If you’re new at using a woodburning stove, here’s the information you need to burn safely
(And if you’re an old pro, consider this a refresher course)
by Dale Crosby
Once you find a good wood burner (and I assume you will want an air-tight one), you need a good, safe chimney, and all areas around the burner need to be safe from heat. A hot wood burner can actually catch the wooden studs inside a wall on fire through the plaster/drywall. Cement board is an easy, inexpensive way to protect the areas near your stove. You can glue or nail (use masonry “cut” nails) right to the wall. There are many different ways to make or install a chimney, some require a professional and others just need some good directions, common-sense helpers and a free weekend. Each house and each location in your house have certain requirements for safety (i.e. is a cement block chimney best, or a stainless steel insulated one more appropriate?). It’s best to research this by asking friends and neighbors who burn wood how they have theirs set up.
After you have a good, safe setup, you need lots of practice to get to know how your woodburner works. Each of the woodburners that I have owned were very different. Of course, you can burn it too hot and the chimney pipe can actually turn red hot (you’ll smell “burnt” air). One of the best things I purchased to prevent this was a chimney pipe/ductwork thermometer. This has a magnet on the back and I stick it right to the chimney pipe about half-way up. It has a dial needle that shows the temperature of the pipe. You can easily see when the fire is getting too low (cold) or too hot – and thus prevent the red-hot pipe scare.
To control the heat you can adjust the dampers – which are like vents in the door that let in or restrict the amount of air to the fire. Too much air and you’ll get the fire too hot; too little and you’ll starve the fire. With fire you need fuel, heat and oxygen. Starve it of one and you’ll get nothing. Fuel, of course, is the wood. Heat is referring to enough hot coals in the burner to ignite new wood you put in. Continue reading
by John T Beck
- Direction of fall
- Don’t try to outrun a tree
- Wind is unpredictable
- Look before you leap
- Hand-to-tree exposure
- Don’t cut alone
Many of us have vowed never to be caught unprepared and dependent on the public utilities for our very lives. The independent’s likely fuel will be wood – hopefully self-cut. But beware! If you are inexperienced in this ancient art of fuel gathering, read this article carefully and carry some of my experience into the woods with you.
Your first attention will be to your tools. Make sure your saw is fully gassed and oiled, the breather and oiler unobstructed, and the chain sharp and properly tightened. Proper tension will vary with the type of saw, but mine is adjusted so that cold and at rest, the chain does not hang, but can be easily pulled around the bar. Always carry your T-wrench or “duty tool” in your back pocket when cutting, as a chain will loosen after use and need re-adjustment. Running out of gas halfway through a tree necessitates the folly of leaving the tree hanging while you make the long walk back to the gas can or tools. A dull saw, madly over-revving, spitting sawdust rather than chips is dangerous too. A chain not getting oil will tighten and stall the engine eventually, but may damage itself and the bar in the meantime.
Now you must choose a tree. The first tree in a stand is very important. Walk around a bit before beginning to cut and choose a tree inclined to fall into an opening. Hanging a tree up in a neighboring tree necessitates a perilous and time-consuming extrication – you’re way ahead of the game if you avoid the situation. By and large, the small-time wood-cutter must drop a tree according to its own inclination. Give careful attention to determine this inclination, it can be tricky. Though the trunk may lean one way, the greater weight is given to the upper limbs and leaves, especially in the spring and summer when incredible volumes of water are coursing through. The wind can play havoc with you too, tossing the treetop to and fro, always changing the tree’s inclination.
The wind’s direction and velocity are the most variable factors in woodcutting, hence the factors most to be aware of. It is the fickle wind that causes most of the accidents among experienced loggers. Do not cut, go home if the winds are high and gusty! A tree may lean obviously to the right but rock back to the left as a gust passes, inviting disaster. Also present on windy days, lurking unseen above, are the “widow makers” – dead limbs and tree tops waiting only to be dislodged and come crashing down to add to their already ominous legend. Continue reading
by Tom and JoAnne O’Toole
The first heating bill of winter arrives and your eyes widen at the charges. The thermostat is immediately lowered, the family is cautioned about keeping doors and windows closed, and perhaps even encouraged to wear a sweater indoors.
To save yourself this annual anxiety attack, you might give some thought to a secondary heat source to supplement a gas, electric, or oil furnace. Does anyone out there still have a coal furnace?
If you take the time to investigate wood burning stoves you’ll soon develop a respect for their ability to solve the problem of expensive heating costs by using fossil fuels. Most stoves burn short lengths of wood (12-24 inches), and many have strong, quiet blowers, forcing hot air out of upper vents. They can do an excellent job of keeping your home warm and cozy.
Choosing the right stove is the first hurdle. It can get confusing with so many different makes and models on the market.
Of course, the more quality you expect, the more you’ll pay. However, there are a few basic “musts” to consider. Continue reading