I miss cutting firewood. A “memory” popped up on my Facebook page from just three years ago. A picture showed my pickup loaded with wood. The comment from that day said, “not a bad hour’s work, especially since I had to gas up and change chains.”
I had cut down a dead red oak, cut its trunk into sections about 26 inches long to fit into my wood burning insert, and loaded them in the truck. They were big enough that three filled the bed across, and there were about 21 pieces total.
In 1981 when I moved into my current house it had a wood burning insert. I bought a Sears chainsaw and learned to use it; I had never used one. I also learned a lot about different kinds of wood, how much effort it took to split wood with a maul and the best way to load my insert and get a good fire that would last all night.
The first five years here I did not even light the pilot light on my furnace. We put a sheet over the stairwell to the unused upstairs and used a fan in the doorway to move warm air into the bedroom. Then one March while I was gone for six days to fish a Top Six tournament, Linda got pneumonia and could not get wood or build a fire.
I lit the pilot light as soon as I got home.
Splitting wood was always my least favorite part of the process. After I turned 60, using a hand maul hurt! A gas splitter solved that problem and made it go much faster.
I liked red oak wood since it cut cleanly, split evenly and burned down to good coals that lasted a long time. White oak was similar but the grain was not quite as clean. Hickory was great but I did not have many hickory trees I could cut, and I saved them for grilling. I mostly cut trees that had died in the past year, the wood was still good and I did not remove live trees from my land.
I liked burning pine and popular during the day since I didn’t need to produce good coals. Both split easily, were light weight to carry and easy to light and get burning fast. The smell of burning pine is my second favorite burning wood smell. And the “pop“ of burning popular was not a problem in my enclosed fireplace insert.
I never cut down a cedar tree on my land, but after having some timber clearcut there were a dozen big cedars that were damaged. I cut them and used some trunks for posts, but cut most of it up into two-foot-long sections. I would add one to the fire during the day and make the yard and house smell wonderful!
Sweetgum was just about impossible to split by hand but my gas splitter handled it fine. Sweetgum really doesn’t split, its twisting grains just tear apart with enough pressure. It burned without producing coals, but it was the most plentiful type of tree on my land and was pretty useless for wildlife. So I cut and burned a lot of it during the day to produce fast, hot first that warmed the house quickly..
I haven’t been able to cut wood for two years now and have not had a fire for the past two winters. Maybe again someday.