How to cut, gather and prepare your own firewood safely
Having an open fire in your home is a wonderful way to keep warm over the winter months. However the heat, relaxation and cozy comforts that open fires bring are not without risk. You need to be careful when you sourcing your fuel and setting up the fire. Some people go to hardware stores and other outlets to buy pre-cut firewood. However if you’re a little more adventurous you might want to collect and gather your own. If done safely and correctly this can be a great way to gather free fuel for your wood fire.
This post will go over how to gather, cut and prepare your own firewood safely. After reading this you should be familiar with the fundamentals and be on your way to being able to source your own fuel.
The first thing to do is plan out your wood requirements. Having a clear idea of how much wood you need helps you to gather only as much as you need; which helps minimize waste. It also means that you can save yourself repeat trips. On average if you cut fresh wood it will take at least 6 months to dry enough to burn well. Therefore you need to work out your wood requirements over winter and make sure it’s cut at least 6 months in advance.
Once you’ve got an organized schedule it’s time to get to work and start cutting. For the purpose of this article it is assumed that you are not going to fell a tree from scratch. This is a whole different matter and unless you’re qualified this can put you at serious risk of injury. For amateurs it’s best to cut up fallen trees or further cut down wood that a professional has felled.
To safely cut your own firewood you’re going to need a chainsaw and the protective gear associated with it. If you don’t have protective clothing you’ll be exposed to serious injury from the chainsaw itself. The main gear to get is chainsaw trousers or chaps, protective gloves, a helmet/visor chainsaw boots and noise cancelling muffs. This will require a little bit of investment up front but the safety gear will last you years. After these initial purchases it’s pretty much free firewood from then on.
In terms of actually cutting the wood it’s best to take the main trunk and break it down into cylinders of about 1 foot at a time. Keeping this size makes transportation easier if you have an open deck pickup. However if you’re taking the wood home in an enclosed space you can further split it down vertically into halves or quarters. The smaller your chunks of wood are the faster they will dry. But at the same time the more susceptible they are to taking in water. Therefore if you’re storing your wood outside keep it in larger chunks; but you can split it down if it’s being stored in a garage or enclosed space.
This post was from Peter McAllister from SGM a company that sells protective outdoor clothing and other arborist equipment/accessories.