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Should I just give up for this season?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Jon1270, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    This is my first winter ever with a wood stove. Early in the fall I got taken for a ride by the first guy I bought firewood from -- the load was very short, with a lot of junk species and MC ranging from 40-113% -- and he got away with it. I racked that stuff up for next year and bought another 3/4 cord from a different seller. That load was both dry (mostly) and generously measured, and it kept me going thorough the holidays. As it ran out, I ordered another half-cord from him and asked for high-BTU species because I expected to burn it in January and February. He delivered a generously sized half-cord, mostly oak, which seemed great until I tried to burn some of it. Smoulder, smoke sizzle... the oak is at about 45% MC (*sigh*). I emailed him about it and his reply was very apologetic and conciliatory, wanting to somehow make it right by giving me a discount on another load of better stuff, or trading the oak for another species, but I can't help feeling that the wood I got for the price I paid (half a cord of partially seasoned, mostly oak for $100) really wasn't a bad deal even if I can't use it right away. I also like the guy, and I really don't believe he was trying to pull a fast one. Asking for some sort of concession feels churlish, and I can't help wondering whether I should just turn up the gas furnace and wait until next year. How would you think about this?

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  2. BrianN

    BrianN Burning Hunk

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    I know around here you can't buy "seasoned" wood. That would mean that the seller would have to store it in his place, and most people wouldn't do that.
    That being said, if he says he wants to make it up to you, let him. Buy another cord, or half cord and see how it burns. Give him another chance.
    You got the wood stove for a reason, use it :)
    Good luck.
    wapiti39 likes this.
  3. northwinds

    northwinds Minister of Fire

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    What are you doing for next year? There's no time like now to buy your firewood for next year or start scrounging for next year. Stay away from oak and hickory, until you get at least a year or so ahead. High BTU wood is only good, if it's ready to burn. Mix your unseasoned wood with pallets and lumber scraps. Check your chimney regularly.
  4. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    I'm set for next year, and maybe even for the year after that. Between the wet stuff I got back in September, and everything I've scrounged since then (locust, elm, maple, cherry, oak, juniper, mulberry...), I've got almost 4 cords sitting around. If only it were dry...
  5. northwinds

    northwinds Minister of Fire

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    Then I would take the guy up on his offer for dryer wood, and let him know that you loved the first stuff that he gave you. You really appreciate the offer, etc., etc.
    I'd even offer to help him load and unload during the exchange. Then I'd start looking for pallets and scraps to mix in. It is so much more fun to burn when the wood is seasoned, but we've all been there during the first season.
    midwestcoast likes this.
  6. Shane N

    Shane N Feeling the Heat

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    You could try putting up a craigslist post asking for wood that has been split and stacked for at least a year. Being direct on those requirements would improve your chances on getting dry wood.
  7. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    Heh, that's exactly what I asked the first guy I dealt with. He promised his wood had all been CSS at least a year, some of it 2 years. The story changed as it was being dumped into my yard...
  8. Shane N

    Shane N Feeling the Heat

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    Add a requirement for moisture content under 20% and state that you'll use a moisture meter to test before accepting delivery :)

    ... You probably won't get any replies...
  9. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    I'm fortunate that I'm in town, with natural gas and a good furnace. I'd really have a problem if my fallback was oil or LP, since I have the impression that they are much more expensive. The worst I face is disappointment and inconvenience.
  10. northwinds

    northwinds Minister of Fire

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    or educate a few wood sellers who don't use fresh splits when using a moisture meter. Good wood is tough in the middle of winter. Back when I lived in Oshkosh, I had a wood seller with piles and piles of year-old birch that he kept for people who needed dryer wood. Not sure how he kept it from rotting, but it did burn well.
  11. will711

    will711 Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like you have a good supplier who wants to make good. I'd keep the oak in 2 yrs. it will be awesome . Ask if he has any ash, maple or cherry quicker seasoning species or what ever was in the 1st load.
  12. yooperdave

    yooperdave Minister of Fire

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    I have no experience with moisture meters, but...how can it be possible to get a reading of 113%??

    Shane N has the right idea when you order wood. In the meantime, kinda "sol" unless you know someone who can help you out this season by loaning or bartering or buying from them...after all, it has been a less severe winter this year...they may have a bit of a surplus.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  13. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    There are a couple of ways that MC is calculated -- "wet basis" and "dry basis." Moisture meters estimate the dry basis MC, which is (weight of water)/(weight of oven dry wood). 113% MC just means that for every 1 pound of wood, there's 1.13 pounds of water. It would sound less dramatic if you used the wet basis formula, which is (weight of water)/(weight of water and wood together); then it would just be 53%.
  14. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    Incidentally, no electronic meter can actually measure MC when it's as high as 113%; they become very inaccurate anywhere over 25-30%. To get the 113% number I had to dry out a sample slice (microwave, oven), weighing it before and after.
  15. northwinds

    northwinds Minister of Fire

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    Okay, you might be a woodburner in his first season but you're already a "wood nut." And I mean that as a compliment :)
  16. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, I've been a woodworker for a long time -- journeyman foundry patternmaker, grad of a good fine woodworking school. It's just the combustion part that I'm new to.
  17. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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  18. fabsroman

    fabsroman Minister of Fire

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    I would take him up on his offer and look for another half cord for $80 so that you will be pretty well set. Take a small discount, but don't rip the guy off.

    Then, try to find somebody on this chatboard or Craigslist in your area that is willing to trade seasoned wood for unseasoned wood, albeit not in the exact same ratio. Maybe 2/3 a cord of seasoned wood for a full cord of unseasoned of the same species or a species close thereto.
  19. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    The oak is a relatively small fraction of what I've got. I've got more black locust than anything else.
  20. clemsonfor

    clemsonfor Minister of Fire

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    my neighbors will trade you seasoned wood for green :). They cut split and burned some that I droped at their house last week the day I dropped it!!
  21. clemsonfor

    clemsonfor Minister of Fire

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    don't worry about it seems like a lot of guys have this problem. 25-35% will still burn in my stove and put out pretty good heat it just takes a while to get going.
  22. mattjm1017

    mattjm1017 Feeling the Heat

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    Ive got the exact same problem this year. Ive been taken for a ride by all the wood sellers around here. What ive been doing is using a lot of pallets and lumber scraps mixed in with the unseasoned wood. Its been working good its a little frustrating but so far so good. Also clean your liner frequently.
  23. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    I dont have the facilities to get as far ahead as Dennis... but he know of what he speaks. Be ready for trouble next year also - definately less trouble than this year but trouble nonetheless. The dense high BTU woods are the hardest to dry.

    Do the best you can to accelerate the seasoning process - single rows, smaller splits, even crisscross stacking if need be. Get as much wood as you have space for and start working for 2 years out,.

    Year 3 is typically when it all really clicks for us newcomers.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  24. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    Mixing in pallets and other really dry stuff isn't an option in this case. I tried! The oak is just too wet. It's so sad to see it sitting there in the stove, making smoke and turning to ash with the air wide-open, the coals feeble and the stove practically cool.

    After further correspondence, it seems that the wood he has that's really dry (from which the first load came) is all randomly mixed stuff. He's got other wood separated neatly by species or category (i.e. aromatics, high-BTU) but that stuff was all cut more recently and isn't as thoroughly seasoned. Not knowing this, I asked for a high-BTU load and ended up with the partially seasoned oak. Anyhow, he's offered a discount on another 3/4 cord of the dry, mixed-species stuff, and I think I'm going to take him up on it.
  25. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    It sounds to me like you were paying attention, and have learned your lessons early Grass Hopper :cool:

    Keep scrounging as you can, and I'd give that fire wood guy another try or two.

    It never hurts to have a good firewood guy. Make him your friend.

    You never know;)

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