large scale firewood management

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jbplaster

New Member
May 26, 2021
2
Happy Valley, NC
Hey folks, great forum! Here's my problem. I'm opening a brewery & wood fired pizzeria in western NC and I'll be going through about 25 cords per year. I already cut & season wood for my own home, a tiny house rental and a wood fired sauna, so I'll be buying firewood for the pizzeria. But it MUST be dry and I can't reliably buy dry firewood around here. This leaves me thinking I'll buy loads ahead and season them in a shed at my house. The downside is I'll have to move it again when it's ready to go to the oven, so I'm thinking I need a concrete slab & I'll load it with a front end loader.

I'd be interested to hear any ideas you guys might have on the subject...

Thanks!
Jesse
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,384
South Puget Sound, WA
25 cords is a lot of wood. Maybe see if there is a local farmer that would lease out unused barn space for storage?
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,814
Northern NH
You really need to find a way to outsource this. With a small business, you will not have the time to mess with firewood. Check to see if there is county forester and give him a call to see if there are any suppliers in the region. Odds are there is someone with a kiln that would love to have a steady customer for dry wood.
 
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ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,320
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
Surely you can find someone willing to supply that quantity of wood in seasoned form, particularly if you are willing to be a consistent customer.

We have a pizzeria a couple blocks from my house that also burns wood, the owner says he uses 2 cords a month and pays $400/cord for nice dry birch. Not the cheapest wood in town, but his supplier delivers to his door step, and I've never seen such dry wood sold around here. The pizzeria owner is pretty happy about it, he says $800/month for wood is cheap compared to the $1500/month he spends on natural gas at his Asian restaurant.
 

jbplaster

New Member
May 26, 2021
2
Happy Valley, NC
I’m willing to pay a premium for the right product, just haven’t found it yet. I can get good wood but wet for about $250/cord. Also, people mostly price it by the pickup truck here, which is unpredictable. I might just try a post offering $300 for dry and see what comes of it. I agree with Peakbagger, outsourcing would be best. I don’t really want to get into the firewood business!
 
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Reactions: sloeffle
Sep 2, 2020
125
UP, Michigan, USA
If you cant find someone with a kiln to provide you with DRY wood, you will need to do it yourself.
While I have not tried it myself (yet) a solar kiln may be your best solution. Basically a greenhouse that you stack your wet wood in for a few months. If it is in th sun and you vent the wet air out, you may have dry wood in 3 to 5 months.
 

Ctwoodtick

Minister of Fire
Jun 5, 2015
1,615
Southeast CT
If you are buying wood, definitely buy a moisture meter. Usually under $20, it might be a very valuable tool to avoid getting ripped off when buying good Drywood. Just make sure to split a piece and measure the moisture content of the freshly split piece to make sure you’ve got Drywood.
 
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Reactions: sloeffle

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,732
SE North Carolina
Storing 75 cords of wood (three year rotation) is a lot and may not be worth space/ infrastructure unless you had it already available. I would separate storage from sourcing the firewood right now. Seems to me that you need an easy, fast to transport the the fire wood look at IBC totes or firewood bags. Shipping containers could be easy to store wood in and transported they also could double as a kiln.

What's your wood fuel budget? 1000$ a month? Say you are buying logs at 100$ a cord paying another 150$ for processing and delivery. you really cant save that much by doing yourself or in-house. Reliable supply is worth a lot.

I would look around for local saw mills they have the infrastructure for wood sourcing and delivery maybe even kilns. With the mark up that you would be paying they might even want in on the kiln dried firewood market and start processing it.

Check around and see if you can find where convivence stores are sourcing their firewood from. Might be a good lead there.

You are living my dream (minus the whole running a business part ;) as I frequently brew and love me some wood stove pizza!


Evan
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,846
Northern Maine
If I had to deal with that much wood the business would be owning a processor.

My local wood fired pizza place has three stores and they buy their wood kiln dried.
 

weatherguy

Minister of Fire
Feb 20, 2009
5,880
Central Mass
Your best bet is to find a business that kiln dries wood and you'd only have to buy and store a few cords at a time. Someone mentioned checking the supermarket wood, the place near me supplies most of those bundles to the stores and gas stations in the area and their name and address is on every bundle.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,814
Northern NH

Rickb

Minister of Fire
Oct 24, 2012
1,181
St.Louis
A little outside the box but I wonder if it wouldnt be worth buying a connex/shipping container? Then ytou outfit it with a couple vents and a fan. You set it up so you can use a fork truck to bring pallets loaded with wood in and out and keep it so you can get under the middle. You can then burn some or the scraps/uglies to raise the temp and make your own kiln. im guessing your still looking at 1 - 2 months after you pull it out for it to be ready if its summer time but might help get you ahead.
 

clancey

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2021
2,043
Colorado
That kiln dried firewood is so very expensive and I have never tasted wood fired pizza but it sure sounds wonderful and if I ever take a trip out your way I will surely have some and I love NC as well and been there three times...Now I came across this ad on the web and it might be out of the question "money wise" but might be good to check into...clancey
 

Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,492
Fairbanks, Alaska
Late to the party I know, I don't spend a lot of time here when my woodstove is shut down.

With a full time day job I make time for drying 8-10 cords annually. If I have a lot of free time I have done 15 cords so I can give some away to charity, but that is my top end and I don't do it every year.

If you own a business, you will be working more than full time already. 15 cords processed on top of full time hours is my upper annual limit.

You are (very likley) going to have to outsource, and whomever you outsource too is going to have to automate. Besides the significant capital investment in at least one skid steer with a couple attachments, a grapple and foks to start, a firewood processor with a conveyor, and a good sized green house and a bunch of IBC totes.

So the totes get filled (not quite to the top so they can be stacked) straight from the conveyor on the processor. Then the totes get stacked in the greenhouse to kiln dry by forklift, and you still got to get the IBC totes off the truck at the restaraunt.

And no soft wood. On the one hand you are buying a commodity, dry hardwood splits, in respectable commercial volume, but way more quantity than any one man show can provide alone.

Good luck. Out local wood fired pizza place offers quite a premium per cord for birch hardwood dry enough for the bark to fall off. Birch bark adds nasty flavors to food, but birch wood is benign. He wants all little tiny splits, and he is a slow pay artist; so I have never dealt with him personally having met his reputation already.

Good luck. How much green/wet wood could you store to season yourself?
 

Woody5506

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2017
892
Rochester NY
Interesting situation, and from the local BBQ smoker guys I've talked to they all seem to have their idea of "seasoned" wood, even though they are all using traditional stick burner smokers. One guy I remember saying he was so particular about hickory that it had to be cut in log form for 3 months (which to me is NOT seasoned whatsoever) then delivered to him where he'd split and stack and use it as needed. And at most, I'd see a cord at a time stacked at the restaurant. So in my opinion *his ideal wood was what I would call absolutely green wood. Most of us here would agree hickory would need a minimum of 2 years split/stacked before efficiently burning in the stove.

My only experience with making my own wood fire pizza is with my sister's Ooni pro oven, which to my surprise is actually pretty awesome. All I've ever used in it though, and what I supplied her with, was a bunch of dead red oak that I had 2 years split/stacked and it works perfectly. I don't see why anyone would want anything less seasoned.

I'd have to agree with spending extra on kiln dried at that point and factor it in to your pizza costs. I'm about positive that's what our local wood fired pizza places do. I remember one having a few racks inside the restaurant itself of perfectly stacked, uniform splits of ash. Whether that was for decor or they actually use it, I don't know, but every split was absolutely perfect and it appeared kiln dried.
 

Sandhill

New Member
Nov 7, 2021
6
southwest Michigan
I don't think wood will season well on concrete. Concrete is quite porous, and often damp.
Also, 25 cord is not that much, however, you will need fifty cords the first year, if you season for a year and rotate.
25 cord per year is half a cord per week, or a pickup load. You could get two small box trailers for half a cord each, and load/rotate as time permits. A box trailer is something that you could put advertising on, keep your wood dry, keep it locked up, and fairly tidy at the shop.
If the trailer has a ramp, baskets with wheels for an evenings worth of wood could be rolled in and out, and also contain the mess of firewood in the restaurant. Your not paying someone to cart wood and clean up messes on a daily basis. Win, win. To load with a fel (front end loader) may sound/be quick and easy but what then. Think through each step, whatever you do, like the McDonald boys did on a tennis court, doing dry runs of their kitchen layout and serving routines until they eliminated bottlenecks. Just some thoughts.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,384
South Puget Sound, WA
Are we talking full cords or face cords here? As stated earlier, 25 cords is a heckuva lot of wood.
 

Sandhill

New Member
Nov 7, 2021
6
southwest Michigan
I would also suggest a SuperSplit splitter to resplit larger pieces, if your purchasing firewood, so your working with the proper size wood for the restaurant. Smaller splits will obviously season more quickly and thoroughly .
 

Stearn786

New Member
Nov 19, 2021
11
CNY
I have no other suggestions for firewood other than what people have already stated, but I'll try to stop in for a slice next time I visit my in laws in NC. Sounds tasty 😋