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Some swear their wood is dry....

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Hogwildz, Mar 3, 2013.

  1. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    Kiln drying will throw all that off as the weathering won't happen. Maybe a moisture meter is the best bet. Or split the not so sure ones in half to increase the surface area. The more surface area you have, the faster and better it will burn. It will dry faster also so you can split the ones you think are wet and then let them sit in the wind to finish the drying process.

    Matt

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  2. ohlongarm

    ohlongarm Minister of Fire

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    So well said so few will heed +1
  3. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    For sure. You can also tell pretty easily when you split a piece whether it's at least approaching dry or not just from the look of the wood and the way the fibers split, or don't. But as I spelled out below, this is a more complicated problem where the usual cues aren't enough. The wood is wide mix of species, much of it with no bark to give a clue on the which, it's all different sizes, and it's kiln-dried, but erratically so, and my stove is so small that even 25 on the mm causes problems. So the cues I've found reliable with air-dried wood where I know the species just ain't working well enough.

    I used the clearly good stuff in colder weather, and luckily, the worst of the winter is over and I'll have a bigger, slightly less fussy stove next year. But there's still another month to six weeks to go when I need some heat!
  4. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    Do you know anyplace that is trying to get rid of pallets? They got me through my first year. They are so thin that they are almost always dry or dry quickly.

    Things you can do in the meantime is to stack your wood where the sun and wind will get to it. We're starting to get days into the high 30s and maybe touching the 40s so wood will start to dry faster. Stacking it inside by the stove for a few days will also help.

    Maybe you can get a load of wood for cheaper if he does not kiln dry it. Then you can stack it and let it season naturally.

    Matt
  5. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Yes. Thank you. That's what I'm trying to say, only not very well. The kiln-dried stuff just doesn't give the visual cues the air-dried does. I do know about splitting down both for burning and drying and have relied on that info I learned here for the last five years of erratic wood supply. I'm just trying to use this rather odd situation to learn more than I knew before about degrees of dryness. Because this load is so mixed up in its degree of dryness, it's not a case of one stack being ready and the next not. It's all jumbled together and has to be sorted out piece by piece. I can't split and test every single piece, so I'm trying to figure out the subtler clues to how dry each one might be.

    I'm semi-maddened by the fact that I can bring in some stuff that sure seems dry enough, and yet I put it in the fire and it sits and sulks instead of burning well. Other stuff I thought maybe wasn't ready lights right up. This lot ranges from hophornbeam to black birch to beech to hard maple to sliver birch to swamp maple to ash to something very lightweight I can't identify, and my supplier has very considerately split it all into a whole range of sizes. It would be a fantastic load of stuff for every conceivable heating need if it was all as dry as it should be. But it ain't, it varies from 20 percent to 30, across that entire range of species and split sizes. Ayiiiiieee!
  6. fox9988

    fox9988 Minister of Fire

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    I cut two standing dead Red Oaks recently.
    1) 8"DBH, still had the bark on it, dead for an unknow number of years, 16% MC at the base cut.:rolleyes:
    2) 24"DBH, very little bark, died in 2009 ice storm (whole top broke out), 35-45% MC.
  7. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    Knowing your area I'm going to guess your light weight wood is probably poplar. Some call it aspen or popple also. It may also be willow but there is less of it up there than there is down here.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  8. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Yes, good suggestions. I'm not suffering at this point in the season, just a little chilly and very irritated. We too are into the time of year when the temperatures are in the 30s and 40s, so it's not critical. I tried taking apart pallets a few years ago, but it just takes more strength (and maybe tools ) than I possess, so not practical for me.

    The reason I've gone to kiln-dried wood is that my property is on the side of a ridge, so all of it is sloped fairly steeply. I tried for several years to stack green wood on my wonderfully sunny and windy slope, where it dries very fast indeed, but pretty much every time it rains, the ground shifts and the stacks fall over. I can deal with restacking once or twice a year, but not every few weeks!

    The supplier I have now charges about the same for his kiln-dried stuff as local folks charge for what's called "seasoned" wood here, meaning cut only in the spring. I can get much more expensive seriously kiln-dried stuff from a lumber yard about 30 miles from here, which I've gotten a couple of pickup truck loads from for at least getting a hot fire started that will get this less dry stuff going.

    At this point, if my current guy can't get his quality control sorted out (I figure I'll give him one more year), I'll go back to the lumber yard people and pay their premium price because I've burned a good 50 percent more wood this year than in previous years because it's not dry enough.
  9. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, Popple, as it's called here, is something I know and rather like for shoulder seasons. But that's not what this is. I'm frankly baffled by it. It's not as light as popple, but slightly heavier than swamp maple and less willing to burn. If I can get new batteries for my camera, I'll post a pic and see if anybody can identify it. It's not basswood, either. It's got a smooth gray bark a bit like young beech, but much lighter wood.
  10. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    Please post pics. Is it a large tree or smaller? Have you seen it in the woods? Was it upland or in a wet area?

    Matt
  11. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    No can do, unfortunately. No idea what it looks like as a tree. My supplier gets big logs from all over the place here, from upland woodlands to swampy areas, so he's no help.

    It's more or less in the same catagory as swamp maple as a firewood, but it has this thin smooth gray bark. When split, the wood is a gleaming white, which I don't know any other wood around here of that color.
  12. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    Are there any lenticles on the bark? How tight are the growth rings?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Matt
  13. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Nope, no lenticles. No idea on the growth rings. Never occurred to me to look at them. All I can say is that the wood looks nearly identical to young beech, except that it's substantially lighter weight and the wood when split is white.

    My supplier, a good guy but not super-knowledgeable about tree species, thought he'd gifted me with lots more beech because this looked so much like it. I only had to heft one split in my hand to know that it wasn't beech, which is a very heavy, dense woodl.
  14. Nick Mystic

    Nick Mystic Minister of Fire

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    I had a large pine tree come down in a storm on my property about two years ago, but at the time all my covered wood storage areas were full and since the tree was not lying on the ground (it came down on a slope and some smaller trees kept it a couple feet up off the ground) I decided to wait to harvest it for firewood. Well, two years passed before I finally got around to cutting it up a few months ago. When I counted the growth rings I was surprised to see the tree was about 100 years old! It was about 15" in diameter. I stacked it in an empty bay, but I had some splits left after I filled the bay, so I put them into another bay with some space on the top row from shrinkage in the stack. A few days ago I pulled a couple of splits off that pile and brought them into the house and when I tested them with my moisture meter and was surprised to get readings around 12%.
  15. Kevin Dolan

    Kevin Dolan Burning Hunk

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    Hi Matt this first pic looks weathered not seasoned, no cracks, second pic is great fresh looking stuff. Seasoned wood is worth it's weight in gold!!!!
  16. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Wow! I have a small collection of 6-foot pine logs from a friend's property that have been sitting on the north side of my barn for the last couple years. I'm hoping to get them cut and split this spring. You give me hope....
  17. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    I'm drawing a blank on tree species guesses. Most of the smooth, grey bark species that I can think of are small trees. They aren't something that I'd be splitting. I'd love to see a pic of a piece if you ever find a piece and have camera batteries at the same time. Please take a shot of the growth rings as it will give us an idea on how fast the tree grows, it's age and it's diameter when cut.

    Matt
  18. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    You and me both! I've done a lot of Googling and still can't figure out what this is. I can tell you one thing-- I don't like it at all and would be very happy if i never see any more of it again. (It was all quite small in diameter, maybe 4-5 inches in the round, so presumably tops of something. I split a few of the larger pieces because my stove is so small.)
  19. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    Eh, it's a quick pick off google. You make a good point. Looking at the pic there isn't much cracking. A lot of the bark has lifted though. I'd bet the weathered wood is drier than the other pic of fresh wood. ==c The real question in the weathered pic is bark up or bark down. All but 2 of his/her splits are bark is up. :eek:

    Matt
    gyrfalcon likes this.
  20. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    I have to confess i never knew how important it was to DRY and SEASON wood until i joined this website. But originally i was burning mostly scrap demolition wood anyway so that is very dry.
    Pallet Pete likes this.
  21. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, that Red in Hog's first pics has cracks. Stacked, I have to think it would be really dry in two years, might even burn OK in a year if the splits weren't big and the stack got a lot of wind.
    That Oak heartwood is durable and probably would give heat fifteen years after the sapwood has rotted off.
    Don't get too excited: He's not talking about actual silver. ;)
    Yep, the sound only helps to a degree; It's not a guarantee. :(
    Did you cut that wood with a circular saw? ;lol
    Hmmm, whatcha gettin'??
  22. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    gyrfalcon, when you see the cracks on the end, lots of people get excited and think the wood is dry. Those cracks tell you that the ends are dry and that is all. The center is usually pretty wet yet. This is the reason for splitting. To get all the moisture out through only the ends will take a long, long time. Split it and the wood will dry much faster.
    Pallet Pete and ScotO like this.
  23. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Indeed. What was new to me was the idea that at a later stage of drying, they close up again to some extent. I now realize, and have just confirmed it today, that prowling through my kiln-dried wood for stuff with cracks in it to put in the stove, I was doing exactly the wrong thing. Changing strategies and picking out the stuff that doesn't have obvious cracks this morning, I'm having no trouble getting good fires going.
    Always sumpin' new to learn!
    Woody Stover likes this.
  24. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Next larger Hearthstone, the Homestead, which is the only stove that will work in my set-up without major reworking of hearth, etc. I figure since the little Tribute almost does the job for me, I should be in great shape with the Homestead.
  25. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    Great thread, Hogz......and some good input from everybody, too. I've found many oak trees in the exact same condition as the ones in Hogz's pictures, and just as he describes. Oaks are famous for being "dead" for many years, but still very very high in MC. and the sapwood on all oaks go punky after dying in the woods, that's a given. I usually take all that crap off when splitting and either (a) use it for the firepit or (b) take it up in the woods to finish decomposing. Makes a mess when you bring that crap in the basement......it ends up all over the place....
    Backwoods Savage likes this.

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