Wood heating isn't free, the good life

maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
10,381
Nova Scotia
EDIT BG: Thread went way off topic (creosote dripping on roof) moved to continue discussion:

I doubt any wood is truly free, let alone less than free. Labor involved is worth something. Even though I enjoy processing wood, I am finding every year more things I would rather do with my time.
 
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Easy Livin’ 3000

Minister of Fire
Dec 23, 2015
2,663
SEPA
I doubt any wood is truly free, let alone less than free. Labor involved is worth something. Even though I enjoy processing wood, I am finding every year more things I would rather do with my time.
Yes, I was discounting my labor to zero because I figure it offsets the cost of the gym membership. Plus, being retired, I don't earn anything for my time anymore.

It's gotten to the point around here, so few people are heating with wood, the tree service guys ask me if I want any more whenever they are in the neighborhood. All I'd have to do is split and stack as much as I want. Even that is definitely labor though, to your point

But, I totally agree that it's becoming a real chore to process the wood. I guess I was at best neutral about the jobs until this year, but I'm starting to put it off longer and longer. I might need to start listening to music when I'm splitting and stacking. Maybe that would help a little.

Plus all that damn creosote dripping out of the chimney onto the roof!
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
You don't need to pay for a stinking Gym, come help me run hay if you want real exercise and it's free. I supply the water because you'll need as you work off those calories....lol

I wonder when the Gummit will decide bio-mass stoves will need 'cats' too.

Bad enough your ride has one on the exhaust system (and they wear out too).
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
81,729
South Puget Sound, WA
I doubt any wood is truly free, let alone less than free. Labor involved is worth something. Even though I enjoy processing wood, I am finding every year more things I would rather do with my time.
Free... after the truck, splitter, axes, mauls, peavies, saws, tractor, atv, shed, gasoline, PIP, and beer are paid for.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Scratch the beer here. I don't drink. Power Aid for me.
 

John Galt

New Member
Oct 22, 2019
24
W Montana
Free... after the truck, splitter, axes, mauls, peavies, saws, tractor, atv, shed, gasoline, PIP, and beer are paid for.
That's what I was thinking my first year... Free heat, it was great. Well, I should add the gas I used for the chainsaw, and the oil, and I bought the chainsaw, and the truck gas, chainsaw chaps, helmet, files, and a splitting axe. Well the second year it'll be free. Bought a peavy, pickaroon, the latest chain sharpener, maul, another gallon of oil, tractor, atv, oh and the $6 in gas. I'm set for the rest of my life. Except the new log splitter, skid steer, log grapple for the skid steer, latest chain sharpener. Once we get the new house at move in stage, I'll build a new wood shed, install the two new stoves and chimneys, buy more gas for the chainsaw :p and enjoy all of that free heat!!!!
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
................and all I have to do is pour free corn in my bio mass stove (I did have ti take one of the tractors down the road about a mile and pick up the guy's grain leg so I could auger it into my grain tank (*which I bought 20 years ago). Maybe a gallon of diesel fuel to get it back to the farm, auger in 4 ton of corn and take it back again.
 

Easy Livin’ 3000

Minister of Fire
Dec 23, 2015
2,663
SEPA
That's what I was thinking my first year... Free heat, it was great. Well, I should add the gas I used for the chainsaw, and the oil, and I bought the chainsaw, and the truck gas, chainsaw chaps, helmet, files, and a splitting axe. Well the second year it'll be free. Bought a peavy, pickaroon, the latest chain sharpener, maul, another gallon of oil, tractor, atv, oh and the $6 in gas. I'm set for the rest of my life. Except the new log splitter, skid steer, log grapple for the skid steer, latest chain sharpener. Once we get the new house at move in stage, I'll build a new wood shed, install the two new stoves and chimneys, buy more gas for the chainsaw :p and enjoy all of that free heat!!!!
I get it.

I've mostly resisted the strong desire to "gear up", but it's hard. Big chainsaw acquired with Marriott reward points. Small chainsaw gifted by a cowardly co-worker. Fiskars splitting axe picked up on clearance at Walwhatever. Most tarps are free from various sources. Landscape timbers are picked up when they are $2 on sale. Trailers were picked up free or received as a gift.

I've gone all out with the longer Fiskars axe and the Fiskars maul, and a corded electric chainsaw. The little electric splitter was bought for me as a quasi-gift, much labor was exchanged for it. And, the road trailer needs about $100 to get it back into roadworthy. But, it would be really easy to start dropping thousands, no, tens of thousands, on this.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
81,729
South Puget Sound, WA
................and all I have to do is pour free corn in my bio mass stove (I did have ti take one of the tractors down the road about a mile and pick up the guy's grain leg so I could auger it into my grain tank (*which I bought 20 years ago). Maybe a gallon of diesel fuel to get it back to the farm, auger in 4 ton of corn and take it back again.
This is a wood stove thread.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
81,729
South Puget Sound, WA
Folks make wood cutting as expensive as they want. In reality the price of cutting wood is cheap until your an old man.
If you have a woodlot on the property and are hail and hearty and have a lot of free time, maybe, but I'll bet there is some horsepower involved at some point.
 
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Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
539
SW Missoura
If you have a woodlot on the property and are hail and hearty and have a lot of free time, maybe, but I'll bet there is some horsepower involved at some point.
I have a lot of timber on my place, but honestly I can get wood from the state land that anyone in missouri can with a permit. And if you ask around enough....plenty of folks are more than happy to let you cut dead or unwanted trees if you ask enough folks. Hail and hearty lol.....I'm 5'9" and 160lbs. As far as time....and this is what gets me....when you cut wood you are getting paid...in firewood. Yeah it isn't franklins but you are getting a return. And I can normally get 4 cords cut and split in a month of weekend's. It's the stacking that gets me. As far as horsepower I use a saw and an old 96 dodge 2500. I do have a hydraulic splitter but I only use it for crotches, twisted stuff, and knot pieces. The stuff most folks just toss in the woods. The hydraulic splitter is slower but is nice for an older chap like my father. The point of my statement was you can spend all kinds of money on stuff to make cutting firewood easier but at the end of the day all you really need is some initiative, resourcfulness, and a saw and maul or axe.
 
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Easy Livin’ 3000

Minister of Fire
Dec 23, 2015
2,663
SEPA
Folks make wood cutting as expensive as they want. In reality the price of cutting wood is cheap until your an old man.
I'm getting old, or at least the monotony and soreness are getting old.

There is a book called The Good Life, about a couple who left the rat race to live off the land. The husband, Scott Nearing, at age 100, decided he was finished the day he couldn't bring wood in to heat the house. So, he stopped eating and let nature take it's course. I always found fascinating his gauge of life quality being measured by his ability to heat his own house with wood. On the other hand, he probably wouldn't have made it to that ripe old age if he hadn't been that way.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
81,729
South Puget Sound, WA
The Nearings were an incredible couple. The made a homestead off the grid in VT and then when it started getting popular and crowded, they started all over again in Maine.

This has turned into Inglenook material. It's a good topic, though.
 

tadmaz

Feeling the Heat
Dec 21, 2017
418
Erin, WI
Reminds me of deer hunting. Land, cabin, truck. Even just a nice rifle and scope, the price per pound of venison is very high. As for wood, I draw the line at a tractor, no tractor for me. Stove, chainsaw, splitter, truck that I already had. May never break even, just with that.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,024
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
Reminds me of deer hunting. Land, cabin, truck. Even just a nice rifle and scope, the price per pound of venison is very high. As for wood, I draw the line at a tractor, no tractor for me. Stove, chainsaw, splitter, truck that I already had. May never break even, just with that.
I'm hoping that the earlier claim of tractor and ATV were just hyperbole. Sure, if you already have these things you can use them to help with wood. I certainly don't own those things. Everything but the splitter I would have owned anyway.
 

Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
539
SW Missoura
Land, cabin, truck. Even just a nice rifle and scope, the price per pound of venison is very high.
Does Wisconsin not have public land for its citizens to hunt on? My property borders public land and I hunt on it quite a bit so my experience on cost to deer hunt might be skewed but plenty of folks hunt on it from all over the state.
 

Seasoned Oak

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2008
6,997
Eastern Central PA
Im burning as close to free as you can get. I used to have to haul waste wood from my profession out to the country and watch it flame into the sky (Makes a nice bonfire) or pay to dump it at a transfer station. Now it goes into one of 4 woodstoves instead.
20170507_125111_001.jpg 20160821_204349.jpg
 

Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
820
Palmyra, WI
I added up the costs I could think of once for processing wood, to the point of putting it in the stove. I had just gotten done cut split and delivering (to me) about 5cord of straight stem silver maple, over a couple days. By the time I added up milage on the truck, amortized time on the equipment (saw, splitter), gas oil, gave myself a minimum wage, surprising how the costs accumulated. To have someone else do it would also have cost, and what they charge isn't so they get rich, it's to cover their expenses, all of it. Cost accountants would have an issue with free wood.
 
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tadmaz

Feeling the Heat
Dec 21, 2017
418
Erin, WI
Does Wisconsin not have public land for its citizens to hunt on? My property borders public land and I hunt on it quite a bit so my experience on cost to deer hunt might be skewed but plenty of folks hunt on it from all over the state.
Most folks don't like tripping over random people in the woods and have private land themselves or have buddies with private land. All I'm saying is that I know of folks who have $160k of hunting land just for deer hunting, and trucks that are used mostly for getting to and from the hunting land. That is expensive venison. If someone didn't have a tractor and bought a tractor primarily for moving logs and firewood, I think that would be a bit much.
 
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Easy Livin’ 3000

Minister of Fire
Dec 23, 2015
2,663
SEPA
I added up the costs I could think of once for processing wood, to the point of putting it in the stove. I had just gotten done cut split and delivering (to me) about 5cord of straight stem silver maple, over a couple days. By the time I added up milage on the truck, amortized time on the equipment (saw, splitter), gas oil, gave myself a minimum wage, surprising how the costs accumulated. To have someone else do it would also have cost, and what they charge isn't so they get rich, it's to cover their expenses, all of it. Cost accountants would have an issue with free wood.
I agree with that from a cost accounting standpoint. Very few people amortize the stuff they use. But I think it's the right approach to be honest about the price.

On the other hand, you can consider it a hobby for most diy folks (I do). Additionally, what the hell am I going to do with all this wood if I don't cut it up and burn it? I'm sure most folks consider it waste and pay to haul it off.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
3,822
Downeast Maine
Wood can get really pricey really fast, but so can pretty much every other heat source. Energy is energy, it has to come from some thing. I tried to go it without a splitter, but my declining health refused. Now I have a decent hydraulic splitter, a tractor, and a few attachments, but I also have a lot of land to manage. Using the firewood is a part of managing the land to me. Our forest has a lot of dead growth, choked out areas, and little in the way of developed areas. Without a tractor I would never be able to deal with all of this stuff we have to do. Admittedly moving into the suburbs wouldn't have required land management, but that's another topic. I've slowly been carving out some useable space from around our house, and I'm using the trees as heating and cooking fuel since they had to come down anyway. Perhaps I could have sold the logs and bought heating oil or propane, but I find the wood is also a decent way to reduce my carbon footprint, hopefully.
 

Gearhead660

Member
Dec 20, 2018
220
WI
Many of the "tools" I own are not just for wood processing. Sure the axe, splitter, and saws are. But the other things that make it easier have many other uses for me. Managing land isn't cheap or easy, you need certain items to do it efficiently. Sure you can do nothing, and your land suffers. I have used a little more that 100 gallons of propane this season(from when I was not home and to heat DHW). Before I burned wood, I would go through an average of 300-400 gallons a month. That's a big cost savings for me, plus I get some time in the woods and processing wood with the kids. For some it may not pay, but for me it does.
 
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firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,052
Unity/Bangor, Maine
Like many other folks most of the tools and toys I use for processing wood were already bought and being used other than the hydraulic splitter. Chainsaw was a gift from my wife . . . although I have since replaced it with a larger saw. I've had an ATV for trail riding, plowing snow and working around the house for years and my truck was purchased back in 2010. It's still the cheapest way to heat my home . . . not to mention it offers other benefits such as heat when the power is out, nice views of the fire, etc.