Ice storm tree down

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Mike N
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Re: Ice storm tree down

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Well, 3 more hours of splitting tonight and we’re finally down to the last 5 big rounds. I’d estimate each of those 5 at around 150 lbs or so. I’ll adjust the log splitter from horizontal to vertical and split those big rounds downward on the ground rather than lifting them up to the table.

The ice storm tree down saga is hopefully coming to a close this weekend if the weathers abides. Two wagon loads split and stacked tight is just under a face cord, especially for some of the irregular, rougher cuts of crotch wood (where the trunk branches out), as you can see below. I prefer to put the better splits on the bottom of the pile for stability, and the put a row of the shorter cuts running the opposite direction about halfway up, then go back to stacking in the original direction.





From this:


To this:
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Re: Ice storm tree down

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Switched the log splitter to vertical/downward so I didn’t have to lift the large rounds up to the table. Once they were split to a manageable size, I switched back to horizontal splitting which allowed me to stand up straight. It was snowing a bit, so spring is arriving fitfully.




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Re: Ice storm tree down

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There’s some debate about whether it’s really worthwhile covering your firewood, especially during the summer. The no-cover crowd says it traps moisture trying to escape and prevents direct sunlight from hitting the wood, while the other side says uncovered firewood can re-absorb moisture from rain etc.

From my experience the key things for drying firewood are to have it up off the ground and on the southern or western side of a building in an area with good air flow. As I posted earlier, I’ve already top-tarped several face cords like I usually do. I think I’ll leave the face cord shown below that I just stacked uncovered (as you can see we got a light dusting of snow today) then check both with a moisture meter in early fall. I’ll also check them for a base moisture reading this week.

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Re: Ice storm tree down

Post by RonG »

Now that's a nice pile of wood. You'll be ready for next winter.
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Re: Ice storm tree down

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One inevitable by-product of splitting is “chunks” and small pieces that don’t stack well. After they dry out I usually hand split these again with an axe to make fire-starting kindling.

To store these chunks this year I bought a 32-gallon galvanized steel garbage can with a lid for $30 at Home Depot yesterday. I used a key hole 1-1/4” bit (shown below) to cut two rows of aeration holes every 8 inches. I drilled 5 perimeter and 2 center smaller holes in the bottom —which are big enough for moisture drainage but small enough to prevent mice from getting in up thru the bottom. I put the can on two scrap pieces of pressure treated 4x4s I had lying around. It resembles an old country burn barrel and I’m hopeful it acts as a kiln to really dry these pieces well. The sun hitting that steel can should really dry what’s in it.




Smaller drain holes drilled in bottom of can…
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Re: Ice storm tree down

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The firewood produced by that downed cherry tree smells as good as it looks. I highly recommend the firewood carrier on the left, next to the chimney bump out.

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Re: Ice storm tree down

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I mentioned that most wood burner experts want to see firewood below 20% moisture content before burning. This prevents the loss of energy from “boiling” the moisture out in the fireplace and is less likely to lead to creosote build-up in the chimney which can lead to chimney fires.

Here are a few measurements I took today with the battery operated, pronged moisture meter. Cherry dries much faster than say oak and all these are cherry.

1.) Cherry that has been under a tarp for over a year tested at 4% moisture.



2.) The cherry wood I stacked under a tarp 3-4 weeks ago is already down to 11%.


3.) The cherry wood I stacked last week and did NOT tarp measured 28% and 25% today (two samples).

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Re: Ice storm tree down

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How deep do those prongs penetrate?
Love those Open Face Spinning Reels! (Especially ABU & ABU/Zebco)

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Re: Ice storm tree down

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Midway Tommy D wrote: Sun Apr 03, 2022 10:12 pm How deep do those prongs penetrate?
The prongs measure 1/2” and with a firm push (and no bark) you usually get them in about 1/8 to 1/4”. I split small pieces, but for a large chunk of firewood you should probably split it again and measure the center. One guide I read said the prongs needs to go in at least 1mm (about 1/32”) to be accurate.

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Re: Ice storm tree down

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The 20’x10’ side cement patio is full but there are still several trees down in the woods above the house. I spit some more rounds and used a rack you can order on eBay. They come as two end supports and you add two 10’ pressure treated 2”x4”s. A face cord is normally only 8’ long.

I like to lift the racks that are in the grass and not on the cement slab further off the ground for airflow using two cement blocks under the 2x4 rails. The problem is that I had a rack like this tip over in the heavy snow a few years ago, so now I drive in a 6’ steel fence post and secure each end of the rack with bailing wire for better stability (see third photo).




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Re: Ice storm tree down

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I pulled the last fallen white oak tree out of the bass pond and rounded it up.




And that white oak, which takes a year or so to season, is now split for 2024.
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Re: Ice storm tree down

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The house and cabin are all stocked with firewood for next year, so I moved the log splitter down to my version of a wood yard near the lower pond. I keep a 2” tow hitch ball on my pickup and my tractor to move the splitter. This new location is out of the way and allows me to stack and dry wood for burning two years from now. As I find trees down on the property as the weather warms I’ll cut them into rounds and then split them as time permits.

Unless I run in to bigger wood, I typically use a Stihl MS 251 with an 18” bar to cut up rounds. It’s plenty of saw for the firewood I typically cut: cherry, white oak, red oak and maple, and it’s light enough not to tire me out.




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Re: Ice storm tree down

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I cut up a few rounds of red oak this evening and split it. Red oak is heavy and dense, and tough to split, and has a very, very high moisture content as you can see from the photos below. Between the bark and the first level of pulpwood it almost has a slime coating. It’s tough to dry also so I split it small to expose as much surface area as possible to the sun and air. But it burns hot at 24.6 million BTUs per cord, so it is prized by wood burners.



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Re: Ice storm tree down

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The toughest part of any round to split is a “crotch,” where a tree branches out. See photo below. This type of wood is incredibly twisted and dense, as a part of a tree grows and literally tries to hang on for its life to the main trunk. But because it is so dense it burns very hot. When you put a piece of a crotch under 30 tons of pressure it’s quite dangerous because when you complete the split it sometimes “explodes” off the splitter rail. It’s also tough to stack because it’s not a nice, clean split.




If you look closely at the top few rows of the stack on the left, you can see how “stringy” red oak splits can be, unlike a straight grain wood like cherry, on top of the stack on the right.
.


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Re: Ice storm tree down

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Fascinating.
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Re: Ice storm tree down

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Oh what 3 days in warm, sunny weather can do to moisture content if you split the firewood small. I didn’t measure the difference with a moisture meter, but you can see the difference with the naked eye in the before and after photos below:




Same thing with the difficult crotch firewood:

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Re: Ice storm tree down

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Fascinating.
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Re: Ice storm tree down

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54bullseye wrote: Thu Apr 28, 2022 4:02 am Fascinating.
Glad you like it. A lot more fascinating firewood facts on the way. Stay tuned.


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Re: Ice storm tree down

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NFLCC President George Chrisman, in town for a tackle show, made a side trip to check out the cabin, waterfall and ponds. Photo by Matt Wickham.

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Re: Ice storm tree down

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The hillside is drying out which allowed me to buck up some rounds from a big oak tree that fell above the cabin. The tree started to get to over 20” diameter as I cut towards the root ball. I did keep one eye out on that giant root ball just in case it decided to slide on down the hill.





The old timers used an axe or a handmade wooden wedge in the cut to make sure their chain didn’t get pinched. Now we use plastic felling wedges which don’t ruin your chain if you saw into them by accident.




I always wear chain saw chaps and steel toe shoes. A guy was telling me he inadvertently sawed into his chain saw pants a few years ago, and it stopped the chain dead. It left a deep bruise on his thigh but it was better than losing a leg. Of course, hearing and eye protection are a must as is a helmet if branches are overhead.



My Stihl MS251C (46cc) with an 18” bar was a bit underpowered for this tree. The heavy duty cable ties on the saw help me measure out 16” consistent rounds with bright yellow tape on the ends so I can see it. I picked that trick up from a guy in Wisconsin who has a channel on YouTube under “In the Wood Yard.”

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Re: Ice storm tree down

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I picked up a couple of vintage raised panel doors at a flea market a few weekends ago and with some 2x4’s, treated 4x4’s, and scrap plywood I had laying around, my son and I built this storage shelf at the cabin for the chainsaws in about 90 minutes. I just didn’t want a big box store steel shelving unit.




By the way, that box on the bottom shelf is an old egg delivery crate from Bangor, Maine. I picked it up for $20 from the same flea market seller and will use it to store work gloves, new chains etc. I love vintage wood boxes.



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Re: Ice storm tree down

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I split some of those rounds this evening and brought them up near the house to stack and dry.


The house is built into a hillside and I’m always relieved after I survive mowing the incline,which I’ve done 3x a year for 30 years— always straight up and straight down to prevent a tractor rollover.


The excavator took these large rocks out while digging the house foundation in 1995, and they’ve acted as a sort of guardrail ever since. The mountain in the background is an 1,100 acre sportsman club where I’m a life member.
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Re: Ice storm tree down

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Enjoying the thread. I’m now in the East surrounded by hardwoods, after a couple decades surrounded by softwoods. That red oak sure smells nice burning -like cinnamon.

There is a large tree that has died in the backyard of my new place. It’s actually right next to my woodshed (leaning away). Wouldn’t you know it’s an aspen. It would be easy to split but would it be worth the effort? Looks like it’ll stand for some time yet but it couldn’t be in a handier location.
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The gravel road down to the ponds kept getting ruts after heavy rains so my buddy put in a cement catch basin today to pipe the water under the road and over the hill. I should have done this years ago,



When I came back up to the house I noticed a deer standing on the rocks by the bird feeder. The second photo shows why. A hour later the mother and fawn walked away quietly.



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Re: Ice storm tree down

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Amazing nature can be seen when you least expect it.
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