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The most efficent way to buck logs for firewood production.

Discussion in 'Firewood, Heating and Wood Burning Equipment' started by KiwiBro, Jun 4, 2011.

  1. KiwiBro

    KiwiBro Hold my beer and film this...

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    If under, say, 5" do you use a cut off saw? Over, say 5" the chainsaw?

    Straight from the stack, assuming there is one, or haul logs off the stack and buck 'em one by one?

    Load many logs onto a bucking table and chainsaw many at the same time?

    Haul/skid/cart logs away from forest to fixed bucking/firewood area, buck where the logs fall and cart the rings/rounds to the splitter, buck and split those logs where they fall and cart the split wood out?

    Given various site differences, how do you optimise your processing of the wood and what gear do you have or would like, to achieve your optimum processing flow?

    Do you like to take out a few of the site variables and truck logs to your fixed bucking/splitting area instead, or perhaps it's more efficient to move your splitter, etc to the log site and buck 'em there?

    Once bucked, then what? Are the logs bucked at splitter height so there's no lifting to get to the splitter, or are the rounds/rings then stacked and if so, are they moved to the splitter and stacked there or stacked where bucked and splitter moved to them?

    If you think there's plenty of questions here, you should see inside my head b/c these are merely the tip of the iceberg and I feel a bit like the titanic at the mo' ;-).

    What say y'all?

    Thanks.
     
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  2. KiwiBro

    KiwiBro Hold my beer and film this...

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    I should probably also tender some background from my experience thus far and also what I'm leaning towards.

    "Have chainsaw/splitter, will travel" has been my motto for the last 6 months or so. It's great for smallish jobs that can't justify the gear needed to load logging trucks or cart logs to another area. But I'm beginning to think a fixed yard and paying the price of hauling logs to it would ultimately be more profitable.

    In that scenario, if it is proven to be more profitable than mobile processing, the question then becomes one of how best to process the logs.

    but I'm not yet done with the mobile processing evaluation and I'm sure I've not got the most efficient setup yet. It may be that the optimal mobile setup will be more profitable than a fixed yard.

    There are so many site variables about mobile processing that could easily turn what looks like a reasonable job on paper into a nightmare job that seems to never end. The processing has to stay flexible to handle the different sites and with that flexibilty seems to come a degree of inefficiency.


    So I'm keen to see what others have done and learn as much as I can. Efficient bucking of logs is common to mobile and fixed site processing so i thought I'd ask about that first and see what others are considering their most optimal bucking methods for various sized logs, as a starter for 10.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2011
  3. Kensterfly

    Kensterfly ArboristSite Operative

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    If under, say, 5" do you use a cut off saw? Over, say 5" the chainsaw?

    I can't imagine ever using a cut off saw on cord wood.

    Straight from the stack, assuming there is one, or haul logs off the stack and buck 'em one by one?

    I don't understand this question. First, we need to clarify terms. "To Buck" means to cut a log into the preferred length for your fireplace/woodstove. Those "bucked" pieces are generally called "rounds." We further reduce the rounds by splitting them lengthwise. Those pieces of wood are called splits. We take the splits and lay them into neat little piles called "stacks." When you say "stack" do you mean a pile of long logs? And are you asking if you buck them right in the pile OR take one log at a time and buck it??

    I think some people cut logs into fireplace size rounds right on the log pile. I agree with the group that thinks this is unsafe because of unstable footing and possibility of logs shifting on you. Not a nice thought when you're operating a chain saw. If you are buying log length wood. Pull one log out at a time and buck it to your preferred length. With a chain saw! That's what it's for. Much quicker and more efficient than a cut off saw.


    Load many logs onto a bucking table and chainsaw many at the same time?

    I'm not sure what a bucking table is. Some people build racks that will hold several small diameter logs so they can cut through a few logs at one time.

    Haul/skid/cart logs away from forest to fixed bucking/firewood area, buck where the logs fall and cart the rings/rounds to the splitter, buck and split those logs where they fall and cart the split wood out?

    I tend to buck everything in the field. I'll split really big, heavy rounds into quarters so I can lift them in to my truck. I rarely ever split the whole load in the field on someone elses property. But if I'm cutting in my own woods, with narrow paths, I'll either haul the logs out with my tractor and boom pole, then buck and split them in my firewood work area OR I might buck where the tree falls, carry the rounds to the trail, split them there and haul them in with my lawn tractor and little trailer. When I'm running my saw, every other fill up is time for a break. I hand sharpen my chain during this break. Stay hydrated, drink plenty of water, take frequent breaks. And when you start to get really tire... QUIT FOR THE DAY! Stay safe. You may read here about some guys who hand split five cords before breakfast. Well, good on them, but you're not here to compete with the other guys. And I save the cold beer until AFTER the power tools are put away for the day. That includes axes.

    Given various site differences, how do you optimize your processing of the wood and what gear do you have or would like, to achieve your optimum processing flow?

    Do we get college credit for this question? :msp_confused:
    I'll take a stab at it.... I try to keep all wood off the ground, meaning out of contact with dirt. So, even the rounds that I've cut, but have not split yet, get stacked on wooden pallets. I tend to separate these by the type of tree because once split, I tend to stack by tree types. I also have a separate stack of scrounged rounds that needs further cutting to get my desired length. I separate my split wood by wood type and by (approximately) what year it will be ready to burn. One more pallet is home to knots, crotches and other uglies that I don't want to mess with while hand splitting.

    I have always split by hand, back in my wood working area, near the stacks. I like to put the round or rounds I am working on in an old car tire when I am splitting. This keeps me from having to keep stopping and picking up a piece of wood for further splitting. I have tried splitting on a tree stump but that is just more lifting and allows a shorter arc while swinging your maul/axe.
    I toss the splits into a pile for later stacking. I split with either a 10 pound maul or a Fisker's SS. Really big pieces get a sledge and wedge. I am really starting to lust after a gas powered hydraulic splitter. I thought today was the day. Found a great deal on a barely used Huskee 22 ton but a neighbor/friend decided to back out on a partnership and I can't really justify owning one on my own. So, I'll rent one when I get a big stash of rounds that need to be split. Like now. I have probably three cords that need splitting with two and a half to three more cords still in tree from in my woods and at a nearby neighbors.
    Keep you work area reasonably clean. It's unsafe to be walking over foot deep chips, bark, and sawdust. Rake all that stuff into a pile, bag it or box it and burn it sometime.


    Do you like to take out a few of the site variables and truck logs to your fixed bucking/splitting area instead, or perhaps it's more efficient to move your splitter, etc to the log site and buck 'em there?

    Pretty much answered above.

    Once bucked, then what? Are the logs bucked at splitter height so there's no lifting to get to the splitter, or are the rounds/rings then stacked and if so, are they moved to the splitter and stacked there or stacked where bucked and splitter moved to them?

    Bucking the logs at splitter height seems like a really bad idea. It would require the lifting of large logs up to some sort of rack, buck them to length. Then what are you going to do? Turn off the saw, take that one round and move it over to the splitter, split it, then go back, fire up the saw and cut one more round, repeat, repeat, repeat. That would be a whole lot of extra lifting.
    It's better to buck all the logs into rounds and move your splitter in close to where the rounds are piled. Some people rig up fairly large racks or tables next to the splitter and load several rounds at a time on the rack, making it easier to slide one round up to the splitter at a time. Really large rounds, can be rolled over and split with the splitter in the vertical position so you don't have to lift them. Figure out something that works for you. Do your own time/motion study to eliminate as much lifting and handling as possible. The splitter has wheels for a reason. Take the splitter to the wood, not the wood to the splitter.


    There are lots of guys on the board with far more experience than I have. Everyone does things differently. Take our hints and suggestions and make them work for you.

    Cheers!
     
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  4. TMFARM 2009

    TMFARM 2009 AboristSite Guru

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    there is different types of firewood operations... for instance,
    type 1 ---- the guy who takes saw splitter and truck to woods, fells, bucks, splits loads and hauls home leaving mess at site...
    type 2 ---- the guy who fells, bucks to log length and hauls logs home to finish bucking splitting and stacking at home..
    type 3 ---- the guy who buys logs hauled to him and bucks splits and stacks..
    type 4 ---- the commercial guy who has a processor and other necessary equipment....( type 4 also has many sub categories)
    i personally am a type 1 and 2 depending on weather type of terrain etc.
    the key ingredient to any commercial operation is less handling of product.. the more you handle it the more you have in it..you need to find what works for your situation and make it work for you, not only dollar and cents wise but physically too.
    thats my best advise for ya. hope it helps.:cheers:
     
  5. zogger

    zogger Tree Freak

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    sorta dangerous but it works

    A long time ago I cut a LOT of fence posts and small diameter firewood logs with an arbor saw run by a belt from a tractor side drum PTO. The logs went on a swing table. I hand picked them off a trailer. We cut them down in the woods. You grabbed a log and slid it out, swing it into the spinning arbor saw and zip, cut. I mean, fast as anything. I didn't have a conveyor, but if you had a running conveyor under the end of the swing table where the chunks fell, then a ramp to keep rolling your small logs down to get to them, it would fly. As it was it was like ten times faster than a chainsaw.

    I would imagine nowadays that could be automated with some simple hydraulics. I don't know enough about professional processors to know if anyone uses a big circular saw blade like that anymore, or just the big hydraulic chainsaws. I do know we cut a lot of wood before that big saw blade needed sharpening though.

    Like I said, it was dangerous, but is what we did a long time ago. I even free hand pointed the fence posts with that thing.

    man, the crap you do for a living when you are young and retarded and need the work...

    but..having a dedicated yard with the expensive gear and just getting your logs delivered.....the money in firewood is in the processing and delivering, not in the cutting out in the woods, except for small scale or just doing it on a budget, OR, and this is spiffy, getting paid to cut and remove trees then go right to delivering them to the end user. that's slick. Get paid both ends of the stick that way.

    So, it depends I guess on how much you gotta pay for the wood, or do you get paid to cut and haul away, or is the wood free for the grabbing, or what.


    I don't think any method in the middle is all that great to make money, either do it small scale and keep expenses at a minimum,.,(as in, I know I could live swell on selling one cord of wood per day, heck, half a cord..) or go huge scale with expensive gear and mass quantities.

    The less handling you do, the more per hour you make, either way. Big gear does mass quantities, but it breaks down, inevitable, so you have to ask yourself do you have enough of a financial cushion to absorb big unexpected repair bills..
     
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  6. Kensterfly

    Kensterfly ArboristSite Operative

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    Once I get my current stash split and stack I'll have close to six cords. I only burn about a cord and a half a year, so I'm finally going to be, maybe, four years ahead. That's a nice place to be. But I want to stay ahead and, since I rather enjoy this stuff, I will continue to accumulate wood and process it. I can lay my hands on close to 50 cords of oak that is mine for the taking. If I could sell a few cords a year, that's just gravy and might help me buy a splitter on my own, rather than trying to broker a partnership deal with my neighbor/buddies.
    But I'm not really interested in going into a mass production business.
     
  7. Wood Doctor

    Wood Doctor Edwin

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    It Depends...

    You may look at it this way. The right equipment depends on the scale of operations. The more you can reduce the waste (sawdust) the more efficient the operation. Buzz cutting when bucking to length is more efficient that chain saw bucking. However, there are so many small firewood producers that can't buzz cut the wood and so many thousands of chain saws in the field that can, you have to consider that first.
     
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  8. KiwiBro

    KiwiBro Hold my beer and film this...

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    If there's lots of little stuff, do you bundle them and buck with a saw? We have species here that can stay little but are still great for firewood. It's great they don't need splitting either (if they are already pretty dry or there is no major rush to dry them). cut off saws are not particularly portable, but are quick, hardly ever need sharpening, cheap to run, and produce naff-all waste. I'm not championing them over chainsaws, but acknowledging a horses for courses approach may dictate not ruling them out of every scenario, unless you and others consider there are faster, cheaper ways of bucking little stuff with the chainsaw? If so, please sing out as that is what this thread is all about-finding the optimal ways.

    Yes, a stack of logs. Buck in the pile or pull that pile apart and get the logs down to ground level where they can't roll or move about so much?

    That's what I'm thinking. Load the table with logs, buck many logs with each chainsaw cut, producing more rounds per cut (but at the expense of time and gear to load the tables). From the table, rounds can be rolled onto roller tables or straight onto the splitter table rather than be dropped to ground, stacked on ground or pallets, as this simply means many have to be returned to splitter table height later (double handling and extra effort).

    I've noticed there are quite a few logs high that I can cut in one pass without too much binding on the bar/chain. You mentioned above you agree with getting the logs off the pile and down to ground level to buck as it's safer. How would do you do that if faced with a pile of logs? What I'm thinking of here is a slightly modified log trailer with boom whereby the trailer becomes the bucking table and the boom loads the trailer either from the log pile or fallen/trimmed logs, or a winch on the boom can skid logs if the trailer can't get into where the logs are.

    I agree, to do it one cut at a time (cut round, then split round) is utterly absurd. but with a log trailer acting as a bucking table, and/or additional tables within the boom's reach, that's a decent amount of rounds to be cut with a tank of gas at a time, for example. It's a matter of extra rods (or some other way - I'm all ears) to hold those loose bucked rounds in-situ until they can be rolled off onto an adjacent roller conveyor or splitter table.

    . That's what I find quite interesting about this. Given the same scenario, two guys might approach it differently, but there has to be an optimal way for each scenario and one or both of those guys haven't figured it out or can't afford the gear.
    so I'm asking questions, getting ideas, trying to stay open minded but not so open ideas don't 'stick'.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2011
  9. Kensterfly

    Kensterfly ArboristSite Operative

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    When you start talking about roller tables and conveyor belts and modified log trailers with booms-- you are getting way out of my league. I'm just trying to heat our home at the lowest possible cost. That means NEVER paying for wood, providing my own labor and keeping all other costs to a minimum. For me, and speaking only for me, the expenditure of thousands and thousands of dollars in equipment is totally, economically self-defeating.
     
  10. zogger

    zogger Tree Freak

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    A sawbuck

    Well, sure, use a saw buck then. You can slap three or four small logs together on a decent home made sawbuck and cut through them all at once with a decent enough saw and big bar. I do a slight variation on that in the field, just accumulate a lot of big branches, prop them across some medium chunks, and buck several at once. Just depends on the tree, if there are enough smaller and long and near straight branches I can do that.

    I use a lot of smaller stuff for my personal firewood, stuff that doesn't need splitting, as I have to clear it anyway and handle it, I burn it then. Ton of small sweetgums and whatnot that grow along fence lines and like to take over the edges of pastures.

    Your cutoff saw idea is similar to what I said above with an arbor saw with a swing table, just what moves is reversed. A cutoff saw, the blade swings down and cuts the wood and the table stays put. An arbor saw blade just sits in one place, and the swing table swings in to push the wood against the blade, then you swung it back down, shove the log forward and do it again.

    Have to admit, when I was running that I never did more than one log at a time though.

    The only thing to consider is the damage to an expensive saw blade (and possible shrapnel) as opposed to just goobering up some links on a chain if and when you hit trash in the wood. Heck, ya never know, I have even found embedded bullets in wild trees I have cut (thankfully never with the arbor saw though)

    small scale like you want....see if you can deliver to the customer directly from the woods, you handle the wood less then, loading into truck, unloading at customers. No middle stop back at your place where it gets handled again. Just make them aware this is GREEN WOOD and it should season well before burning. If they want dry wood, ready to burn right that second, that has been sitting in your yard for a year, the price goes up obviously, because you have to handle it twice as much, plus you are paying rent/your note on your property, and the stacked up wood costs you money to store (more or less, you know what I mean)
     
  11. SPDRMNKY

    SPDRMNKY ArboristSite Dork

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    $$ or $$$$$$$$

    efficiency is in essence "time", and that comes down to money

    if you don't have the money, then you're going to have to invest the time

    if you have the money, then you can spend that and invest less time

    personal preference: I'm not jumping into a firewood business until I have a high volume source and a market that justifies a dedicated lot and processor...no source yet, so not even any market research done

    that being said, when I cut my firewood for winter, I try to process everything on site and leave with a trailer of "billets" ready to put in the stack...minimizes handling time

    otherwise you fall it, limb it, buck it, and then load (handle) it onto the rig...

    then unload (handle) it onto your pile...

    then maybe buck (handle) the longer chunks to length...

    then split (handle) it all, and stack (handle) it all...

    and heaven forbid you have to move (handle) it from a drying stack to your winter stacking spot...!

    lastly, we all bring (handle) it in to burn in the stove...of whatever sort

    minimize your handling, and you'll maximize your efficiency!
    (you will hit a point where you'll have to invest money to increase efficiency, but you can go a long way first)

    safety may appear to decrease efficiency, but it is an investment worth making...take the long road on that one!

    I don't have the money, so I invest the time, and usually handle my firewood about 6 times...kills me, but it is what it is for now

    perhaps a mobile shear-type processor would work well for a one man show? (winch the logs into the processor where they're cut to billet length and split)


    cheers!
     
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  12. Kensterfly

    Kensterfly ArboristSite Operative

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    Please define "billet." I'm not familiar with the term.
     
  13. leon

    leon AboristSite Guru

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    The Chomper with the winch and the 0-4-8 way head would work very well for shearing logs to length and they will dry quicky.
     
  14. SPDRMNKY

    SPDRMNKY ArboristSite Dork

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    that's a nice option...if it's marketable...info stored in noodle...thanks!:msp_thumbup:
     
  15. SPDRMNKY

    SPDRMNKY ArboristSite Dork

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    apologies...

    billet = piece/chunk of wood all processed (cut to stove length, split, maybe seasoned), and ready to put on drying stack or in stove
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2011
  16. Kensterfly

    Kensterfly ArboristSite Operative

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    Like a dry split?
     
  17. SPDRMNKY

    SPDRMNKY ArboristSite Dork

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    see edited post...clarity improved
     
  18. Kensterfly

    Kensterfly ArboristSite Operative

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    Okay, billet = split. I figured it was a British term but I see you're in Kansas. All this time reading these boards and I've never seen the term before other than the usual use, as in a housing assignment. Thanks!
     
  19. indiansprings

    indiansprings Firewood Purveyor

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    We almost always are cutting tops left behind by logging operations and the cull logs that are left behind.

    I typically use one guy and a 50 hp 4wd tractor and loader to pull all the tops to one central "landing".
    There I will use one of two guys to do nothing but limb and cut wood to lenght and pile the small limbs to burn.

    After we have a huge pile of rounds, I take everyone (4-5 guys) and we will do nothing but split and load. Currently we use two hydraulic splitters and splitting mauls. I'm hoping to have a super split by fall.
    We will put as large of piece on the splitter that two guys can lift.
    If two guys can't pick it up, I'll either noodle it quarter it up or use logging tongs and the front loader to sit in on the splitter.

    Last year we processed over 400 cord (410-420) this way and about 375-380 the year before. This year we hope to stay close to the same. We'll start stock piling at our wood lot in September, almost all our wood is seasoned unless a customer specifies gren wood, which several do.

    The tractor and loader are key components of the operation.

    I've tried it other ways, but find dragging to a central location the best for my circumstances. Chainsaws do 100% of the "bucking" to lenght.
     
  20. Kensterfly

    Kensterfly ArboristSite Operative

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    If I was in the firewood business I'd definitely invest in a Super Split.
     

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