Cutting Winter Firewood

 
  From the November 6, 2017 Issue of Agri-News
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 While hard work, preparing firewood for winter use can be very rewarding for those who use wood as a source of main or supplemental home heating.

“Depending on the cost of current competitive energy sources (mostly natural gas), firewood can provide some savings if you are using dry wood and an efficient wood stove,” says Toso Bozic, bioenergy/agroforestry specialist, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

However, even for those not in the commercial firewood business and who just use the wood for personal use, there are few things to consider including firewood source, harvesting, drying/seasoning, storage and use. “Even if you decide to just cut trees for your own use you must be prepared for hard work that will last several hours, to work outside in colder weather conditions, and you must have equipment for cutting, splitting and transporting firewood.”

Bozic says the first trees to choose are those trees that have already fallen and laying on the ground that are very dry. “You’ll probably need to remove the tree limbs before taking them to where you want cut them for firewood. If you are planning to make a trail through the trees, the ones you cut for the trail are the next in line to use for firewood. Last choice is trees that are healthy and green - there is no need to use those trees for firewood unless you have to. Another source of firewood could be slabs and scrap lumber from local sawmills or even wood from landfill facilities if they are clean and free of contamination. Never use pressure treated wood or any other chemically contaminated wood such as plywood, oriental strand board (OSB), or rotten wood.”

When harvesting trees, the most important thing to keep in mind is safety.

“If you have never used a chainsaw, or split wood or used other harvesting equipment, I would strongly suggest take a safety course,” says Bozic. “And, as using a chainsaw and working in a forest is very dangerous work, you can always hire a professional timber harvester to do the job for you. Using a chainsaw is a major cause of accidents among professional loggers as well as hobby loggers.”

Safety steps when cutting trees include accessing the hazards, identifying where the tree will fall, cutting and clearing around the tree, determining an escape route, deciding what cuts to make and always remembering to look up. All equipment used must be setup properly and will often require more than one person to operate.

“Once you cut trees to the length, you need to transport them to your yard or place where you’ll cut the trees to firewood length. Please keep your logs off the ground as they can get dirty or freeze in winter time.”

When splitting by hand, it is not uncommon to run across twisted pieces of wood that defy splitting. Bozic says you may leave these pieces as they are also hard to split by maul. “There are many different types of mechanical log splitter but they can be grouped into those run by using electricity, gasoline or powered by using tractor or skids. Depending how much firewood you will you use annually, it could be the most important piece of equipment that you need to buy. Firewood processors are for people who are in firewood as a business. Don’t buy larger and bigger equipment then you really need.”

Bozic adds that it is vital to not bring any firewood into Alberta from other provinces due to insect and disease problems.

Contact:
Toso Bozic
780-415-2681

 
 
 
 
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Toso Bozic.
This document is maintained by Ken Blackley.
This information published to the web on October 18, 2017.