Trying to optimize firewood processing

dave_dj1

dave_dj1

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Just throwing this out there for setting pallets on the ground, in years past I have tried everything from landscape timbers to pieces of leftover framing material (they all froze to the ground but the pallet didn't) Since I have to drive over each timber to get the next pallet the landscape timbers didn't work well for me. The framing blocks were a pain to plow over as the pallets got used up. This year I am trying something different, I laid out 6 mil black poly and just sat the pallets on that. If the pallet freezes to the poly it should just rip up, time will tell.
24 half pallets should get me through most of the winter.
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cantoo

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I have A gravel down and then put old 2x6 lumber on that to set the skids of wood on. If you look at the bottom of the skids you will see that it is made with 2 pcs of 2x4 stacked on the bottom. The very bottom piece is nailed from the bottom up and only has 8 nails holding it. If it does manage to freeze down it just pulls the bottom 2x4 off. I also did this so that when the bottom piece rots I can pry it off easy and put another one on it. I try to use Pressure treated or Sienna lumber for this piece also.
 

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AKoz

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First time poster here. There are some nice high volume operations here. I tried the pallet "containers" once but I used pallets on the sides as well and found they were too bulky. I may have to revisit that idea as eliminating stacking/restacking is the best.
Back to the OPs operation which is just for his own use, I am a one man operation that cuts and splits about 2-3 cords for my own consumption. The three best things I found are:
  1. My splitter sits at waist height. I built a table off my high spliitter so I split standing up.
  2. I use a length of 10' conveyor rollers to move the split wood to the exact spot on the ground where the wood will be stacked from. The conveyor rollers can be easily moved to point to different spots withouit moving the splitter. It doesn't sound like much but the effort of throwing the wood adds up and once the pile reaches the height of the roller I am forced to stack it rather than let it pile up for later.
  3. I transport the logs to the splitting site with a tractor with a set of forks in the bucket. I used to dump the logs then cut or try to dump on a saw buck then cut. This year I began cutting them as they rest on the forks at waist height and I find it safer and easier. It also keeps the splitting site less cluttered and tidy since I am only bringing over as many logs as I will work on for that session. I use the bucket to lift rounds up to the splitting table. I can lift 3-4 or more per bucket and slide them onto the table as needed.
Right now I stack the wood under a pole barn porch for seasoning then transfer to a 4x6 trailer which I move to my home's basement garage for carrying to the stove. If I could replace loading into the trailer that would be a real plus. That has to be done repeatedly over the winter and is the most dreaded. moving stacks with the tractor would be sweet.

tl:dr Get a tractor with a loader that can accommodate forks. Carry the the logs from where they are now and for each load buck them by the wood stack and split there, rinse, repeat.
 
Wombat Ranger

Wombat Ranger

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@OP

For the most part I agree with Ted Jenkins on the concept of "Do what you can with what you got." If you're already going to buy a tractor, you'll find out quick where it is useful, and also you'll find out that some things you're dreaming of a tractor for may not end up being so practical.

I have a Case 580L 4x4 Backhoe and I've never used it for anything firewood related except one time when it was already in use for something else one day, I did some bucking on one end of the property and used the loader to dump them next to my splitter. And while I would love to put a thumb on the hoe end and pick up full logs off the ground for bucking (among many other uses) the truth is I am not often bucking full length logs at the house, because I usually get my firewood in the mountains. My firewood operation includes a pickup & sometimes a little trailer for gathering, a couple saws and a hydraulic splitter, plus axes and mauls etc.

The best advise I think I could give would be, make whatever adjustments to your system that it takes to be able to do all your cutting and splitting in one place. Anything that saves you even just ONE "handling" of your firewood adds up to hours or days over the course of your 10 cord yearly appetite. Now, if that means storing your spilts further from the house, you may have a wife to contend with, so consider that as well. My wood shed is 25ft from the back door and we use a little wagon to get 2-4 days of wood at a time, we load the wagon and drag it inside where we park it next to the stove.
 
Sandhill Crane

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Each photo shows one or more tweaks to improve in some way.
The first photo was to eliminate stacking. That was expensive to make the change from building wood racks/stacking/repairing wood racks, etc., and has really helped with that bottleneck. Hopefully cost effective as well over time.
Most adjustments are relatively low cost improvements.
IMG_7971.jpg
I had made improvements on wood rack design. Also to the bin, reversing the scaffold jacks (ends) and adding doors to access the back of the bin from the sides, allowing three racks to be staged to fill. One in front and one on each end.
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This shows alternating pallets to strengthen the support when double stacking. The bottom pallet is upside down for more surface area on the uneven tops of lower bundles.
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This shows two improvements. The hydraulic lift cylinder was an add-on mod. The 4" x 6"'s help realign the conveyor with the Posch when moved and used to load a customers truck. Actually it has not moved since but will help if necessary.
IMG_4788.jpg
I added a log deck at some point for cutting on both sides of the splitter. Also moded the SuperSplit with four wheels. The tongue is leaning against the tree, and pins behind the nursery wagon to tow to container, making set up and pickup simpler.
IMG_0023.jpg
This shows junk bin relocated next to conveyor and nursery wagon workbench with everything I need on it. Later I added a vice to the back rack of the quad for sharpening.

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This was the phenolic SuperSplit mod.
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Early set up, seemed like the saw was always four steps away. Included wider sacrificial tables to cut on.
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Used ice tongues for years with old hydraulic splitter. Replaced with pulp hook. Still using log deck here, but splitter is turned 180° and split into trailer to head to wood shed for personal use.
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Filled in one of the log decks for short pieces and noodling. Have since added peavey holes to second 4" x 6" for moving logs endwise easier.
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Another photo, not included, is the log decks removed from their spot, with a huge mound of bark and debris underneath. I've made the log decks easier to pick up and move with the fork lift for occasional and necessary clean up.
 
Sandhill Crane

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Log rolled off front of log deck when loading logs, but it's expected and planned for. Drag it out and re-load onto log deck. Vice mounted on quad for sharpening.IMG_3267.jpg
Log deck removed for clean up. The log deck framing on the right was built in 2013, made of timbers and treated plywood fastened with screws and fender washers.IMG_3315.jpg
Splitter turned 180° so the log deck/cutting table is still useable.IMG_0240.jpg
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AKoz

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That is a nice operation. I only do a few cords per year for myself so there are not many ideas I can take from you. I really like the that log deck with the peavey holes but I just can't justify it. Great design though. You operation looks real clean and safe.
 
sgbotsford

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Some comments on an interesting thread:

1. I never stack. My woodshed is split in half. each side holds 8-9 cords. Sides are made of pallets, so there's good air flow through the shed. Stacking is too time consuming.

2. I cut and split in the bush. I have a sawbuck about 5 feet log (4 log segments. Logs are cut into chunks small enough to lift. For small diameter stuff, this can be 12-16 feet. If it's less than 4 segments long, I cut it where it lies.

3. I fill the sawbuck up. It has unequal sides so I can do about 14-18" thick stack about 2.5 feet tall.

4. Fire up the saw and start at one end to the sawbuck and mark segment lengths outward. Cut back. If I have a lot of long logs, I have to alternate ends. It takes 2 passes to get through the entire stack, as I only have a 16" bar.

5. Anything small enough to pick up with one hand isn't split but goes directly to the trailer.

6. Everything else is split until it can be picked up with one hand. (I split by hand with a maul)

7. With larger chunks, I split slabs off the outside, all the way around. May or may not split the core.

Overall it takes about a day to cut and store a cord. (I'm almost 70 -- cut me some slack)
 
Windyhill

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Some comments on an interesting thread:

1. I never stack. My woodshed is split in half. each side holds 8-9 cords. Sides are made of pallets, so there's good air flow through the shed. Stacking is too time consuming.

2. I cut and split in the bush. I have a sawbuck about 5 feet log (4 log segments. Logs are cut into chunks small enough to lift. For small diameter stuff, this can be 12-16 feet. If it's less than 4 segments long, I cut it where it lies.

3. I fill the sawbuck up. It has unequal sides so I can do about 14-18" thick stack about 2.5 feet tall.

4. Fire up the saw and start at one end to the sawbuck and mark segment lengths outward. Cut back. If I have a lot of long logs, I have to alternate ends. It takes 2 passes to get through the entire stack, as I only have a 16" bar.

5. Anything small enough to pick up with one hand isn't split but goes directly to the trailer.

6. Everything else is split until it can be picked up with one hand. (I split by hand with a maul)

7. With larger chunks, I split slabs off the outside, all the way around. May or may not split the core.

Overall it takes about a day to cut and store a cord. (I'm almost 70 -- cut me some slack)
Treat yourself to a log splitter…you’ve put your. Time in👍
 
WoodyGuy

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I ran across this thread and have read with interest ... I'm in a very similar situation as the original poster - I feed an outdoor furnace for one house, and heat my own house with a indoor stove, burning around 15 cords a season.

To me, efficient firewood processing boils down to the number of touches ... reduce the number, and increase the efficiency. As others have said, cutting and splitting right where your final pile is one key way to work smart. You mention that you're going to be getting a compact tractor ... IMO, if you get a rugged 'nuff one, and use it wisely, you can save yourself all kinds of work. I have a JD 970 and have a fork rig for the front and also a 3 point fork rig. Either end maxes out around a ton, but one thing to keep in mind is that lifting something at full capacity with front forks is one thing - moving that load around is
another - if your terrain is really smooth, not a big deal as long as you take it slow - bumpy or uneven terrain is a different story - doesn't take much of a bump/dip to put some real torque on loader arms/etc.

Sounds like right now, you're at 5 touches

1 - rounds to splitter
2 - splits to trailer
3 - trailer to stack
4 - stack to trailer/whatever
5 - trailer/whatever into stove

Assuming you get a tractor with enough nuts for the work, first thing I see is to use it (with forks) to pick a log from the pile and cart it over to the stacking area, and cut it at waist height right there (as mentioned, cutting at waist height is priceless - once you try it, you won't go back to cutting on the ground). That move alone just saved you one touch,
which effectively cuts your touches by 20%

1 - rounds to splitter
2 - off splitter to stack
3 - stack to trailer/whatever
4 - trailer/whatever into stove

If you get your stack right next to the stove, that eliminates another touch, and you've saved 40% in touches

1 - rounds to splitter
2 - off splitter to stack
3 - stack into stove

Not a bad increase in efficiency - predicated on your comment that you're getting a compact anyway.
I would definitely recommend getting a dedicated fork attachment Vs clamp on forks for your bucket.
The main benefit is being able to see the ends of the forks. I had clamp ons for years, and when I
got the dedicated rig, I couldn't believe how much easier life was at the controls. Also, clamp ons
push the load way further out in front, and don't do any good as far as stress on the bucket goes.
If you can get a tractor with the quick change setup between bucket and forks, you'll never regret it.

If you get a rugged tractor, the next step would be to palletize at the log pile

1 - rounds to splitter
2 - off splitter onto pallet
3 - off pallet into stove

This step will require making your pallets, so not as pain free as the first two steps.

I cut from the 70 acres where I live. Typically, I'll drag stems to a good spot near
where the trees are at I'm cutting, and cut/split/palletize there (I use a 3 point splitter),
and then make the rounds at some point with my rear fork rig to cart the loaded pallets
to the final storage area.

There's only about a thousand different ways to skin this cat, but given your initial description,
seems like the first two touch eliminating suggestions above are no-brainers.

Hag Man
 
FlyingDutchman

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I use a rack system as well. My racks are 8ft by 2 foot concrete forms with 3 ft high side boards on each end. Hold roughly less than a face cord.

I place them on 2 chunks of railroad ties and stack the wood off the truck into place. The rail ties keep from freezing to the ground and give space for forks . Then when I need wood I scoop them up with the loader and place by the stove. This is a delicate tippy operation usually requires two people but moves lots of wood with minimal effort usually. Unless the snow is especially deep on them and frozen together I usually take the pieces off the top.
I've tried splitting directly onto the racks then putting them in place but its too challenging to place them loaded.

The idea is reducing handling steps and effort with little to no cost.
 
Sandhill Crane

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The idea is reducing handling steps and effort with little to no cost.

It cost a fair amount to do pallets and netting as I do, but the end result is nicely seasoned wood, it can be is easily moved, it maximizes the space I have to work with, and reduces the amount of handling by hand.
It took me way to long to switch to a dump trailer, which I load by hand, but eliminated unloading by hand, which I had to do previously with the 12' flatbed. IMG_4982.jpgIMG_3657.jpg
 
Ontario Firewood Resource

Ontario Firewood Resource

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Attached is a current birds eye sketch for what my place looks like around the firewood and boiler situation. I burn around 10 cord/yr if it's a cold one. The past few years I cut at the pile and "sort" for splits vs stack. All splitting is done from near the log pile and then I load and run everything over to the stack area. I have always either used a small 4x8 trailer or my garden tractor with an even smaller yard trailer. I have been trying to think of ways to make it more efficient.

The location of the delivered wood is pretty much where it has to be. There is no room for it between the stove and stacks (The picture isn't well scaled in that area). Along side the stacks or behind the garage is the garden area so that doesn't work either...

I am getting closer to a purchase of a compact tractor and my only idea is to maybe use pallet forks and bring the logs over to the pile to cut/split/stack right in one location.

Anyone have any input as to how they might approach my scenario?

View attachment 929332
Conveyor
 
Brufab

Brufab

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I have a single area for bucking splitting and stacking though I have only 5 cords stacked, not the 10-20 you would want.

I'm burning trees from my property. I carry logs from the field to the splitting area with a grapple on the tractor. Split wood gets stacked into IBC tote cages or on wooden platforms made from large pallets on blocks. (I want to build a wood shed but it hasn't happened yet). I use forks on the tractor to carry totes up to the house. A 275 gallon tote can hold about .4 of a cord if you stack it a little high to account for shrinkage. With green dense hardwood that's over 2000 lbs. It's nearing the limit of what my tractor can handle both loader lift wise and weight wise, and the tractor weighs more than the usual compact tractor. IBC totes are not the most space-efficient way to stack wood since they're only 4' high. But with them I can save some handling.
Thanks for the info! Me and the old man were always wondering that. Amazing knowledge!
 
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