Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘woodshed

Stacking Wood

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I’m a little behind where I prefer to be with staging firewood for a year away, so today we took a hint from the snowy weather and gave the shed some overdue attention. First, we started by stocking the wood rack on our deck with this year’s firewood, which cleared out the last of the space on the left side of the wood shed.

That allowed me to put new pallets in for a floor where I had previously used wood blocks. After digging out the old blocks, and pulling similar ones off the new pallets, we hauled them down to the woods to use on our trail.

As far as projects go, these were pretty small steps, but accomplishing them provided a large psychological boost. It paves the way for me to focus exclusively on splitting and stacking firewood to fill the rest of the shed.

Achieving that is a goal I’d like to complete in November.

Somebody remind me in about a month that I wrote this here.

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Written by johnwhays

October 30, 2017 at 6:00 am

New Parts

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I decided to practice a little preventative maintenance on my log splitter and ordered spare parts before they completely failed. I had noticed that the nylon impact bushing was beginning to deform and one of the washers on the bottom spacer had already fractured.dscn5773e

In a quick search, I found that both of these parts were readily available to extend the life of the product, so I made the buy. In this picture, I’ve already installed the new parts and bagged the old ones, which I’ll store in the off-hand chance of future unexpected failure.

I saw in the review comments for the parts that some folks had the impact bushing fracture. It has helped me to be more aware of how my use of the splitter stresses these parts. I am less driven to pound away on a log that is obviously not giving in to the idea of my wanting it to split.

The temperature was just about to climb above freezing when I started yesterday and the frozen wood was snapping apart with minimum effort. I was thinking I should get Cyndie to record a video to demonstrate how slick this tool is. I’m glad I didn’t, because no sooner than having that thought did my luck swing and the wood changed to stringier oak. I also came to a few Y-shaped pieces. These reveal the amazing strength at that junction which allows branches to support such incredible amounts of weight in big old trees.

You need to pick your angles carefully to convince the wood to separate at the junctions where branches Y off.

When a log is particularly resistant to the intrusion of the Smart Splitter wedge, I employ the added incentive of the orange twisting wedge and some pounding with the traditional splitting maul. It makes for a lot more effort, but I surprise myself by the eventual success I’ve been able to achieve in the face of some pieces that look like they would require the power of a machine.

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I had a nice session of progress, saving a couple of the bigger challenges for later, since my energy had declined as morning turned to afternoon and it was time for some lunch. Later, on my way to another task, I stopped to muscle the last two challenges.

I have incentive to get our current piles of wood split and stacked in the shed. This coming Thursday and Friday is our appointment for the tree trimmers to come cut high branches from our old trees. I’ve instructed them to focus solely on dropping branches that are out of my reach.

I will cut and split, or shred with the chipper, all the wood that comes to the ground so they don’t end up wasting any precious time (or our limited funds) on something I can do later. I think that cleanup project has the capacity to become an ongoing chore that will last me for the rest of the year.

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Written by johnwhays

February 11, 2017 at 10:42 am

Will It?

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I am stacking the wood in the woodshed differently this time. Will it work? I don’t really know. Basically, I want to be able to have an ongoing system where I can access the oldest, seasoned firewood, while also adding newly split logs. I am going to try stacking the firewood front-to-back, instead of the side-to-side arrangement I used before.

DSCN2569eWhen I stacked wood in the shed the first time, I filled the right side with ‘ready to burn’ wood, while stacking new wood on the left side to dry for the following year. I discovered a problem with that plan after the first winter, when the right side didn’t get used up. I had created three rows of stacked logs, and the oldest wood was at the bottom of the back row.

I wanted to start restocking the right side with new wood, but I couldn’t do that without burying the oldest wood beneath new. I would need to wait until the entire back row was used up before I could begin stacking new logs.

This time, I have stacked the remaining old wood on the right side in a single row from front-to-back. After leaving an open buffer row to allow access to the full depth of the shed, I started a new stack of freshly split logs. I think the trick to making this work will lie in the quality of the job stacking the rows, especially during this initial filling of the shed.

Once it is filled, how much we burn in a season shouldn’t be a hindrance to the job of adding new. Whenever the open space becomes 2-rows wide, I can start building a stack of freshly split logs on the right. There will always be one open access row, and it will move from right to left across the shed. On the right side of that access row will always be the newly split logs, and on the left side will always be the wood that has been drying the longest. (That’s just the opposite of this first setup shown in the image, but trust me, after that old wood on the right is gone, it’ll be the way I described.)

I think it will work. I’m sure hoping it works. I just need to get the shed filled to the brim this first time and then I will get a feel for the viability of my plan. Unfortunately, 95% of the wood in it will be freshly split. As I wrote in a previous post, this winter we may be burning pieces of dead branches I scrounge out of the woods.

If I get the shed filled by the end of this year, we should be sitting pretty for next winter’s fireplace season.

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Written by johnwhays

October 31, 2014 at 6:00 am

Standing Again

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DSCN2551eThe woodshed is back standing again, this time with improved bracing and held down by fence wire through anchors buried in the ground. Mike Wilkus was essential and sensational in his assistance in the accomplishment of this feat. I can’t thank him enough. It is almost embarrassing how much this simple structure has come to mean to me.

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I’m happy to report that my idea of using the loader bucket on the tractor to lift the roof into place worked wonderfully. It was not without a few precarious moments, but we avoided disaster and successfully set it in place on the posts. It was interesting for me to see the forces in play as we moved and positioned the roof on the posts. Having the benefit of Mike’s architectural expertise and his practical experience proved to be a priceless asset for my peace of mind as the project proceeded.

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Thank you to Mike, Cyndie, and Barb Wilkus for each participating in the picture-taking which captured this happy occasion. Now my priority quickly shifts to needing to split and stack firewood to fill the shed up again. Before I do that, I need to replace the pallets I use for the floor, which I stole back when I was filling the hay shed with bales. Resources move to the area of greatest need at the time, you know!

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Written by johnwhays

October 26, 2014 at 9:22 am

Big Plans

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Today we have some high expectations for big accomplishments. Our friends, Barb and Mike are coming over to help us get the woodshed roof back up. Before we even get to that project, our horses have an appointment with the veterinarian. They will have their teeth checked and be given whatever shots are due in this routine scheduled visit. We plan to move them into their stalls in the barn when we go down to serve their morning feed. After horses, it’s all about the woodshed.

If we are successful in getting the woodshed rebuilt, it will be a significant psychological milestone for me. It has lingered in my mind all summer as unfinished business, and visually tarnished the look and ambiance of that space behind our house. While we’ve made great strides on all the other major projects we had in mind for the summer, that unfinished woodshed remains as the last of my significant goals. It has been an ongoing source of torment for me.

I miss having that place where my wood splitter was conveniently stationed. I would meander back there at various odd times, in moments between other projects, to split 5 or 10 logs, tossing them on the stack under the roof. There is something special about the atmosphere of that space where the logs are split and stacked. I don’t feel the same sense of satisfaction toiling away on the workbench in the shop, as I do around the wood splitter.DSCN2145e2

I’ll have plenty of opportunity to enjoy that space once the woodshed is rebuilt. We have quite a backlog of wood that needs splitting from all the trees we have cut to clear space for the pasture fence, to open up the south drainage ditch, and to widen the trail we opened up through the south woods. Unfortunately, it will all be for next year’s burning.

I’m going to be a little short of split wood this winter, I’m afraid. When things get slim, I’m hoping I can harvest some of the branches of dead wood that are widely available around the property. There are plenty that are small enough they won’t need to be split, if I just cut ’em to fit into the fireplace. I know Cyndie won’t want to give up warm fires just because we’ve used up all the seasoned split logs. It will be important that I devise a workable alternative to satisfy her voracious appetite for that mesmerizing glow from the hearth.

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Written by johnwhays

October 25, 2014 at 6:00 am

Gone Shedless

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I received the greatest gift from my family yesterday. Since I will be gone on Father’s Day, riding the Tour of Minnesota, we celebrated a week early. The kids came over and helped with chores around the property. Most significantly, we dismantled the toppled woodshed.

I had been considering ways to pick it up again, thinking it might still stand on the six support posts. After we cleared away everything that had been stacked inside, closer inspection led to a decision to just take it apart, one leg at a time. Having the extra hands made the project infinitely more simple for me. Getting that shed taken care of was high on my list of desires, but I never imagined we would be able to get as far with it as we ended up accomplishing.

I am so very happy to have that damaged structure dismantled. Thanks, kids!

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Written by johnwhays

June 9, 2014 at 6:00 am

Shifting Priorities

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I have not attempted to do anything with the remains of the woodshed yet. Since it wasn’t raining yesterday afternoon, I stepped out to take some more pictures.

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It is too heavy to lift on my own, so I will either need a lot of helpers to pick it back up or use the power of our diesel tractor. The problem with relying on the tractor is that I can’t drive it back there until the ground dries up enough to support it. Not that it’s really a problem. I have plenty of other things to work on while I wait to be able to drive the tractor around on our property.

I have noticed a strong desire to get back to clearing the south drainage ditch, but the lawn grass that we try to keep mowed around the driveway and township road is growing so fast I was forced to make that the next priority. It is a rather challenging task right now because of how wet it is. I tried to stay off the worst areas, but still found myself getting stuck a few times, and leaving muddy tire tracks in my wake. Regardless, it looks better mowed with a few tracks, than it does not-mowed at all.

Clearing the south ditch is not the only thing clamoring for my attention, either. Over the weekend I started creating a spot by our labyrinth to use for storing compost that we plan to feed the growing things we have planted. I have been ever-so-slowly replacing the concrete landscaping blocks Cyndie bought for marking the first layout of the labyrinth, with stones we have been collecting from around our property. I am going to build a 3-walled nook using the landscape blocks pulled from the labyrinth, to contain the compost.

Of course, to haul manure back there I will need the ATV and trailer, but I can’t get in the paddocks with that equipment until it dries up some and Cyndie gets off crutches to open gates and manage horses while I drive in and out.

That’ll probably happen about the time I will need to switch priorities again to mow the rapidly growing lawn grass everywhere. It’s a great exercise for the part of me that wants to do everything in a sequence. I get to flex my flexibility skills, instead.

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Written by johnwhays

May 14, 2014 at 6:00 am