There are a few pleasures in life, one of them being the fresh autumn cold bringing with it the smell of wood smoke from my neighbors’ stoves. This article addresses the excitement of cutting your own firewood before the snow sets in by Christmas-maybe earlier this year. Cutting firewood is an age-old tradition going back thousands of years using flint tools, modern axes, metal saws and currently the power of a chainsaw.
Let us start first with where we are going to find the wood. Ideally you had started a wood lot on your farm years back as I had mentioned 20 years, or more ago. Also when you cut that non-pine tree about a foot high it sprouted into several smaller trunks, like a bush, and offers more wood at this time. These sprouts are called suckers. The favorite trees to plant in a wood lot are wild apple, locust and hickory, which grow quicker than the mighty oaks.
You do not have to use a chainsaw or axe. Many people have discovered that a branch pruning loppers/shears can nip a lot of small wood-valuable wood in a short time and make excellent cooking stove wood. Just tie it up in a bundle.
Driving around you may see where timber cutters have logged out a patch or two. You can contact the owner about scavenging the patch for the loggers always leave a mess of big branches and smaller trees. The problem with this is being able to egress the property to load your truck-yes you will need a pick up truck with the rear window protected from sliding wood breaking the glass; 4WD is a must in off road travel.
Being that these mountains leave most of wood down in deep gullies and ravines you cannot lug the wood out on your back-you must consider a winch. (See my winch article,) These items are great for the occasional wood gatherer; more professional wood cutters-loggers use really big equipment that is beyond your means and consideration.
Another option is to check the Trading Post and newspapers to have wood delivered. Keeping in mind that the wood will include all sorts of poplar soft woods and pine. You do not want pine because the sap causes the chimneys to clog up and catch fire if you cannot clean them often. This is called “creosote buildup.”
The next consideration is proper attire. Steel toed ankle high leather boots, long trousers, tucked in the boots, which are tightly wound with the leather thongs (shoe lace.) Also wear a warm light shirt, appropriate for the temperature, and gloves. You will need safety equipment no matter how experienced you are, which includes a helmet, face shield and especially earmuffs. Take it from my experience that eye protection is critical, and over a period of time you will lose your hearing. This latter is nice in late age to be wife deaf, but there are other things to listen to.
I seriously recommend chain saw chaps for leg protection. The problem is most men are out in the bush by themselves. If that chainsaw, or axe slips, and cuts into a femoral artery you will bleed out in 3 to 4 minutes. You really need two people, and both experienced in basic first aid in applying a tourniquet.
Chainsaws are either quality, or China made. Discuss these purchases with Blacksburg Power in Christiansburg, or your local equipment dealer. Chainsaws that were top of the line years back are now junk. My latest purchase was a Stihl™, and it will outlast me. A word of caution for small engines: Use only NON-alcohol supplemented gasoline. These small engines have delicate carburetors and unleaded, non-alchol gasoline is the only fuel that will work for the long haul. That goes for your generator, lawnmowers, weed eaters and such. These small engines on the chainsaws are 2 cycle. That means you have to mix 2 cycle oil with the Non alcohol gasoline in a separate container and pour it into the chainsaw through a filter. 4 Cycle engines require a separate oil fill in the crankcase, but not mixed with the fuel. Read your instruction manual. Blacksburg Power Company can show you what to do.
Another thought is to always use Briggs and Stratton gasoline additive™ that will keep your gasoline stable for two years otherwise the gasoline will degrade and clog up your carburetor. Stabil™ is also excellent protection.
Always drain out the gasoline in your fuel tank on the chainsaw and run the motor till it stops. This ensures no residuals in the carburetor.
The cutting chains must be sharp. It is always advisable to have a spare sharp chain with you. Cutting chains are either cross cut or rip. You will be doing crosscut for the most part. Rip chains are used when you are cutting with an Alaskan Mill II for cutting logs at on the sides to make boards, or logs for cabins.
To sharpen the cutting chains you can do a fair job with a file of the right diameter. Another option is to purchase an electric chainsaw cutter from Harbor Freight. Lastly your service center such as Blacksburg Power can sharpen the chains for you for a modest fee. New cutter chains will slack. It is unsafe to use slack chains. You can tighten the chain by adjusting the screw next to the spikes on the front of the engine. First loosen the chainsaw bar with the bolt nut. Pull the bar forward and snug. Tighten lightly the chain cutter and use the screw to tighten to wear the chain just has enough tension to set in the blade, perhaps a quarter of an inch. If you cannot slide the chain with your gloved hand it is too tight. A safe bet is to remove the sparkplug wire and even the sparkplug so there is no accidental starting at 3000 RPM…consult your manual on this procedure as well as other upkeep maintenance.
Do not forget to keep your cutter oil tank filled so that it dribbles oil on the chain saw blade grooves. You can purchase filtered cutting oil at the service center, or in a pinch use your re-cycled automotive oil. It is also advisable to remove the chain and bar and with a piece of wood or maybe a plastic screwdriver tip, run the blade along the chain guide and scrape out the dirt and wood sawdust. Some chainsaw bars require a grease gun squirt in the rotary front of the bar.
I am sure you have seen Uncle Bozo stand up and swing the saw around and otherwise after reading this and your instruction manual emulate his actions. Big mistake. Many, many would be log cutters get seriously hurt each season with improper use of the running saw. Remember someday you will be a model for your son, or daughter, who will emulate your techniques. Thank safety.
COPYRIGHT: 2013, Back2theLand.com, All rights reserved, Mark Steel.