Here are some proven tips to find yourself with more firewood to know what to do with. If you are not careful, you turn into a wood hoarder and fill your property with piles of logs and firewood. Before we start, you should know a few things.
First, you are going to need some tools. If you don’t have a good chainsaw, a truck or trailer, and a log splitter you are going to seriously cramp your style. These things can be expensive, but you will quickly find out they will pay for themselves in just a couple of years. If you just want some brand recommendations, I would recommend: Sthil for chainsaws, Cub Cadet for log splitters and any truck or trailer will do. Trailers should have side walls, you certainly do not want logs rolling out when you are cruising down the highway. Your truck may get beat up in the process, so if you have a shiny new $40,000 truck, you might want to invest in an older farm truck.
Second, you will want to be realistic. You are going to do some real backbreaking work – if you find a way to have someone deliver split firewood to your home and stack it for free, email me – I want in on that action.
Third, be very clear upfront about what you want. You do not want to end up with everyone in town’s 3/4 inch diameter branches from their recent pruning, nor do you want the ‘mulch’ that some tree trimmers turn those branches into. If you are not careful and explicit, your firewood friends may give you a 50/50 mix of what you want and what you don’t want.
Last, try to avoid getting stuff bigger than you can handle. I have had friends drop off entire logs that require a crane to move. While this makes a lot of firewood once split and stacked, it also is very hard to work with due to the weight and size. Also, its dangerous to try to roll one of those big logs off of a pile to work on it.
There are two methods of getting free firewood from Craigslist. I find that method 1 works much better than method 2, however, if you are able to pull method 2 off, you are in really good shape.
Craigslist – Method 1
Search Craigslist near you for free firewood. It know it’s hard to believe that person A will try to sell you firewood for $200 per cord while person B will give it for free, but it happens all of the time. Here is how it works: Homeowners who do not have a stove or insert still have trees. There are a ton of homeowners who have taken down a dead or annoying tree and managed to cut it up into logs but don’t want to do any additional work. So they snap a photo, throw it on craigslist, and watch it disappear. This has been happening a lot in Cincinnati due to the Emerald Ash Borer killing all of the ash trees. I have seen massive black cherry trees sitting on the curb, beautiful oaks downed and left for grabs – some really excellent firewood, all for free.
Craigslist – Method 2
Offer a dumpsite for wood on your property. If you have enough land and easy access for dump trucks, you will find that there are construction companies and tree trimmers that are more than happy to fill it with firewood. Just create a post on Craigslist saying you want firewood, you have the room, and anyone can dump it here. BUT you need to be very explicit on what you don’t want. Otherwise, you will end up with 20 tons of branches and much with 1 decent log sitting on top.
If you make friends with a tree trimmer, you will find yourself with more wood than you can handle. Here is how it works: Tree trimmers just don’t prune trees, they are actually more busy cutting them down, trunk and all. They have to take these trees somewhere and do something with them. While they can grind up even fairly large branches, the trunks they will often haul off. Tree trimmers work very hard and while they could easily split and sell the firewood, they like to be done at five just like everyone else, so they will be more than happy to drop off a few logs on your property, especially if you are on the way home.
Sawmills process logs into firewood, and although they are efficient and try to use all the parts, they will often have end pieces they can’t do anything with. Go beg for those end pieces.
The employees of your local Department of Transportation are the ultimate tree trimmers. If you can ask around town and find someone who works there, they might give you access to their tree trimming dumpsite. I did a favor for a DoT person once, and as a return, he told me to bring my trailer down to the dumpsite. He took a bobcat and dumped some prime walnut and other great burning wood right into the trailer. It was a beautiful thing to haul a cord of firewood back to the house without breaking a sweat.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. If you can find someone who does anything related to trees for a living, you can probably work out a deal to get some free firewood. Learn to take care of your firewood friends; toss them a gift certificate or a 6 pack every once and a while. Keep your eye on Craigslist too. Take these principals and run with them, and please report back any variations that worked for you.