Thursday, January 10, 2013

How to cut firewood – a basic guide from Husqvarna

Cutting firewood can be tricky. Here are some tips on how to select the best, how to split, and how to dry and store firewood. By learning chainsaw techniques like felling, limbing and crosscutting, and what axes to use, we hope this tutorial can help you safely and quickly build a pile of wood that will last the whole winter.
“Before you can enjoy the warmth of the fireplace, there are a few things to keep in mind, whether you cut the firewood yourself or buy it in a store”, says Magnus Anderson, chainsaw specialist at Husqvarna.

Choosing the best firewood

Selection of tree species can be complicated. However, we have a list some general guidelines to help you select the right tree type. If you have the luxury of choosing, make sure the wood is healthy and not rotten. It shouldn’t be neither too hard nor too soft. If it’s too rough (with a wide diameter), it means harder work for you. Hardwood has high fuel-value, which means it gives higher heat and have longer burning time. Beech and birch are good examples of this. However, be aware that the high heat can also damage your burning stove. Softwood on the other hand (e.g. spruce and pine), has low fuel value and is therefore, not as effective as the only fuel source. Therefore, the best firewood is obtained by mixing different species of wood types.

How to cut firewood

If you are chopping wood yourself, you should use a chainsaw for felling, limbing and crosscutting. This can be dangerous if you don’t have proper knowledge. Techniques for felling, limbing and crosscutting, as well as the safety of such work, can be found in our online manual "Working with chainsaws", located to the right of this text. In countries with cold winters, one should take the opportunity to cut the trees in the winter, when they are not leaking sap. This makes them less damp, which gives you better fuel.

If you do not want to chop the wood yourself, you can buy firewood already limbed, cut and split.

Cutting and security

Make sure you have the right equipment for a safety! For tips on which chainsaw works best for both felling and bucking, see the manual "Working with chainsaws". You’ll also need to use a sawhorse, a timber tong-and-scissors and a dipstick or laser meter – to get the correct wood length.
“It´s very important that you have personal protective equipment such as a helmet with earmuffs, visor and protective glasses, clothes and boots. Don't forget to have a first aid kit easily accessible”, says Magnus Anderson.

Splitting firewood

Splitting wood can be challenging. The best tool for splitting firewood by hand is a maul, which looks like a cross between an axe and sledgehammer. For smaller wood splitting jobs, a splitting axe works fine. You’ll need a chopping block, a raised surface on which to split the log pieces into firewood. When working with the axe, don’t use too much force, let the weight of the axe do the job in order to avoid injuries. For larger wood volumes, a hydraulic log splitter is the best option.

Drying and storage

The best conditions for drying wood are during spring and summer. Drying should initially be done out in the open. The location should be selected carefully – a dry and elevated place where the wood can be exposed to both sun and wind is ideal.

Don’t put the wood directly on the ground, as this might cause the wood to absorb water. Any type of air permeable surface, such as pallets and poles, is preferred. It is important that the air is allowed to circulate around the various woodpiles, which is why you should not store them too closely together. The same logic applies to an individual woodpile. A “sloppily” assembled pile with a lot of airflow dries faster than a stack of tightly packed wood!

Good luck cutting firewood!

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