Noob firewood seller questions

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Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
Upstate NY
I’ve been cutting firewood for myself and my family for quite a few years now. This is the first year I’ve sold wood to people outside of my family. I have a few questions.

First of all I want to say that the wood I’m selling is all ash. It was C/S/S last fall (2022). Internal moisture tests on a freshly split piece show around 18% Mc.

The wood has been stored outside uncovered. That’s not an issue during the drying season, but right now it’s taking turns raining and snowing. The wood stays wet longer, and more importantly, it’s damp on the exterior when I go to sell it.

My own burning routine involves taking the wood from my woodshed to porch (where it sits for a week), and then inside the house to another rack (where it usually sits a few days) before being burned. So any exterior dampness is gone. Do people who buy wood expect to take it home and burn it that day? It makes me nervous that someone will try that and then say my wood isn’t seasoned.

The other firewood sellers around here are selling from big uncovered piles mostly. And the pics they show on their firewood ads are obviously from summer. The trees still have leaves on them, and the firewood actually looks dry.

So should I try to cover the wood and let it dry out as much as possible before selling it? Or assume that other people have similar burning habits to my own, and are not going to try and take this wood and burn it the same day?

I’d like to build a giant woodshed in the future to hold all the wood I plan to sell. But for right now I don’t have any extra space under cover. That’s where I store my personal firewood. Lol.

An example stack and piece

If the wood is advertised as fully seasoned wood then it should be ready to burn. It's safe to assume that many people will buy and burn the same day as purchased. Top covering should be sufficient and the bottom wood must be elevated off the ground to keep it dry.
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To me.. if your selling seasoned wood then its ready to burn.

I sell some wood to people, just like you. Im selling at a higher price because, my wood is better then the firewood people around me. Rain never touches my splits, even.on my trailer.. if its sitting there waiting for a delivery, it gets tarped up. The higher the quality the higher the price.. my wood is dry.. really dry..

Its not hard to top cover so put something on it.. keep it dry..
Whatever you do advertise full cords. If you insist, put facecords in ( ). The term facecord is very confused and not really honest as the length of the wood is not factored in. A face cord of 12" long wood for a cookstove is half the volume of face cord of 24" fireplace wood. A cord 4'by 4' by 8'.

You also may want to experiment with the difference between a stacked cord and a loose piled cord. They are both a cord but a random loose stack is going to be bigger volume than a stacked cord. Many sellers load up a truck box with loose piled wood, measure it out before they dump it in the customers yard and call it good, if they stack it they will think they were shorted as the stacked wood will be about 20 to 20% volume. I would suggest including some extra if you go with a loose load. Some premium sellers near me actually stack the wood when delivered so there is no question.

The length you cut your wood at can be an issue. Some folks like to stuff every square inch of their firebox with wood and if its 16" wide they want 15 and 3/4" wood. If you are going to sell, your wood should be of uniform length. That is easy with a processor but if you are cutting by eye, the wood is going to vary in length. Some folks use a saw mounted gage or chalk marks. I am not picky for my use but if I sold wood I would either need to sort the wood to length or cut more accurately. Many folks want big splits but ideally work up a standard size and set aside the smaller stuff, there is still a demand for it as big split woo is a PITA to start a fire with. I have seen some dealer intentionally sell a mix of both which IMO is better for most folks without a firewood supply but not so good for someone who is just supplementing.
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If I bought a cord of ready to burn firewood, I’d be excited to light off a fire that night.
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Thanks for the input guys. I store the wood on runners so it’s off the ground. I agree I should top cover it.

I’m selling for the local average price. Actually slightly below it. Around here people buy/sell face cords. I do put face cord in my ad. If I called it a cord people would assume it was a face cord (1/3 of a cord or 4’x8’x16”)

A couple things that I think are important. I want to sell people the correct quantity of wood. A face cord means a real face cord (4x8x16”). And I want to sell people wood that’s been cut for as long as I say it has. There is a lot of dishonesty in firewood sales it seems like.
I stack my wood in measured sections. That way I know it’s the right amount.

So yeah anything I can do to improve my product is a welcome suggestion.
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I need to find an efficient way to cover large amounts of firewood. I have something like 20 full cords right now. Typically I only burn around 4 cords a winter. That’s what fits in my woodshed

Oh and whatever I use to cover the wood can’t be ugly. Or else my wife will complain about it ;lol
I've used brown tarps because the blue tarps are ugly. The billboard companies sell the old billboard vinyl which I think is black.
I need to find an efficient way to cover large amounts of firewood. I have something like 20 full cords right now. Typically I only burn around 4 cords a winter. That’s what fits in my woodshed

Oh and whatever I use to cover the wood can’t be ugly. Or else my wife will complain about it ;lol
I also use the brown tarps as mentioned above. They blend into the wooded yard background nicely. One year I bought a ridiculous camo one to rib the wife a little. She wasn't laughing but I still am lol. Worth it.
I have some of the camo tarps from Harbor Freight. They were either really cheap or free with a purchase. I forget which one. Lol.
Many sellers in my area have a bad reputation. I look at all the FBM ads for firewood, and read their reviews.

The biggest problem I hear about is people getting shorted on wood. Many of the sellers are offering dump trailer or truck loads with so many face cords per load. People are complaining they’re getting much less.

A second issue is seasoned wood. Sellers are claiming their wood is seasoned, and usually that means that it was left in log form for 6 months before being processed directly into a trailer for delivery. We all know that usually doesn’t work very well. But these guys don’t want to handle the wood at all.

Another problem is the seller not keeping their word. After the shortage or lack of seasoned wood is mentioned, the seller usually promises to make it right. And then never does.

This is all gathered from marketplace comments/reviews of firewood sellers. Lol

I guess what bugs me is many firewood sellers are in it for the wrong reasons. IMO of course.
I do firewood because I love being out in the woods. Just my tractor, my saw, and myself.
Many of these guys are getting log loads delivered, using a processor to cut/split the wood into a pile, and then something else like a skid steer to load it. They never actually touch the wood.

Sorry for the rant :)
Unfortunately, every time you touch the wood, you incur costs. I’m honestly surprised that people sell anything but green firewood that wasn’t split yesterday.

Actually selling dry wood should demand a hefty premium.
I look at it like this. If I spend 5 hours per week working on firewood, that’s time I would’ve wasted otherwise. Doing unproductive things. Maybe even spending money. Haha.
I'll pay for logs or rounds to be delivered as long as it doesn't cost more than around 1/3 of running my NG furnace. My time to buck, split, and store the wood would make it uneconomical, but I count that effort as exercise, not heating cost. There's a tree service crew arriving with a truckload later today.

Bucking, splitting, and loading is a lot of work. Can't blame the firewood companies for their prices, but buying splits costs 2 to 3 times what NG does.

I've got a lot of trees on my own property, but I'd rather burn wood that is being cut down for other reasons than to take down healthy wildlife habitat.
My breakeven point for $/BTU is somewhere around $3.25/gal of oil / $600 per cord. (both are assuming <100% efficiency). However this doesn't account for the innate satisfaction I get from bucking, splitting, loading, and watching a log / fire. I think it's same way with wife and family - when it's cold outside, it's just psychologically warmer to cuddle around a fire. Thinking back to childhood - how much pleasant memories are associated with a fireplace, a bonfire, or a stove? vs the mundane vent from a forced air heat?
No he's just saying it's cheaper to burn wood if the cost is less than $600/cord which is very accurate in New England. Energy is more expensive here than most places in the country.

I'd love to harvest my own wood and sell some on the side if I had the land or the time. A constructive hobby. I do the next closest thing and get logs delivered from a local tree service for cheap. Keeps me out of tree felling danger but still let's me get some good work in. I just enjoy using local resources and not paying the oil man.
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Please tell me you are not paying $600 / cord.
About 1/3 of my wood is free - either dead trees in my lot or log drops from local tree companies.
About 1/3 of my wood is ~$300/cord - generic hardwood from local firewood suppliers.
Last 1/3 is $450/cord debarked black locust - this is the premium stuff that's CSS/top covered by the seller for 2 ~ 3 years.

I also burn a couple pieces of biobricks ($7.99/pack) with each overnight fire to fill in the smaller spaces in the stove.

Most of my heat comes from burning wood. My baseline (summer) oil usage is around 1.2 ~ 1.3 gal / day, in winter ticks up to about 1.5 ~ 1.7gal / day.
We don’t have NG as an option here. But I’ve heard it’s very affordable. We have propane, kerosene, and of course good ole electric heat.

I burn wood as my primary heat source, and if I had to pay what I charge for my winter wood supply it would be $780 for the 12 face cords a year we burn. As it is now I get it for the price of chainsaw, tractor, and splitter fuel.

In my area firewood starts around $50 a face cord for green wood this time of year. In the summer you can get split green firewood for $40 a face cord

I’ve noticed the guys advertising seasoned wood are raising their prices now, as it gets colder.

If I could get around a cord for $150 I’d never fire up my chainsaw again!
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If I could get around a cord for $150 I’d never fire up my chainsaw again!
Isn't that the truth. I pay $100 for 2 cords of logs. Another $200 to not do multiple full days of work is a pretty good deal. I enjoy it and would probably still do it but for those prices I wouldn't feel badly buying sometimes.
On the radio "Barter Time" today a pickup of "seasoned" firwood was $65. I know the only seasoning might be from the salt in the McDonald's bag in the bed of the truck but I wouldn't even think of cutting and splitting wood for $65 a pickup load. If I didn't have my own wood supply and dumb enough to own the equipment I wouldn't bother with wood to stay warm.
If I could get around a cord for $150 I’d never fire up my chainsaw again!
Agreed. Break even here in the cheap energy PNW is around $220 per cord compared to NG. I'm collecting as much scrounged wood as I have time to pick up, but I'm also paying $75/cord to tree services that will deliver rounds, and I'm looking for logs at the $50/cord that @Caw is paying. Trying to build up to the 3 years stored point. I might pay $150/cord for split green wood if I could find it, but the going price seems to be closer to $300 to $400.

@begreen , @Highbeam : anyone in the PNW have an idea what the break even is for heat pumps / mini-splits? Depends on outside temps, of course, but maybe a typical cost over a year?