Limb wood value

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DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
663
Upstate NY
This year while cutting my firewood ive been stacking my limb wood in separate stacks. I don’t know why, because I usually just stack it with the splits.

Anyways, I was looking on FBM last night and saw someone selling split firewood and limb wood. The split wood was 45$ a FC, and the limb wood was 30$ a FC. I’ve never seen it for sale separately like that, and am honestly surprised how cheap they’re selling it for.

So it got me to thinking. For those of you that buy firewood, how much limb wood is acceptable? For you to pay a normal, local price.
No limb wood? 1/4 limb wood? 1/2 limb wood?

Also, I usually have my limb wood mixed in with splits. I’ve never burned just limb wood. For those of you that have, does it not burn as long because of it being all sap wood and no heart wood. Just curious.

And finally, I’ve noticed that slab wood is always cheaper than regular split firewood. So is limb wood treated the same as slab wood?
 

johneh

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
4,378
Eastern Ontario
As far as limb wood goes I cut down to about 4 in.
after that it is a lot of work and little gain . Limb
wood and splits are stacked together.
Sap wood or heart wood makes no difference it is the
density and dryness that gives the BTU . The dryer
and denser the better .
Slab wood is the cutoff when making lumber
mostly bark with some good wood . Great for a fire pit
Difference in price between splits and limb wood I
have no idea
 

Corey

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2005
2,745
Midwest
I think a lot of it just depends on how you burn. If you're constantly around to shovel in loads of limbs and slabs, then price difference might be worth it. If you need big chunks of wood for long/unattended burns, then the limbs might not be of much benefit.
 

Simonkenton

Minister of Fire
Feb 27, 2014
2,232
Marshall NC
I burn lots of limbs, like joneh said I get down to 4 inches, too small to split. Limb wood is good for the late night burn. Wood with sharp edges catches fire and burns quicker than smooth round wood.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
17,631
Philadelphia
If cutting in the woods, I leave all limb wood, I won't bother dragging it home. But if cutting a tree in my own yard, I will keep and split everything down to the diameter of my wrist, if it's straight and less work than burning it as waste.

But I don't stack much of anything in the round. Even limb wood gets split in half before going on the stack.
 

DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
663
Upstate NY
I figured that since the heart wood is denser on big pieces that it would have more BTU’s than the limb wood. I’m guessing at the density based on dry weight.

Basically I’m cutting a lot of ash. I’m already 3 years ahead now, and so anything extra I cut could be sold next year. Firewood is already not worth much in my area, so just trying to process it/divide it in a way to not make it worth any less.

I’ve never seen limb wood for sale by itself, and had no idea it was worth so little. I know slab wood is usually sold for about 1/4 less than regular split wood. But also I’m not planning to sell limb wood by itself. Just wondering about mixing it with splits. If that will lower the value of a face cord or cord.
 

ericm979

Burning Hunk
Nov 2, 2018
208
California
Some of the limbs I've cut have been over 24" diameter. I can't tell the difference in the stove between limb and trunk wood for any of the species I burn. When I am stacking I try to stack a mix of splits and small whole pieces, just because putting too much round stuff in the stove means one is more likely to roll up against the stove doors.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,282
Long Island NY
The value is what the market pays for it. This winter that'll be a lot.
I'd just mix it in. Not excessively, but just "all wood from a tree wrist-size or thicker" unsorted. That gives a mix that I always do when cutting down a tree, and that works well. (As long as the limbwood is splittable and does not have too may bends and knots.)
 

Simonkenton

Minister of Fire
Feb 27, 2014
2,232
Marshall NC
I don't see any heart wood on my ash trees.
 

DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
663
Upstate NY
My bigger ash have a darker brown heart wood. I’ll take a pic next time I’m splitting bigger stuff. Otherwise yes the smaller trees it’s the same color all the way through.

Edit: when I say darker brown I mean it’s just darker than normal ash. It’s closer to a lighter brown in reality. Just not almost white like the rest.
 

Simonkenton

Minister of Fire
Feb 27, 2014
2,232
Marshall NC
I have enjoyed burning the ash, but only got one more tree, then they all will be gone, dead. My trees are 22 inch diameter.
 

DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
663
Upstate NY
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. The center is a darker brown than the rest, but it’s not typical heartwood like you would see on other hardwoods. It’s more like brown staining. But I don’t know what else to call it.

The tree in the pic is about 16” diameter. The bigger trees have more, and it’s darker.

EAB1EB96-52ED-40DA-B11C-D9C22BB48D68.jpeg
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
7,519
NE Ohio
I figured that since the heart wood is denser on big pieces that it would have more BTU’s than the limb wood. I’m guessing at the density based on dry weight.
An arborist told me that the limb wood tends to be the denser wood
 

Simonkenton

Minister of Fire
Feb 27, 2014
2,232
Marshall NC
That is interesting. Here is my brother's wood pile, the big pieces on top are ash. North Carolina ash is white to the core. 22 inch drums.

Ken's Wood Pile May 2020  Ash Locust  Oak.jpg
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
17,631
Philadelphia
Our ash most definitely has heartwood, easily visible, here in southeastern PA. Here's a photo of one I dropped about 10 years ago, that has been posted here before:

fred_tree.JPG

Note that I'm behind the camera, the guy in the photo was the property owner.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,246
central pa
Yeah all the ash here has heartwood like that
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,282
Long Island NY
That does not mean that the pic of DonTee might not be hardwood but some staining (thru the core hole?) instead, as it does not follow (at all) the growth rings, as the heartwood-sapwood boundary mostly does (as far as I know).
 

DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
663
Upstate NY
And that’s where it’s weird. Sometimes it does vaguely follow the rings and other times it’s doesn’t. For example here’s a piece I was just splitting. Only one side is darker.
But then other trees are like the pic Ashful posted.

AA7C14B2-F16E-4CED-9034-B8A8E98962F4.jpeg

Edit. In case it isn’t clear from the pic, that’s a round split once in half.
 

DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
663
Upstate NY
I’ve heard of staining in other hardwoods. Like in sugar maple where the tree is tapped. But I don’t think it covers large areas like that.

If you Google pics of ash flooring, you can see a bit of darker wood in it. Some of its even half and half light and dark wood
 

bigealta

Minister of Fire
May 22, 2010
863
Utah & NJ
I like the "Wrist" measurements. When skiing powder in the trees the rule is - Tree diameter - Smaller than a woman's wrist go thru it. Bigger go around.
 
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Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,815
Fairbanks, Alaska
When I was felling my own trees I would harvest limb wood. The younger men delivering splits to my driveway now do not bring me limb wood.

Once I have a tree on the ground I used to start at the butt end and slice off the curvy bit at the bottom. Then mark up the log every 16" to the top- and then harvest limb wood off the top while it was still attached to the log. In general I could cut through the bark - zipping or unzipping if you will- down to about 1.5 inches diameter or so. Anything smaller than that would get pruned off and left on the forest floor.

The real test was when the limb starting bouncing around from the chainsaw cutting through the bark. Once a limb got to bouncing around I would just prune off the rest. I eyeballed the limb to 16" lengths and let it fall.

Once I had my limb wood off the top, the next step for me was to figure out how much log I needed to leave on the fork for the noodling cuts, get those taken care of, then take my already marked 16" rounds back down the log to the butt.

Once it was all cut to rounds, just load it in the truck and take it home. As I was working through the rounds at the splitter the littles with the bark unzipped would get tossed past the splitter onto the ready to stack pile, then mixed in with everything else in the stacks and good for filling in gaps when loading the stove with splits.

My guess is most bark has less heat value than a similar volume of wood. Thus sawmill slabs are inexpensive and likely make a lot of ash. With small limbs, bark zipped open, birch and spruce only, they season about the same as regular sized splits and fill in what would otherwise be air gaps in a load of splits.

Starting with limb wood maybe 4 inch diameter and up I didn't usually zip the bark but would split them once.

The only wood I segregate in my stacks are the monster splits, the big gnarlies with a lot of twist and big knots. I am careful to stack them up off the floor of my shed when they are green. When I run into those during the season I just put them on the floor level of the adjacent empty wood kiln. When I find big gnarly uglies at the floor level, I how they have been seasoned two years and burn them like anything else.

I have not done any math to figure out if the gas used in the saw justifies the BTUs provided by processing the limb wood.
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
17,631
Philadelphia
Always interesting hearing the processes of others, Poindexter. We have some similarities, some differences.

I make my felling cut well above the buttress roots, in most cases, the exception being forked multi-trunk trees where the fork is too high or lean too bad to take the trunks individually, such that I'm forced to cut real low to keep it all together. Once on the ground, I look at how it landed and whether it's safer to cut from bottom up or top down. At the property where I've done most of my cutting, it's mostly big (36" to 60" diameter) oak and ash, so minding which way a 15 foot log is going to roll can make the difference between a good day and, well... traction.

I prefer cutting bottom up, if it can be done, and just cut 15 foot lengths until I get to the first major fork in the tree, and leave the rest. These are trees growing in mature woods, so there's always a clear delineation between trunk and canopy, not like a yard tree with branches coming out half way up the trunk. Also, there's often someone else there interested in taking the top for themselves, with no ability to move 40" diameter x 15 foot logs on their own, so we have a symbiotic relationship.

Once segmented into 15 foot lengths, I either back the trailer right up next to the stump, and start winching the logs on. My winch spool carries 75 feet, and I also carry an additional 70 feet of 5/16" chain, plus another 50 feet of towing straps, so I usually have enough reach to take the entire tree without moving the trailer. If in the woods, then we skid the logs up to a field, where I will pick them up later

Once home, the logs get picked off the trailer and put into stacks by year, to be processed according to FIFO. If I can bring home 10 cords per year, roughly what I burn, the backlog stays consistent. But I think I brought home nearly double that in 2019, creating a backlog that has me rejecting nearly all wood (unless it's in my own yard or a neighbor's) the last three years. So now, instead of one or two big 10 cord piles, I have four smaller piles:

IMG_7475.JPG
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,246
central pa
I cut everything down to about 2". Split down to 4 or 5" I just don't see a reason to waste it. And those small pieces work well for filling gaps when loading the stove
 

DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
663
Upstate NY
I’m always trying different ways to mark out 16” sections. Recently I’ve been using the zip method. Where I have a zip on the left handle of the saw, and it’s cut at 16” from the bar. That seems to work pretty good.

Depending on the tree, I cut from the butt up, or sometimes from the middle and go both directions. Depends on where the tree is, or if I pull it closer to the tractor in sections or not.

When I cut down the tree I usually cut it about 20” from the ground. Then once it’s on the ground I’ll come back and cut off another chunk, leaving a short stump. I hate big stumps in the woods.

There’s a guy I know who’s convinced there are rocks in the stumps close to the ground. So he cuts all his stumps about 2’ off the ground, and then leaves them that way. I’ve been cutting stumps low for over ten years and never hit a rock. And in fact I’ve never seen a rock in a tree.