Evaluating Downed Wood

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WarmGuy

Minister of Fire
Jan 30, 2006
519
Far Northern Calif. Coast
Today someone offered me some wood from his yard. There were some 18 inch diameter pine trunks and some 15 inch diameter logs each about six feet long. Some were right on the ground, others were stacked two high, and some parts of the trunks were cantilevered out, and not touching the ground.

The guy said that they were cut down one year ago. We live on the coast in far northern California.

I cut a truckload, and I have to evaluate whether it's worth going back for a few more loads. Some of it was pretty punky. All of it was damp through, but most of it felt pretty solid. Pictures below.

How can I evaluate whether this will be worth burning? I wouldn't burn this until 2010 or 2011.

Other variable: Just got a new saw, and I want to cut something!

Thanks.

Firewood001.jpg

Firewood002.jpg
 

myzamboni

Minister of Fire
May 22, 2007
1,071
Silicon Valley
I'd get it an burn it, but I'm not too picky. Just split it and stack it off the ground. You might go through a little more than normal, but free wood is free wood.
 

smokinj

Minister of Fire
Aug 11, 2008
15,980
Anderson, Indiana
myzamboni said:
I'd get it an burn it, but I'm not too picky. Just split it and stack it off the ground. You might go through a little more than normal, but free wood is free wood.
same here burn it and find out!
 

Jeff S

Feeling the Heat
Aug 31, 2008
327
Kimball,Michigan
I agree,if its free and easily accessible,burn it,especially if your just starting out.
 

WarmGuy

Minister of Fire
Jan 30, 2006
519
Far Northern Calif. Coast
Thanks.

I'm wondering whether there are any techniques for evaluating the wood. For example, knocking on it, or seeing how far a screwdriver can be plunged into it.
 

LLigetfa

Minister of Fire
Nov 9, 2008
7,360
NW Ontario
Just kick it. If it's spongy, you will know. Even spongy stuff burns after it dries out. I cull out lots of dead fall and standing wood to burn. I use the real spongy stuff for the first row next to the ground as sacrifice wood.
 

bsruther

Minister of Fire
Oct 28, 2008
889
Northern Kentucky
You'll know if it's good or not when you split it. Sometimes you can tel by the weight or the density of the logs too.
Some of those logs in the second pic look kind of spongy on the end. Give them a split and see what you get.
 

caber

New Member
Feb 6, 2008
291
Western Maryland
I cut a lot of downed wood, most of which has been down 5+ years. I use a hatchet to see how deep any rot or softness goes. If I get a thunk somewhere, I cut some sections and see what it looks like inside. Almost always good stuff.
 

Rizzy

New Member
Nov 3, 2008
5
High Desert, Ca
That wood doesn't look to bad, I've seen worse. I burn wood that looks like that quite often, it burns fast and hot. The local forest here in Southern Kalifornia is full of bug eaten/rotten pine like that. The bark falls off when you split it, and it splits easy.
 

CowboyAndy

New Member
Feb 29, 2008
744
Chateaugay, NY
Depending on the amount of work, go for it. I had a stash of logs behind my garage that were there before we bought the house (5+ years) they were punky as hell, but ince split and dried out they burn hot and fast, great to take the chill off and get the fire kicked up in the morning.
 

firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,216
Unity/Bangor, Maine
Put me down for "burn it."

Since this is the first year of burning for me I scavenged some standing dead and downed wood (but off the ground). Most of it is decent . . . some punky stuff which will dry out if you get it under cover but keep it exposed to the air when possible. For some pieces which were beyond punky and heading to the "rotten" stage I would discard them (future mulch) or if there was some decent wood I would simply split off the rotten or super punky section and keep the good piece of wood.

Honestly, some of this wood looks better than some of the wood I scavenged.
 

Bubbavh

Feeling the Heat
Oct 22, 2008
475
NJ Piney
I'll also go with the burn it!

Got some just like it in my softwoods pile, the spongy stuff when it dries out burns up almost as fast as you can stuff it in!
 

jpl1nh

Minister of Fire
Jan 25, 2007
1,592
Newfields NH
I agree, burn it. Here is what I don't burn: garbage, painted, stained, or varnished wood, plywood or particle board, plastics or rubber, colored paper. All in all, I burn wood, most any wood. I burn some pretty crumby punky stuff at times, it can't be green and it's got to be dry. I burn lumber (no PT!) Aside from that (did I miss anything?) if it's wood, it's seasoned, and it's dry, I burn it! Some people have their stacks of nothing but oak, ash, or whatever. I've got plenty of really good wood too but I use that when it's really cold out, like 15 or below. The dogs are happy, my stove burns clean, I don't build up creosote, I've got all the wood we ever need, and most importantly, my wife's happy!
 

WarmGuy

Minister of Fire
Jan 30, 2006
519
Far Northern Calif. Coast
Thanks for the advice. I got a total of four truckloads (about 1.3 cords), and I've started splitting it. Some of it is a little marginal, but you never know when a good scrounge score is going to come in, so I think it will be worth it.
 

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Badfish740

Minister of Fire
Oct 3, 2007
1,539
WarmGuy said:
Thanks for the advice. I got a total of four truckloads (about 1.3 cords), and I've started splitting it. Some of it is a little marginal, but you never know when a good scrounge score is going to come in, so I think it will be worth it.
Good call. The property that I just scored on has a couple of trees in the back that have been down a while but so long as they're not totally bug riddled I'm going for it. Free wood is free wood. I know, I know, the cost of time, gas, chains, bar oil etc...but as my better half says (even though sometimes I deny it) this is a "hobby" of sorts. I'd rather be out the woods cutting and splitting than sitting behind my desk at work any day!
 
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