Think this wood will be ready for winter burning?

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Marconis

Member
Dec 13, 2021
44
NY
How's everyone doing?

So my father in-law has been taking in trees from tree companies for the last year. He bought a splitter and his guys have been splitting in the greenhouse on rain days; he's accumulated a ton of wood, and I've been eyeing it since I moved in to my house last year. His first load was actually split wood he bought from some guy, and he claimed the wood had been split 3 months prior. So, I thought it was a good time to go and stack it because it's been split for approximately 12 months at this point. Thing is, the wood wasn't really stored in a way that is conducive to proper drying. Was pretty much in a pile...a sunny pile, but still a pile. But that's the wood I took since I knew it had been split before all the other stuff he has.

I built two racks yesterday and started stacking the wood today. Each rack is a face cord so I've probably got half a cord right now. I split 5 pieces and they are reading between 28-40%. Felt light to handle, and this is after heavy rains the last two weeks, but I thought it would at least be mid-twenties. Both racks are located where there is generous sun, at least 4-6 hours of direct rays per day. I know it's based on a lot of factors, but in your experience, do you think these will get down to 18-20% by the time November rolls around? It's a mix of maple and oak, to my knowledge. I'm on Long Island so it stays hot pretty much through the middle of October...hoping they'll have some good time to bake.

Open fireplace, recreational burning, if that means anything.

Thanks for your input!

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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,242
South Puget Sound, WA
Top covering will help, but it has a long way to go, especially if it's a wet and humid summer.
 
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Marconis

Member
Dec 13, 2021
44
NY
Top covering will help, but it has a long way to go, especially if it's a wet and humid summer.
Ah, should have mentioned I’m getting a top cover for sure. Long way to go, huh? Exactly what I didn’t want to hear. Appreciate it!
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,242
South Puget Sound, WA
I suspect the 40% wood was on the ground. For the fireplace, try to get it down to below 23%. Mix in some drier wood with it.
 

gzecc

Minister of Fire
Sep 24, 2008
4,923
NNJ
Separate the oak from the maple. Split them all smaller. Try the maple this year first, then try to burn the oak. I'd suspect it will be best stacked til Fall 2023. Maybe the trees were dead standing for 20 years.
I'd cross stack if possible.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
7,209
Northern NH
Look up the long post on solar kilns.
 

Caw

Minister of Fire
May 26, 2020
1,257
Massachusetts
The only way that oak would be ready is in a solar kiln. 40%+ is basically a green tree or a log that been sitting on the ground.

I burn mostly oak/maple up here in MA. I have 12 cords racked up in an ideal natural drying spot top covered, full mid day and afternoon sun, and facing the prevailing wind. My drying times for species are:

Red Oak - 2 years (3 is better)
Maple/Apple - 1 year
Cherry/Ash - 6 months

If a silar kiln wont work I'd echo what was said above. Separate the oak and maple then split everything a little smaller...around 3" splits...and the maple will likely be usable this winter and the oak the following season.

I'd also suggest continuing to stack as much as you can this year if you have the room. If you can let it sit for a few years racked you'll have some great wood eventually. That's what most of us here do or aspire to do! I personally have 12 cords out back so I'm 3 years ahead and it's a good feeling.

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Marconis

Member
Dec 13, 2021
44
NY
The only way that oak would be ready is in a solar kiln. 40%+ is basically a green tree or a log that been sitting on the ground.

I burn mostly oak/maple up here in MA. I have 12 cords racked up in an ideal natural drying spot top covered, full mid day and afternoon sun, and facing the prevailing wind. My drying times for species are:

Red Oak - 2 years (3 is better)
Maple/Apple - 1 year
Cherry/Ash - 6 months

If a silar kiln wont work I'd echo what was said above. Separate the oak and maple then split everything a little smaller...around 3" splits...and the maple will likely be usable this winter and the oak the following season.

I'd also suggest continuing to stack as much as you can this year if you have the room. If you can let it sit for a few years racked you'll have some great wood eventually. That's what most of us here do or aspire to do! I personally have 12 cords out back so I'm 3 years ahead and it's a good feeling.

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Thanks everyone for your input! Really appreciate it. Caw, are you just using tarps to cover the tops? I have been on Amazon all morning and can't find any good covers.
 

Caw

Minister of Fire
May 26, 2020
1,257
Massachusetts
Thanks everyone for your input! Really appreciate it. Caw, are you just using tarps to cover the tops? I have been on Amazon all morning and can't find any good covers.

Yeah just cheap tarps from Harbor Freight/Lowe's. They tend to last about 2 years them start to disintegrate from the sun but they are cheap so it's whatever. I have plans to build permanent roofing but with the cost of materials is on hold for now.

Another affordable option for smaller racks like your own are disposable shower curtains. Can get those for like $2 each. I use the tarps because my racks are 20' long each and that would be a lot of curtains!
 

gzecc

Minister of Fire
Sep 24, 2008
4,923
NNJ
Thanks everyone for your input! Really appreciate it. Caw, are you just using tarps to cover the tops? I have been on Amazon all morning and can't find any good covers.
Metal corrugated panels IMO are the best. Last forever!
 

Marconis

Member
Dec 13, 2021
44
NY
Cool, cool. I just bought a long brown tarp from Home Depot for $11; will cut it up for both racks. I hear ya on cost, half the reason I posted this thread was so I could cross my fingers and hope I wouldn't need to buy wood!
 

hickoryhoarder

Minister of Fire
Apr 5, 2013
718
Indiana
Similar to answers above. The oak probably won't be ready. The maple might be, or at least close.

I get pretty fast drying on red oak I split, but by fast I mean 24-30 months. Some pieces are ready in two years, and they can be seen/felt by fissures and weight. So I do start burning oak after 24 months, but there are lots of pieces that need a full 36 months.

Fire is a good teacher, and I learned quickly what a piece that's ready looks/feels like. It is not tricky -- I bat better than .998 on this.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Soft maple could be ready-ish to burn this winter. If you put up some white pine it should be dry. But you’ll need a lot of it, lol.

Split it small. Pallets are free and will be your friends. Burn whatcha got.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
2,433
SE North Carolina
Don’t turn your nose up at pine. It dries In a summer for me. But it will soak up any water that touches it just as fast.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
No nose turning from me! I love it! How many times on a cold evening do you wish you had a kick of heat, but if you reload now you will run short of heat at 3am? That’s when a load of pine is perfect. It’ll spike that heat and be gone, without coals, in time to reload for the overnight burn.
 

Marconis

Member
Dec 13, 2021
44
NY
Ain’t pretty, but this’ll do! I’m going back to get more wood to fill the full face on the one rack. Going to see if I can be selective and just grab maple or other instead of oak.

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bigealta

Minister of Fire
May 22, 2010
722
Utah, NJ
Ain’t pretty, but this’ll do! I’m going back to get more wood to fill the full face on the one rack. Going to see if I can be selective and just grab maple or other instead of oak.

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Get the Oak, it's much better than many maples, Yes it needs to dry longer but Oak is 1 of the Kings of firewood.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
7,209
Northern NH
IMHO direct covering piles with tarps without leaving an air gap will limit the drying speed.
 
Had an oak tree fall near a hunting stand I use years ago. I cut away all the small stuff and threw it in the woods to get access to the stand and two years later I went back and cut all the big logs that were suspended above the ground. They were all well above 40% even after being dead and down for 2 years. I should be able to burn some of it this winter finally after it’s been split and stacked in the windy bay of our barn for over two years.

Oak is slow to dry.
 

Caw

Minister of Fire
May 26, 2020
1,257
Massachusetts
Ain’t pretty, but this’ll do! I’m going back to get more wood to fill the full face on the one rack. Going to see if I can be selective and just grab maple or other instead of oak.

View attachment 296162 View attachment 296163

I suggest grabbing some tarp ties. Holds those down nicely. You can also buy clips for like $1 each that will clip onto the cut side where there are no grommets that will let you use the ties. I've been using them for years and they work well:

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IMHO direct covering piles with tarps without leaving an air gap will limit the drying speed.

I agree it's not the best but it's better than nothing imo. I've been doing it for a while with pretty good luck. Building a roof is cost prohibitive right now for me anyways.
 

ericm979

Burning Hunk
Nov 2, 2018
105
California
You can use pallets or scrap 2x4s to space the tarps up and out a bit so air gets under them and the tarp is not touching the splits. Sometimes there can be condensation on the underside of the tarp.
 

Caw

Minister of Fire
May 26, 2020
1,257
Massachusetts
You can use pallets or scrap 2x4s to space the tarps up and out a bit so air gets under them and the tarp is not touching the splits. Sometimes there can be condensation on the underside of the tarp.

Ahh I see what you mean. I actually have 2x4s under all my tarps too. Well, the most recent ones. I didn't know about that trick until last year.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
7,209
Northern NH
It makes a big difference to get air flow over the top of the stack. Pallets work only as long as the tarp does not overhang over the pallet blocking air flow. One way to do it if you have access to pallets is put one layer on top than another layer with a tarp that is folded up under between the pallets. Far better are these made out of scraps. I just use long deck screws to screw the uprights into the ends of the logs. I make sure there is tilt so that when snow builds up it slowly slides off. I got the scrap roofing from a building supply store, its used to ship good roofing to prevent it from shipping damage. Both of those covers have survived 2' of snow on top of them.

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Marconis

Member
Dec 13, 2021
44
NY
Thanks for the tips about the tarps. Never would have thought about that — I’ll figure out a way this week to get a gap in between.