# "How to buck a log with the fewest waste chunks"

Posted By fire_man, Sep 1, 2010 at 11:49 PM

1. #1

### fire_man Minister of Fire 2. NULL

Feb 6, 2009
1,965
401
Loc:
North Eastern MA
Seems like every time I buck a log I end up with annoying scrap ends. I burn 'em anyway but its much more extra work handling chunks than splits. My 11 year old kid TJ (darn kid) came up with this answer to reduce the chunks:

1. Decide the shortest length split you want. For the Fireview its 15"
2. Divide the length of the log by the split length. Say its a 70 inch log so 70"/15"=4.67
3. Multiply the fractional remainder by the split length. 0.67 x 15" = 10"
4. Divide step 3 by the whole number in step 2. 10"/4 = 2.5"
5. Add step 4 to split length. 2.5" + 15" = 17.5"

So cut each round to 17.5" and you will end up with exactly 4 rounds. If I had cut them all 15 inches long I would have ended up with a 10 inch chunk. With the Fireview I want the maximum number of long splits for a long burn.

I know the last round will end up shorter than the rest by about 3/16" x number of cuts, but unless its a really long log to start with its no big deal. Most people don't want a calculator when they cut wood, but I think it's less work than dealing with all the chunks. If the round ends up TOO LONG just set a max length and stick to it. Refinements/corrections are welcome!

2. #2

### Shari Minister of Fire 2. NULL

Oct 31, 2008
2,327
291
Loc:
Wisconsin
Waaaayyyy too much thought processes going into this. It all burns so who cares?

But if you 'want' to be truly scientific, you have not deducted the width of the kerf of your cuts.

Shari

3. #3

### fossil Accidental Moderator 2. NULL Staff Member

Sep 30, 2007
10,556
2,421
Loc:
Bend, OR
Yer kid's a genius...give him the chainsaw, you hold the calculator. :lol: Rick

4. #4

### fire_man Minister of Fire 2. NULL

Feb 6, 2009
1,965
401
Loc:
North Eastern MA
You missed the line in my post "I know the last round will end up shorter than the rest by about 3/16” x number of cuts". That's for the Kerf!

5. #5

### PapaDave Minister of Fire 2. NULL

Feb 23, 2008
5,740
2,222
Loc:
Northern MI - in the mitten
This year I've been using a tape to measure as I cut. I start with 16", do a couple cuts then measure the remaining log. What's left gets divided into equal lengths.
So, most of these are 8 footers, with some a little longer. If I cut everything @16" the last one's going to be a little less than 15" for an 8 footer.
If the log happens to be longer than 8', then the last couple rounds might end up being 17-18". No big deal, and it's not anything that slows me down either. Pretty easy once you start doing it.
When I was eyeballing the cuts, I had a larger spread in size. Now that I've got the shed, uniformity is the name of the game.
I adjust to keep most stuff under 18", just makes handling a little better for me. YMWV
No calculators here, I'd never get anything cut.
Shari, I actually spent some time last year figuring out how much wood is lost to kerfs and bark loss.
Started getting ugly, so I quit. :coolsmile:

6. #6

7. #7

### Shari Minister of Fire 2. NULL

Oct 31, 2008
2,327
291
Loc:
Wisconsin
Mine also.

Cut it, split it, stack it, season it, burn it.

Shari

8. #8

### Danno77 Minister of Fire 2. NULL

Oct 27, 2008
5,009
705
Loc:
Hamilton, IL
I just cut 16-18" for each one until I get towards the end of the log. When I'm looking at it I may see that if I take an 18" that may leave me with 10" or something like that, so I'll just cut that remainder in half (18+10=28, so I instead do two 14")

9. #9

### fire_man Minister of Fire 2. NULL

Feb 6, 2009
1,965
401
Loc:
North Eastern MA
You missed the point again. Chunks don't stack.

10. #10

### oldspark Guest 2. NULL

I hate that when it happens! Again?

11. #11

### SKIN052 Minister of Fire 2. NULL

Nov 12, 2008
791
138
Loc:
Appleton, Newfoundland
You an me both. Learned that trick after the first chord I bucked.

12. #12

### smokinj Minister of Fire 2. NULL

Aug 11, 2008
15,981
1,412
Loc:
Anderson, Indiana
Kids right!

13. #13

### PapaDave Minister of Fire 2. NULL

Feb 23, 2008
5,740
2,222
Loc:
Northern MI - in the mitten
You said it in fewer words than I did, but basically same thing. The description is more difficult than the work.
With over 3 years worth of wood ready, I'm obviously "cutting, splitting, stacking, seasoning, and burning. :coolsmile:
I may start on year 4 this fall, or maybe I'll wait til spring. Where's my calculator?

14. #14

### Shari Minister of Fire 2. NULL

Oct 31, 2008
2,327
291
Loc:
Wisconsin
Well, then, I must be doing something different around here. My chunks are split and chucked in between stacks. They season well and burn just fine.

Shari

15. #15

### whotheguy New Member 2. NULL

Dec 22, 2009
81
1
Loc:
Idaho
For me, after I fell a tree I just pull a tape from the FAT end to the SKINNY end and mark every 48" until I run out of tree or get below 3" diameter. If I can't
measure out a full 48" on my last pull of the tape I cut to the nearest 16" mark.

Hope this helps.

16. #16

### ggans New Member 2. NULL

Oct 11, 2009
173
1
Loc:
Michigan
With my stove I get to cut it all short, the shorter the better, 4 to 8 inches works for me...lol

17. #17

Dec 10, 2008
614
21
Loc:
Central NY
Danno +1
John_M

18. #18

### maplewood Minister of Fire 2. NULL

Feb 12, 2008
610
20
Loc:
+1
I understand the dilemma - you don't want little chunks left over to try and stack into your piles.
TJ's method is very mathematically creative, but I think overall you'll be able to stack less in your woodshed: you'll have some pieces 18" long, some 15.5" long, and a lot in between. Volume-wise, if you stack one seasoned row tight against another, there will be a lot of 0.5" to 6" spaces between the butt of one stick in one row to the butt of its partner in the adjacent row. If you cut it all at 18", and only have one or two sticks that are shorter as noted by Danno77, you'll have much fewer of these gaps, therefore more wood in your woodshed volume.
Besides, measuring 17.5" for the entire log is too much tapemeasuring.
It's a chainsaw cutting firewood, not a razor blade cutting model airplane struts.

19. #19

### ckarotka Minister of Fire 2. NULL

Sep 21, 2009
643
0
Loc:
Northwest PA on the lake
I measure out two hand widths from thumb to middle finger. That's about 16-17" and cut. If I cut in the woods the "ulgies", as stated in another thread, get left in the woods. If I'm cutting at home they go in one of two pallet bins for the shoulder season.

20. #20

### oldspark Guest 2. NULL

And all these years I have been eye balling it and never have pieces I can not stack.

21. #21

### firefighterjake Minister of Fire 2. NULL

Jul 22, 2008
17,717
3,961
Loc:
Unity/Bangor, Maine
HehHeh . . . I love this thread . . . well other than the fact that my head is spinning . . . so many numbers . . . lots of numbers.

It's not rocket science folks . . . it's cutting up wood with the goal of having the wood fit in the firebox.

Here's my simpleton Mainiac system . . . it's not fancy . . . I don't use much math . . . no Mingo markers . . . no tape measures . . . no deducting for loss of wood due to the kerf . . . and if the truth be told sometimes I do end up with some chunks . . . but the system works for me.

I start on one end of the tree . . . usually near the butt . . . lay the saw down on the log (or eyeball it) and using the 18 inch bar figure that's where I want to make the cut . . . my stove takes 22 inch wood . . . I like the wood to be a bit smaller since I don't have a compelling need to have every square inch of space filled with wood in the firebox . . . and since I'm not a perfectionist I can live with 18-20 inch wood . . . which means I may not have the prettiest stacks in Maine . . . but the wood fits in the stove . . . the wood is seasoned . . . the wood stacks up nicely (except for the chunks -- more on them in a minute) and the wood burns and keeps me warm . . . and that for me is the end result. My wood stacks are not designed to be art or admired . . . although I do look at them frequently . . . they're there to keep me and my wife warm.

So what do I do with the inevitable chunks? Easy . . . I either toss them on top of my stacks where they sit quite happily or I toss them in my Chunks, Punks and Uglies Pile -- a pile of wood I use for camping, fire pits and those shoulder season fires in the Fall when I don't necessarily need to fill the firebox to the brim or use the best wood. And while it may be self evident: Chunks = that wood which is quite a bit smaller than 16 or 18 inches. Punks = wood that has a bit of punk on it, but it will still burn fine. Uglies = twisted, gnarly or mangled wood that just will not stack well at all.

All that said . . . I think it's pretty cool that your kid came up with a system and was able to apply the math skills learned in the classroom to a real life experience!

22. #22

### mayhem Minister of Fire 2. NULL

May 8, 2007
1,938
5
Loc:
Peru, MA
I have neither the time, nor the inclination to use a tape measure on my logs, figure out the best divisor for the split length and then mark the logs before I buck them...especially not after I just felled a 40 foot tree. If I had that kind of time on my hands the grass would be cut, the house painted and all my firewood would be cut, split and stacked months ago.

Eyeball the length to about 18-20 inches, take the chunks and toss em in their own pile for quick heat when you need it and be done with it. Cutting to length by eye is very easy once you've done it a couple times.

I stack all my wood on pallets in face cord-type of rows, aech row is flush with the edge of the pallet, usually leaving me a foot or airspace between the stacks more or less. All my chunks and odd sized bits of wood, gnarly pieces and basically anythign that I cna't safely put into a stack just gets tossed loosly into the air space between my neat stacks. As I burn the front stack, the chunks get used up as they get exposed.

23. #23

I agree 100%

24. #24

### gerry100 Minister of Fire 2. NULL

May 16, 2008
674
222
Loc:
NY Capitol Region
More cutting , less math equals more efficient woodburning

25. #25

### Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire 2. NULL

May 20, 2008
6,589
1,424
Loc:
S.NH- Mass's smoking section
Thanks! I had these trash barrels just full of 10" chunks every week. Now I have a solution!