I’m back!

Figuring out how to keep a steady stream of firewood moving from the woodpile to the woodstove, with a little help from my friends!

Hauling in firewood.

Pals Pam, Robin, Geoffrey and Nadia came over on a beautiful November afternoon and split about 2-3 cords of wood for me. The wood had been delivered, 3 years ago, already split, but still too heavy for me to pick up now that I’m in a wheelchair.

Wood splitting team!

The splitter itself is a much smaller machine than I thought it would be and runs on gas. I rented it from Saugeen Sales and Rentals in Durham (Ontario) for $60 per day. Geoffrey picked it up because he has a trailer hitch on his car. It was super easy to use and at one point I controlled the lever which just pushes the blade back and forth, whiile everyone else fed wood into it, or stacked. Wood is placed at either end of the blade action so you split one way then the other. We were done in 2 hours!

The Splitter.

How to stack wood

Every man [sic] looks at his wood-pile with a kind of affection. I loved to have mine before my window, and the more chips the better to remind me of my pleasing work. [1] — Henry David Thoreau

Falling down is the one wrong thing a stack of wood can do. [2] — Dirk Thomas

Last winter I ran out of wood, mainly because I was at home more and at my city sublet less. This was a big drag, especially after I saw my hydro bills. I have two sources of heat in my house: electric baseboard, which I use when I’m away, and airtight wood stove. Electric baseboard heat was costing me $300 a month! I nearly choked, rates had gone up so much.

Winter wood

So I asked a friend if I could buy some wood from him; he always has alot of it stacked in his yard. Here we are, digging it out of the snowbank, stacking it into the tractor bucket, loading it into the trailer.

It was freezing and alot of work to do this, and in the end the wood was too wet to burn properly. I vowed to get a load of wood in for the next winter.

Klemmer Lumber was delivering mixed loads – half hardwood, half slab wood, at a good price so I had it delivered. Daunting task ahead to stack it but the big problem was where to stack it!

Wood delivery

Continue reading How to stack wood

How to bank a fire in an airtight stove

The purpose of banking a fire is to keep it going overnight, or for a long period of time when you can’t tend it. There’s nothing better than waking up on a cold morning to find that your fire is still hot and all you have to do is throw on some more wood to get it roaring again.

Fires need fuel and air to burn. In banking a fire, you give it lots of fuel (wood) but restrict the air getting to the wood. Two things you do to restrict the air getting to the wood is to smother the burning wood in cold ash, and close down your damper. Properly banked, a fire will remain hot for several hours – up to 8 or 10 – and continue to burn, but at a very slow, low rate, because the air flow is restricted. This is the trick to understanding how to bank your fire.

Banked fire

Here are the steps I use to bank the fire in my old airtight wood stove:

1. burn enough wood at a hot heat to create a good hot bed of coals by the time you want to bank it

2. place 2-4 big heavy pieces of hardwood closely together on top of the coals

3. cover the wood with 2-3 inches of cold ash from your ash pail, pile it up along the sides and top (this is what’s known as banking) – don’t use hot ashes

4. make sure all flames are out, cover with more ash if necessary – don’t worry, you won’t put it out! You want the fire to remain as hot coals, a slow smolder, not flaming

5. close the damper down so just a small amount of air gets in to the stove

Position of dampers

6. in the morning, remove as much ash as possible (so you have a good amount of cold ash to use that night), add wood and presto