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FREE FIREWOOD FRENZY --- GAVE AWAY 45 LOADS SO FAR

Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4331
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  65
The frugal firewood hounds of Victoria British Columbia, Canada ------ Last Saturday and Sunday, I presided over the largest free firewood frenzy that I've ever witnessed. It was part "feeding frenzy", part "social happening", and part "Gong Show" as every firewood hound in Victoria scrambled for the best pickings. My job was chop off slabs which stick too far beyond tailgates, to keep the peace, organize all of the vehicles, prevent theft of the saleable lumber and make sure everyone survives. So far I've succeeded but after 45 big truckloads the job is about half done, so the whole process will continue this Friday - Sunday.



THE PROBLEM

I got called out to look at this glorious mess last Wednesday.This sawmill is a 2 man operation based on two semi-portable saws. They've accumulated slabs for several years in an industrial area where a slab fire would be disasterous. The landlord and fire officials were involved in saving these guys from themselves. The yard has nowhere left to pile lumber and trucks need more space. I've been to mills employing 20 guys that had less scrap laying around and more space for equipment.

There are enough cedar slabs and cut-offs to fill 15 or 20 demolition bins. Slabwood has to be cheap or free to move it around here.

The dumpage cost would have run $2500 for what's been done so far.

THE SOLUTION ---- The following is a copy of the ad that brought in many people. I also phoned many from my customer list who have taken scraps from demolition projects.

----- THE AD ------I need to give away about 100 pick-up loads of wood from a small cedar mill that is over run with slabs and cutoffs. I'll cut wood to truck length. It's right on Keating X rd. in the industrial area. 2046 Keating X rd. Behind the closed down Home Hardware.

Saturday and Sunday 8:30 - 5:30 pm. There are signs and red and yellow caution tape marking the fence.

Dale. 250 588 3366. Other times will be announced until supply runs out and for those wanting multiple loads, I may offer a different time.

Update - It was a real circus at the scrap heap today. Many homes will be heated for free next season. As of Sunday night, 45 truck loads have gone. Lots more to go.

Doing it again next weekend ! If any of your friends are firewood hounds, tell them about this, then tell them your back is sore or risk getting dragged into this. Keep my number. A lot of my other work in tree service and demolition, involves some free wood.


THE PROCESS ---- The photos below document the event. --- Does anyone know what to do about a cell phone that won't stop ringing ?

Photo 1. I took this shot from atop the slab pile. This is about 30% of the total. There are slabs behind and to both sides of where I stood.

2. This one ton truck is overloaded a bit. The owner said he had to work later and would only have time for one load, so he made it a mega-load.

3. The bottom photo is of a father-son team who worked perfectly together. The old guy is quite agile. He worked from on top of the highest pile and tossed material to the truck and trailer below while his son stacked it well for maximum capacity. They took anything that wasn't rotten,good bad and ugly. This is the most efficient way to do it. A very large load was ready to go within an hour. I kept their #. People who work safely and efficiently without making life difficult for me and other customers on the jobsites are the first ones to get called when the next bonanza arrives.

Some people milled around the site looking only for nice thick chunks and then dragged the chosen peices over all the other scrap to their trucks. It took them much longer to fill their smaller trucks than it took the father-son team to get on a mega load. They also managed to squeeze their rig tight to the pile so others could pass. I had to get many other vehicles to move as they chose to stop in places that impeded traffic. It was a circus.

The funniest thing to watch is when someone gets it in their head that they must have a slab that is burried 5 feet deep in heavy scraps. Some choose to excavate and they usually find many more good slabs in the process. Others grab hold and yank with all of their might in an almost always futile attempt to extricate their prize which may prove to be anywhere from 3 to 20 feet long. This technique is sucessful about 5% of the time and only if it's a short one.

On Wednesday I will learn how to operate a Bobcat loader -- wish me luck -- and I'll clean up a big bin full of rotten scraps, skinny yard-stick shaped trimmings and wet sawdust that is a foot deep in places. This will clean up the site for this weekend when the process will continue until it's all gone.

OTHER USES --- About half of those who showed up plan to build things with some of their wood and only burn the scraps. Several garden structures including a greenhouse, trellises and benches are planned. Several burl slabs will be turned into one of a kind tables. I saved 5 exceptionally good chunks to build into my house. A 600 year old cedar burl is not something you find every day , unless you're involved in a giant mill clean-up.




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Dale's picks - These are some of my favorite threads. Greed - http://www.permies.com/t/10736/md/unbridled-greed-ambition-compatible-permaculture My garden - http://www.permies.com/t/27910/projects/Dale-Day-Garden ethics - http://www.permies.com/t/11534/permaculture/frustration-ethics Good wood bad wood http://www.permies.com/t/12206/hugelkultur/Hugelkultur-Good-wood-Bad-wood Alder - http://www.permies.com/t/10609/plants/Alder-nitrogen-fixation-native-tree Bees - http://www.permies.com/t/10917/bees/time-replace-European-honey-bee Pulling nails - http://www.permies.com/t/10249/natural-building/Removing-nails-recycled-wood-techniques
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4331
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  65
More photos - 1. This guy is going to mill and split this exceptional load of mostly clear cedar. He is building a greenhouse and garden stuff. This is his 3rd load and he plans to return on the weekend. I sort out good stuff and save it for those who are building. The $10 that I charge for this is money well spent. If there was more time I would grab most of the good stuff but instead I'm scrambling to send it with someone who won't burn it.

2. Some of these logs are over 6 ft. in diamiter. They come from a blow down on the Uculett First Nation reserve. I found a Douglas fir log that had about 600 growth rings. Storms a couple years back blew down quite a bit of old growth forest on the reserve so they are dealing with that before any standing trees may be cut. Wood of this age and quality is rare.

3. This clear, edge grain cedar with no knots is the best of the best. It has about 25 growth rings per inch and will go into high end homes and boats.




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Michael Brant


Joined: Jan 05, 2012
Posts: 12
Location: Ontario, Canada
I don't often get envious but this is different. I'm in Ontario where you never see cedar like that. I would salvage every last scrap for a building project before I'd burn it. Good going scoring that! The 600 year old burl sounds incredible. Cheers.
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4331
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  65
I learned how to use a Bobcat today. Got it at 4pm and by 6, I was competent. I had hoped for a machine with a grapple but received a basic model. It turns out that the best way to sort materials is to dig the teeth in and drive backwards. After a few passes I hop out and toss the good peices to the firewood pile. The remaining material is a mixture of sawdust, rotten wood, spindly strips and bark. This stuff is dragged into piles 1 - 2 ft deep. I've found that driving over the piles breaks the wood up and compacts everything so that it can be loaded into the bin.

This material reduction technique will be used when I build cob-wood walls so it will be good to get the method down while being paid .

All of my life, I've driven vehicles in a manner meant to avoid crashing. In order to get anything done, the bobcat must be driven full speed into the pile and the most efficient method of filling the bucket is to crash up against the log pile as the bucket digs into the trapped pile of junk. Without a solid stop, it would be difficult to load such awkward stuff into the bucket. This machine has no screen. In the wrong hands, It's a death trap. If I were foolish enough to drive into the long slabs , I could easily be impaled.

The photos - 1. People have taken all of the good, easy to get firewood but there is still lots more burried in crap.

2. Spread materials pulled off pile with the bobcat.

3. Pile of crap ready to be driven over. A stack of mixed materials that appeared at first to be mostly junk turned out to be about 60% good firewood.




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Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4331
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  65
The good news is that I got lots done today as I used the Bobcat to rake wood off of the piles and to clean up tons of sawdust and scraps. The bad news is that I flipped the Bobcat.

I started before dawn and made great progress sorting and loading materials. The very stiff tires are great for breaking up small wood so I took to piling big rows of the stuff on a concrete area and driving over it. After using the loader to dump some trash, l left it high in the air as I drove full speed. I had missed a large chunk of firewood under the sawdust. The wheel that hit it was lifted high and put the machine at an awful tilt. The raised bucket had plenty of weight to carry me over. It wasn't quick, like a car crash. I had time for a steering correction as I realized the error of my ways. Turns out Bobcats steer better with 4 wheels on the ground.since they are skid steers.. luckily the logs caught me and the landing was not too hard.



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Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4331
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  65
The photos in the above posting are of two big slabs that I saved with a plan to incorporate them into the house as window seats. Both are flat but one has a grain which makes it appear raised in the photo.

The photos below. 1. this beautiful slab is 5 inches thick. These guys cut 4 of these from a slab that was too big and heavy to load into the van as one unit. They will be tables.

2. This very dense chunk could be milled to make a 3x10 about 7 feet long.

3. Most of the wood at the mill is from very old trees which blew down. Some have been on the ground for more than 50 years. This log is a second growth one, meaning that it is one that grew after the old forest was removed. Some of these growth rings are over one inch across. The wood is less dense and it will rot much faster than the old stuff.

Although I enjoy being the "Firewood Santa Claus", when I clean up this mill in the future, I'll make sure it's not such a mad rush and I'll keep much more of the good stuff. There was no time to maximize value. About half of the people say the'll mill or split some of this stuff,but many beautiful specimens will be chopped up and burned. The owner had let things go to the point where it was affecting efficiency and safety. I'll get to it at least once a month so that it never gets totally out of hand and I'll show up hours ahead of a selected group of gardeners, carvers, furniture guys and firewod hounds.


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Saybian Morgan
volunteer

Joined: Apr 22, 2011
Posts: 580
Location: Lower Mainland British Columbia Canada Zone 8a/ Manchester Jamaica
    
    8
whoa mama I'm tearing up looking at all that wood. If only my f250 could drive on water Id be there hauling loads back to the mainland.
I
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4331
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  65
Saybian Morgan wrote:whoa mama I'm tearing up looking at all that wood. If only my f250 could drive on water Id be there hauling loads back to the mainland.
I


They mill lots of wood on the mainland too. For firewood, seek mills that do mostly fir. For old growth cedar, look for mills that specialize in blow down and ground salvage. Some of the cedars at this mill laid on the ground for 50 years or more. The sunshine coast is bound to have some good pickings. Lots of wood being milled and a low population. My giant pile was uniquely located only 5 miles from the city.

The job is finished as of 10am today. Aprox. 140 trucks were filled. Hundreds of projects are planned for the better stuff. The most commonly cited plans are for big thick table tops and for garden beds and trellises.

Several Native carvers spent hours scouring the piles. Together they got a few hundred useful chunks. The most prized wood to them is yellow cedar, which is much harder to find than red cedar. Totem poles and totem stylized animals are the most common items carved. We get many tourists who seek these items. One guy took some giant slabs for making entire village scenes,similar to European wood cut murals. I'll call these guys first next time so that good carving blocks don't go for firewood.

------------------- A NEW BUILDING SYSTEM IS BORN ------------------- This is an idea which I touched on during my first week on the forum but nobody was interested. Soon, I will have photographic and video evidence. When I first moved to B.C. 18 years ago I discovered cedar bark which had been mixed up with clay soil by logging equipment. The truck tracks dried hard, but much lighter than regular dirt. At the time I envisioned using it in cordwood construction. I will post a new thread to green building explaining the entire system.

THE PHOTO
This is the left over thin strips of wood and bark mixed with sawdust which I loaded into the bin. It packs really well when damp. Believe it or not, this crap could become the most valuable building material here. Mixed with a clay binder,it will be quite strong due to all of the stringy bark and wood strips which criss-cross in all directions. Many of the scraps are pointed at one end and blunt on the other. This makes them well suited to being used as pegs to lock successive corses together. This replacement for straw clay has several advantages.


1. It has a negative value, so I can get paid for its disposal.

2. Being cedar, it is naturally rot resistant, anti fungal and repellant to many bugs and vermin. Cedar chips, bark and sawdust have all been used as insulation historically. The shelf life of wet materials is long without deterioration.

3. Walls that take a long time to dry won't be nearly as prone to rot or mold as would similar straw-clay walls.

4. It is easily mixed with clay simply by driving a Bobcat over it numerous times.

5. After mixing it can be easily fluffed for partial drying before incorporation into the walls.

6. Most mills have some sort of loader which could be used for mixing in the clay. They pay to get rid of this stuff. All could be mixed on the giant slab of concrete at the mill and sent to the building site as ready-mix.


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Neil Evansan


Joined: Jan 10, 2012
Posts: 69
Location: Valley of the Sun
awesome 'junk' wood! Some of the photos reminds me of the forests of Oregon of my youth, when it was the rule rather than the exception to see a log truck with 1 or 2 or 3 whole intact 80' trunks headed for the sawmills.

You are so right about those old old growth trees. I hope our kids 600 years from now have something like them to enJoy.


I AM a Warrior in whom
the ways of the Olde
enhance the ways of the New
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6675
Location: Currently in Seattle. Probably moving 1 hour north by end of the year.
    
139
I totally agree with you Dale: call the carvers and craftsmen first. Let them get the good stuff. Firewood can be found anywhere here in the PNW. By the looks of those photos, it would be a shame if it all ended up ashes! Somebody could have built a very nice rustic fence with some of what I saw there.

If I was there, I would have hired some kids to help me load, and I would have hauled away as much as I could. There was some fine looking wood there.
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4331
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  65
After 3 weeks the owner has finally agreed to do some ongoing maintainance, by having me come by from time to time and sell lumber. I now have dibbs on all good firewood. But that's a sidenote. There's good news and bad.

First the bad news --- I had stashed 3 beautiful slabs that were to become window seats. The mill guys tossed them into the firewood and they're gone.

Now the good news --- There is a huge pile of lumber that needs to go and I have been enlisted to sell it all for a 10% comission. There is somewhere between $100,000 and $250,000 worth of old growth cedar and fir available. I'm running adds and will occasionally do an all day event. My truck will be stored at the mill so that I can do deliveries. Whenever there are no customers I will load my truck with firewood which sells for $100 per load cut up or $70 delivered long. This job would be barely viable at this price if I was just doing this for the firewood. The commisioned sales and dibs on good table slabs will turn every mill day into a treasure hunt. Most importantly, there is no timeline to this. It will be a filler job that I will attend to whenever the mood strikes me. Work has been slack and I am gearing up to build at my farm. Free grabs at a mill is exactly what is needed since I don't like to buy wood.


Look at the little mill house. When the cutting head is retracted, it slides under this roof so that the miller can do all adjustments out of the sun and rain. The logs are loaded with a big forklift. It only takes a minute to load a log but sometimes there are a few minutes of cleaning, rolling and planning brfore expensive old growth is cut. Most of this is done from under the roof. The guys start early when the sun is toward the lower rear. By the time they finish at 4 pm. the sun is just starting to shine to the back of the house. The garbage can travels with the cutting head and captures almost all of the sawdust.



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Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4331
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  65
The giant mess is totally under control.

1. This pile would fit in two dump trucks and most of it will disappear on Saturday when I run a sale.

2. There is plenty of room to operate the mill and the rent has dropped a little since less space is needed.

3. After the big event 3 weeks ago, I did my part for global warming by feeding a fire for 36 hours. Worked all day while feeding the fire with the bobcat, then slept for 2 hours followed by 1 hour machine time until 8 the next day, then worked all day again and let the fire burn out. Light rain throughout.

I had only a few days Bobcat experience when the fire plan was made. You realy want to know your controls when advancing on a big fire while holding your breath. I got pretty good at it. The safety cage is a prison in this context. I didn't wear the seatbelt since I wanted to keep the option of bailing in the event of a mechanical failure. It went perfectly.



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Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4331
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  65
EIGHT MONTHS LATER ---------------- DOING IT ALL AGAIN

This time it was a two day event with about 40 loads in total. Last time the mess had accumulated for a few years. The owner was quite pleased with his clean slate last round and he has decided to never let the scrap take over his space again.

There was a larger percentage of sawdust and thin scrappy stuff than last time, so a Bobcat was used to shovel this stuff into bins. After each bite, people gathered the good sized chunks from the bucket and from the face of the pile. When not in use, The Bobcat was parked by the pile so that customers could fill the bucket which I dumped into their trucks. One 9 year old boy scoured the pile for good stove length stuff. He filled the bucket twice and made a separate pile of good long stuff for his dad to cut. Whenever the machine was moved, he climbed onto the pile. Some of the big logs were 3 feet in diameter. These were cut into slabs which were tipped into the Bobcat bucket. About half of the wood was lifted to the trucks using this method.

During the big event 8 months ago, most of my time was spent swinging a chainsaw, loading trucks, directing traffic, dealing with load security, visitor safety and policing silly behaviour. This time I called everyone who came prepared last time and the ad on Used Victoria contained a list of things to bring (saw, rope, load flagging, work boots ... ) It was a more orderly affair for sure. Most people came with Husqvarna and Stihl saws and I was able to revive two of those crappy Poulan saws that inexperienced wood cutters foolishly purchase.

This time, I spent much more time on the Bobcat and along with loading crap from the pile of wood, I also scraped up several tons of sawdust and bark from the roadways and dealt with some drainage issues caused by waste build up around the band saw. Two big bins were loaded with junk wood. At least half of it is sawdust and wood less than 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick. There is still enough other material to fill 2 more bins.

We gave away about 40 tons of material. My cost to the mill owner was $600.00 which is about one third of what it would have cost to ship it all out in bins.



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Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4331
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  65
These guys were waiting at the gate on the morning of day one. They loaded their 12 yard dump box by hand on the first load. I got them to drop me off at the nearby rental shop where I picked up the Bobcat. They took 2 more monster loads of giant slabs that were loaded with the Bobcat. Their wood heated shop is close by.

Two others showed up with dumpers. I got the secretary at the rental shop to spread the word about the free wood and four of them showed up with two dump trucks and saws borrowed from their employer. It seems to be standard practice around here that trusted employees get to borrow company equipment on the weekends. One company, Chew excavating often has a shop full of employee owned boats and travel trailers being repaired on the weekend. These guys gather firewood and build their shops with wood scrounged from job sites and their wood dump.

The scraps in the bin would work well in a cob mixture. This idea was tested in the spring and it dries to a very stiff product that is 3/4 wood.

We'll do it all again in the spring.



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Cory Schlombs


Joined: Nov 22, 2012
Posts: 1
If I know about it in advance, I'll happily make the trip down from Courtenay to scour the grounds for good wood next time around.
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4331
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  65
Cory Schlombs wrote:If I know about it in advance, I'll happily make the trip down from Courtenay to scour the grounds for good wood next time around.


Leave your name and number in a PM and I'll call anyone interested in wood or other free stuff as it comes available. Quite often I get many other products which have to move quickly.
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4331
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  65
Over a year has passed since I first saw the glorious mess at the mill. My clean up efforts and networking have been so successful that my services have not been needed yet this year. Every local firewood hound has learned of the place and they pop in from time to time during work hours. There is now a clear line of sight from the saws to waste piles so security isn't the issue it once was.

I saved many of the best slabs and was surprised to find that there is not much of a market for them. Only three sales amounting to a total of $100. A total flop. I still plan to use the better slabs for benches and other garden and park structures, but will not actively market the stuff.

The mill owner is my #1 customer for high grade recycled fir from demolition projects. Any fir over 8 feet in length and 2 inches thick can be resawn to produce wood valued by cabinet and boat builders. It must be old growth with tight grain. If you are on Vancouver Island and are likely to produce some of this, I can put you in contact with him. It's currently worth $1 per board foot, denailed and stacked. Where else can you get a buck a foot for old 2x6 ?

There are specialty mills like this all over North America's west coast. If you come into any quantity of old growth fir, cedar or redwood, it may be far too valuable to burn or build your chicken coop with. I can sell a foot of impossibly hard fir 2x6 and buy three feet of easily nailed construction grade stuff with the proceeds.
 
 
subject: FREE FIREWOOD FRENZY --- GAVE AWAY 45 LOADS SO FAR
 
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