Recreational Logging

I recently hosed my computer. (Thanks to all for the advice and commentary. I’ll go into detail at some other time. Unless I don’t.) At the moment my online presence is maintained using impulse power and semaphore. I’m OK with that. I’m an adaptive curmudgeon so who cares if the computer du jour is on fire? Also going randomly “incommunicado” is just another day to me. (Note: I said “incommunicado” and not “commando”. There’s a difference!)

In the meantime there’s this:

“The chainsaw did not vanish in a poof of virtual digits and it will be winter soon. I might chuck the whole thing and stack wood instead.”

That’s just what I did:

Firewood is wary prey. One must track the tree back to its lair and attack it when it's not paying attention. While there are other means of hunting, the trusty chainsaw is the moth common method of taking harvestable trees.

Firewood is wary prey. I tracked this tree back to its lair and ambushed it when was not paying attention. While there are other means of hunting, the trusty chainsaw is the most common method of take.

Those silly squirrels! It's a little known fact that small mammals like to implant metal deep inside a tree bole. Grind on some of this junk for a few seconds and your formerly sharp chain is a series of randomly shaped bits of steel suitable only for making smoke.

Those silly squirrels! It’s a little known fact that small mammals like to implant metal deep inside a tree bole. Grind on junk like this and your formerly sharp chain will be a series of randomly shaped bits of steel that won’t do much more than make smoke.

Technology is your friend. A splitting maul is perfectly adequate, provided you've got arms like Popeye and all day to kill. There's a reason God gave us the hydraulic ram.

Technology is your friend. A splitting maul is perfectly adequate; provided you’ve got arms like Popeye and all day to kill. The rest of us have shit to do, bad backs, and a tight schedule. There’s a reason God gave us the hydraulic ram. (Note: This splitter, my friend and trusted companion, has agreed to serve as the protagonist in a series of posts later this year. Really.)

The forest is a deadly place. I was attacked by velociraptors.

The forest is a deadly place. I was attacked by velociraptors.

When the wood chunks are too heavy to easily lift I switch the splitter to "vertical mode". It's important that every wood block be shorter than the stroke of the hydraulic ram. This chunk, from the base of the tree, is about an inch too long.

When the wood chunks are heavy enough that lifting them pisses me off, I switch the splitter to “vertical mode”. It’s important that every wood block be shorter than the stroke of the hydraulic ram. This chunk, from the base of the tree, is about an inch too long.

I protected the heavy steel splitting wedge from unslightly scratches by keeping my thumb between it and a wildly unbalanced block of wood. Note: if you roll a 140 pound block of wood into an area 1" too short you will learn a valuable lesson. Yes, I carry a first aid kit. Also, if you damage a finger on a 27 ton ram and it happens when the engine is off, that's about the best case scenario. (Also, I was wearing heavy leather gloves too. I hate to think what would have happened without them. My hitchiking career would be over!!)

I protected the heavy steel splitting wedge from getting scratched by slipping my thumb between it and a wildly unbalanced block of wood. Note: if you roll a 140 pound block of wood into an area 1″ too short you will learn a valuable lesson. Also, if you damage a finger on a 27 ton ram and it happens when the engine is off, that’s about the best case scenario. (BTW: I was wearing heavy leather gloves so it was no big deal. Without the gloves my hitchiking career would be over!!)

Payload. Payload. Payload. If you've got 2/3 cord of oak in the bed, there's plenty of room for 500 pounds of pig feed. Why else did you buy the big axles?

Payload. Payload. Payload. If you’ve got 2/3 cord of oak in the bed, there’s plenty of room for 500 pounds of pig feed. Why else did you buy the big axles? (Notice the gas can? That’s unleaded for the splitter and it’ll last a long time. The 2 cycle fuel is a little one gallon can behind the feed. I can fell, buck, and split a full cord on less than a gallon, maybe even half a gallon. Compared to inputs like labor, the cost of gas for this kind of work is  almost irrelevant.)

Happy bacon!

Happy bacon!

It takes a little less than two pickup loads to to make this stack... which is a little less than a single cord.

This particular stack is about one single cord in volume. (Equivalent volume to a 4’x4’x8′ stack.) It came from a single small/medium tree (dead and standing). This isn’t the only stack I’ve got but it’s the best one for a photo of “one cord”. I felled, cut, split, hauled, and stacked every goddamn stick myself. It’s a “slow and steady” kind of job. Rely too much on brute force and you’ll burn out. (Unless you’re 19 years old and bulletproof.) A smart fella will do half the pile one day and half a week later. It helps to have good gear but you can get pretty far with a saw, splitter, and a truck. A very old saw, well tuned, is fine. The splitter is optional. A trailer will suffice instead of a truck. (I used the pony trailer that way for years.) The bag in front is 100 pounds of pig feed… gotta’ keep the bacon happy.

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About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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13 Responses to Recreational Logging

  1. And we all know the importance of happy bacon.

  2. Robert says:

    My back hurts just lookin’ at that pickup full of oak. I usta heat primarily with wood so I can appreciate what those pictures represent. AC, have you discovered naproxen? The little blue pill is my new best friend.
    Also, those velociraptors are dangerously close. Have you considered one of them as dinner in order to be an example for the rest?

  3. Doubletrouble says:

    Heh- that’s the same splitter as mine. I’ve fabricated a couple shelf gizmos attached to the brackets next to the I beam to aid in multiple split handling.
    I, too, have damaged myself trying to guide the felling piece under the wedge. When the rounds are too big for this old guy to move, I hang them vertically from the tractor bucket, via chain/tongs. It must be fun to watch one guy trying to twitch the bucket, move the wood, & drop the wedge all at once, when said guy doesn’t have an eight foot wingspan.

    • It would be as funny as heck watching me reach here and there with a block of wood rolling all over but metaphysiscs intrudes: “if a redneck struggles in the forest and there’s nobody to laugh him, was it funny?”

      You made a good choice on splitters. That model woodsplitter is a good one. I have added a few fabricated gizmos to mine too. Mostly so it tows at hightway speed; real handy.

      On a more practical note, I tend to cut the rounds a little shorter when they’re large and tend to avoid really large trees which have huge rounds that suck to move. One cool thing about firewood is that limbwood and smallish trees will burn just fine. Just because commercial loggers like the big stuff doesn’t make it the best for “unmechanized” processors.

      • Bruce says:

        Care to share the make and model of that splitter? I’m looking to buy one in the spring. My local forests are almost all pine with the opportunity at an occasional elm, oak, or cottonwood.

      • I’M GLAD YOU ASKED THAT QUESTION! I plan on writing about a zillion posts about the hardest working member of the household. I was worried nobody would care. Now I can say I’ve custom written them based on reader demand.

        The posts will be out sometime in fall or winter (well before spring). This might include a link to a product review (somewhat out of date) plus new “garageneering” improvements I’ve recentaly added that make a good splitter into the best damn splitter in the county.

        As to your question it’s a Troy-Bilt 27 Ton powered by a Honda GCV 160; with a few minor modifications. Other splitters may be just as good but this one has served me quite well and I highly recommend it. This model should have no problem on the species you’re considering.

      • This article was written a few years ago by an exceptionally clever and handsome internet writer. It should help you pick out a wood splitter.

  4. don says:

    I envy your wood splitter but I am always captivated by happy bacon. I have splitting maul and bad back instead.

  5. PJ says:

    My neighbor offered to let me use his hydraulic splitter; he doesn’t do very much with firewood any more. I took care to clean it up and fix a minor problem, returning it in better shape than I got it (yeah I want to borrow it again!). I found that when you have a great big pile to split, it is a godsend.

    However I still use a maul a lot. I figured out after a while that if you want your maul to last you need to take it in before the rain starts. If the wood swells in winter, it is compressed in the head; then when it dries again the head is loose.

    You really have to pace yourself with a maul, especially in your 60’s like I am. Do a few and walk away. It will be there tomorrow for you, never fear. I also have taken to wedges lately because you can start them in the crack where the wood is checking, great for knots and limbs in the piece.

  6. AK says:

    Those velociraptors look strangely familiar!

  7. bravokilo says:

    I heated exclusively with wood for about 6 years, all hauled by home in a Gremlin. Liking your ‘writing’ shows me that God has a sense of humor and likes balance in His world.

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