Save On Your Heating Bill: Chop Wood Chapter 5
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Save On Your Heating Bill: Chop Wood Chapter 5

A hatchet is a useful tool for rendering smaller pieces. It is very accurate and can make good kindling.

By the teachings of Karl Marx, the consumer is always at the mercy of the means of production. This concept is especially apparent with utilities, where users usually only have one or two choices of supply. Astute observers will notice that electricity and natural gas costs rise in the winter when their usage increases for the purpose of providing heat (basic supply and demand). Although, conceptually, the individual will always be at the mercy of the market, using your fireplace can drastically reduce your utility bill during the winter.

When cutting a tree apart, make sure to keep the rounds down to 16 inches in length or less (and the branches as well if you plan on burning them). Not only does this make the round easier to split, but you have to consider the size of your fireplace. Most modern residences are built with very small fireplaces (like mine), and you want the wood you make to fit in your fireplace.

A hatchet is a good supplement to a splitting axe, maul, or whatever tool you use to render the large rounds. You need the hatchet for two main purposes: to reduce the larger quarters into even smaller pieces, and to make kindling. Hatchets are very accurate and require much less energy, so they're perfect for this purpose. Smaller pieces are easier to burn, stack, and carry, and they dry out faster. This is helpful in heating your home.

Kindling is necessary to start a fire. Kindling is ideally a very dry wood that has cured sufficiently, and is in very small pieces so that it catches quickly and makes hot coals to ignite your primary firewood. Since I haven't yet had the opportunity to cure my wood long enough, I actually use wooden pallets and bark for kindling. Be very careful with pallets; pressure treated ones will release poisonous formaldehyde into your home, although these are less common in the United States. Any sort of 2X4 or similar board is usually dried and easy to split with a hatchet, however, and is useful for starting your fire.

You will also need a paper source or something that catches quickly, as well as a source of matches, in order to start a fire. MREs (Meal, Ready to Eat; the Army's military eating ration), each contain a set of matches, and this is where I accumulated my supply. Matches are fairly cheap, however. Most working establishments throw a large amount of paper away, and you can store this in a box and use it to start fires. You can also use junk mail for the same purpose, although you should be careful to avoid burning plastics.

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Comments (3)

More good advice, Dustin. You're making me homesick for the old place!

:) Chopping wood is a happy thing.

Yes, it is! :)