Firewood Stories from our readers
“A house is no home unless it contains food
and fire for the mind as well as for the body.”
~~ Margaret Fuller ~~
Wow!! Ask and you shall receive, and ‘boy’ did I ever. Obviously I struck a chord. Little did Jan’s cousin, Søren Tellerup Nielsen know what he would start when he sent us his firewood pictures from the cold of Denmark. I’ve received photos, poems, stories and wise words. Please enjoy, as I have. And thank you to everyone who took the time to share.
- A Few Thoughts by Tom Burch
- The Coolest Bobcat Attachment You'll Ever See by Bob Pearce
- Quote and Photo submitted by Dean Ross
- 2 photo's of how I deal with a lot of firewood by Michael
- Ideal Firewood - by Robert
- More Than a Just a Fire by Britney Zelmer
- An old timer I use to heat my workshop by Dave Jack
- Best Fire = with my best friend by Jessica Laudien
- Firewood Tips from Chris Dixon
- Alexander Selkirkʼs Campfire story by John Montpetit
- Cord of Wood Defined by Ken Miller
- No Help From The Bahamas! by Roddie Pinder
- A Good Neighbor by Rod
- The Wonders of Ironbark by Fred Apstein
- The Best and Most Inspirational Firewood by Bruce Schneider
- Beech Firewood from Denmark by Søren Tellerup Nielsen
- Firewood a poem By Francis Levy
- "Nobodyz Perfect" sculpture by Trinita Waller
- My Woodshed by David Laidlaw
- Any Firewood Is Good Firewood by Cynthia White
- Warming a Family Home by Bill Thomson
- Destined to be firewood... Turned into Art by Howard Lobb
- Reuse and Recycling of Wood by Barry Wood
- The Biolite Camp Stove by Gavin Macrae
- Fire Photo by Michael Sarosiak
- What's left of a Juniper Wood Pile by Bill and Rosie Long
- One Simple Tip by James Thackray
- Birch for firewood and Guitars by Rich Kenny
- Dowel Bowel link sent in by Ron David
- The Simple Guatemalan Camp Stove by Martin Golder
- Lumber Cutoffs by Steve Burgess
- Sweet Acer's The Nicest by David More
- Our Woodshed by Marsha McGrue
- Fireplace Photos by Dave Jack
- The Concerns With Burning Wood by Warren Franklin
- Hornby Island Artist link sent in by Norma
- Home is where the hearth is by Bruce Wilkin Design
- Staying Warm in McBride by Brian
1] Some years ago, The New Yorker magazine did a feature article on firewood. I remember two points: a] the best wood in terms of heat value is Osage Orange; b] wood cut when sap is up will never dry out properly; the best firewood is cut in winter. I could track down this article if you would like.
2] I spent most of my life in the east until moving to Victoria. Back there, a 'cord' of firewood is almost always a 'face cord' -- 8' long, 4' high, and 16 or 18" deep [the width of a fireplace log]. When I called about firewood here in Victoria, I asked if the price was for a true cord or a face cord. The guy replied 'What's a face cord.' I knew then I was really in the west.
3] Like many cities, Milwaukee, Wisconsin lost many elms to Dutch Elm Disease. Unfortunately, the majority of their street trees were elms. Most newcomers who had fireplaces got stung buying 'bargain' firewood. Apparently the stuff just doesn't burn well [on the web not everyone agrees, but probably it depends on the type of elm -- I don't know about Milwaukee's]. Luckily, I never had a home with a fireplace; in any case, I had been warned by colleagues.
Bobcat Chopping Firewood - Click to download video!
My son sent me this neat setup and I thought of your coming article on firewood.
“Firewood can warm you up many times before it is intended to!”
The bundles of mill slabs can be 3/4 to a full cord. I can cut them up in less than 20 minutes with this setup.
You can see my little outdoor wood boiler that does hard service heating up over 5000 sq/ft of shop and house and all of our domestic hot water. The fire never goes out for nearly 10 months a year.
My favorite thing to do with firewood is to save ebony and rosewood offcuts and burn them for guests. They are suitably impressed with the range of colors produced and the opulence.
(we have a very nice fireplace in the house)
- The harder the wood the better and
- It must be dry.
This photo is of our first fire in our new place after moving with my Fiance from Vancouver. Money was tight there and weddings today are expensive so we decided to move into my Fiance's parent's basement suite. Not something we ever saw ourselves doing and the move was probably one of the hardest I've done (even harder than moving at 18 by myself to the metropolis of Vancouver from a small town in the Okanagan).
My Fiance knew how difficult it was for me and built me this fire our first night. The uneasiness I was feeling about this new chapter of our lives was diminished by the comfort and warmth it brought. Because it was more than a fire, it was a symbol that what makes a home is not just the physical place, it is the people and memories you share in it.
by Britney Zelmer
This is an old timer I use to heat my workshop. My dad had it in his workshop for years. I rebuilt it ,new firebrick and a new stainless steel body. The castings were still like new.
Best Fire: With my best friend and a glass of pinot
Location: Tofino, BC
Fire Wood: scavenged driftwood
Fire wood needs to be dry, and it needs to fit the stove. On Salt Spring
it's sometimes challenging to fill this simple list.
I have a 4-cord wood shed that shelters the wood and allows air flow
throughout the year.
It's also a popular spot with a rat family - they clip cedar boughs for
nesting material, and build deep between the rows for safety.
I don't really mind all that much, but it's an extra bother to shake off the
rat droppings before bringing in the day's heat. :-/
Different species have different drying times and deliver different amounts
of heat; some produce more ash than others.
I prefer to split my wood fairly small - some folks burn stuff that is very
large in comparison.
I prefer a hot fire to a long slow dirty burn. Again, dry wood is better
even though it burns faster.
I don't burn painted or treated wood or particle board.
I never burn garbage, and I use pencil-size cedar sticks for fire starting,
Creosote is not an issue if the wood is properly dried (minimum one year)
and if the stove is well-made.
We have a Pacific Energy stove which cost more than others, but delivers
very good efficiency.
I see being a tenant (renter) as being a thorny issue. It's sometimes hard
for a tenant to properly schedule delivery, drying time and dry storage for
Too often I see wet load of firewood dropped on the ground mid-winter and
then covered with a tarp.
The issue is compounded because the wood burns poorly causing air pollution,
creosote in the chimney which is a fire risk, and is very wasteful because
unseasoned wood burns poorly.
It's a triple-whammy for renters who may not have the options available to
someone who owns their home.
All the Best,
I’m not from the south, I’m from the north. As a Canadian with plenty of bush time, I’m used to resiny, evergreen firewood that burns hot and passionately. Smokey too, clouds of oily smoke that keeps millions of mosquitoes at bay and can make your eyes water so much that my dad used to tell my mom that I had shed so many tears that I didn’t have a piss for week.
I didn’t know how to read the litter of wood lying on the jungle floor of this island south of the equator. The heft of the limbs and branches I gathered told me that the wood was dense and dry, but the tropical hardwood had little resin and it didn’t split well; 20 minutes with a small hatchet left me with nothing but a small pile of dry chips.
The village locals had told me that the campsite was perched on a ridge near the summit of a mountain. I couldn’t miss it I was told; it had a dog-eared, billiard-table sized, flat area with a well used campfire pit. They were right about “well used”; the previous tenant had spent four years at the site tending a campfire of desperation.
Once I had set up my tent and gathered my firewood I settled in for 2 days of rest and contemplation. This site was, after all, the nirvana of solitude and solace. The Scots sailor Alexander Selkirk had spent much of his years in exile trudging up this mountain waiting patiently for the sight of sails on the horizon. I too scanned the almost 360 degree view; to the west Polynesia, to the east the South American continent. I had the luxury of knowing that I would leave this island in 3 days, Selkirk and his avatar Crusoe did not.
As the sun began its slow descent into the Pacific I began working on my companion campfire. Besides the wood I had gathered I had also picked up some promising tree bark and I had a few pieces of dispensable paper in the form of dog-eared pulp fiction. I crumpled the paper into ping-pong size balls and covered them with twigs, bark and wood chips. This is where the purist and I depart; I dosed the lot with some precious camp stove fuel and set a match to it. In no time at all I had a respectable flame licking at the darkening sky. This was tropical wood, no snap, crackle and pop of evergreen, little smoke and soon my promising flame had become anemic.
A new moon, the night sky was alive with unfamiliar southern constellations. Far below me silent bioluminescent waves broke on steep shores, the blue-white frothy waves advancing and retreating like dancers. I fanned and fanned the fire into health and added to my base of hot glowing embers gradually adding more wood as the fire grew. Once I had a good hot fire going I eased off and let the fire burn on its own. I sat leaning against a rock that just fit the curvature of my spine contemplating Selkirkʼs exile. He as well may have leaned against this stone. My fire threw yellow tongues and blue wisps against the inky sky. When, on occasion Selkirk spotted something promising on the horizon he would spend days and nights here fueling smoky signal fires during the day and brighter fires at night. I can imagine him running around the jungle in an increasing radius looking further and further afield for diminishing firewood. That fire, his fire, my fire and the innumerable campfires that had glowed around the globe spoke of humankind’s bond with the ephemeral.
All thing pass, Selkirk was found, returned to his British Isles only to long again for the solace and solitude of his “beloved island”.
by John Montpetit
When we weren't doing it for ourselves we were cutting the neighbour's wood.
My father had the antiquated idea that you earned your spending money.
So way back in the 50's we knew what a cord of wood was at least so I thought we knew.
As I read the paper I see all sorts of ads for cords of wood.
I have seen ads for: a face cord, a good cord, a true cord, a farm cord, a country cord, a real cord, and a pick-up cord (that's a cord stacked in the back of a pick-up truck with out sides).
Someone advertised once selling a big cord of wood, another was selling two or more running cords???
So I guess us country boys still have a thing to two to learn about chopped wood.
But until I learn all the new terms I will have to go but the old definition of a cord of wood.
So what is the definition of a cord of wood:
"It is a pile of wood measuring 8 feet long, 4 feet wide and 4 feet
high. It is stacked so the mouse running from the cat can get
through the pile but the cat can't."
I won't be able to help. I am now living in the Bahamas.
No snow, no sleet, no fireplaces, except the ornamental ones !!!
Lots of sun, sand (snowy white) and crystal clear waters.
You can see the fish from the boat and it and they are beautiful.
Good hunting for the firewood,
Not very exciting, eh!
When I lived aboard my sailboat at the Port Townsend, Wa. Boat Haven Marina in the early 1980s, the Port Townsend Boat Works removed the fish hold coamings and, in some cases, the bulwarks, from several 40 to 50 foot fish boats, mostly from Alaska.
The guards on these boats were ironbark (Eucalyptus family, very dense, durable, red coloured). The shipwrights would cut between the fastenings, then split the wood off the screws so they could be easily removed. This produced piles of ironbark cut to fit my wood stove perfectly, and lots of split wood for kindling. It catches fire easily, being resinous, and burns for a long time, being very dense.
Ironbark smells wonderful when it burns, like pine trees in a story book. I received compliments those winters from folks on the dock, who would sometimes stop and stand near my stove pipe for a few minutes before they went on their way.
The trees are beech. Sometimes it is thinning, and the trees are labeled with the marker color, other times it is areas to be cleared completely because it will planted with new trees but we decide what wood we want. We think that the beech is the best. It's easy to split with the ax, and it has a high calorific value. To make your own firewood provides warmth many times, and you do not have to go to the fitness center :) We have also sent some pictures from the weekend.
Søren and Anne-Grethe Tellerup Nielsen/Hansen Peter and Jette Madsen
(Jan and Lars' Cousins in Denmark )
and warms the soul
Just about as much as
Preparation for that fall
The nice bit about a fire
Is that it reminds you of a cuddle
Like the time you Cut the wood
The enjoyment of splittling a cord
The aches, pains and sores
Are a distant memory
Likewise the warmth of summer
On your face distant
Knowledge that you would
Enjoy the warmth of the wood
Burning, Crackling, Spitting
Just like an Old fire should
This is a piece of sculpture that I created from a piece of wood destined for the fire pile. It was a part of a branch
that was cut off a tree in my Mother-In-Laws yard.
This piece is the first in a series that I call "my fire wood restoration project". It is carved Garry Oak and has a dark stain with an oil finish.
It is mounted on a plinth that is solid checked yellow cedar. The piece pivots on it's mount.
She is called "Nobodyz Perfect" aka "The Left Kick".
Here are some photo's of our woodshed, it is 16 ft square divided into 4 bays each approx. 5 ft x 8 ft x 8 ft each holding about 2 1/2 cords with a centre walkway.
We use 3 bays for a mix of Fir & Alder (mostly Fir) and the 4th bay reserved for Arbutus . We use the Fir as "Everyday firewood" and reserve the Arbutus for the colder days of the Winter.
In our opinion Arbutus is the Premier firewood followed by Fir then Alder.
We use about 2/3 of a bay / winter and as soon as one bay is empty we refill it and go on to the next bay which we have dated so we can rotate our stock.
For the first 6/7 years we used dry western maple, birch, and alder, these were the years before there were commercial wood lots and this type of wood was almost free for the asking. These three species of wood delivered a very comfortable heat with very little creosote problems and odor. For the last 3/4 years we tried commercial delivered wood from various sawmills but these woods were either hemlock or fir. We were not as happy with these two woods and eventually we switched to natural gas.
Looking back over my youth of growing up living in bush camps and on trap lines in Alberta, there was nothing like sitting around a nice wood fire on a cold winter day. The only disadvantage was that I was the oldest male and it was my job to keep the wood box full, but that was not a bad thing.
These works all started from Green wood that was destined to be firewood. This just some of the stuff wood waste can be turned into the best part of all it is free for the gathering.
Cheers Howard Lobb
The first two are California Live Oak cleared for a housing development.
The second two are Greviliea robustus, a type of lacewood from Australia cut from a local street tree removal.
The last two are Avocado from an orchard that was cut down no longer profitable due to the rising cost for imported water.
Dry hardwood, stacked in the hearth, and fed throughout the night.
This is a picture of what is left of the neighbors wood pile (Bend, OR)......This batch was mostly juniper that he has a devil of a time splitting. As you likely know, most of the firewood around the high desert is pine. Each spring permits are issued to wood cutters to take wind fall out of certain forest areas, often very close to the road. The heavy forest floor fuel loads are usually in area's that are not accessible via roads so it just builds up until a raging forest fire burns it all at once.
Bill and Rosie Long
I have always been partial to Birch. It has other uses besides firewood. When we moved here, I started a cabinet and furniture making business. I was able to acquire a good amount of birch locally and started making furniture and other things out of it. It was a very successful venture. As time passed I became tired of building the same old thing and to make a long story short, I started making musical instruments. Many of them out of local Birch that I harvested.
Today, I have become a reasonably successful luthier and use Birch in several different instruments that I build. I make Acoustic guitars, Resophonic (dobro) guitars, Dulcimers and Strum Sticks. I have made several of each using Birch. I find that it is a very good quality tone wood and, provided it is cured properly, it is stable and easy to work with although care must be taken when finishing. The nice thing is that if the instrument does not meet expectations, it is still firewood.
Cariboo Musical Instruments
Horsefly, B. C.
After a while I came to a clearing where a fellow traveller was having a cup of tea and the purpose of the sticks became clear. They were a portable camp stove. One end of the sticks was charcoaled and on arriving at a camp site the local would gather three rocks of about 10 cm diameter and place them in a triangle with the burnt end of a stick between each rock and almost touching each other at the centre. The burnt ends were pointed at 120° by the repeated use in this configuration. A single match and a few twigs dropped into the centre created an instant hardwood flame that boiled a kettle probably faster from a standing start than any fuel stove from MEC.
The temperature could be accurately adjusted by moving the ends apart or together as needed.
Once the kettle was boiled the sticks were pulled out and snuffed in the dirt.
The elegance and simplicity of these camp stoves has stayed with me for all these years and although I don't carry the sticks I use the principle whenever I am camping.
Anchored nearby last summer in Blind Bay=
Aceraceae keep us Easterners from freezing, And sweetens our porridge, and stops us from sneezing.
And the logs that you want; the ones that burn best Are the ones from the woodshed that faces the west.
Our wood shed is the best - can hold 4 cords - loads from 4 sides so you can rotate usage - good ventilation - with central bin for kindling with removal front boards for easy access
Submitted by Dave Jack
Bruce Wilkin Design
Everybody cut/split/stacked what they hoped was enough back in Aug/Sept/Oct.
BIG hydraulic splitters can whack a pine round into 4 or 6 pieces in one pass.
Ad in the local paper for 2-cord truck loads of logs, dumped in your yard, you cut.
Me? I run a Harman P38+ wood pellet stove in my 2 x 1,200 sqft home.
Saves me at least $1,000.00 per winter over furnace oil (we will never have gas.)
Stove paid for itself in 3 winters. I burn 4-5 tons of pellets each winter.
Actually planning to buy ton #4 early next week, arrives as 50x40lb bags.
Regards (& stay warm!)
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