Is my wood ruined or does it need more drying? Some punky?

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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
18,593
Philadelphia
Personal preferences and workflows can vary, but I honestly wouldn't spend any extra for a heated grip. Most firewood usage is in brief windows too short for a heated grip to make much difference to me. If my hands are going to get cold while outside cutting and splitting for 4 hours, it ain't going to be for the 10-20 minutes of combined time I'm actually running the saw.

Heck... does the grip even heat up enough to be felt thru a glove, during the two minutes it takes me to saw a 15' log into ten 18" rounds? After that, the saw is shut down and going cold again, while I split and stack those rounds.
 

burnbug

New Member
Nov 22, 2022
21
Mass
You have good points. I won't be out there like a professional arborist for long hours at a time. Reminded me of when I used to run during winter nights with no gloves and shorts; If I was cold, it meant I wasnt working hard enough. 🙃.
 

Caw

Minister of Fire
May 26, 2020
1,622
Massachusetts
You have good points. I won't be out there like a professional arborist for long hours at a time. Reminded me of when I used to run during winter nights with no gloves and shorts; If I was cold, it meant I wasnt working hard enough. 🙃.
I'll buck and split wood for 8 hours in 20 degree weather but the thought of running in general makes my body hurt. 😂
 

j7art2

Minister of Fire
Oct 9, 2014
545
Northern, MI
Am I crazy to consider a manual saw? :)

If you intend on heating seriously with wood, yes.

To give you an idea, I took 3 weeks off work this year to process firewood and harvested dead and down firewood in the woods from May to present virtually every weekend this year across multiple properties. I collected about 12-15 face cord of seasoned and ready to go wood, processed with a 562 XP and split with a 25 ton log splitter. I have done almost nothing but firewood this year trying to get ahead and I'm a "from dawn to dark, busting my ass for 15 hours straight" workers.

I'm not sure I have enough wood to heat with this winter.

If you intend to use a manual saw, you simply will not have enough wood if you intend to use it as a primary fuel source unless you don't work a job. A proper chainsaw (or 3) is an absolute must.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
18,593
Philadelphia
I took 3 weeks off work this year to process firewood and harvested dead and down firewood in the woods from May to present virtually every weekend this year across multiple properties. I collected about 12-15 face cord of seasoned and ready to go wood, processed with a 562 XP and split with a 25 ton log splitter. I have done almost nothing but firewood this year trying to get ahead and I'm a "from dawn to dark, busting my ass for 15 hours straight" workers.
I agree with you that a chainsaw is a must for anyone trying to heat a home with firewood, and not spend all of their time in doing it.

But your experience of time required to process a given amount of wood is not at all typical, either. I'm not sure if you were dealing with some adverse conditions, or if that 25 ton log splitter is just really slow (many are), but I'm producing an average 31 face cords per year in 18" lengths (11.5 full cords average), and I spend about 15 Saturdays (most more like half days, between other chores) on this per year.

If you want to post your process in a separate thread (post a link to it here!), we could look at it to see if we can't help you find a faster way to get this done. You don't want to keep wasting your vacation days on processing firewood!
 

j7art2

Minister of Fire
Oct 9, 2014
545
Northern, MI
I agree with you that a chainsaw is a must for anyone trying to heat a home with firewood, and not spend all of their time in doing it.

But your experience of time required to process a given amount of wood is not at all typical, either. I'm not sure if you were dealing with some adverse conditions, or if that 25 ton log splitter is just really slow (many are), but I'm producing an average 31 face cords per year in 18" lengths (11.5 full cords average), and I spend about 15 Saturdays (most more like half days, between other chores) on this per year.

If you want to post your process in a separate thread (post a link to it here!), we could look at it to see if we can't help you find a faster way to get this done. You don't want to keep wasting your vacation days on processing firewood!

The first 7 face I didn't have a splitter and did by Fiskars. Mostly black ash and knotty pine. That's why. I guess I technically misspoke as not all of it was processed with the splitter. ;)
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
18,593
Philadelphia
The first 7 face I didn't have a splitter and did by Fiskars. Mostly black ash and knotty pine. That's why. I guess I technically misspoke as not all of it was processed with the splitter. ;)
I grew up hand splitting (with dad) most of the wood we'd burn in our open fireplaces, likely only ~3 cords per year. So, when I got back into this wood burning thing in my mid-30's, this time with two wood stoves and a goal of heating a too-big and too-old house, I had the same romantic notion of splitting all my wood by hand.

I'd say it was fun for about the first 10 cords, but I was averaging 14 cords per year, and began to develop some pretty serious shoulder problems. Given I was pretty young at the time, the long-term outlook was not pretty.

In years 2 - 4(?), I continued to split anything nice and straight by hand, but started tossing anything gnarly aside to be split by a hydraulic splitter that I started renting once per year. That helped, but the injury I had already done to my shoulders wasn't given any chance to heal, and my elbows also started acting up. I wasn't even 40, at the time.

So, in addition to your recommendation to get a chainsaw, I'd tell anyone expecting to do more than a half dozen full cords per year to also consider a powered splitter of some type. I eventually relented and bought myself a splitter around year 4 or 5, and I do miss the quiet solitude and "thwak" of hand splitting, versus the noise and felt-urgency of running a hydraulic splitter. But nearly all of the joint problems I was having mostly cleared up over the following year, now only occasionally reminding me of past damage on occasions when I really over-do it.

You can split miles of wood by hand, but the injury you may do to yourself over the years of doing this may not be worth it.
 
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j7art2

Minister of Fire
Oct 9, 2014
545
Northern, MI
I grew up hand splitting (with dad) most of the wood we'd burn in our open fireplaces, likely only ~3 cords per year. So, when I got back into this wood burning thing in my mid-30's, this time with two wood stoves and a goal of heating a too-big and too-old house, I had the same romantic notion of splitting all my wood by hand.

I'd say it was fun for about the first 10 cords, but I was averaging 14 cords per year, and began to develop some pretty serious shoulder problems. Given I was pretty young at the time, the long-term outlook was not pretty.

In years 2 - 4(?), I continued to split anything nice and straight by hand, but started tossing anything gnarly aside to be split by a hydraulic splitter that I started renting once per year. That helped, but the injury I had already done to my shoulders wasn't given any chance to heal, and my elbows also started acting up. I wasn't even 40, at the time.

So, in addition to your recommendation to get a chainsaw, I'd tell anyone expecting to do more than a half dozen full cords per year to also consider a powered splitter of some type. I eventually relented and bought myself a splitter around year 4 or 5, and I do miss the quiet solitude and "thwak" of hand splitting, versus the noise and felt-urgency of running a hydraulic splitter. But nearly all of the joint problems I was having mostly cleared up over the following year, now only occasionally reminding me of past damage on occasions when I really over-do it.

You can split miles of wood by hand, but the injury you may do to yourself over the years of doing this may not be worth it.

I agree with all of this. I'm kind of in the same boat right now.

I started swinging an axe around 8 or 10 with my dad and we'd burn about 4-5 face a year growing up using a combination of natural gas and wood. Once I got my own house, I went into full time mode using my wood furnace for many years with a 35 ton splitter for about 10 years until I had kids and we got a new propane furnace which revealed our wood furnace next to it had a crack in it. Since I wasn't sure if I'd ever be returning back to wood heat, I sold the splitter (and luckily kept my saw) since it was just taking up space. After a few year break from wood and getting quotes to replace the wood furnace and chimney, it was going to be a $20,000 project (quoted $12k alone for the chimney) I decided just to get a wood stove. I started the year out strong with the axe, but at 39 now old firewood injuries are starting to catch up to me.

I've suffered from tennis elbow for about the last 10 years from my many years of stacking wood, and this year had surgery to repair it. Three weeks into recovery, I ended up having an accident and dropped a 100-150lb round on my thumb, re-breaking an old break in my thumb while processing firewood as functional physical therapy from my elbow surgery. At the time I had a good chunk of the driveway full of 21" diameter oak and knotty pine rounds and we were getting pounded with snow. There's no guarantee in Michigan that it wasn't gonna stick around and I had no way to plow or snowblow my driveway (the wood was between my barn and the rest of the driveway) so I had to do an emergency purchase for a splitter and snagged a 25 ton on clearance, all fluids included for $950 out the door.

Needless to say, driveway is clear now, and I'm processing much smaller loads currently to prevent having this issue again until the snow hits for real and I'm done for the year.

A splitter is a big must have too if you're a full time heater, no question!
 

GrumpyDad

Minister of Fire
Feb 23, 2022
1,092
Champion, PA
I highly recommend having help when splitting. Not only is it good from a safety perspective to have someone else with you but your throughput is far greater of you take turns picking up and stacking vs splitting. Just have a safety plan like, don't come to this area while I'm running the saw or the axe until I pause and say go.
 
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j7art2

Minister of Fire
Oct 9, 2014
545
Northern, MI
I highly recommend having help when splitting. Not only is it good from a safety perspective to have someone else with you but your throughput is far greater of you take turns picking up and stacking vs splitting. Just have a safety plan like, don't come to this area while I'm running the saw or the axe until I pause and say go.

This year I discovered the brilliance of pickaroons and hookaroons. I can't believe I've been doing firewood and bending and lifting and moving or loading rounds onto the splitter all these years without. Unfortunately I don't get the luxury of having a helper until the kids are a little older (they help toss splits in the trailer but can't stack or lift yet) but even sometimes the simplest tool discoveries can speed up processing speed and turn back breaking work into a simple arm exercise.
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
18,593
Philadelphia
I highly recommend having help when splitting.
Although I do all of my bucking and splitting alone, I do see the merit of this advice. I'd just wrap it in some caveats:

1. NEVER let anyone operate your splitter valve while you're holding the wood. My FIL used to always want to help me this way, and the few times I allowed him to do this represent the only few times I've ever almost lost a finger while splitting wood. Whoever has their hands on the wood should be the only one touching that valve. (Ironically, long-term members of this forum will remember when he did lose a finger at my house!)

2. If the helper is under 18, only allow one of them in the wood processing area at a time. A kid, even some very young kids, can be plenty responsible enough to help with this chore. But put any two of them together in an area, and it won't be long until there's some goofing off, that could lead to an injury.

3. Obviously don't allow anyone to stand too close when you're running the saw. Most people have enough common sense to follow this without saying, but I do cut with one guy who never seems to get this message. Same guy I dropped a tree on (his fault, not mine) about five years ago.
 

burnbug

New Member
Nov 22, 2022
21
Mass
I will have to keep all this in mind when manually splitting. I definitely won't be doing as much as you all are. More casual burns.
 

Niro

Member
Jul 13, 2021
104
Northern Westchester NY
If your burning in an open fireplace which is what I believe you said, there no point in looking for BTUs as it's alway a heat Loss do to draft. If your looking to heat or partially heat with wood then you will realize you need gas powered tools.

If your just burning for entertainment then your right, hands tools with be fine if your budget won't allow for gas powered toys.
 

burnbug

New Member
Nov 22, 2022
21
Mass
Yea, have thr 562xp sitting on the bench right now 🤤. I like to spend on quality tools so I sprung for the pro model. But not snap-on though. That's just way overpriced for my use

Going to at least look for glass doors for the fireplace to hopefully help. Maybe look into wood burner insert in the future.
20221204_163956.jpg
 
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Niro

Member
Jul 13, 2021
104
Northern Westchester NY
Yea, have thr 562xp sitting on the bench right now 🤤. I like to spend on quality tools so I sprung for the pro model. But not snap-on though.
Nice!!! Definitely get the insert if you can. It's a game changer. I burned the first year in the house in an open fireplace, its so inefficient. We got the lopi large cus it got a big viewing glass and a modern look. Unfortunately no tax credit but it's what we wanted.

Recently I had a problem with the blower and the insert was down for a few days. I refused to burn wood without the blower cus I felt it was just a waste.
 

Bose

New Member
Dec 8, 2022
13
Brownsburg Quebec
Manual saws can be fun, but also a good way to make you 30 year old joints feel more like 60, if processing any amount of firewood. It all depends on your goals, expected usage, amount of free time, etc. I actually have my great-grandfather's one-man and two-man felling saws, and played with them a bit when I was younger, but they are hard work in any good hardwood.

If shopping chainsaws, most firewood cutters want 50 - 70 cc, with the 60'ish cc saws finding a real sweet spot in this crowd. Cutting Mass hardwoods, a 63cc Stihl MS36x will cut real nice with 18" - 19" of exposed bar, meaning you either mount an 18" bar with factory dogs, or a 20" bar with silly big felling dogs to reduce the exposed length. Note that the specified bar length on a chainsaw has NOTHING to do with the saw's actual ability to pull that chain through a given wood, it only indicates the flow rate of the chain oiler and ratio of oil tank capacity to gas tank capacity, larger bars requiring more oil.

Usually best to decide what size bar you need, then shop a saw to match that:

16/17" = 45 - 55 cc
18/19" = 55 - 65 cc
20"+ = 65 - 75 cc

As you go up in size, the jumps get bigger, as RPM's generally drop and torque climbs out of proportion with displacement. My 85cc saw pulls a 28" bar thru white oak with no trouble, nose fully buried, but it's only running 12,000 RPM top speed.
HI I live in wood cutters /wood burner territory north of Montreal Canada sold Jonsered, Husquvarna Sthil for many moons if you are a beginer start with a 45 cc 16inch bar that cuts up to a 24 inch stump as your muscles grow and you get used to the bar and power of the saw upgrade, as for kickback buy only and I do mean only a saw with a brake so that by keeping your power arm up on the front handle 90 deg. the brake will hit your fore arm and stop immediatly, get some chainsaw pants ,face protection good saw gloves and lots of respect for the saw
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
18,593
Philadelphia
A modern saw with a chain brake is always good advice, beginner or pro. Not sure I agree with "muscles growing" thru chainsaw use, but experience certainly does.

It's funny, I was rolling 24 to 30 inch diameter red oak rounds onto the foot plate of my splitter yesterday morning, without all that much effort, but I've watched young guys much stronger and bigger than me struggle with smaller wood. Likewise, my stone mason is 65 years old, and manages 94 lb. bags of portland alongside even heavier stones, all day long. Chainsaws are similar, you learn over time to make it work for you, and how to keep it out of a bind or to avoid kickback. I'm faster, more efficient, and safer with a saw today than I was at age 20, but not because I have more muscle.

My first saws inherited almost 40 years ago were second-hand units built in the early 1970's. They all had much lower chain speed than my modern saws, which I believe makes a big difference in kick-back, probably even more than displacement. Thankfully, it seems that chain brakes became standard pretty soon after the chain speeds really went up. My first Homelite EZ Auto only ran 10k RPM, but any modern MS-362 runs 14k RPM, 40% faster and almost double (196%) the rotating kinetic energy while only weighing 10% more. THAT is where I believe kickback comes from.
 
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Caw

Minister of Fire
May 26, 2020
1,622
Massachusetts
lots of respect for the saw
This is the most important thing for me with any power tools but especially with more dangerous ones like chainsaws, shapers, table saws, etc where the blade is very exposed and/or you have your fingers very close to the blade when operating. Respect the tool, use proper precautions, and do not get lazy or complacent and cut corners. Accidents can still happen but you'll be giving yourself the best chance to avoid them.

Having worked in the hospital and seeing many saw injuries you REALLY want to avoid them. It's never minor.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
7,261
Long Island NY
All very true.

But hospital settings don't reflect the spectrum of reality - the minor ones wouldn't have been seen in a hospital...
 
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Caw

Minister of Fire
May 26, 2020
1,622
Massachusetts
I don't think I've ever heard of a minor saw injury...outside of maybe knicking yourself on the blade while it's off grabbing it changing it etc. If that thing touches you while moving it's not going to be pretty.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
18,593
Philadelphia
I'm sure you've all seen the SawStop that came out originally as an add-on for table saws in the 1990's. They released their own table saw models about 20 years ago, but being a vintage equipment guy, I'm not really sure how they're doing now.

The SawStop works by driving a sacrificial aluminum caul directly into the saw blade. It destroys your blade and the caul, and can cause other collateral damage to the machine, but it'll save your digits or palm.

Our chain brakes are nowhere near as fast, but still, it'd be nice to see a reliable system for triggering it based on flesh contact. It would not likely prevent an injury, but surely could minimize the extent of many. The problem is complicated by the fact that we're cutting green wood in all weather, not just dry lumber indoors, which may prevent it from reaching the sort of reliable detection required to make it a workable system. Bar oil and other factors may also complicate the scenario, I suppose.
 

weatherguy

Minister of Fire
Feb 20, 2009
5,917
Central Mass
Nice!!! Definitely get the insert if you can. It's a game changer. I burned the first year in the house in an open fireplace, its so inefficient. We got the lopi large cus it got a big viewing glass and a modern look. Unfortunately no tax credit but it's what we wanted.

Recently I had a problem with the blower and the insert was down for a few days. I refused to burn wood without the blower cus I felt it was just a waste.
I lost power for a week when I had my insert, I burned it anyway and it kept my house warm enough to stay in it while other people were checking into hotels. It wasn't as warm as when I used the blower but kept the outer rooms 60 degrees, family room was mid 70s.
 
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stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
7,261
Long Island NY
This is the most important thing for me with any power tools but especially with more dangerous ones like chainsaws, shapers, table saws, etc where the blade is very exposed and/or you have your fingers very close to the blade when operating. Respect the tool, use proper precautions, and do not get lazy or complacent and cut corners. Accidents can still happen but you'll be giving yourself the best chance to avoid them.

Having worked in the hospital and seeing many saw injuries you REALLY want to avoid them. It's never minor.
 

Caw

Minister of Fire
May 26, 2020
1,622
Massachusetts
I don't understand why feel the need to prove me wrong. You got me, a minor injury. I still stand by it being more rare than not.