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tree tops worth it?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by uptrapper, Oct 25, 2008.

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  1. uptrapper

    uptrapper New Member

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    I was doing some coyote trapping on a guys property and noticed that he had done some logging and they left all the tops. I asked the guy about them and he said they were too much trouble for him to remove but he said I was welcome to them as long as I waited until spring so I don't mess up his deer hunting. This guy has 260 acres with roads chris crossing all through the property mostly maple, beach and oak. I have a 1/2 ton pick-up and a 4x8 single axle trailer and live about 20 miles away. Looks like there is lots more wood there than I could use before it rotted, I could get 10 full cords easy never walking more than 50' off a road. My question is would it be worth it considering it would probably cost me $10-20 in gas for the round trip. I paid $850 for 10 cord this past spring. Not sure how much wood I could safely get into my truck and trailer and if the small pieces of wood would burn good enough to make it worth my while. I like to cut and split and I sit behind a desk all day at work so I use it as good work out so the time and labor is not really a factor.

    Thanks

    Mike

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  2. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    With a half ton and 4x8 trailer you could easily get 1+ cords per trip, probably 1.5 if stacked properly.

    $850 for 10 cord = $85 per cord

    It's hard to say what the true cost of you cutting that wood (gas, wear and tear, time, etc) is but using just the $20 figure for gas puts the cost at $15 per cord assumiong you can get 1.5 cord per trip.

    Assuming the wood was reasonably accessible I'd drive 20 miles for it without blinking.
  3. Duetech

    Duetech Minister of Fire

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    Hi UPtrapper,
    I had a deal where I paid $5 a top plus any dead or, damaged by felling, living trees. Maple, cherry, oak and beech. Many of the tops left by the loggers were in excess of 30' in a spot about 8 miles away. I heated my home and sold firewood for the next three years. My fuel costs (then-1996) did not exceed $300 per year and most of that was the delivery price. I believe fuel oil varied around $1.10-1.30 a gallon and we used 180+ gallons in the coldest part of the winter. About $125 a month for the season. As long as time and work out are not a problem the math is well in your favor even if was soft maple. The current age of the tops is real important though. Maple and beech break down fast lying on the ground for more than two years. If they are only a couple of years down you should be good. Beyond that it would probably pay to be selective what you take but it's still a good price...Cave2k
  4. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    With our older stoves we never bothered too much with the tops...now I look at top and mentally calculate ... 'hummm these tops are a 24/7 weekend end burn'. Now that I see $ signs in those tops yeah I cut 'em up. Since the newer stoves are miserly burners the tops have become worth taking.

    Esp so if you're talking about the tops left over by loggers...those are big tops imo cause they were cutting timber to mill lumber.
  5. Cearbhaill

    Cearbhaill Feeling the Heat

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    What looks like little tops from a distance can easily turn out to be larger than you expected. I would definitely get them.
  6. bdog

    bdog New Member

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    Loc:
    Western NY
    I would definitetly pull out at least a few loads. Anything larger than 2" would be good, and I think you'll be surprised as to how much wood there is in the tops.
  7. uptrapper

    uptrapper New Member

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    sault ste. marie, MI
    thanks for the replies. I just wasn't sure how well they would burn, do you guys just burn a load of small stuff or do you mix it in with the rest of the wood? This is my first season burning wood and I have just bought it by the pulp cord so I'm wasn't real sure how much more work it is to cut it when it wasn't loaded in a pile at the house. I did hand cut and split the whole 10 cords I bought, slept better that month than I ever did in my life.

    Talked to a friend of mine he can get a dual axle trailer and will pull it with his truck so with 2 trucks and 2 trailers we should be able to make short work of it. I will go out a weekend or 2 before we haul and cut, and drag to the side of the road so we can load it easily. I looked a little closer at the wood today most of the tops are stacked in piles and looks pretty good, trees were cut about a year ago, most of the big stuff right next to the roads have already been taken. There are lots of bigger stuff just off the road that I could hook onto and pull out with the truck or 4-wheeler and cut up at the road. Looks like I got my work cut out for me.

    Thanks

    Mike
  8. JBinKC

    JBinKC Feeling the Heat

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    The tops are worth saving. I would say unsplittable rounds make up slightly more than 1/2 of the volume I burn in the course of a normal year. The small sizes are ideal to use in the shoulder season if you don't have a mixture of wide ranging btu woods in inventory or when you need to initiate a coal base.

    It does take a bit longer to harvest but it is easier to carry and don't have to handle it again other than to stack it.

    If you are limited to a small underpowered saw and have to split by hand it is the alternative that will save the most time.

    The only drawback to the tops is getting straight pieces for stacking and getting a uniform length. I usually cut them at the point where the pieces would be straightest. The other is bug infestation and wood deterioration especially if the tops are old.

    The good: It is likely a free source and seasoning time also is shortened by half or more since the tops likely have been cut for some time.
  9. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    It's always best to mix up big with the little uptrapper...but the mystery of firewood handling mostly does that for you. I take it your cutting these tops for next year and bring it back home to pile up then your gonna rehandel it at sometime. The odds of you eventually bringing inside all 2" rounds at the same time are astronomical...it'll never happen. In the meantime grabs all those tops you can...you can never have too much wood esp in a bitter cold state like MI. Why it's so cold there any snow ya get it Nov stays to Mar.
  10. boostnut

    boostnut Member

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    central IL
    I did exactly what you are considering for the past 2 years. I had about a 25 mile drive each way and learned that 2 guys, 2 trucks, & 2 trailers can really move some serious wood in just a few hours. My advise would be to get in there late this winter, after his hunting season ends. The ground will still be frozen and if there is snow you can pull the good logs out with your truck without getting them covered in mud (not good for saw chains). Have fun and be safe!
  11. uptrapper

    uptrapper New Member

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    sault ste. marie, MI
    I sure would like to get in there this winter but by the time deer season is over there will be so much snow you would have to plow to be able to get in there. I've lived here for 12 years and have only seen the ground freeze once (more than a couple inches) where it wasn't plowed. All that snow insulates the ground from freezing. You can walk out in the woods in Febuary and dig a trap bed in the dirt with your bare hands, no shovel needed except to clear the snow. I want to get in there in the early spring before the ticks, skeeters and black flys come out, the property is farily high and dry, sandy soil so hopefully mud won't be a problem. Never really thought about getting the logs dirty and dulling the saw blade, all the logs I bought were pretty clean, I'll have to keep that in mind.

    Thanks again for all the advice.

    Mike
  12. tc21

    tc21 New Member

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    Nov 1, 2007
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    NH
    tree tops are great! Theyre smaller and dry faster. The only pain is that you end up with a cord of all this small round wood and when you stack it it seems like it will never end.
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