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What the Uglies Taught Me

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by GeneralBill, Dec 4, 2013.

  1. GeneralBill

    GeneralBill Member

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    A few years ago, I bought a couple loads of mixed wood from a charity organization. In their organization, they did fine work for The Lord, but anyone with a pair of helping hands could run the chainsaw and splitter. At the dump pile in my front yard, it became clear that lengths ran from 14” to 22.” I have a Summit, so I like 16.” Although Summits eat up 18 inchers, I don’t live in Bumchill, Alaska, and can usually afford to stack a few inches back from the glass.

    The long ones could all be trimmed to 16” but I’m too cheap to trim an inch or two and toss those ends in the side bushes with the rest of the misc. scrap. For better or worse, anything between 18 and 20 inches got cut in half, over 20 inchers had the ugliest end cut to make a decent 15 incher. After stacking, I had about a face cord of uglies, ends really, but they looked ugly, and I happily forgot about them.

    A few weeks ago, they reared their head when I went to load for first fire. The entire first stack in the bay and tops of the rest were short uglies. I decided that I will only burn ends until every one was gone.

    What was learned? With care, you can stack a load of ends to make a tall skinny pile. The higher the pile, the better it burns. In fact, now I try to stack it right up against the top, where the hot air makes a fine secondary. The pile sags from the burn but secondaries keep going quite well. Maybe everyone knows this, or maybe there is a problem with the idea, but until otherwise, I’m stacking every new pile, ugly or not, with height in mind.

    This might have taught me that even the uglies have some value in our world, but that was learned from personal experience some time ago. :)
    D8Chumley, bag of hammers and hack like this.

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  2. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    With uglies, we treat them the same as using lumber cut-offs. They work great in the fall when you don't need much heat and not for long at that. Spring or fall is a great time to use them up.

    I do hope you taught those folks something about cutting wood!
  3. GeneralBill

    GeneralBill Member

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    I didn't (hangs head low). It's a volunteer group that I have joined on a couple ocassions. It is so loose, that I doubt I could help in that regard if I was there every weekend and repeated the thoughts. That said, Western Oregon has a lot of trees that blow down, or need to come down, and these guys come by, cut and clean for free and give proceeds to needy homes, or sell for expenses and other such causes. They seem to do somewhere in the neighborhood of 50-100 cords/yr.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  4. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Well, sometimes you just do whatever you can and let it go at that.
  5. GeneralBill

    GeneralBill Member

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    I should add that I've since tried to keep the pile high, even when it's mostly coals. It seems to burn better. Some coal beds developed all blue flames that slowly drifted around. That was fun.
    sticks likes this.
  6. Bones

    Bones Member

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    I've also stuffed them in on the ends of short logs run E - W to fill up the box....;)
  7. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    "What the uglies taught me"

    I thought this was going to be dating advice or something...
    D8Chumley likes this.
  8. Bones

    Bones Member

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    No, No, No.....Have another drink to clear your eyes...WATCH the fire....
  9. tfdchief

    tfdchief Minister of Fire

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    I love the Uglies!
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I don't mind uglies during shoulder season, but... they are a pain to stack and prevent one from getting a tightly packed load into the stove. I envy those folks with cords of symmetrical splits.
    Cynnergy and tfdchief like this.
  11. pen

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

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    I don't discriminate, if they do the deed, they get used!

    Just don't load the stove to the gills left and right, front and back, and then to the baffle board/air tubes as well!!!

    There needs to be some room under that baffle (either the whole top or at least the sides if you are doing a pyramid of sorts) to let the secondaries work. If there isn't you'll have one hell of an inferno and 1/2 the fuel will go flaming up past the baffle and you'll be sitting there wondering if the stove is going to settle before thermometer is going to peg out or the paint on it vaporizes!

    pen
    tfdchief and BrotherBart like this.
  12. tfdchief

    tfdchief Minister of Fire

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    Me too BG. I live in the flat lands where trees sprawl. I have as many uglies as straight splits so I have learned to deal with it
  13. pen

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

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    Got a lot of locust this year, and I've yet to see one of them grow straight. While I don't have many knots to deal with, there certainly are curled splits. Doesn't help that I was in a hurry that year and didn't take my usual time watching my length as I was cutting <> Erred on the long side and so far, everything has fit in the stove, but about two dozen pieces had to be set to the side to be used at a special time when 'corner to corner" loading (a small load) would be ok. One of them happened to the wife, luckily she's observant enough that I didn't have a broken glass but did have a few questions to answer when I walked in the front door.

    The next two years worth of wood is almost too perfect. Sounds silly, but if the splits are all identical, sometimes it can be hell loading them in the stove so that they don't fit together just like a set of kid's blocks (and not allow any air at all around them).
  14. jdonna

    jdonna Member

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    Glad you figured out how to use what you had.

    I had this happen to me when I hurt my shoulder and my brother came out to run the saws. I built a jig that has a guide edge so that I can stack a face cord in it and cut it all at once. Sure you have some waste, but taking a bucket load of cut offs and running them in the stove during shoulder season is a great compromise.
  15. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Half of next season is gonna be shorts and uglies. From my neighbor having oak trees taken down and the tree service just whacking stuff any way they wanted to. Ah how I miss the years of cutting only stuff off of this property so every split was within an inch of the others. Fortunately I am home all day so that stuff will be daytime heat.
  16. teutonicking

    teutonicking Feeling the Heat

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    When I have too much to drink, my uglies turn into perfect 20" splits of black locust.
    firebroad, Bones and firefighterjake like this.
  17. Twisted Priorities

    Twisted Priorities New Member

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    Some guys uglies are another guys main stack.
    I burn slabs from the wood-mizer mill and branch rounds in the shop wood stove and nice 16-18" splits in the house. We cut a lot of standing and leaning dead white ash, nice btu's.
  18. tsquini

    tsquini Minister of Fire

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    Uglies, they have their place. I do segregate then to their own pile and mock them on an occasional based strictly on their appearance. What I learned is that every tree has a few uglies in it. Ugly or not they burn all the same.
  19. gregbesia

    gregbesia Burning Hunk

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    Yep, just like in real life , uglies try harder :)
    tsquini likes this.
  20. weatherguy

    weatherguy Minister of Fire

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    I'm not burning any uglies now for awhile, with the frigid weather I'm burning nice straight 17" oak splits of varying sizes that I can pack the box chock full.
  21. Bagelboy

    Bagelboy Member

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    Amazing how they add up. I took all the uglies I had, recutting what I could, and literally had about 10 or 12 wheel barrels full. To me that's a bonus, and probably a good week or two of free burning I didn't count on. Plus, I cleaned up my cutting/splitting area!
  22. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    I tend to just pair or triple shorties to make a 16 inch equivalent right in the stack and again in the stove.
    Still end up with a bunch thrown on top and put to the side at the stove there's usually a crotchity or broken piece to load that allows room for that odd ball piece.
    They all make heat eventually.
  23. loadstarken

    loadstarken Member

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    My outdoor fire pit saw a lot of my uglies and crotches this summer. Whatever is leftover after summer will get taken care of by the wood stove.

    The splitter saw a bunch of impossible crotches this summer so I'll have a bunch to burn In the pit next summer.
    tsquini likes this.
  24. Bones

    Bones Member

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    Uglies & women....Remember, just like Sears catalog said...."Good, Better, Best"....there is no BAD....

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