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Firewood Guide

Tips for cutting, storing and heating

There is nothing better than the comforting warmth of a fire. Whether on cold winter evenings snuggled in front of a Swedish stove or on warm summer nights with friends around a crackling campfire. Firewood often creates the most beautiful evenings. There are two ways to get it. Either you buy it or you cut it yourself. No matter which method you choose, we will provide you with the most important information!

1. Chain saw in action

In general, before using the chain saw it should be checked if all components of the saw, were screwed tightly and the chain brake worked correctly. In addition, you should pay attention that the chain is stretched. If the chain no longer cut properly, it should be sharpened gently before the use with the help of a saw chain grinder.

 

1.1 Types of chain saws

Basically, now three common chainsaw types are differentiated:

Cordless chain saw

A cordless chain saw with sufficient battery power is handy, powerful and also safer for your hearing. Especially when you are wood working in the garden, this quiet chainsaw will be a sensible alternative to the petrol chainsaw. In addition, it is environmentally friendly because it doesn´t produce exhaust gases. Furthermore you need less physical strength for longer working hours, because of its little weight.

When choosing the battery, we would recommend 2x 5,2 Ah batteries, to be able to cut firewood without any problems and over a longer period of time. Our chain saw GE-LC 36/35, for example, has a speed of 15 m / s and is assigned to class 1. Thus it is able to cut even larger logs without any problems.

Petrol chain saw

A petrol chain saw, on the other hand, impresses with its performance. Both, the engine power and the rotation speed of the petrol chain saw are clearly superior to those of the cordless- and electric- chainsaw. In addition, its range is unlimited, because you are not dependent on a socket. However, in contrast to the cordless chain saw, the noise level under strain can quickly reach a value of over 100 db (A).

Electric chain saw

An electric chain saw is very easy to use unlike the other two chainsaw types. All you have to do is fill in the chain lubrication oil and plug the cable into the socket. It causes no pollution through exhaust gases and it is the cheapest alternative, compared to gasoline and cordless chainsaw.

However, the electric chain saw is not recommended for use in difficult terrain, as you always need a power source in the immediate surrounding area.

1.2 The safety clothes

Of course, for the proper use of the chain saw, an adequate protective clothing is necessary.

Therefore, we can recommend a cut protection trouser. It protects the front leg area from injuries. It does not matter hereby if you work with a cordless-, petrol- or electric chain saw.

While wood working in the forest, wearing a safety helmet is also recommended. It protects against falling branches, offers, with the right choice of the helmet, sufficient hearing protection and additionally will gain good visibility, if you decide for a bright helmet colour.

Furthermore, a cut protection jacket and work gloves can be worn.

1.3 Legal foundations

Not only the safety clothing plays an important role in cutting wood. The legal requirements shouldn´t be forgotten.
For example, according to § 39 (5) of the Federal Nature Conservation Act, it is stipulated that trees that are outside the forest or on horticulturally used land, as well as hedges, shrubs and other woody plants, may not be felled between March 1st and September 30th. This applies to the bird protection, because at this time birds nest in the trees. Only with permission trees may be felled during this period. Gentle form and care cuts to eliminate the growth of the plants or to maintain the health of the trees, however, are permitted.
If you wanted to cut down trees, this should be best done between November and February, because during this time the wood contains only a little water and thus requires shorter drying times.                                         You´ll be on the safe side, if you look up the local legal requirements. Furthermore individual regulatory points may vary from municipality to municipality.

1.4 Cutting firewood by yourself in the forest

In the future, of course, you can venture the way into the forest yourself. For this you only need a sensible chain saw, the appropriate occupational safety and not to forget the so-called "chainsaw driver's license". This certificate can be obtained either at the community college or the forester in a two-day course. However, before you go into the forest, talk to the local forest ranger or take part in a so-called firewood auction. When these events take place, you will usually find them on your community´s website.

1.5 Which wood is suitable for what?

At first you should know, that not all woods are treated equaly. At the latest when you search for prices for the firewood, you will get different prices depending on the type of wood. The rule of thumb here is that the higher the calorific value of the material, the higher the price per cubic meter.

Interestingly, one does not differentiate between coniferous and deciduous wood but between soft- and hardwood when choosing the right kind of firewood. Woods with a dry matter density of more than 550 kg / m3 are classified as hardwoods. Under this value it is referred to as softwoods. The advantage of hardwood is its long burning time, which requires less wood, but produces more ashes than softwoods. However, softwoods develop a higher combustion temperature due to the lower wood density. Basically every tree species has its advantages and disadvantages:

Beech and oak

Beech and oak are probably one of the most classical types of firewood. Due to their comparatively high calorific value, these woods burn with a beautiful flame pattern and a pleasant smell. Beech wood is also suitable for all kinds of stoves. Therefore these types of wood are very popular but very expensive as well. Among other things, this is due to the long drying time these woods need.

Spruce

Spruce wood burns off very quickly compared to other types of wood. Due to its high content of resins, this wood reaches a high temperature very quickly. However, spruce wood is unsuitable for the use in open fireplaces, the resin bubbles in the wood burst quickly and the embers splash around. The resin pollutes both the fireplace panel and the chimney. Therefore, spruce wood is mainly used for heating up storage ovens or wood gasification boilers.

Birch

The birch wood is probably the most attractive firewood. Due to its white bark, birch wood looks more beautiful than all the other types of wood. Due to the essential oils contained in the birch wood, the wood burns bluish with a pleasant smell.

2. Cutting firewood

After a successful tree fall, it is now time to take the further steps in processing of the wood.

2.1 Chain saw

First, the tree is now delimbed with the chain saw. The chain saw should always be placed sideways to your body while cutting. If you slip off you´ll avoid falling into the chainsaw. The main stem is now sawed for transport in about 1m pieces. Likewise, the larger branches are sawed.

Later put the logs on a log splitter and split them twice. Here, the stem is rotated 90 degrees after the first column, before it is split again. This results in the end four equal, 1m long wood pieces. Alternatively, you can also use a wedge to split the wood or place the trunk on a chain saw trestle. Then, as with the wood splitter, the wood piece is sawed twice in length with the chainsaw.

The trunks have now the size of the branches and can be stored for drying. (see storage) After a suitable drying time, the wood is cut with the table saw into finished firewood logs.

2.2 Table saw

When crushing the logs with the table saw, the choice of saw blade plays an important role. Hereby the saw blade depends on the type of wood. 
If you want to use the wood as firewood later, you´ll intend to cut it with the least possible effort. The fineness of the cut is therefore rather secondary. Accordingly, CV (chrome vanadium) saw blades can be used without any concern. Completely made of steel, easy to regrind and relatively cheap, these can be purchased in hardware stores. For longitudinal cuts in solid woods, coarse saw blades with few teeth are suitable. If trunks are sawn across, a fine saw blade should be used where the edges are less likely to tear.

2.3 Shredder / axe

The branches can be processed to wood chips with the help of a shredder and later serve as mulch. Alternatively, these can also be crushed with an ax, then dried and can later act as a kindling aid.

3. Buying firewood

3.1 Sources of supply

You can obtain firewood from different sources, but if you used the chimney the first year, you should use wood that has already been aged for at least two years with a residual moisture content of 14%. Of course, if you like it comfortably, you can buy it in the hardware store at comparatively high prices. Better quality and above all, better prices you´ll get however from local dealers. They advertise frequently in the well-known advertisement portals on the Internet and supply you also short-term. Usually they are private individuals who source the wood from the forest as a sideline and prepare it accordingly.

3.2 Measurement units for firewood

Those who catch up on firewood prices for the first time will stumble over cryptically sounding measurement units at first glance. These might  be confusing at first time, but quite fast to understand.

Loose cubic metre (lcm)

A loose cubic metre is the amount of wood that can be thrown into a container measuring 1x1x1 meters. Here the logs aren´t stacked and thus it is compared to the cubic metre more cavities in the delivery.

Cubic metre (cm)

A cubic meter of wood is exactly the amount of ready-cut firewood, which can be stacked exactly one meter high on an area of 1 x 1 meter. Through the stacking is relatively little cavity between the logs.

Solid cubic meter (scm)

A solid cubic meter is a theoretical cube made of solid wood with an edge length of exactly one meter. To determine a cubic meter, the log is measured and the volume is calculated. Accordingly, there are no cavities existing be the solid cubic metre.

4. The storage

Freshly cut wood usually has a moisture content of about 50 to 65%. It should therefore be stored until a value of less than 20% is reached. When burning it earlier, hazardous pollutants may be released and soot may form in the furnace or chimney.

Coniferous woods have a drying time of about 12 months. While deciduous woods have a optimal storage time of about 3 years. In addition, make sure that the wood is not stored too long, otherwise the calorific value drops annually by 5% from the 5th year of storage.

Furthermore, firewood should be stored in rooms with circulating air to prevent rot. Therefore, garage and cellar are rather less suitable as storage location. In addition, the wood shouldn´t have direct contact with the ground, as the woods could otherwise absorb the ground wetness. A tarpaulin or at best a roof should protect the wood from bad weather. Thus, a firewood rack could be a possible solution, because it meets all the requirements just mentioned. (left photo)

A cheaper alternative can be seen on the right side of the picture. Stone blocks and a frame made from longer logs build the foundation for this method. Then the medium-sized branches and the split logs are erected on this. On the sides, approx. 5 woodlogs should be placed side by side. After each layer, the woods are arranged exactly opposite. This results in stable columns on both sides and the round branches can easily fill the void in the middle. Finally, the construction is covered with a corrugated iron or tarpaulin. The weather protection should still be fixed with stones or something similar.

5. Heating up - How is the stove properly heated?

The heating up of a stove also needs to be learned. It depends on the right order.

But before you can start filling up the chimney with firewood, the ashes should be removed. When that is done, the stove can be filled in the classic way.

 

5.1 Tiled stove

The first step by filling up a tiled stove is to put the lighter into the oven. In the video you can learn how to easily build a wood lighter by yourself with residual wood.

Alternatively, commercially purchased firing aids, but also small pieces of wood and branches are suitable. Then a few larger logs are put into the oven. There shouldn't be erected too many large logs, as the fireplace should heat up slowly and donate constant heat. If too much wood is in the oven, it will heat up too quickly, which is bad for the life of the tiled stove. When the filling process is finished, the kindling can be lit in the bottom of the stove.

 

5.2 Modern stoves

In modern stoves, however, it is recommended to light up the fireplace from above. By this method the fireplace gets filled exactly the opposite way. Below, the big wood logs are stacked and then, e.g. wood wool and the kindling wood are erected. This variant is also recommended by the chimney sweep, as the stove can heat up slowly with this method and thus no unnecessary wear of the glass pane and the combustion chamber is created.

With these tips and tricks I wish you nice, pleasant evenings. :)

Your Silvana

 

AuthorSilvana Muhr
Reading time12 minutes

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