Building a sawing horse
Your wood may arrive by the ton, already cut and split, and then it will only remain for you to hand over your money and cart the wood to some place where it can be stored, preferably under cover. If you have to cut slab wood or timber from a demolition site, you would do well to use some of your first lengths of timber to build a sawing horse.
First cut six equal 1100mm lengths of 75mm x 50mm or similar sized wood. Nail these in three equal cross shapes , the crossover coming one third of the way along the length of the wood. Cut two short 100mm pieces of the same thickness of wood and nail these on to the feet of two of the crosses as blocking pieces. Measure the width of the foot of the cross and cut a piece of 25mm x 150mm plank to brace this lower end, shaping the ends to fit the cross. Nail the braces into place. Cut four pieces of plank, again about 25mm x 150mm, the length of the required sawing horse; 1100mm, the same dimension as the basic cross pieces, is elegant and satisfactory.
You will now need a measure of the length of wood to fit inside your chosen stove. Cut off a measured piece of wood, mark it and keep it by your sawing horse as a useful guide when cutting up long lengths of wood. Set the first crosses slightly closer together than your measured length. This is so that when cutting short lengths the piece remaining on the sawing horse will fit the stove. Nail two long planks on to one side of one of the braced crosses, set the unbraced cross in place and nail this on; finally fix the other braced cross at the other end. Nail the other two planks on the other side. This type of sawing horse is ideal for holding the classic log but it will also be useful when sawing up slab wood and demolition timber.
The bow saw with a replaceable blade (have one 750mm or 900mm long) is easy to use but if you are cutting up at least a ton of wood over the winter you may find that you use two blades, depending on how many nails you saw into accidentally. Chain saws are expensive but with them you can go out and saw up fallen trees—with the owner’s permission of course.
Chain saws are also dangerous and noisy. They will cope well with slab wood, which can be sawn up in bundles, but are best not used with old house timbers because of the danger of hitting a hidden nail. There is something to be said for the old adage that ‘fuel wood warms you twice’ and we have found that two hours hand sawing on a frosty afternoon leaves you both glowing inside, and with enough wood to fuel a small airtight stove for a week.
If your wood comes in the form of large logs you will need a pair of steel wedges to split it into usable pieces. The wedges should be used once the logs have been cut to the right length to fit the stove. Drive them into the wood with a sledgehammer, using the second wedge to widen the gap when the first is driven in as far as it will go. You will find that some kinds of wood split more easily than others.
Carrying and stacking wood
Having cut the wood and stacked it under cover for as long as possible to allow it to dry out properly, it only remains to carry it to the stove and store it nearby. Keep a woodbasket near the stove but not next to it to avoid burning the wood before you intended to. We tried carrying wood in both basket and bucket but have found a log carrier the easiest. You can make one with a sack; nail two bits of 25mm x 50mnn timber across the shorter ends with clout nails. Fix two screw eyes into each of these pieces of wood; thread a rope through and fix it with knots at the ends. The length of the rope handles will depend on the amount of wood you wish to carry each time but 500mm of rope will be about right, and you can always put in less wood.