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Archive for December, 2010

Happy New Year!

New Year, traditionally the time for looking backwards and making resolutions to do better this year. I’d like to pretend that I’m not the same, but I am. It’s just that I’m a bit too busy to be able to post a retrospective and some plans for the coming year. Hopefully I will be able to post something pleasantly nostalgic in the next few days, but in the meantime I can at least Wish you a very successfull and woody 2011!

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We’re Back

The journey back from Bavaria was far less eventful than the journey down – and a few hours shorter as well without having to try and stay on the road and out from underneath jack-knifing lorries. It was a little cold for sightseeing, so we didn’t stop as we crossed over the Mosel Valley on the way up Germany, but snapped a shot out of the car. The snow picks out the Vine terraces on the steep South facing edges of the valley.

I also have a new toy on my Christmas List for next year. But for now it’s back to work – well soon.

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Temperatures have dropped to around -4C during the day and minus something larger at night. Time to go for a walk and complete my study of the firewood stacks of Mahringen.

 

This stack is farmhouse sized. The wood appears to be split to half cord length for drying. The construction of the end of the stacks allows them to resist the outwards pressure. I don’t suppose this would work so well for wood cut to firewood length.

 

The solution to a rectangular pile of cut firewood appears to be the ‘4-Poster’ – my term for it. The 2 posts on the end of this garden pile of firewood are clearly too small for the job. But the cunning bit is a wire strung along the pile from end post to end post about half way up the pile which provides a very simple self tensioning of the stack. A single wire suffices for a single row of firewood and two wires for 2 rows – I think this one might actually have 3 rows of wood. Hope  I’ve described this well enough – but I plan to try this out as soon as I get back and have the opportunity to cut and stack.

 

The process is less uniform than I expected. This local apparently prefers to split his softwood after it’s dried, and this has to be the neatest round wood stack I’ve seen in a long while.

 

Also in his garden is this stack of planked Birch wood. Waiting to make bee-hives. Another good use of birch that I need to add to my list.

 

Short of space? How about the wooden garden wall approach to the firewood stack? Needs to be neat enough to pass muster of course.

The piece de resistance is this set of what I can only describe as  log silo’s which appear to be made from sections of steel grid used for reinforcing concrete structures.

 

Not entirely clear how the silos are accessed to be emptied with the snow deep on the roof.  IT may be that there is an opening towards the centre of the set of 4 silos.

 

Plenty of shed based solutions to the firewood stacking as well.

 


Even the small branch wood is neatly stacked for kindling wood.

 

I think the extensive use of softwood as fuelwood makes the firewood stacks a lot more noticeable than in the UK since they will be twice the volume of an oakwood stack – though I did see plenty of hardwood as well.

But perhaps the biggest difference is that people who use fuelwood take more responsibility for source, seasoning and storing their own firewood rather than calling their local firewood merchant to delivery a dumpy sack of firewood on the drive when the stocks get low.

Apparently around here many people buy a licence to cut firewood (or clear brash) in many of the large civically owned woodlands – something of which I fully approve, and used to be possible in the UK until the Forestry commission stopped the practice claiming ‘liability issues’ – perhaps the forced sale of some our civically owned woodlands will help to restart this approach. Though of course I fear that the opposite might happen instead.


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I’ve noticed that the Germans are much more likely to maker their own decorations (at least around here in Southern Germany) than we do in the UK nowadays and wood plays a much bigger part in the process than plastic does. So on our return from the woodyard with a pile of assorted Ash some of the offcuts were pronounced acceptable for decorations. Add a few shavings from the horse and some Pine from the woods (not short of Pine around here) and a very effective decoration results.


It works both ways around – a reversable decoration – a MOGOF (Make One Get One Free). I think it could be quite good with a tea-light behind the star cutout but that’s the next step. Back down to the workshop in the basement for some more polelathe therapy now.

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Seasons Greetings

Season’s Greetings to you all and I hope that you are well insulated from the cold (if it’s cold where you are) and ready to enjoy a relaxing break before plunging into the New Year. For me it’s been a very hectic year and if it wasn’t for this blog I could easily forget what I’ve accomplished so I’m afraid that a aura of warm nostalgia is going to creep into my posts in the next few days.

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The reason for bring my big chainsaw down to Bavaria was to help Rich (my brother in law) cut out some Ash beams for one of his projects. The Ash logs were stored at the local yard of  some friends. I had visions of a tumbledown old yard so I was a little taken aback to get there and find a precision facility with a machine for doing everything with wood that you can imagine. Some of the timber stacked in the yard made me very envious. This lot includes oak, maple and pear!

This Ash Tree is in Ikea Kit form apparently. All you need it a big Allen key to put the tree up! But none of this timber would do the beams Rich needs even if it had been available.

Meanwhilst our log was brought out and placed on end by Forklift in a pristine area covered by the roof overhang – it’s cleaner than some cleanroom facilities I’ve worked in let alone a woodyard! I think the owners Joachim and Mikhail were rather suspicious of my ability to rip this log down with my chainsaw, particularly as I wanted it up on end and had asked Rich to provide me with petrol and salad oil for the saw!

The saw is normally used on my Logosol M7 chainsaw mill and it’s rare that I get to use it free-hand. For the petrol heads amongst us it’s a Stihl MS660 with a 25inch picc0-bar and chain, which is a thinner bar and chain designed for ripping (cutting along the grain of the wood rather than across it) which is much harder work on the saw. Working vertically allowed me to keep the bar vertical more accurately across the log than if I had tried to cut horizontally.

 

Once we got the log in half it was easier to cope with it. A normal bar and chain would cut a kerf 50% larger and leave a pile of saw-dust 50% bigger than the one I am using, but even so I was pleased that it made fairly quick work of cutting down the biggest log to shape. Can you see what it is yet? I thought not. The answer is a blank for an Ox Yoke. It was obvious really wasn’t it?

 

This beam will eventually be turned into what is apparently termed a 7inch yoke (measured across the inside faces of the curve that fits the oxen neck) and although its referred to as a yoke, it is for a pair of animals. After the chainsaw the rest will be carved out by Adze and Axe work.

Although there was some cracking at the ends of the logs we managed to get quite  a few blanks out with very little wastage and even that won’t be wasted as it will go for turning on the polelathe or making various other projects that Rich has in mind. Now all we have to do is clear up to a Bavarian standard – not an easy task.

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Taking a quick walk around the village of Mahringen today I thought I would make a quick survey of the firewood piles. Down here in Southern Germany the firewood store is more likely to be a substantial structure close to the house and all the more so for the farmhouses which are still in the middle of the village, rather than banished to the bottom of the garden as they so often are back in West Sussex.

 

A serious load of logs behind this barn, cut and split in traditional style stacks and facing towards the sun. As Max reminded us in a comment my recent post ‘I’m obsessed with my firewood’ it’s well worth letting the Summer sun dry your wood as bringing it inside to dry later can reduce the effectiveness of your fire. Though when you do the calculations it’s not by as much as trying to burn wet wood.

 

The next logpile had gone more for the maximum airflow and airdrying approach.  A lot of  the firewood around here is likely to be softwood and as JRC told us in another comment on the same post all woods have about the same energy content but the density of wood varies a lot so you’ll need to store a lot more volume of softwood for the same heat content. Clearly the sheds here are sized to store plenty of volume!

By the time I reached this stack it was getting a little too dark and late for a clear photo but this is more after my own style of multiple stacks and leanto’s though it would be nice if English houses still had enough space for several shed loads of firewood as they have here (though I admit it’s only the older houses here that seem to come complete with an array of firewood sheds and the newest houses seem to be as dependent upon fossil fuel as those in the UK.

 

 

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