Episode-2172- Ted Kehl on Heating with Wood — 9 Comments

  1. A standard fireplace is designed for cooking – to keep the house from getting too warm when you are cooking.  If you want a fireplace for heat, look at the rumford fireplace.

    Loved this episode. We do all of our splitting (White and Live Oak) by hand with an 8 lbs. maul. I found that a 6 lbs. maul took twice the swings. I also always set the log I’m Splitting on top of a larger tree trunk round to prevent the ground from absorbing some of the blow. Lastly the key to getting that little extra power is to drop your knees a couple of inches just as you are about to make contact.  Besides accuracy cutting the logs in the right spot with the saw can make your life much easier.
    Just my $.02


  3. Thanks John.  Good points there.  I’ve cut short little logs from wide crotches before that would have been hard to split, but fit just fine when loaded sideways. 

    I hadn’t thought about technique in years until I watched my wife try to swing the maul like a cartoon character swings a mallet at the “ring the bell” game.  LOL.  It’s definitely a lot about letting the weight and momentum do the work.  If the log is real tough wedges and a sledge hammer usually do the trick. 

    BTW, our furnace is a Bryan (not to be confused with Bryant) made in Bryan, TX.  We have three of these in the family now.  First one was bought in 92-93 and heated my parents house until this past winter when they replaced it with a newer Bryan.  Only think to ever go wrong was a solenoid and one blower motor that hole time.  The old one also still works, but they are moving it to heat the workshop.

  4. Awesome interview, firewood is one of my personal favorite subjects.  I am also 5th generation in my home in NH, we primarily heat with wood (5-6 cord per year) in my 1770s farm house.  Ted’s interview was very close to home for me!

  5. I enjoyed your sensible conversation Ted.  We’ve burned wood in our Country Flame freestanding stove for thirty years, at some times for 100% of our heat and others for 25%.   Complete agreement with you and have used most of the procurement methods and species you mentioned.  Definitely appreciate your non-snobby viewpoint!
    Two things I’d like to mention/ask you Ted.
    1.  I’ve started what I call a Fuelwood Forest which is six 70 foot rows of 10 foot spaced Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia from Mo. Dept. of Conversation) with the intent to pollard these off at four feet height, harvesting regrowth in a cycle of 4-5 years.  My goal is to have a perpetual supply of woodstove fuel, relatively easy to harvest for drying and burning.

    2.  Last year we had a 60′ Silver Maple (acer saccharinum) professionally pieces down (Tim’s Trees in Sedalia is great!).  It was overhanging our house which was great summer shade, but the anxiety of each wind/ice storm finally winning a ten year internal debate.
    Everyone has always said, “It ain’t good fire wood.” but seeing such a  tremendous asset laying there I split it up (very easy when green) and seasoned out from March ’17-November ’18.  It has been some of the very best firewood for our woodstove.
    So I’m starting my own Silver Maple seedlings to add a few rows to my Fuelwood Forest endeavor.

    I’d value your thoughts on this sustainable approach to provide wood fuel off a small acreage.

    I also run a small flock of laying hens between the rows and have intentions to extend my black,raspberry trellis’ in those spaces as well.  I have rows of mixed species fruit and nut trees interplanted too.  My “Fruit, Nut, and Fuelwood Forest”.

  6. Thanks for the kind words WKDTOM & Kenny. 
    I grew up with a Country Flame.  Darn good stove, but I sure like having an ash pan now.  🙂

    1.  This is a great use for Black Locust especially intermixed with other fruit and nut trees it will provide nitrogen to.  It is great firewood.  Though it can have a higher value as posts and lumber due to it’s rot resistance.  Black Locust can go for $4 a board foot and is great for decks and patio furniture.  Not every tree will make lumber though, those become posts for me and whats left is firewood.  Since you are local, I’d be happy to do any milling you want done.  I’m 7 miles SE of Sedalia.  Lookup Kehlhof Ranch.  😉

    2. Good on using the Maple.  It’s another “sponge” species that wicks water very well, but once dried and kept dry makes good firewood.  I don’t know that I would plant it specifically for firewood with how abundant it can be for free.  Black Walnut is slower growing, but would be a future high value tree that could be considered. Now planting Sugar Maple and tapping them could be interesting.  Black Walnut can also be tapped, but may leave a stain in the wood which lowers the lumber value.

    Good on you for building all that out.

  7. Save your back/energy. Cut your wood at 6-8″s long or so depending on type. It dries fast/easy. Easy to handle/stack. One hit with an axe/light maul splits it in half easily -smaller pieces don’t need to be split. Yes, it costs a bit more in gas/chain wear but it’s worth it!

  8. I’m glad you have a system that works for you.

    What get’s my back more than the weight is the bending and reaching repetition.  A green piece of White Oak that would fit through my firebox door would weigh 91 Lbs.  But I don’t handle green wood if I can avoid it.  🙂  That same piece air dried weighs 62.5 Lbs.  Not much more than a sack of feed.  I also tend to cut these big ones 2-4 inches shorter dropping that weight roughly 10-20%.  They also never go further forward than the rear row of the truck bed or the tailgate.  🙂

    Here are my top 4 tips to reduce bending during cutting and handling.
    1.  Get a longer bar on your chainsaw.  I’m 5’11” and switching from a 16″ to an 18″ bar and chain SIGNIFICANTLY reduces how far I bend.
    2.  Can’t hook with log stand.  Use leverage to roll the log over onto the stand.  Gives some elevation and as a bonus keeps your chain out of the dirt.  Logrite makes the best.  If you prefer orange, get one at a Stihl dealer.  Logrite makes them for Stihl.
    3.  Timber tongs.  I was initially sceptical about how useful these would actually be, but the are now on the MUST HAVE list for me.  I have the 12″ version (works down to about a 6″ stick) and plan to buy a 8″ to.  Useful to move smaller logs too.  (Cheaper elsewhere, but here’s a link.)
    4.  This one is more about reach stain than bending.  A hookaroon or pickaroon extends your reach distance to avoid straining to get the pieces in the front of a trailer or pickup.   I prefer a wood handle one as it indexes the point on the end in my hand.
    A saw buck would also reduce bending.  I don’t use one as I would have to take the buck to the woods with me and then pick the log up on it.  Could use equipment, but I avoid compaction with heavy equipment in the woods when I can.  I try to keep the big tractors end equipment to trails.  I’ll use a pickup or small tractor to put my trailer right next to where I’m working to reduce step count, but throwing distance is preferred. 🙂