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Wood For Winter, Part 2

Posted by on December 14, 2011

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Back in July there was an OSR post —

Are You Old School Enough To Swing An Ax?
Get Your Wood Now, Nancy Boy!

Now the much awaited part 2. The hundreds of Dinty Moore stew eatin’, Babe the Blue Ox chasin’ Canadian lumberjacks who have been waiting for this post may now resume working. I left you standing there with your chainsaw in hand (Stihl or Husqvarna) with a stack of logs at your feet, much like this guy…

Batman... if he was a lumberjack, four years old and my son

Splitting

An axe cuts wood into logs, but a chainsaw is much quicker.

A maul splits logs, but a log splitter is much quicker. If you’re splitting a few logs a week for your fire pit, use a maul. If you’re splitting ten or more cords a year (I anticipate burning about ten to twelve cords this winter) have a maul handy, but you will want a log splitter. OK, you might not want a log splitter. Me? I wanted one. Don’t think I’m going Nancy boy and letting myself off easy. It’s still work because logs that weigh fifty plus pounds don’t float into the splitter.

 

Mine is 30 ton. It’s on loan from the #1 father-in-law. This is a great situation: a multi-family log splitter. Rarely does a single family have the need for a 365/24/7 log splitter. No need to spend money twice when once would do. (Yes, I do realize how convenient  that is for me to type when I’m the one borrowing the splitter.) At a good pace a cord of wood can be split in an hour or two. Unless you’re Paul Bunyan — or I’m even wimpier than I thought I was… yes, an embarrassing possibility — that’s much easier and quicker than using a maul.

If you’re looking to buy a splitter, the best time for bargains on both new & used is the early spring.

Stacking the crib

The simplest way is to pick up some free wood pallets (See Craigslist: “free” and “pallets”) and load it up on there. The pallets keep the wood from getting wet from the ground. Stack it four feet tall, four feet wide and as long as your work ethic will hold out. Cover it up with a tarp to keep the rain off. While functional, this stacking method lacks the style of this one…

"If Andre The Giant played Jenga..."

Round stacks can be made many ways. Some are piles of wood with a stacked circular wall around them. Others like the Holz Hausen are more complicated. A Holz hausen, or “wood house”, is a circular method of stacking wood which results in accelerated drying and a small footprint. A traditional holz hausen has a 10-foot diameter, stands 10 feet high, and holds about 6 cords of wood. The walls are made of pieces arranged radially, and tilted slightly inward for stability. The inside pieces are stacked on end to form a chimney for air flow. The top pieces are tilted slightly outward to shed rain and are placed bark side up. If constructed correctly, this method of stacking can produce seasoned firewood in as little as three months. That and it looks wicked cool.

There’s not much more to say about
the whole “heating with wood” thing.

(There is more. Just not much more.)

It’s easy to get caught up in talk of BTUs, which maul is best, chainsaw brands, but what it comes down to is that a guy just has to get out and do it. And not just once. It’s a part of your life. And that’s one of the reasons…

…it’s so Old School.

At the risk of sounding like I’m about to go on a visionquest to find myself (I’m not), having wood & fire as part of life is good for several reasons.

  • If you heat your home or part of your home with wood, you have heat source that can be free (unlike gas and oil) if you don’t count the sweat equity. Free and sweat equity are Old School.
  • Wood heat, unlike an electric heat pump, has minimal or no electric requirements. This is huge if the power goes out in the winter. Wood heat used in a home with a heat pump allows the heat pump to function as a back-up source of warmth. If the wood heat fails or can’t be maintained for whatever reason, the heat pump kicks in. Being an Old School Man is being competent and prepared.
  • It’s a reason to get outdoors and get some exercise because that wood won’t split itself. Outdoor exercise is Old School.
  • Your wingmen (your sons) aren’t much help heating your home with gas, oil and electric. Wood keeps’em busy. I genuinely look forward to the few minutes a day I spend with my five year old son (and soon his younger brothers) at the furnace. I love it when I mention I’m going up to the furnace and he immediately says, “Can I go with you?” Awesome. Men naturally talk best with each other while we are doing something or focusing on a task. That’s just the way men are wired. The furnaces gives us some additional dad/son time as we toss wood on the fire. Wingmen are Old School.
  • Fire pits rule. Fire pits are Old School.
  • Fire wood can be free. Again, minus the sweat equity. Free is the equivalent of untaxed income. Legally sticking it to the taxman is Old School. 
  • It’s an excuse to buy a chainsaw.

Keep warm and keep it Old School, my friend

The Old Man, Chris Dixon

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