Category Archives: Firewood Tips

How To Make Sure You Always Have Dry Firewood

I hear it a lot from firewood buyers, it is hard to find a good reliable source of dry firewood in the area. It is an all too common story. People say they order wood from someone who assures them it will by dry, but when they get it, they are disappointed that it is anything but dry. Then they have to spend the rest of the winter trying to burn wet wood.

A lot of firewood dealers may not care that what they are selling is not dry. Many just don’t want to hold onto their inventory for a full year to let it dry before they can sell it. But lot of suppliers may not even realize their wood is not dry. Many people who sell firewood are just trying to make extra money and they really don’t know what they are doing. They don’t know if the wood is fully seasoned or not or even what a full cord is. They just happen to be someone with a chainsaw, a pickup, and a source of wood and they need the money.

The Solution

Firewood is a great way to heat your home, but if you do choose this source of heat, realize that you are going to have to take charge a little if you want to have a steady supply of dry wood. Most people wait until the last minute and start looking for dry wood in the late summer or fall, and some wait until after it is cold and they needed it yesterday. But my more experienced customers know not to follow the masses. Instead, they buy their wood in the spring or early summer when most people are not even thinking about firewood.

They do this because they know that if they buy it then, it will then have plenty of time to dry before winter. So it doesn’t matter if I bring them wet or green wood. Most of them actually prefer to buy it green because green wood costs less, it is usually cleaner, with fewer bugs, mold and fungus. And since fewer people are buying early in the year, you can get it when supplies are more available and when the weather is more favourable in the woods for cutters to be producing wood.

If  you want dry wood, spring or early summer is the best time to buy. It is great to give wood a full year to dry, but most wood only needs a summer to dry since it does most of its drying in warm dry weather. Some prefer to only let it dry over the summer and avoid having damp wood sitting around all winter where it can attract bugs and debris to later bring into your home.

Either way is good, as long as you are giving it at least a full summer to dry and have a good place to dry it. Otherwise you are taking a big gamble expecting firewood dealers to bring you dry wood at the last minute.

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Why it is So Hard To Find Reliable Dry Firewood For Sale

I sold out of dry wood early in the summer last year, so I didn’t have dry wood available for those who usually buy it before winter. I just didn’t cut as much wood early in the year to dry last year, since I had other business to tend to. This is the nature of the firewood business. Supplies of dry wood will not always be reliable.

Firewood is not usually a mass produced commodity. Electricity,  natural gas, oil, and even wood pellets have well established nation wide and world wide distribution systems. This makes these commodities always available on demand. This is not at all the case with firewood. Firewood is a product that is usually produced by local small operations, sometimes one person doing it just because they are out of work or to make extra money. It is a tough business to be in and most suppliers will come and go. You may find a reliable source for a while, but they probably won’t last forever.

In order to bring you dry wood, a wood cutter will have to cut large amounts of wood months ahead of time, and then wait for it to dry before it can be sold, and before they can make a dime on it. Most cutters are more interested in paying the bills now and aren’t going to cut and split that much wood knowing they won’t be paid for many months or a year later. And huge piles of wood in a wood yard don’t dry nearly as fast as a small amount stacked at your home will. It is hard to get good air circulation in a big pile of wood to dry it.

How to Get Seasoned Firewood – There is Still Time

Here in late August of 2010, of I am sold out of dry firewood. Now many people are scrambling at the last minute trying to find dry firewood as the cold days of winter will soon be arriving. Hopefully you are not one of them, but if you are, I know it can sometimes be hard to find dry wood this time of year.

Many firewood dealers advertise seasoned wood and sometimes you can get lucky and what they deliver will be dry. But it’s all too common that what is delivered will be other than dry. Not all wood cutters are trying to rip you off when they bring you wood that is not fully seasoned. Many of them may not know that it is still wet. Many wood cutters are just someone with access to some wood, a pickup and a chainsaw. They may not even burn wood themselves or know much about burning wood. They are just someone who has found a way to make a buck and are in no way firewood burning savvy.

Depending on some of these guys to bring you dry wood right before it is time to burn, can be a big gamble. I hear tons of stories from customers about how they had a hard time all winter trying to burn wet wood that someone told them was dry. This is a very common problem with firewood dealers and will not likely go away any time soon. And sometimes, like in my case this year, I just don’t have dry firewood available to sell.

How to Have Seasoned Firewood Every Year

There is a simple solution to this problem that many of my customers have learned. They have learned how to get seasoned firewood every year regardless of what a wood cutter brings them. Many actually prefer to buy green firewood since it often makes better quality wood and usually costs less to buy. Green firewood is usually cleaner, has less decay, insects, mold and other types of fungus.

The key they have discovered is to buy it a year ahead of the time when they plan to burn it. Now in the fall or earlier in the summer they buy green wood when everyone else is trying to find dry wood. They are not buying it for this winter, but for the following winter. This way it has a full year to season and dry.

You may be having a hard time finding dry wood for this winter, but you can ensure you will not have that problem next year if you buy green wood this fall. That may not help you out this year but once you get in the habit of buying your firewood a year in advance, you will no longer have to worry about whether or not your winter supply of firewood will be dry or not.

Buy Green Humboldt County Firewood

How to Make Lumber out of Firewood

This is a video I found of a guy showing you how to make lumber out of firewood. I have not tried this but if you wanted some small pieces of lumber I can see that it would work. This might be good if you had some firewood made from a good quality hardwood and wanted it to make a small project.

This guy uses a jointer and a bandsaw but there are other cutting tools you could use to cut a piece of firewood into lumber. After you have some flat edges a table saw would probably work well to rip it into boards.

With any of this be very careful. Working with these irregular shaped pieces can be dangerous with power cutting tools so I suggest you not try this if you are not experienced and qualified. Actually I should take my liability disclaimer a step further and say don’t ever do this, ever, it’s too dangerous.

How to Start a Fire Quickly Even With Wet Wood

As a kid growing up in Oregon, my grandfather used to take me fishing and camping and one wise thing he taught me was how to start a fire quickly even when everything is wet. He used to take me hiking to a remote place at the river to catch winter steelhead and in the winter it was cold and sometimes rainy and he knew that making sure I could start a fire if I got lost or in trouble was very important.

At a young age he taught me to always have a road flare in my backpack when going out in the wild like that. A road flare lights like a match and will burn with a hot flame for a long time. Once it is lit you can start putting dead branches or other dead wood into and around the flame. With a 15 minute flare even if the wood is soaked there is enough time for the hot flames to dry the wood and get it to burn.

If you don’t have dead wood available live wood can work too. It is more difficult to get green wood to burn but if you start putting small twigs in and around the hot flame from the flare they will eventually burn. Leaving the leaves and needles on the twigs can help since they dry out and ignite faster. It is much more difficult with green wood so always go for the dead wood if available.

Keep plenty of wood accumulated around the flame from the flare to make a hot core of burning wood as soon as possible and that will be hot enough to support the fire after the flare goes out. Place the wood so it holds in heat but can still get good air circulation to supply the fire with plenty oxygen. The tee pee shape can work good for this. Once you get a good hot core of burning wood with a bed of coals you can throw just about any kind of wood on it and it will burn.

It have heard stories of people going out in the snow and kids going on family outings and a kid or even an adult gets separated and lost and freezes to death. If they had a flare and were taught how to use it, it may have saved their lives.

Any time I am out in the wild in cold weather I always have at least one flare in my pack or at least in my vehicle if I know I am not going far away from it. It is a good habit to get into and something that is good to teach your kids. A road flare is very inexpensive and having one on hand may save your life.

How to Split Firewood Using Only a Small Folding Handsaw

In this video you will learn how to split firewood using only a small folding handsaw. This technique could be useful for backpacking or survival situations. The man in this video claims that he would rather pack a light saw than an ax. An ax is heavy and dangerous but a saw is safer to use and more versatile. He will also show you at the end of the video the proper way to use a hand saw so you can cut for a long time without getting tired.

To split firewood with a handsaw, make a cross cut in the middle of the log about half way through. Then hit the cut area of the log against a hard surface like a tree, rock,stump, log etc. The cut spot makes a weak spot where the log will split down the middle since it is easier for the log to split than break across the grain.

In the video he explains that if you are in a survival situation and you are tired, dehydrated or otherwise not performing at your best, an ax is especially dangerous and difficult to use. In a situation where you were injured and unable to swing an ax, the saw technique would probably be easier if you needed to split your firewood into kindling to get a fire stated.

Why Modern Wood Splitting Mauls Suck

If you are looking for a new wood splitting maul, beware of modern mauls. The design of traditional style 6 and 8 lb. mauls have changed in recent years. Apparently the engineers who are designing splitting mauls, don’t spend a lot of time splitting firewood. In every store I have looked at, they all have this new inferior design.

With the old style splitting mauls there was a fairly consistent narrow taper from the tip back. Much wider than an ax of course, but still relatively narrow. But with the new mauls, the tip has a very blunt angle right at the tip. Then back a half inch or so, it goes to the more normal narrow taper. If anything, this is the exact opposite of how a maul should be made if you want it to split wood. With this blunt angle, trying to split wood with the new mauls is only a little better than hitting the wood with blunt sledge.

If you have any old splitting mauls that are actually good for splitting wood, you might want to save the heads when the handles wear out. You will probably be better off replacing the handle instead of buying a new maul. Or if you don’t have a good maul, you may be able to shape the new maul into a usable shape if you have a good grinder and plenty of patience. But this will require removing a lot of metal.

To the splitting maul manufacturers, please start building splitting mauls that are actually good for splitting firewood.


How to Ensure The Firewood You Buy is Truly Seasoned

I am hearing many stories from people who are buying firewood that they are being told is seasoned but it’s not actually dry. Some are buying dry wood from me after they already thought they had a supply for the winter because the wood they got from another source really isn’t dry the way they were told it would be.

There are many firewood suppliers that bring logs into the area and let the logs season for a while and then cut them up into firewood. The problem is whole logs don’t dry out very well especially in a cool foggy climate. Whole logs can hold a lot of moisture inside for a very long time. It’s not until they are cut up into firewood size pieces that the moisture in them will easily evaporate. In order for the wood to truly be dry it needs to be first cut and split and then let it season.

Before you decide to buy seasoned firewood from someone make sure it has been seasoned after it was cut into firewood and not seasoned as whole logs. If not your firewood may produce more steam than heat.