Not quite to the top…

Missed it by that much. If I’d cut everything I had ready to cut, I think I’d have made it.


I love the hardwood pallets. They’re the only source of hardwood I’ve found for burning, and that lovely hard dense wood is a great comfort on a frosty morning. The pallets yield a lot of thin stuff which isn’t that great for longevity in the firebox but makes superlative kindling.

Also I think it’s time to find a replacement for these…

Fortunately the local hardware store carries my size. It’s funny – or not – I used to disdain the use of gloves. But it seems like now I can’t develop calluses the way I used to, and I can spend almost as much time digging out splinters as I do cutting and stacking wood. So now I never go anywhere without them, and keep a couple of pairs on hand.

ETA: I just couldn’t leave it that way. It’s a beautiful day and too late in it to do laundry, so I went back and cut up all the other loose stuff. And now I have the barest beginning of a start on the Last Tier! I’m now officially farther toward filling the shed than I ever got last year.


About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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9 Responses to Not quite to the top…

  1. Kentucky says:

    You keep those for the really nasty stuff and start breaking in a new pair. I only use good leather work gloves. I find they pay for themselves in fit and comfort.

    Strange that you seem to wear out the ring fingers. Mine always go thru the index and middle fingers first.


  2. Joel says:

    I noticed the same thing. I normally wear out the index finger and thumb.

  3. coloradohermit says:

    Living vicariously thru your woodpile! I love firewood and I used to say that I’d rather have firewood than money. Now that we’re in town with a real honest to goodness thermostatted furnace(which I don’t much care for), firewood isn’t such a priority. We do have a woodstove and we will be using it, but not as the sole heat anymore.

    I really missed getting out into the forest this summer cutting wood. We brought half of our 3 cord woodpile here to town and left half for the couple that’ll be buying the forest house to get them started. We’ll have plenty for those extra cold spells and next summer I should have the time to get back to harvesting more firewood. Meanwhile, seeing your stash grow is fun fun.

  4. Joel says:

    I always feel humbled by people heating real houses exclusively with wood, in places with more consistently cold winters. A solid-full woodshed for the Secret Lair will hold a fat 1.5 cords, which will almost certainly be more than enough to get through any winter. And that feels like as much work as I want to do, all in one period. I hear stories of 3-10 cord stashes, and they put me in my place, they do. That would be a LOT of pallets.

  5. Tierlieb says:

    3 to 6 cord stashes are the norm around where I live. And that’s for one year. Since everyone around here cuts their own wood, they have to dry it first, so they usually have stacks for several years in advance. Two to three years seems common (we’re currently good for three years), friend of mine does five.

  6. Joat says:

    The people with 3-10 cord stashes mostly live in areas where trees grow up in nice straight lengths and you can get more wood out one tree than your trailer can handle.

  7. Dink Newcomb says:

    -I am new to your site and one thing quickly caught my eye! Burning pallets MAY NOT be a good idea, particularly if you are not using those locally made from US wood. This is just a heads up!
    -Back a number of years ago when I worked as a surveyor for the Corps of Engineers we were doing an ongoing study of the shipping docks along the Cooper River on the East side of Charleston, SC. We were there frequently and developed friendly relations with some of the guys there and 3 of us started legally harvesting pallet cast-offs from the junk pile inside the security area along the docks– I was carving and making small fancy boxes. There was a huge selection of different types of wood I had never seen before and with a few minutes available as the crew was packing and leaving, we rooted through the pile for anything that looked exotic. I even found a pallet made from rough, grade2 black walnut! Anyway, one day, we found an exotic and wrenching the pallet apart, we split the pieces among us– happy, happy, happy.
    -I started itching mildly on the way home and that nigt was hell, even after my shower. I figured it was an allergy or something but when I got to work the next day, all three of us had dermititis on our hands and arms similar to what you get from poison ivy. If not washed off instanatly, the damage is already done. Charleston has lots of trade from the Caribbean and South America and I assume the pallets were made from non-lumber indiginous wood.
    -I can not tell you what to look for or anything but I can not imagine inhaling fumes from burning that stuff– I threw my salvage out in the creek when I got home that second night! Most of us knew/know 1-2 guys unlucky enough to get a serious rash on their anal sphincters after an emergency Obama off-load out in the bush– shudder– but think 50x that bad. Please be attentive to anything that looks exotic.

  8. Joel says:

    Dink, I worked with a guy who ended up in the hospital from burning a bunch of poison ivy and breathing the smoke. Nasty, nasty stuff.

    I’ve been doing it for years and I’m not itching yet, though, so I’m going to call it a remote chance and try not to worry.

  9. M Ryan says:

    A few years ago (2006) when we were in Germany visiting some friends my wife started looking up some old cousins as part of her genealogy hobby. One couple we met and talked with had until the previous year (2005) heated their house with wood. What made this all the more amazing was they would cut a tree down with an axe and use as needed not cut and store the way you do. When I asked why the old girl (he was stone deaf and didn’t understand us) she said it was just the way they had always done it.

    The other amazing thing was they were both in their late eighties. He was a WW2 veteran of the German army who, after the war, retreated from the world, doing local jobs for cash. Their son finally brought them into the 21st century with a propane heating system after the wife accidentally put an axe head into her left leg and had to be taken to the hospital for treatment. A women in her eighties chopping wood in the middle of winter, seriously. Thinking back to our meeting with these two, all I can say is if I had to survive that way I probably wouldn’t have.

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