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Should I pass on free wood?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Grant Sanders, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. Grant Sanders

    Grant Sanders New Member

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    Hi everyone. I just bought a Vigilant 1a that's in pretty good condition ($290). I have yet to hook it up, but I plan to do it in the coming weeks (and I'll have a lot of questions after that, I'm sure).

    My biggest question right now is this: I live on an island where a lot of building takes place and there is a continuous supply of framing ends and scrap wood at the dump. During the cold months, the dump is open to picking, and I can likely pick up enough free combustible material to heat my home for free each winter.

    The home we first rented when we moved here had a small wood stove and the owner encouraged us to burn scraps of pine, cedar and mahogany in it.

    So is it worth it? How often will I need to clean my chimney? (I'm not even certain how to clean my chimney) Or am I, pardon the pun, playing with fire and should bite the bullet and buy a cord of seasoned wood (which costs a lot here on Nantucket)?

    Great forum. I've already learned a lot just by reading old threads.

    G.

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  2. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    Go for the scraps. The "seasoned" wood probably isn't.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  3. Thistle

    Thistle Minister of Fire

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    ^^^^^^ What he said. Grab as much scrap as you can bring home & have room for.If nothing else,that can be burned while waiting for the cordwood to thoroughly dry,if you decide to go that route.
    PA Fire Bug and Backwoods Savage like this.
  4. Hearth Mistress

    Hearth Mistress Minister of Fire

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    Yes, the definition of "seasoned" varies greatly. Our first year, we scrounged what we could (installing a stove with no wood pile in January wasn't smart) and my hubby brought pallets home from work, free wood is free heat. By a moisture meter $25 will help you figure out good to bad and be able to get a good, safe blend to burn.

    Good luck with your stove and come back often!
  5. weatherguy

    weatherguy Minister of Fire

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    Living where you are Id grab all the scraps I could, I cant imagine what a cord costs on the island, you could also scrounge whatever wood from fallen trees and limbs and cut it and let it season for future burning.
  6. Grant Sanders

    Grant Sanders New Member

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    The island does not have a lot of hardwood trees, so those that exist are carefully guarded and cared for. We have a great deal of black pine, and I lose one or two trees a season in big nor'easters, which I cut up with my chainsaw and stack, or I have it carted off to the dump. I can't imagine it's good to burn.
  7. swagler85

    swagler85 Minister of Fire

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    Those scraps will burn well but fast. Get what you can but most important get cordwood now for next year. You can still use scraps along with cordwood to get the fire going next year.
  8. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    Just be careful as those kiln dried scraps can burn hot and fast! Especially if you have a tall chimney which gives you an increased draft.

    pen
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  9. fabsroman

    fabsroman Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, the scraps light up good and are great for kindling. Don't know how good they would be to heat the house. Depends on your stove I would guess.

    Whether it is economical for you to heat with wood or not depends on a bunch of variables.

    1) Can you heat the house year round via scrap scrounging? If so, then it is a no brainer I would think. Free heat. Only time it would be questionable is if you can make more money in the time it takes to scounge by doing something else that will pay more than you save on your heating bill.

    2) What does firewood cost, and how much will you need to heat the house?

    3) What would it cost to heat the house with an alternative form of fuel (e.g., propane, natural gas, heating oil).

    For me, it was pretty much a no brainer. I have access to a bunch of free firewood and I usually find myself slow with work during the the fall and a small portion of the winter, so I have time to get the wood. I had been researching wood burning furances even before we bought our house. When we first moved into the house almost 2 years ago, we ordered 100 gallons of heating oil for $440, and it was gone in just over 3 weeks from mid February to the 10th of March and we had the thermostat at 68 and the weather was mild. I about had a heartattack. Then I started asking clients that used heating oil what they spent per winter on heating oil and most of the responses were $2,500 to $3,000. Now, that is just insane in my book. So, we paid for the front foot for natural gas and replaced the 25 year old oil heat furnace with a wood burning furnace with natrual gas backup. Finally had the time and patience to install the furnace his summer and this is the first season we are using it. So far, we are happy with the house at 75 degrees, not much wood consumption, and one heck of a savings on our utility bill.
  10. Beer Belly

    Beer Belly Minister of Fire

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    Now I can honestly say "I once knew a man from Nantucket".....seriously though....be careful with those scraps, too many in a load and the stove may go nuclear
  11. Lumber-Jack

    Lumber-Jack Minister of Fire

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    I can't imagine the black pine (once it has seasoned) being any worse than the scraps you are picking up at the dump. It wouldn't make much sense taking a load of wood to the dump, and picking up a different load of wood, especially if wood is so hard to come by out there. Might as well burn it all.
  12. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    Cut Split & Stack the black pine.
    It should be good wood for next year.
    As much BTU in is as the scraps & you can make some thick splits.

    I'd inspect the chimney monthly with burning the scraps, kiln dry isn't alway burn dry ;)

    If you want seasoned wood for next year, get some now, get it stacked off the ground so it can season a year. ;)
    eclecticcottage likes this.
  13. What do you think 2x4's are made out of?
  14. Ralphie Boy

    Ralphie Boy Minister of Fire

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    Like Henry Fonda said "Burn it! Burn it all!" But watch your stove temp. and watch for treated wood and don't burn it.
    jackatc1 and eclecticcottage like this.
  15. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    We have cords of pine (mostly Scotch) split and stacked that will be in the stove next season. Pine's fine :D
  16. Paulywalnut

    Paulywalnut Minister of Fire

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    Douglas fir?
  17. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    No. Free wood in this case is good wood. Dimensional lumber cut up into scraps is good for kindling or for adding to wood that is partially seasoned . . . which is what you will probably get if you buy your wood "seasoned." You just don't want to stuff the whole firebox full of it and don't want to burn painted, pressure treated, etc. wood.
    midwestcoast likes this.
  18. weatherguy

    weatherguy Minister of Fire

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    Regardless of what you may have heard, the pine once seasoned wont cause your house to burst into flames, as long as its seasoned well its fine wood, not the highest btu wood but it will provide heat. Its probably as good as most of the scraps your burning.
    amateur cutter likes this.
  19. Around here 99% of the lumber is S-P-F? Meaning it could be spruce, pine or fir.
  20. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the forum Grant.

    After some remodeling, we burned a lot of cut-offs. It gave the right amount of heat during the fall months. The only caution on them is to not load the stove with them or it could get very, very hot!

    One other caution is to not grab any pressure treated! Just like varnished or painted, this stuff should never be burned in a stove.

    On the chimney, burning this stuff you should not have to clean often at all. Still, we always caution new wood burners to check the chimney monthly especially in their first year. Later you may be able to lengthen this time out. But check regularly and clean if needed. Cleaning is something you should be able to do on your own too. With ours, it takes maybe 10 minutes maximum.

    On the black pine, burn it. Just be sure to split it and then stack it in the wind for a year. It will do just fine.
  21. RoseRedHoofbeats

    RoseRedHoofbeats Feeling the Heat

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    We say around here that pine gives you cancer... unless it's free. If you've got it, burn it! Free heat's free heat! If you season it well and run your stove properly, the difference in build up in your chimney between that and well-seasoned hardwood (which you can't buy, trust me) should be negligible. Well-seasoned pine burns better than unseasoned hardwood.

    ~Rose
  22. ansehnlich1

    ansehnlich1 Minister of Fire

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    Using the word 'pass' in the same sentence as the wordphrase 'free wood' is cause for concern regarding a wood burners mental health status :)

    There are times where I myself may be guilty of doing so, but such times are rare indeed!
  23. Paulywalnut

    Paulywalnut Minister of Fire

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    Thanks. I sure do learn alot on this wood forum.:)
  24. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    I wouldn't burn much painted, treated, etc wood in a cat stove, but in a reg stove, load it up, it'll burn.
  25. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    I'd stockpile lumber scraps, making sure it isn't treated. I'd stockpile all the pine I could get. if wood is free I think you can find a way to economically use it to heat the house. The scraps will burn hot and fast, but you should be able to figure out how to burn them in a controlled manner.

    Cleaning a chimney is not rocket science. Basically you get a chimney brush of the right soze for your chimney, attach the brush to a set of rods, and scrub the brush up and down the chimney a few times. The difficulty depends on how hard it is to get to the chimney.

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