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Woodbuying 101: When to get the best deal?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by paulgp602, Feb 15, 2006.

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  1. paulgp602

    paulgp602 Member

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    I have been shopping around for next years wood supply. I wanted to know when is it best to get cheaper wood from wood guys? I was thinking in early spring. I have a few quotes on 3 cords split, unseasoned hardwoods for $400 delivered. I am in CT. Do you think it will be cheaper in say April or May? I want to stack it and season it myself.

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  2. CK-1

    CK-1 Feeling the Heat

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    Or you can wait until Hurricane Season and saw away... :)
  3. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    One problem with buying spring-cut wood is that it is likely to be covered in mud, especially after the winter we've had up here in the Northeast. There's a real shortage of logs and pulpwood looming on the horizon this coming spring (due to poor winter logging conditions), so loggers are going to be cutting as much high-value wood (sawlogs) as they can get their hands on, and most of their low-grade stuff is going to wind up at pulpmills.

    Most loggers don't really like to fool around with firewood, especially in times like these when the other markets are so strong.

    The best time to buy wood, IMO, is in the middle of the winter when there is a lot of logging going on and the wood tends to be clean. Some people say there's less moisture (sap) in winter-cut wood, but I don't know that for a fact.

    Firewood can be a hard commodity to get your hands on at an affordable price, depending on where you live, market conditions at the moment, etc. etc.

    So my bottom line is: get it whenever you can, preferably before the beginning of the heating season. Buy green wood and let it season over the summer (or better yet, let it sit for 2 summers), and you'll get a better return than almost any other reasonable investment.
  4. ChrisN

    ChrisN Feeling the Heat

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    Eric and Paul, One thing about us suburban wood burners in Connecticut: virtually all the firewood suppliers in these parts are landscapers or suburban tree services that specialize in small lot cearing or specific tree removal. Logging isn't big here. Paul, I track prices pretty closely in S.E. CT, and the price doens't seem to change much throughout the year, maybe a $20.00/cord seasonal swing. I think your plan to get your supply in early spring and let it season over summer and fall is a good one. In New London the typical price per cord is $140 to $170.
  5. tutu_sue

    tutu_sue New Member

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    Okay, don't hate me for this but..we live in Northern, NJ and when our neighbor had a huge red oak cut down by a tree service last Feb. or March the boss gave us a bunch 3 foot slices and bigger branch pieces. He gave us his card and told us to give him a call when we need more and he won't have to pay for disposal at a landfill??? This may have changed due to the demand this season.

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  6. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Ahhhh... Red oak. Be still my beating heart.
  7. CountryBoy

    CountryBoy New Member

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    Around here (southeastern Ohio), prices, for all intents and purposes, don’t vary from season to season. We only have a couple of tree cutting services around here and one lives about 4 miles from me. Very nice folks, but they don’t waste anything. What the owner doesn’t take, he does for his firewood selling business. But his wood is cured if ya need any, and mainly hardwoods, folks around here just don't burn pine.

    Not really a whole lot of logging, though I get loggers every 2 or 3 years that want to timber my place, but I just can’t let them do it. I bought this place cause of the woods and wildlife, maybe when I retire and ever want to sell I may look into it. But until then, I enjoy the woods to much.

    You’ll see PU loads by the road all the time with wood for sell, but they are green, someone had a tree fall over in their yard or something similiar. Luckily I don’t have to buy any. Most folks that I know that burn, have access to a source of free wood, you just come and get it.

    CB
  8. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    Same here. Friend dumps it off in a dumptruck, rather than pay the disposal fee.

    You want to talk to people that clear lots with heavy equipment, not a tree cutting service.

    The guys that run the big Cats and Komatso's look at cutting firewood like it some kind of scumbag job.
  9. Corie

    Corie Minister of Fire

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    hey tutu sue, where in northern NJ are ya from?
  10. Swamp Fox

    Swamp Fox Member

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    Does anyone know how much one gets for a load of logs going to a pulp mill or a saw mill compared to what it is worth for firewood? I've thought about stopping where they are loading logs on a truck/trailer and offering to buy that load and have it delivered to my place for me to cut and split. Have no idea what they can get for the load and therefore don't know what to offer.
  11. tutu_sue

    tutu_sue New Member

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    Corie, we live in Bloomingdale, that's in Passaic County.

    Sandor thanks for the suggestion about folks with heavy equipment. We have a neighbor that has an excavation company. I'm sure he gets good trees. Hmm..

    I don't know if they still do this, but for NJ residents, some of the state parks and forests allow you to cut and haul your own for $15 dollars a cord. Check it out: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/newsrel/2004/04_0124.htm

    Who would have thought - NJ has tips on buying firewood. Apparently there are rules and regulation by the Dept. of Weights and Measures that firewood sellers have to follow: http://www.state.nj.us/lps/ca/weights/tips.htm
  12. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Chesley,

    Forget about logs going to a sawmill--they're much more valuable than pulpwood.

    Pulpwood these days brings $60-$80 per cord, and higher in some cases. For practical reasons, loggers might be reluctant to divert a load of pulpwood for firewood, so don't be surprised if you come up empty-handed. All wood is in short supply these days, and loggers have contracts with mills that need to be filled, and it's to their benefit to exceed their quota when the mill needs the wood.

    Another thing that firewood people generally don't take into consideration is that most loggers would much rather deal with a mill than an individual. The mill is easy to find, easy to get in and out of, pays weekly and doesn't call later with complaints about the species mix or wood quality. For some reason, the prospect of cash can be an incentive, and the willingness to accept wood so rough that even a pulpmill in the middle of a supply crisis won't even take it, can play in your favor.

    But I think it's worth stopping and talking to loggers when you see them. If you're flexible about delivery times (i.e., any time within the next 3 months, or whatever) the guy might agree to fit you into a slow stretch. Plus, loggers tend to be nice guys. If you hit it off with one, you might be able to work out an annual delivery. And that's worth a lot.
  13. Swamp Fox

    Swamp Fox Member

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    Eric, thanks for the info. Lots of clearing going on within only a few miles of where I live. I will stop and strike up a conversation and, like you say, maybe work something out. Good to know that value is much higher for sawmill, so won't even bother asking about those loads of beautiful red/white oak logs.
  14. djamwolfe

    djamwolfe Member

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    I have to start looking into next year also, I just paid $65 a face cord - not very economical. I like the Idea of talking yo excavators. Ive watched them tear down whole trees and field burn them
  15. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    You want to look for small lot clearings, where its not economical for them to run it to the mill and the homeowner just wants it gone. If a sawmill is a couple of miles away, then don't bother, or offer cash for the load and that may make them interested.
  16. got wood?

    got wood? New Member

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    driving back from lunch tuesday wth a buddy (fellow wood burner) and I noticed a tree crew taking out a good 12+ trees on a private residence. Stopped and walked up to chat with the fella in charge. He claims he has a guy who comes by with a bug rig and takes the wood away for free. I asked how much for a grapple load of the hardwood to be delivered to my buddys place around the corner and he offered $250. Not bad for 7-10 cords of hardwood and it sure beats having to pull it from the forest!

    I got this tip from this very forum...it works sometimes I guess...
  17. tutu_sue

    tutu_sue New Member

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    Wow, I'm so happy we're helping out.

    Also, if you have a truck and a chain saw, put the word out with friends, family and co-workers. We did and whenever some neighbor, friend or relative is taking down a tree they call us first. So far we got a locust hit by lightning (it was pre-seasoned by the voltage) and a cherry from a buddy's back yard.
  18. got wood?

    got wood? New Member

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    Been doing that for a while now actually :) I've got a friend who has 100+ acres of woods owned by his family so we go thinning in the spring...the main drag is that it's so far away (60 miles one way). That's a long way to load up my rig and a trailer, and don't get me started on the price of gas!

    This does bring up the wood scrounging question...how does one know what's public wood and what's not? I've driven by the same logs at the side of the road time and time again. Wood that was taken down to clear power lines, etc and it just sits their rotting...when it could be burning in my stoves! I've been so tempted to drive around for 2 weeks in my pickup with my saw and grab what I can when I can!

    jas
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