By the definition, firewood is any wood material that can be used for heating or fueling. But more specifically, it refers to unprocessed pieces of wood, such as branches and logs, that can be burned in domestic and commercial ovens and fire pits for purposes such as cooking, steam engine fueling and coal production, just to name a few. Anywhere, where the heat energy can be transformed into mechanical energy and used to do the work, firewood can become handy. Nevertheless, with the development of new technologies in the last 80 years that allow us to use materials that generate more energy, commercial use of firewood significantly diminished and now firewood is commonly used as an optional home heating material or during camping trips and BBQ’s,
Firewood is generally classified as hardwood or softwood, and the classification depends on the tree type and area where the tree was cut down. Different types of wood have different fueling properties, which means that not all wood will be good firewood. Some types, such as mahogany, are too good to be firewood, which is why they are used for furniture production or construction.
Most forest areas in the United States allow citizens to cut down some type of trees, but only with a Forest Service-issued permit. When it comes to trees from your property, there are no laws that forbid turning them into firewood.
Many enthusiasts seek to make sawing for firewood a DIY project and therefore cut these procedures’ costs. Additionally, since this is an extensive procedure, families tend to create a project in which every member can participate. But there are several important issues with this.
First, sawing firewood is dangerous, and if you have no experience working with heavy machinery or tools, you should stay away from it. It also requires good safety gear, because wood debris created in the process can hurt any bystander. Also, as mentioned, not all wood is good firewood. For example, high-density wet wood will not be a good fueling source. It might just take away your energy while giving nothing in return. Other types are too valuable for firewood and it is better to use them for other purposes.
Understanding how to choose the best firewood for your needs and how to properly cut it requires following specific steps, and more importantly, sometimes it would mean hiring professional help. We bring you the steps to follow during the process of sawing for firewood, as well as pieces of advice and some tricks and tips on how to make this task safe for you and your environment.
First and foremost, successful sawing of the firewood requires specific, good-quality equipment and safety gear that will help you make the best results and keep you safe from any possible hazards.
Since safety always comes first, we will start with protection.
When sawing firewood, always use protective glasses, goggles, or face shields, because wood debris created in the process can fly everywhere and hurt sensitive parts of your body, such as your face. If it gets in your eye, it might cause severe pain, and infection and sometimes even cause you to lose sight. Safety glasses protect your eyes from direct impact but are not protecting the side of your eyes. Unlike them, safety goggles create a shield all around your eyes, which is why they are one of the best pieces of safety equipment. The face shield can protect your face from above, but not below, so keep it in mind and be careful when choosing the right protection for your face and eyes.
The other sensitive parts of your head are your ears. Because sawing firewood requires you to use loud heavy machinery, such as motor saws, it is highly recommended to use ear protection. You can use earplugs or earmuffs, or combine them for extra protection.
You should also use a helmet to protect the rest of your head because you just never know where will debris hit you. Sometimes, larger chunks of wood can start flying around. If they hit you in the head, you might end up with a serious injury.
Besides that, using motor saws can be dangerous for your legs, because of the position in which you are sawing. While pushing through the wood, make sure that you take a good stance and that your legs are protected, because even the smallest slip can cause a serious injury. For keeping your legs safe, you can use chaps and steel-toe boots. These come as excellent pieces of protective gear, especially in cases when you are doing the firewood sawing for the first time.
Firewood production sometimes includes climbing the tree, which is why you should ensure that you are using high-quality equipment, such as ropes, winches, pulleys, and straps. Before you start climbing the tree, check your equipment and arm yourself with safety gear.
When taking down a tree and turning it into firewood, the most important step, besides choosing good safety gear, is choosing the right tools. You can choose a wide arrange of equipment, from axes to chainsaws.
When deciding what is the right tool for your needs and goals, consider your safety and the tree’s size, moisture, and density. For small dry wood, you can use an axe or a handsaw. If you are dealing with large, hard, and wet wood, a chainsaw is a better choice. For removing branches, you can use pruning saws, loppers, or hatchets.
Chainsaw is one of the most popular and most commonly used tools in firewood production. It cuts the tree without having to put too much manual labor in the process, compared to using an axe, hatchet, or a handsaw, but only if you know how to use it. Chainsaws come in different sizes. Smaller ones are used for smaller trees or larger branches, while large ones are able to remove and cut big tree trunks. Because of their mechanical nature, chainsaws are dangerous, and using safety gear (goggles, helmets, and protective boots) is mandatory.
Regular chainsaw maintenance is also essential for the results that you want to have. Oil and sharpener play a significant role in the care of your chainsaw. Oil is vital due to its protective impact on the chain and bars while being effective against rust, wear, and corrosion. The sharpener is essential since a dull chainsaw blade can take you longer than usual, and there are safety risks, such as the probability of a kickback.
If you think a chainsaw is not the best option, we suggest using the axe. Naturally, it all depends on the size of the tree. Just like a chainsaw, an axe requires experience and can easily hurt you. Using safety gear (goggles, head and feet protection) is required. While axes might not be able to cut down all trees, especially large ones, they are great for splitting wood into smaller pieces or cutting off excess branches from a laying tree.
Handsaws are also a good choice for firewood sawing. They come in different sizes, adjustable to the size of the tree. For smaller trees, you can use smaller handsaws, while larger trees might require some teamwork – using large handsaws requires at least two people. Because of their sharp blade that can easily cut you, always use protective hand gloves, as well as protective goggles, helmets, and boots.
Polesaws are a great asset in sawing firewood. They can help you before you even take down the tree. With them, you can easily remove branches that are ten feet away, without climbing the tree or a ladder. But just like regular chainsaws, they are dangerous and require experience, as well as protective gear for your head and body.
All of these tools are dangerous, so that should be the first eliminating step when choosing the right one for you. If you have no experience in using heavy machinery such as chainsaws, keep it safe and hire professionals, because you could seriously injure yourself. But even if you have some experience with different tools, hiring experts might be a wiser and safer decision, because firewood production is hard manual labor that might take days and break your back.
The legality of the sawing for firewood is a long-time disputed topic. Many do this job illegally, and therefore you should be careful. In case you don’t want to deal with the administration and all possible issues that it brings, we suggest you hire a team of professionals. They are already used to the process, and for them, this administrative procedure lasts shorter or is already finished since they deal with this job daily. Additionally, you avoid any further costs that the permit requires and you save yourself a lot of time, while also reducing the possibility of an injury.
On the other hand, if you still want to do this project on your own, you should consult the National Forest Service in your region. Every one of them has a unique set of guidelines you should follow in case you want to obtain a temporary or permanent permit for cutting firewood. According to the law, you should always have your receipt around you.
Features of a Tree
Besides adequate tools and protective gear that are preconditions for successful firewood sawing, one should also pay attention to the tree chosen for cutting. You should know what the best firewood types of trees are.
You will want to select the dry tree with fibers that provide a long burn since wet or sap trees may produce excess soot when burning, which can be problematic for your chimney. Wet softwood trees, because of their inner structure, are not a good fuel and not a good choice for firewood. That is why they are mostly used in furniture or building material production, so try to avoid using them for firewood.
When cutting wood, you should also pay attention to the length that needs to be complementary to the type of stove you own. In other words, you should adjust the tree chunks’ size before storing and using them. Particular caution is also required when predicting a path where the tree will fall. Many accidents may occur if this is not handled correctly. For example, a tree might fall on a road, pull down powerlines, or fall on houses or cars, which causes a lot of damage.
Uncontrolled firewood production can reduce the size of a forest, which results in air pollution and natural habitat reduction. Some trees take years to release seeds and grow again naturally. That is why you should plant a few trees for every tree you cut down. That way, you will help nature to heal faster. Find and cut only trees that have strong regenerative power. That way you will ensure ecosystems are not harmed by sawing.
Some National Forest Service regulations require removing only dead or downed trees within the width of the roadway or any area designated by the permit. Some rules also emphasize which tree is not allowed to be removed using marks or signs referring to the site.
What can be concluded from all presented is that you should take extreme caution when sawing firewood. This procedure requires extensive equipment and readiness, especially regarding safety. Additionally, one should not forget legal requirements that can cause delays in the process and extra costs.
Therefore, hiring a tree service seems like the best solution that can be time adequate and easily maneuvered without having to deal with all the possible issues before finishing the actual job. Cutting trees requires excellent knowledge about the features that it has to have to be adequate as firewood, an area from which you it should be taken as well as the proper way to cut it down without harming the environment.