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Author Topic: Wood Cutting Question  (Read 1465 times)

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Offline lil171

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Wood Cutting Question
« on: November 08, 2018, 10:57:17 PM »
Hi all. Sorry if this is the wrong place to post this, but thought it may fit here. Anyways, I have just one simple question regarding wood cutting. I am new to cutting wood for my own pleasure, but have been wondering how to best cut wood to the same length? I am jealous of everyone else having their wood all very close to the same length, while mine somehow vary quite a bit. I would just like my little wood pile to look nice and uniform, not as ugly as it does now. I do not feel like marking every piece I cut, and was hoping there was an easy answer. Thank you.

Offline KEC

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Re: Wood Cutting Question
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2018, 11:21:09 PM »
Don't think you should worry about perfect length wood as long as it fits in the stove.   I like some variety in length so I can chose a piece to burn to suit conditions i.e. short stuff during the day and longer at night. Cut hard to split stuff a little shorter if you split by hand. In time you'll get better at eye-balling it. In the meantime, cut an expendable stick (or 3 or 4). to lay on your logs the length that you want like a yard stick.

Offline barbender

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Re: Wood Cutting Question
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2018, 11:24:04 PM »
Some use the bar length to measure, it's a little tedious but it works. There's attachments that can go on your saw, the one replaces your bar nut with a fiberglass rod of the correct length. Another type uses a magnt to attach a rod to your bar. I haven't used either, I can see myself losing the magnet typen and getting sick of my saw being unwieldy with the bolt on one. One I just saw on here the other day, I can't remember whi posted it. It was just a wire tied around the handle, with a straight piece that added to the body of the saw equaled the wood length. It folded out of the way when not in use. Simple is good, I'm going to try that one next time I cut firewood👍
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Offline ButchC

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Re: Wood Cutting Question
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2018, 08:48:00 AM »
I am with KEC, a little variety in the pile comes in handy. 

Probably the best set up I have seen involves a wheel with a paint marker attached. You roll it along the log and it paces a mark every X amount determined by the diameter of the wheel. Search "Mingo Marker"
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: Wood Cutting Question
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2018, 09:41:18 AM »
Take a piece of scrap pvc pipe say 3/4" or so, maybe 3 bucked pieces long.  put a sheetrock screw through each end so it protrudes about an inch.   Spray some orange or red on the ends so you know not to grab there.  

Mark the cut lengths with electrical tape wraps along the pipe.  Different colors for different graduations. Plop it on, tap it down, walk the length with your saw and put a little ding at each spot then unhook the one end, swivel it around down the next segment, tap it in, ding ding ding your marks as you walk back to buck off the starting end.  You can always shift it to get around crotches you dont want to bother hand splitting. 
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Offline lil171

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Re: Wood Cutting Question
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2018, 10:10:42 AM »
Thanks all for the tips and advice. I will search the Mingo Marker, and like the other ideas. Thanks again.

Offline John Mc

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Re: Wood Cutting Question
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2018, 07:45:01 PM »
Here is my wire on the handle gauge which Barbender mentioned. I got the idea from a retired instructor of the Forestry and Natural Resources program at a local career center. He had a commercially made unit that worked the same way. Mine is just a coat hangar with a couple of bends on the end and zip-tied to the handle. (Spring wire would probably be better, but if it gets bent, I just unbend it.) I like it because it's always on the saw, yet it adds no bulk and stows out of the way when not in use.

 

 

Attach detail: The end of the coat hangar is bent into an L shape, with the short leg about an inch long. Bend the last 1/3 or so of the short leg back on itself, but not quite crimped tight. Zip tie the short leg to the handle. I used two zip ties. The upper one slipped inside the bent over end of the short leg (It keeps the short leg from just sliding out from under the zip tie and falling off the saw).
 

After mounting on the handle, flip it out as shown in the "In Use" photo. Measure a length out from the bar about 1/2" longer than the size log you want to cut. Bend that last half inch over, so you have a rounded exposed end (so you don't poke yourself with the sharp end).

This gauge works easily if you are starting at the left end of a log and moving right as you cut. If you are starting on the right, just look where the wire end is as you are making a cut. That spot is where you need to make your next cut.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline John Mc

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Re: Wood Cutting Question
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2018, 07:56:10 PM »
A simple trick when you don't have any fancy gauge or marker with you:

Cut an approx. 3/4" diameter stick about 6" longer than the length of the log you want to cut. For example, if I want 16" logs, I cut a stick about 22" long. Make a mark 16" from the end (the length of the desired log). Grab both the stick and the front handle with your left hand, with the mark lined up over the bar. Flip the stick over if you want to measure to the left of the bar vs to the right of the bar, keeping the mark over the bar. If the end of the stick is over the end of the log, your saw will be 16" in from the end.

I've played with several different methods of measuring, but I generally don't sweat it if the logs are different lengths. My stove will take a 19 or 20" log. I shoot for 16" because that leaves room for better air circulation around the fire. It also gives me some "slop" if my cut length is off.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline lil171

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Re: Wood Cutting Question
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2018, 09:25:31 PM »
Wow. These are great and easy ideas that I will definately be trying out. I am not worried about an inch or two, but a good amount that is cut are 6" give or take. And if you think that is bad, when my dad cut some up, his varied about a foot or so..... As well, I am completely new to cutting wood, so I am sure as well that with some cutting under my belt, it will get better as well. Thanks all for the help and tips.

Offline brianJ

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Re: Wood Cutting Question
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2018, 05:56:35 AM »
I had your same problem when I started sawing.   I gave a half hearted attempt with a couple different methods for measuring.   My first years was mostly cutting tops or limbs sticking out from the hedgerow.   So smaller stuff and my experience showed it was not worth the nuisance to be spending 15 to 20 seconds nicely measuring out for a 40 second or even 20 second cut.     

My random lengths were as bad as you would imagine.   The method I eventually worked out was using my bar to  measure with.   Its already attached to my chainsaw and just rotate 90 degrees with a flip of the wrist.   So measure one & cut then eyeball one & cut.   

Even after years of experience I still take a "hasty" measure once out of every 6 cuts or so.

That Mingo Marker sounds slick but that will only work on main stems.

Offline John Mc

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Re: Wood Cutting Question
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2018, 09:55:10 AM »
The method I eventually worked out was using my bar to measure with. Its already attached to my chainsaw and just rotate 90 degrees with a flip of the wrist. So measure one & cut then eyeball one & cut.

Even after years of experience I still take a "hasty" measure once out of every 6 cuts or so.


I still do that from time to time. The twisting gets old after a while, and I've got some neck and upper back troubles that get aggravated from the leaning and measuring, which is why I started trying other methods.

A friend gave me this 16" Woodcutter's Helper - a rod with a very strong magnet on the end which you can stick to your bar when bucking firewood. They make them in different lengths. They also make an adjustable model. I've tried the 16" fixed model a couple of times. I find it somewhat useful (worth the $14 it would cost to buy it), but only when I'm working on the landing, cutting up a pile of logs in one place. I have yet to figure out a simple way to carry it in the woods, so I don't bring it with me when I'll be moving form place to place. (They do include a little metal clip which you can put on your belt. The idea is to just let the magnet hold it to the clip. I know I'd knock it off in seconds in the woods, so I haven;t even bothered trying that.

I've often wondered about the Mingo Marker. It's another thing I would not want to carry around with me in the woods, but it might be useful on the landing. Not sure I'd want to deal with buying paint for it, especially when I have other tricks which seem to be working out for me.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline TKehl

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Re: Wood Cutting Question
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2018, 12:41:23 PM »
I only worry about lengths if I'm selling wood.  I stack what stacks well under cover.  Longs go in a pile by themselves or get recut.  Shorts and uglies go in a bin to get used first.  I'd rather have quantity quick than take much time measuring.  ;D  Pretty wood doesn't have more BTU, but might stack better if space is an issue.

The fiberglass rods break from everything I've heard.  Either from impact or just vibration.  I have the magnetic one, but can't find a place to mount it on the bar without it getting in the way while cutting.  (I use the tip and the back of the bar as I cut.)  Best way to use it is to put on, layout the log with "scribes", then pop back off to cut. Fine with bigger stuff.  Tedious with small stuff.

Best option I've seen for cutting to the right of the stick is John's.  Best option I've seen for cutting the left of the stick is a bar nut with push fit plastic tubing with a wire or copper tubing run through the middle.  Saw it in New Pioneer magazine, but haven't tried it myself yet.

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Offline John Mc

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Re: Wood Cutting Question
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2018, 03:28:07 PM »
Here's a picture of the commercially sold firewood gauge that inspired my coat hangar version. Unfortunately, it's no longer made. I've thought about trying to 3D print some parts to recreate this, but haven't gotten around to it yet. I haven't figured out how to attach the wire to the plastic part. I suppose I could use a piece cut from an old inner tube for the rubber strap, but I'm thinking that won't be as durable as the custom made piece on the original.

If anyone owns one of these and could get detailed photos of the plastic part, I'd appreciate it

   

   

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline KEC

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Re: Wood Cutting Question
« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2018, 08:20:36 PM »
Just feel compelled to add that, so I've heard, one should be careful with pieces of metal near a running chain saw. Should a measuring device crawl over to where you're cutting,  an  expendable stick has some appeal. Not knocking anyone elses  ideas, guys.

Offline Kindlinmaker

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Re: Wood Cutting Question
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2018, 01:41:15 AM »
Iím sure that there are a dozen rules against it but I use a simple measure stick of scrap stock from the shop, sometimes a 1/2 inch dowel, sometimes a tiny branch from a tree if I forget to bring an official scrap version. I have the stick in my palm between my hand and the top saw handle while cutting.  You donít even notice it is there.  I never reach across the bar to measure - just rest the saw bar farther down the log while measuring if working left to right; not an issue if working right to left. When measuring, just put your hand with stick against the log, tip it so the stick end touches and make a rub mark indicating cut. Most guys I know do something similar. Iíve been using it for 45 years; my father taught me and he used it probably 70.

I paint the ends of the sticks as they just seem to disappear the first time I set my saw down if they arenít marked.

As far as equal lengths....just eyeball your log length on the last couple cuts and add or decrease an inch or two to make it work out relatively even. If that doesnít work, short cut the last piece and throw it on a pile of day burning as suggested by someone else.  You wonít have many pieces that exceed the eyeball test. 

Offline lil171

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Re: Wood Cutting Question
« Reply #15 on: November 11, 2018, 02:04:09 AM »
Well, thanks again. I liked the thoughts of the wire measurement idea. I did not honestly think about if it happened to disloge and get picked up by the chain. I do nlw have a few things on my mind to try out this week. Now I just got to his the store to pick up a couple supplies. Thanks again for all the tips.

Offline GRANITEstateMP

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Re: Wood Cutting Question
« Reply #16 on: November 11, 2018, 07:45:51 AM »
I drilled a hole near the end of my bar and used an old plow marker/whip cut down to either 16 or 18 inches. It worked for me, but I also was running 2 saws most of the time, one to mark, one to cut.  This was all wood being sold, so it needed to be close to uniform.

I have a Mingo too, or as I call it, "The Dingo".  Its great on the landing for stems, a bit of a pain on tops.  Certainly helps make consistent sizes.  I wouldn't bring it in the woods with me.
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Offline John Mc

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Re: Wood Cutting Question
« Reply #17 on: November 11, 2018, 10:49:49 AM »
Well, thanks again. I liked the thoughts of the wire measurement idea. I did not honestly think about if it happened to disloge and get picked up by the chain. I do nlw have a few things on my mind to try out this week. Now I just got to his the store to pick up a couple supplies. Thanks again for all the tips.
For my first draft of the wire gauge, I just wrapped the end of a coat hangar around the handle. I did catch it on some brush while sawing, and part if it ended up getting hit by the chain as I was cutting. No severe damage (the coat hangar is not particularly hard steel). I did have to resharpen, but it was not as much damage as even a light graze on a rock.
I've not had any troubles since I made the attachment with the zip ties as shown in the photos. I'm sure there are far better ways (such as is shown in the commercially produced version), but I haven't gotten around to experimenting further yet.
On advantage to the wire is that mounting it on the side of the handle where it did, the wire does not have to be very long: the width of the saw already makes up some of the distance from the bar. I'm cutting 16" logs. It might be more of an issue if I were cutting 20 or 24", but I've never made a gauge for that. (When I'm occasionally cutting for a friend who uses 20" logs, I just think of a 2x4 and eyeball the extra 4" - which also happens to be roughly the width of my knuckles gripping the front handle of the saw.)
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Online lxskllr

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Re: Wood Cutting Question
« Reply #18 on: November 11, 2018, 11:32:18 AM »
@John Mc

A hoseclamp with the wire going through a wormdrive slot might work. Adjust the tension so it's easy to stow but holds firm. While typing, I also thought of a plastic fitting clamp for garden hoses. The kind you use to retrofit connectors to a broken hose.

As for me, I just eyeball it. I don't sell wood, so as long as I keep it to <=24" I'm good. Most of the wood I get is gnarly, so circumference is highly variable. Even with perfect lengths, my stacks would be ugly. I don't worry about it.

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Re: Wood Cutting Question
« Reply #19 on: November 11, 2018, 08:50:36 PM »
I just used a Sharpie to put a mark on my bar at the 15" or 16" piece length I wanted to be close to and anytime I feel I need to reference it all I do is lean the bar sideways (it's a 20 incher) next to the log I'm bucking to get an idea as to whether I'm getting off track or not..
After cutting for a while you should be able to eye it pretty closely just from all of the practice you are getting!  :)
Anything else will just get in the way of doing the job.. or put a hand or worse often in an area where it shouldn't be.


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