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Author Topic: Firewood seasonoing. Red oak  (Read 15702 times)

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Offline Old Greenhorn

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Re: Firewood seasonoing. Red oak
« Reply #80 on: December 22, 2019, 01:15:56 PM »
fascinating.
Tom Lindtveit, Woodsman Forest Products
Oscar 328 Band Mill, Husky 450, 562, & 372 (Clone), Mule 3010, and too many hand tools. :) Retired and trying to make a living to stay that way. NYLT Certified.
OK, maybe I am the woodcutter now.
I can work with wood, but I am NOT a Woodworker, but almost.

Offline John Mc

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Re: Firewood seasonoing. Red oak
« Reply #81 on: December 22, 2019, 01:34:21 PM »
There was a unsplit piece of Burr Oak in my woodstove this am, which was boiling water from the end as the heat from the fire penetrated the wood.
The split oak all around it had started to burn far sooner than the unsplit piece.
So, the lesson for me is to split everything, even the small stuff.

I also make an effort to put at least one split on just about anything I intend to burn. Since I also leave anything under 3-4" diameter in the woods to rot and return nutrients to the forest soil, I don't end up with ridiculously small pieces.

I do tend to split smaller than many people, however. A wood combustion guru friend of mine convinced me that smaller pieces burn more efficiently. (He designed wood combustion control systems for commercial scale wood boilers, and designed a high-efficiency residential wood boiler from the ground up.) That has seemed to be the case - my firewood usage has dropped since I started doing this. It's far from a scientific experiment on my part, since I did not adjust or control for the variation in heating seasons (not to mention the variation from year to year of the species I burn). However, the reading I've done on the subject backs up what my friend recommended.

Quote
Your numbers indicate that covered or uncovered only results in about 3-4% variation. Have to admit, that surprised me.
 So, its good to know what the real difference is, rather than just wondering about it.
Thanks again!

One thing to keep in mind when evaluating wood drying methods: the first part of the drying process goes relatively quickly: it's relatively quick and easy to dry wood down to the "fiber saturation point" (roughly 30% moisture content, depending on the species). Drying beyond that point takes more time (or more energy, depending how you are drying the wood). As the wood approaches equilibrium moisture content with its surroundings- basically as dry as the wood is going to get given the surrounding relative humidity - the drying process goes slower and slower: air drying from 28% down to 27% goes quite a bit faster than drying from 16% down to 15%. So the gap between wood that "mostly dry" and that which still has some way to go will tend to narrow as the wood approaches equilibrium.

If you have plenty of time, all this means is that eventually all of it will be dry enough to burn. Where it matters is if you are in a rush: the wood in prime location/conditions will be ready, where other pieces will not.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline stavebuyer

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Re: Firewood seasonoing. Red oak
« Reply #82 on: December 22, 2019, 02:21:51 PM »
Thanks to Doctor B for the experiment. From the picture the "uncovered stack" is out in the open where it appears to have been exposed to all the elements(sun/wind/rain&snow). 

We a had a "catastrophic" ice storm (4" inches of ice) in 2009. As a result of that storm I had literally decades worth of firewood just cleaning up the yard and woods closest to the house. I cut, piled, and burned brush for several years. There are still some rotting stacks of firewood piled between trees. That process evolved and I burned the wood until I sold the house 6 years later. 

The wood stacked in the "open" fared very well. Six years later all the split wood in the "open" stacks was still in good shape regardless of species(red oak,white oak, hard maple, and hickory) (All my stacks had something under them preventing ground contact.) 

The stacks I had piled in shade starting to rot below the top couple of rows by the second season. The top layers were fine but then the bark followed by the sapwood started rotting in the lower layers. In full shade the lower rows never really dried out and the added rotting bark and sapwood made it progressively worse. As I burned some of the stacks and got more room; I moved and restacked some the deteriorating piles in the sunnier spots and removed the now loose bark etc. As soon as the deteriorating stacks got exposed to full sun and some breeze they dried out and stabilized.

The moral to the story is that split wood in a building will more or less keep until you need it. Split wood stacked out in the open will last a very long time and dry just as quickly. Stacking in shade is a bad plan. Unfortunately I don't have any hard data to quantify. I will add the few rounds I had stacked in the shade without splitting were in poor shape by the 1st winter. The hickory and hard maple were already showing substantial rot, the white oak had rot in the sapwood, and the red oak while sound was still dripping wet.

Online doctorb

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Re: Firewood seasonoing. Red oak
« Reply #83 on: December 23, 2019, 09:10:20 AM »
stavebuyer.  Good comments.  The shade issue is interesting, as all the wood I had in the shed was always in the shade.  So being stacked outside, where moisture gets onto the wood periodically, AND in the shade has a significant negative effect, in your experience.  
So it's not the shade itself, but the inability for the moisture to be removed adequately once wet that must lead to the rotting and poor seasoning.

I know some folks take the time to crisscross the logs as they stack to maximize surface area air contact.  If you are using a large volume of firewood, this greatly increases the space you need to store it.  This small study shows that wood stacked in the classic side by side fashion dries just fine, given, as John Mc said, enough time.
My father once said, "This is my son who wanted to grow up and become a doctor.  So far, he's only become a doctor."

Offline John Mc

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Re: Firewood seasonoing. Red oak
« Reply #84 on: December 23, 2019, 10:13:05 AM »
That shade comment is similar to what I noticed for stacks left drying in the woods. I'm shade is a contributor, since the stack is cooler than if it were in the sun. Other factors: in general it's cooler in my woods than out in the open. In addition, the restive humidity is higher, and that stack is sheltered from the wind. 

Fast drying requires warmth (sunlight is one contributing factor to that), a relative humidity low enough to draw moisture out of the wood, and air flow to carry the moisture away. Even in a low-humidity environment, still air around the stacks can create a microclimate of high humidity: moisture coming off the wood hangs around, the air nearby gets saturated and the moisture is very slow to dissipate without some breeze to break it up. (Ask kiln operators are well aware.)
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline stavebuyer

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Re: Firewood seasonoing. Red oak
« Reply #85 on: December 23, 2019, 12:52:43 PM »
My "shaded" stacks were shaded by trees. Wooded area. Very little sun and wind. I will also mention I had some pallets I stacked two rows side by side and some single rows. The double stacks didn't do very well. They tended to stay wet where the inside ends joined. When I ran out of places to stack and scrap lumber to build pallets out of I tossed the rest into one pretty good sized pile. The bottom pieces of the pile in contact with the soil were rotten after about a year. The rest of the pile dried pretty well and closely resembled what had been stacked. I will mention that the "shaded" stuff that I moved and restacked I did  "cross stack" to maximize airflow. 

Something else I noticed was that between bark rotting/slipping, wind, and frost the stacks "moved" more than I ever imagined. Many stacks developed a pretty good lean and several toppled. Trees move when you stack between them, strapped to a pallet the wood shrinks and the straps are loose, and the wood rots if you stack the rows close enough to support one another.


  

Offline Rick Alger

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Re: Firewood seasonoing. Red oak
« Reply #86 on: December 28, 2019, 11:13:26 AM »
Thanks for the test results doctor b


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