My System for Cutting Firewood

I make no claims to being very good at either picking or harvesting firewood.  Probably north of 90% of the time, Grandpa points out to me a standing tree that he suggests would be good for burning “this year”, and we either cut it right away, or I return on my own to cut it.

We do have two different systems for bringing back the wood we do cut.  I acknowledge that he has a smaller trailer and garden tractor, while I have the ATV and a trailer that is probably 50-100% larger in capacity.

It seems to me that Grandpa prefers to cut his trees into stove lengths in the bush, then pile them near his bush trail, and then bring them in to his woodshed/home woodpile area after they have spent time in the bush drying.  I suspect that perhaps it is just a matter of space that he doesn’t bring the wood out directly to further dry, perhaps today I will ask him if I see him.  (edit: I have asked Grandpa, and he confirmed it is a matter of space, AND the fact that he still cuts in winter when he cannot get his smaller tractor into the bush to retrieve his wood.  Excellent reasons!)

Myself, I prefer to be the “wood lord”, to borrow a term we used to use when we played Setters of Catan in old days.  I like to have the wood nearby and be able to have the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you know you have enough to get you through the winter (a feeling I think I’ve bumped against, only to be treated to exceptional circumstances that drive me to get even MORE wood for the next burning season…)

As such, I like to bring back my firewood as soon as possible after cutting it.  Currently, this is because it will likely be burned later in the season (hopefully not until spring though) anyway.  Perhaps in a  year or two I will have enough wood to get me through two winters – dare to dream!

Another difference between most people and myself (I think!) is that I don’t like to cut my wood into stove lengths in the bush.  I have been appreciating cutting it to around 42″ (VERY approximately) and then loading those lengths into the trailer, bringing them home, and then doing the final cuts here.  I have a few reasons for doing this, and am not sure if any of them are compelling, perhaps some experienced woodcutters will have something to add here?

First off – I have a future desire to capture my sawdust.  It is handy for filling in potholes, and especially for use in our sawdust toilet.  Doing a large portion of my cutting in a specific area will hopefully allow me to harvest the sawdust in the future, if it ever does amount to anything significant.

I also note that trees (especially ones I cut) don’t always tend to fall in easily accessible spots.  This makes cutting and then carrying to the trailer or temporary pile both annoying and more hazardous.  Fewer cuts means less awkward spots, and less “back and forth” of logs.  Doing 2/3 of the cutting back at home where I have the advantage of open, clear, flat work areas with access to my car and cabin must definitely be safer.  I also think my three at once is more efficient, as generally when it is cut to stove length, I can only carry two at a time (one in each hand, possibly stacking smaller ones when appropriate).  This is the biggest factor for me.  Safety and ease.

Finally, another consideration for the “future” is that eventually I would like to try switching over to all electric chainsaws.  I feel that a cordless one may not have the stamina to let me do extensive cutting in the bush, but if it could at least cut a tree and then buck it into three unit lengths, that would allow me to return to the cabin to finish cutting with a corded machine running either off the battery bank, or directly off the solar panels if it is a nice, sunny day.  My system would put less pressure on the smaller rechargeable batteries of a cordless chainsaw.

These are simply my current methods.  I wonder if as I get older, maybe shelpping the heavier logs will become more of a burden than an advantage, so it may change.  Of course, I note that Grandpa could easily manage these size of logs and larger, so that gives me hope.

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