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  1. #1
    Veteran Member lhfarm's Avatar
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    Default How to determine if downed tree worth cutting

    I recently retired and moved full time to our farm. I have a hilly wooded 54 acres and a number of trees that have blown down over the past few years. Since I was only here on the weekends, I never had time to get to them or needed them for firewood.

    The trees I'm looking at are all off the ground, either supported by their own branches or having fallen across other trees. Some have been down at least a couple of years and some maybe 3-4. I don't have real good identification skills, but most are oak (red, pin and white) and hickory.

    I don't have a moisture tester and have just been cutting those that I can get to with the tractor and splitter. The first couple of oaks have no rot, but the bark did fall off as I was sawing/splitting. The wood is heavy.

    The only "test" I know of is to try to burn the wood. We are under a burn ban, so I've waited for cooler weather to burn in the fireplace. The wood burned like green firewood, so I'm assuming I just need to let it season.

    I'd like to be more selective as the trees get harder to reach. If the wood is soft around the outside, I'm assuming it is too far gone. If the wood is solid through the cut, I'm assuming it will burn. Is that reasonable? Are there other simple "tests" you use to determine what is worth cutting?

    I should add that I'm buring in a couple of fireplaces for pleasure and not for heat. So green is OK, as long as it will burn sometime!
    Thanks,
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails How to determine if downed tree worth cutting-downedtrees.jpg  
    Last edited by lhfarm; 10-29-2010 at 06:00 PM. Reason: Forgot to state how I was using the wood.
    Barry
    Lawson Hill Farm
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  2. #2
    Elite Member rekees4300's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to determine if downed tree worth cutting

    Oak and Hickory can last several years if they are off the ground. I think the best way to determine wood's suitability is to just cut into it and see if the saw goes through like a hot knife through butter. If it does then the log is rotten and has very little heat value.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: How to determine if downed tree worth cutting

    My hunch is the wood in your photo is just fine - just needs some time to dry out. If it was a healthy tree went it went down - it will stay good for quite a while if its off the ground. Doesn't lose much moisture until its cut and split.

    Loren
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  4. #4
    Gold Member
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    Default Re: How to determine if downed tree worth cutting

    I cut lumber out of down trees all the time and burn the slabwood. I only cut live trees if they are in my way somewhere

  5. #5
    LD1
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    Default Re: How to determine if downed tree worth cutting

    Quote Originally Posted by rekees4300 View Post
    Oak and Hickory can last several years if they are off the ground. I think the best way to determine wood's suitability is to just cut into it and see if the saw goes through like a hot knife through butter. If it does then the log is rotten and has very little heat value.
    I agree. Cut it and let your saw be the judge.

    I will add that red oak may get soft on the outside, but it is still very much worth cutting. If you cut a good sized peice and look at the end, there is about a 1" white ring around the outer edge and the rest is "red". I have found that theat outer inch or so will get "punky" or soft within a year, but the rest will stay solid for 5+ especially if off the ground.

    Most of our cutting is tops from logged out woods'. From my experience, the maple is the first to rot. within a year or two. But ash, hickoy, and oak will last much longer.

    Another thing that we will do if unsure is cut 1 peice and use a maul to try to split it. If the maul burrys several inches into the wood without starting to split, it is either rotten or a very soft wood like poplar. Weight isn't always an accurate way to tell, cause there is ALOT of moisture/water in rotten wood.
    ".........there is only one way to find out."
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  6. #6
    Veteran Member magicheater's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to determine if downed tree worth cutting

    Wood will burn all the way up to the point that it is almost dirt. It just needs to be dry enough not to stifle the fire. I burn large rounds in my boiler that are very light just to extract the BTU's. Do that early and late in the season. I have plenty of other stuff to use for compost! I save the really good wood for the dead of winter. Poplar is an often overlooked wood, when dry, burns hot/fast and you can actually cut it in the fall, split, stack and cover it and use it in the spring.
    Working to increase the scope of the small tractor experience, one quick attach at a time.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: How to determine if downed tree worth cutting

    Heart wood is much more rot resistant than sap wood. The heart wood is where all the heat is anyway. If the sap wood is punky, no big deal. If you get punky wood bone dry it makes great fire starter.

    If you can find some bug killed pine, it will be full of pitch and go up like a road flare if you split it into kindling. The tree tries to encase the beetle larvae in pitch, and if the tree loses, the pitch will dry and become very flammable.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: How to determine if downed tree worth cutting

    Wet wood although it burns will give off more cresote and will creat a need to clean pipes more often. Our woods does not have good drainage. The dead trees while still standing act like wicks and remain wet inside for years. When cut up, split, and allowed to dry the oak burns well. Some large 24'' lenghts by 48" diameter pieces today were still wet after having been cut for three years. The future firewood in Ohio will be Ash. It is a shame that a Borer is killing millions of these trees.

  9. #9
    Veteran Member lhfarm's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to determine if downed tree worth cutting

    Quote Originally Posted by LD1 View Post
    I agree. Cut it and let your saw be the judge.

    I will add that red oak may get soft on the outside, but it is still very much worth cutting. If you cut a good sized peice and look at the end, there is about a 1" white ring around the outer edge and the rest is "red". I have found that theat outer inch or so will get "punky" or soft within a year, but the rest will stay solid for 5+ especially if off the ground.

    Most of our cutting is tops from logged out woods'. From my experience, the maple is the first to rot. within a year or two. But ash, hickoy, and oak will last much longer.

    Another thing that we will do if unsure is cut 1 peice and use a maul to try to split it. If the maul burrys several inches into the wood without starting to split, it is either rotten or a very soft wood like poplar. Weight isn't always an accurate way to tell, cause there is ALOT of moisture/water in rotten wood.
    Thanks for the information. I actually stopped cutting a red oak because of the white ring around the outside. I'll go back to it.

    I've got a lot of wood to cut and should be set for a few years if I can keep it stored properly. This may be a tough fire year since I'm going to be using mostly freshly cut and split. But I feel a whole lot better about the time and energy I'm spending after reading the comments here.
    Barry
    Lawson Hill Farm
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  10. #10
    LD1
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    Default Re: How to determine if downed tree worth cutting

    I'm not saying the red part wont rot, because it all does eventually. But the red will stay solid MUCH longer than the outer ring.

    And the part I love best about red oak is the way it splits. I have not found a better burning wood that splits that easy. One guy with a maul can outwork a regular splitter by a factor of 2 to 1.

    If you just go to set your maul/axe down, and the edge happens to touch the end of a peice of red oak, it will bust appart. (Well almost that easy.)
    ".........there is only one way to find out."
    "Ok, hold my beer and watch this.........."


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