfect wood you can and should burn that in Oct/March - for sure.

    You will get a feel for what and how to stack wood for future seasons and clearly oak should be separated as best as possible so you are not sorting it out of stacks during the burn season. Others like ash, maple and cherry for example can be stacked together because they have similar seasoning(drying) rates and will be ready at the same time.

    Once you get 3-4 seasons ahead all bets are off and you just start working on getting perfect splits/stacks then sit back and look at the piles like your staring at money. Such a good feeling to have 2-4yrs of wood in the pile. Allows you to begin to get picky about the wood you take and how you spend your wood gathering time. The farther you are out from actual wood use the tighter you can stack as well - my 3+ year away piles get tighter and I stack 4 rows deep with less space between rows conserving space and making stack falls much less likely. To get most wood ready in a year you want single rows or at least a rows worth of space between with lots of wind exposure. You will get a feel for what your situation and climate will allow for wood to be in 20%- seasonedness(not a word, but should be)

    ie. if I am given the opportunity to gather oak or ash vs. poplar or pine - my time is better spent on the good stuff regardless of shoulder season. Just like the argument you can build small fires in a BIG stove but not the other way around - you can heat your home with high BTU wood efficiently during shoulder season but not so much with lessor wood in January. My point being - spend your time on quality and do not worry about specialized shoulder wood if you have the option. There is just no good reason to pass on oak or ash because you do not feel you have enough shoulder junk.
    topknot likes this.
  17. DTrain

    DTrain Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Messages:
    226
    Loc:
    Stow, MA
    Great stuff boburban! First thing this morning i was out deconstructing my stacks. Took out all the maple,ash, and birch.
    They were all smaller rounds. I also have my oak stacked in three piece coarse in a four stack by four stack pile about 6'the high
    Sounds like thats too tight if i want it too dry quick. The non oak stuff ignited on last nights coals with one strong breath blown
    into the stove. My stove was up to 500fthe in no time. Its about 10monthsthe seasoned.

    My piles do make me feel as though I'm looking at money. Just like the tomatoes in the garden and the chickens in the coop. Year one sounds like its rough for most. I don't feel so bad now.

    Central mich. I spend time on the sunrise side in harrisville. Family is from windsor ont. And detroit.


    Have a good one.
    mfglickman likes this.
  18. swagler85

    swagler85 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2012
    Messages:
    1,195
    Loc:
    NE Ohio
    Too high isn't a problem for drying splits, most choose not to go that high bc of fear of the stack falling over. Should dry just fine that way.
  19. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Messages:
    27,815
    Loc:
    Michigan
    Welcome to the forum DTrain. Funny but I recall someone else using that name on a different forum but he was from MI.

    As you burn you will find there is a terrific difference between oak and ash. The biggest difference is the amount of time needed to dry those woods. Ash starts out with a lower moisture content than does oak and it also gives up that moisture much faster. Ash is good after a year but around here we won't burn oak until 3 years after it has been split and stacked. That is because it gives up the moisture very reluctantly.

    These are reasons we recommend getting your firewood well ahead of time. Cut it and split it. Then stack it off the ground and in the windiest spot on your place. Then relax and let Mother Nature do her thing and dry the wood. And now you know one of the reasons we recommend getting 3 years ahead on your wood supply.

    Be sure to visit the Wood Shed part of hearth.com for more information on the wood.
  20. Pierre902

    Pierre902 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2009
    Messages:
    44
    Loc:
    Western MA
    I am also in Mass and still consider this the shoulder season. Cool nights and relatively warm days are still here. We'll have to keep adjusting the wood loads and air intake until the cold really hits us full time.

    I am furtunate to have some seasoned wood onhand which includes oak and ash, but I find myself burning alot of what I call the uglies. All those pieces that didn't stack well and I dumped on the side. I also had some 20 inch pieces I acquired that I had to cut down to length. All those little pieces are still hanging around and I have been burning those. I am burning some of those right now and it is a balmy 79 degress in the room where my insert is located.

    This forum is a great source of advice. I have also found it a great place to learn and share with people who have the same sickness naahhh how bout passion fior wood burning,stacking,splitting ect....
    swagler85 likes this.
  21. DTrain

    DTrain Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Messages:
    226
    Loc:
    Stow, MA
    Sweet, new replies. My wife stares at me blankly, and my buddies think I'm a kook, when I yap about this stuff.

    So today I bit the bullet and realized it would be better to leave my stock be for the season, and had wood brought in. I feel kinda dirty that it's all split already and I wasn't the one who split it. But if I want good heat this winter it was my only avenue. It's looks like a cord and then some. I paid about $75 more than the cheapest stuff I saw on Craigslist. The guy sounded very passionate about being a good supplier of wood and wanted to ensure his customers kept coming back. The stuff looks real good and like I said I think it was a generous load. Looks equal, maple, oak, ash, and a bit of real yellow stuff (poplar?). The up side is my Inlaws are coming and thanks to you guys I have good reason to stay out side and stack the new and sort and restack the existing stuff.

    He guy said he'd bring me an 8 chord load of logs for $900. Reasonable?

    Pierre902 mentioned adjusting loads and intakes. I feel like its been a real guessing game. Getting to know the stove and the wood. I now know the wood was under seasoned, but even the ash and maple I had seemed hard to get just right. I had two fires that were just great. The first nigh, beginners luck. Good long burn and, slow blue wave like flames up near the top of the box. ran about 600f on 1/4 air for a good long while. But since really seems like I can't keep the temp up or it's up at 500+ and gone in no time. Hopefully the new seasoned stuff I got today will do the trick. Almost time to spark'r up. House is at 59 and the wife doesn't like it if I tell her to quiet down and just put on a toque.
    swagler85 likes this.
  22. swagler85

    swagler85 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2012
    Messages:
    1,195
    Loc:
    NE Ohio
    I would use the same excuse, the wood needs sorted and stacked
  23. Isaac Carlson

    Isaac Carlson Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2012
    Messages:
    85
    We burn the softer woods in the shoulder season if we have any. Mostly oak, ash, red elm, locust, and maple on hand right now.
    We are able to cut and split oak, let it sit for 1-3 months and it is pretty dry. How dry?....Dry enough I can light a fire in the stove without any tinder or kindling.
    I stack the wood in a way that seems right and light a match. The fire goes and we are warm. No creosote problems. The inside of the stove and firebrick will glow and the stack temp is ~350°F. I like to keep some wet oak for night burns and then burn a hot fire in the morning. We are burning some oak right now that was split about a month ago. It was cut green and very wet. The wood was piled next to the splitter and was brought in the house two days ago. We keep roughly 1/2 cord in the house by the stove. If it is wet when it comes in, it is dry in 3-4 days.

    [​IMG]
    evilgriff likes this.
  24. WhitePine

    WhitePine Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2010
    Messages:
    497
    The yellow might be one of the yellow pines (there are several varieties that fall into the yellow pine group). Poplar (Tulip/Yellow) is whiteish, usually with a greenish tinge to some of the heartwood, which is a positive indication for the species.

    Post pics of the wood to the forum. Wood ID from a photo is favorite forum pastime. ::-)
  25. Isaac Carlson

    Isaac Carlson Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2012
    Messages:
    85
    There are a few pieces of pine under the far right end that we are trying to get rid of.
    The reason the wood looks so yellow is because there is a yellowish light above it.
    [​IMG]

Share This Page