Tales from a small creek on the Eastern Shore

The Wattage Two Day Cure for All Ailments.

It’s true, doesn’t matter if it is lumbago, rheumatism, arthritis, sciatica or a bout of the gout this is guaranteed to cure the lot in two days.

Firewood, cut it, split it, stack it on the woodpile.


There are three trees worth here, a Hickory, an Oak and a Maple, all hardwoods, probably totaling about three cords when cut and stacked, seasoned it should weigh about six tons, wet as it is it probably weighs twice that. The big stuff with the dark heartwood is the hickory. Bitternut is the variety that grows around here and it is very heavy wood, and one of the best in terms of heat content for firewood.

The tree fella (gedit?) promised to cut the pieces into 48 inch lengths, that way I only have to make two cuts to get it to fireplace length 16-20 inches. The first piece I cut was 75 inches long so it needed three cuts to make four pieces. That piece weighed in at about six hundredweight and to move it requires one or two of those things in front of the saw.

Fire 3s

It’s called a Cant Hook here, it may have a different name elsewhere, I bought a couple of them twenty years ago at a roadside sale for a few dollars each, they may already be 100 years old but they still work. They are used to move or roll logs, the curved spike grips the bark and the handle levers the log over. I think they are called cant hooks because usually I say “Even with this hook I can’t move this log” or something more flowery later in the day.

All the rest of the logs were 70 to 80 inches long too, so all needed three cuts from one side and then a turn and three small cuts from the other side to finish. I’m not good enough with the saw to cut from one side and avoid touching the ground with the chain, in that case the chain has to be sharpened or replaced. It’s far less work to be careful and cut twice.

Fire 2s

This is me gasping with fatigue late in the day, nearly done with the cutting. The orange overalls are not a fashion statement, they have Kevlar inserts on the legs in case the saw gets loose, earplugs and safety glasses help too, I find it safer to work without gloves, it’s easier to quickly let go of the saw if I need too. The saw in the picture is Swedish, (Husqvarna) probably the third brand I have owned and far and away the best, it must be twenty five years old and still starts and runs like a champ. When it stops it is out of gas, fill it up, pull the handle and away you go again. Never tires, never stalls.

All done cutting, time to clean the saw and call it a day. The logs are now fireplace length and a manageable 150 lbs. Next, splitting.

Wood 1

Day Two.  Splitting, moving, stacking.

Here’s the setup.

LS 2s

In the rear is the tractor with a log bin on the rear lift, it has snow chains on the rear wheels because in a second life it plows the driveway and the steep hill. Behind the tractor is a hydraulic log splitter (home-made from various mechanical bits, a 12 hp motor and hydraulic pump, and an 8 by 12 I beam)

Rest is simple but not easy.

1. Lift a log onto the splitter beam and close the valve, the ram pushes the log onto the wedge splitting it in half,  both halves fall to the ground

2. Pick up a half and repeat 1.  Keep repeating until all the pieces are small enough to load in the stove and are thrown into the tractor box

3. Repeat for the next log.


4. When the tractor box is full (about 1/2 ton)  Drive  the tractor to the log pile and stack all the split logs  so that they DO NOT fall over when the pile is highest and the last piece is being placed.

5. Cover tidily with a tarp to speed drying.

Wood 5s

The cure? After a day or two of this even lifting your eyelids hurts, any aches and pains you thought you had are long gone and have been replaced by real aches and pains. One’s life ambition has shrunk to finishing a hot shower without falling unconscious and creeping off for a long, long sleep.

February 23, 2015 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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