Chimney Cleaning, BioBricks and a Nice Video

Filed in Firewood by on November 9, 2014 0 Comments

Yesterday, Laura and I went on a bit of an adventure. We had a few things in mind to do – most of which I’ll cover in later posts. One part of our adventure was to stop by our local hardware store in Madison to pick up some chimney cleaning products. I abandoned my old supplies in the shuffle of moving around in 2013, so I was forced to restock. I would have only been able to use some of what I had anyway, so I’m not as annoyed as I could be. Only partially annoyed.

Anyway, what I needed (and what I purchased, among other things) was a chimney cleaning brush made out of polypropylene. It’s important to use the poly brush with stainless steel chimney liners because the wire ones will scratch up the insides. I took a picture of the box for you. Unfortunately, while taking the picture, I didn’t notice that the Spanish side was showing. If you speak or read Spanish, have at it.

Poly Chimney Cleaning Brush

Since my arms are only a few feet long, I had to buy two, 6 foot long chimney cleaning rods with 1/4″ attachments. These look like fiberglass tent poles and this is what I had to leave behind in Connecticut when I left. They were only a few bucks, but still.

Lastly, I needed to get a handheld wire brush to clean the chimney cap screen. When I climbed atop the roof earlier in the week to inspect the chimney, I noticed some crud buildup in the cap.

Handheld Wire Brush

It’s a little blurry, but you get the idea.

When we got home from our outing yesterday, I quickly grabbed the ladder and went back up on top of the roof. I was losing daylight fast and wanted to clean the chimney and take some pictures to show you. Here’s what I found:

Creosote Buildup in Chimney Cap

Creosote Buildup in Chimney

Creosote Buildup Under Chimney Cap

While I’ve seen worse, it is striking how much creosote can build up in just a few weeks of burning wood in a wood stove. As you can see, the pipe leading down to the stove isn’t bad. The cap is the worst and I attribute that to slow, cool fires, creating a lot of smoke, leading to that smoke settling and condensing onto the coolest part of the chimney – the cap. But that’s why I went up there – to clean it. That’s also why I bought that little brush.

Chimney Cleaning Brush and Stainless Steel Chimney

To clean the actual chimney, I assembled the brush and the rods and ran the whole thing up and down the pipe a few times. The way I set up the stove is really beneficial to me when it comes to cleaning time. The pipe is only about twelve fee in its entirety and it’s straight down. And debris falls directly into the stove.

Creosote Crumbs in Stove After Cleaning

What you see above is what came out of the chimney. It’s not much, but I think it’s indicative of the creosote buildup possibilities. Cool fires in the fall and spring can do a number on your chimney and cap. You have to clean them.

When I was finished, I put everything back together and made a really kickass fire that Laura and I got drunk in front of for hours. Now that’s what I’m talking about.

Yesterday, we had to stop by Campbell’s building supply in Madison to take some pictures for a website I’m working on. I’m doing some pro bono work for a friend of ours and they’ve got a display set up in this particular store that needed to be digitally captured. While we were there, I noticed Campbell’s was selling some BioBricks.


I’ve been wondering about these bricks for some time, so I decided to purchase one package of them. A package includes 20 bricks and weighs 38 pounds. The package makes numerous claims about how great they are and how they are superior to cord wood, but what I really noticed was that I can get a bag of pellets for $4 and that bag would weigh 40 pounds. These bricks only weigh 38 pounds and cost $7.89. That’s almost twice the cost of the pellets and the pellets would give me about one day of heat. Needless to say, I was quite interested in how long these bricks would burn. The package claims the bricks are twice as dense as cord wood, which led me to believe I would see them flaming away in the stove for a good long time.


I burned a few BioBricks last night and I have to say, they burn rather well. I can’t say they did any better or worse than regular wood because I truly didn’t notice any difference. I also didn’t notice any difference in the length of time these bricks burned for. I had them mixed in with wood and when I log was finished burning, so was the BioBrick.

One thing I did notice though was that the BioBricks did burn hotter, which means that you might get away with burning fewer of them when compared to what you’d have to burn in cord wood to get the same amount of heat. I’m sure there’s all sorts of BTU test results floating around out there – I’m just offering a quick opinion.

I’d say that if you can afford them, these bricks would make your life easier. They are super easy to store and burn and you’d get a really consistent fire. But again, I think they are a little pricey. If they were $200 a ton, I’d grab some, but at the $389 per ton that Tractor Supply is charging, no thanks. I just picked these up from Campbell’s out of sheer curiosity.

BioBrick Eco Log Burning

Lastly, I’ve been thinking about getting back into video editing recently. I haven’t made any videos in about two years and I enjoy the whole process. I’ve even been considering picking up a sweet little GoPro camera to help out in my video production. To wet my whistle once more, I decided to create a short video of the fire burning in our Englander 30-NCH wood burning stove. I added a few effects and put some music to it. I think I just wanted to see if I still had it. Enjoy the video. It’s only a bit longer than 3 minutes.

Picking Pears

Filed in Around Town by on November 6, 2014 1 Comment

Last week sometime, Don and his beautiful wife were driving up our road during one of our walks. In Maine, it’s not customary for someone you know to drive by and wave. What the custom is, is to stop and talk for a while. Every time Don drives by, it’s known that he’ll stop to chat – Laura and I look forward to this. Don tells us stories about the area and actually, the last time we spoke, he told us all about his snowmobiling excursions to Quebec with the same wife I just mentioned above. Don’s got years of stories from living here his whole life and Laura and I are only too happy to listen to them. Between you and me – there truly aren’t enough interesting stories between neighbors anymore and if one has the opportunity to stop and listen for a while, one might fill an ear with something that initiates a future adventure. An adventure such as visiting the back woods of Quebec. If one can only brush up on one’s French.

Well, during that conversation with Don last week, he invited us up to his house to pick pears from his rather large pear tree. Since we were on our way up the road anyway and since I had just finished calculating the cost per pound of pears in my mind, we agreed to take him up on his offer. To make a fairly long story short, Laura and I picked what I thought was a whole bunch of pears that day. So many, in fact, my arm was aching by the time we got home from the one mile walk it is between Don’s place and ours. Pears weigh more than you think.

Yesterday, I talked Laura into heading back up to Don’s for more pears. He said we could go back and through the grapevine, I learned that Don brought Sam’s family a bag of pears that had fallen to the ground during last weekend’s wind storm. After hearing that, it became apparent to me that Don cares about his pears and he doesn’t want them to go to waste. I’ve heard earlier stories of people in the area going to Don’s to pick pears, so it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for Laura and me to return to his place to do just that. But to be clear, we weren’t sure if Don was going to be there or not. We were winging it.

This post has a few sections. First, I’ll cover our walk up the road, which, of course, will include pictures of the animals. There are a few random shots thrown in for good measure as well. Even one of me. And second, I’ll cover the pear picking adventure.

Ducks in Pond

I can’t write a blog post about going up the road without pictures of two things; first the ducks and second the cows. Above is one of the ducks. But not any ducks. If you look closely, you’ll notice that Laura did a tremendous job of getting all the ducks together in the pond. Not an easy feat. I can attest to that.

Now, here are two wonderful pictures of Brownie and Daisy. Such quintessential Maine I can’t stand it.


Brown Cow

To keep myself occupied while Laura was trying to get just the right shots of the cows, I decided to lean against the largest tree in the county. Yes, that’s right – Sam’s family entered a gigantic oak tree that resides on their land to a contest held by a local newspaper or something and were awarded the prize of owning the largest tree in the county. I don’t know how many other people entered this contest, but I am pretty sure the tree is huge. And to display that fact, I asked Laura to take a picture of me while I give a duck face. If people can do this for their profile pictures on Facebook, I figured I should be able to do it on my blog.

Largest Tree in County

There was actually another picture of me making the same face, but holding up my arm as if I were taking a selfie, but I decided to skip showing that picture because I wouldn’t want it to influence or encourage someone to take a selfie during a dangerous situation (or at all). A situation such as something like when a woman plunged to her death while taking a picture of herself. You think I’m kidding? The story is here. I’m trying to be humorous – I don’t think it’s working but really, we did have multiple stupid pictures of me leaning against the tree.

Further up the road, I noticed a really cool truck on Sam’s property with an equally cool truck emblem. The truck was made by GMC and has a nice big ram planted at the front edge of the hood. Check out these pics:


Old GMC Truck Hood

Pretty neat, right?

In a parking area on Sam’s property, we noticed a few pallets of freshly dried wood that they personally milled. They’ve got a really cool mill and cut up all sorts of wood. This wood, in fact, may by the insides of the wood that Sam delivered to me the other day. I’m not sure who is going to come pick this stuff up, but I thought it might be interesting for someone to see what milled wood looks like as it sits out in the wild.

Milled Wood in Maine

I’d say it’s about time to talk about our pear picking. As I suspected, Don wasn’t home. I don’t think his wife was either because the entire time Laura and I were on his property, we didn’t hear their dog bark. I think it would have barked if it was there. They usually bring it with them when they go out.

When we first arrived, we noticed a whole bunch of pears on the ground. I guess Don didn’t get to all of them. Either that, or they naturally fell from the tree more recently. There were many good ones, so I scooped up what I could and put them into our bags.

Pear on Ground

If you’re curious what the actual pear tree looks like, here’s a pic of that:

Pear Tree

Yes, I’m the one who lugged that big 15 foot ladder from Don’s garage to the tree the last time we were there. Good thing it was still out because I was able to grab two large pears way up top that the other folks had missed. These were the prize pears of the day for us.

Big Pears

And I was also able to pick some “his” and “hers” pears as well. Oh too cute.

His and Hers Pears

Do you want to see what I look like up on the ladder? Oh sure you do. Here are two pictures of that.

On Ladder Picking Pears

On Ladder Picking Pears

While I was up on the ladder, I noticed a ladybug, so I decided to hop down, ask for the camera and return for a nice shot of it.

Ladybug on Pear Tree

These next few pictures are some general ones of our pear picking adventure. They are very nice shots and I wouldn’t want you to miss seeing them.

Pears Hanging From Tree

Pear Hanging From Tree

Pear Tree Leaves in Autumn

Okay, so I bet you’re interested in our final tally of pears between the two visits to Don’s. When we got home from the most recent visit, I dumped all the pears into a box and this is what we have. It weighs a lot. I don’t know how much, but my arms were absolutely killing me from walking home carrying the two bags. They were heavy.

Box of Pears

Now, I’d say that was worth it!

UPDATE: I just weighed the pears and they weigh 35 POUNDS!!! Can you believe it? That’s awesome!

Back to Smalls Falls and Rangeley, Maine

Filed in Destinations by on November 6, 2014 1 Comment

This past Monday was a sunny one. The previous weekend gave us a lot of rain and wind. Since the new week offered us sunshine (and wind), Laura and I decided to get in the car to take a trip up to Rangeley. The last time I was there was during my motorcycle ride with Steve and I hadn’t had a chance to show my better half yet. It seemed like she was missing something rather cool, so I felt bad about not getting up there earlier.

One thing that threw me for a loop was the recent daylight savings time clock change. If I can remember back to Monday, I think we left the house around 1:30. With the amount of time it took to drive up to New Vineyard and across to Strong, we were already running out of light. Since I wanted to stop by Smalls Falls for a quick photo op, I figured I should step on the gas a bit. Unfortunately, even with my speedy driving, we weren’t able to get any pictures worth anything. I took these two as a simple token gesture, but really, with the lack of lighting on the falls, they are merely to document the event.

Smalls Falls, Maine

Smalls Falls, Maine

And needless to say, we didn’t hike up the rocks to see any further falls. It was quite brisk and since I wanted to get up to my lookout point in Rangeley, I figured we should hit the road again and see the lake while we still could.

Now, fortunately for us, the sun was in the perfect position right as we arrived at our pull-off point. There is a really nice spot to view the lake about a mile before Rangeley, if you’re driving in from the east. This is where we took these photos.

Rangeley Lake, Maine

Rangeley Lake, Maine

Rangeley Lake, Maine

What’s really neat is that whenever we stop somewhere, there are bound to be these small informational boards that share some history of the area. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know that I enjoy taking pictures of these. Keeping with tradition, I managed to gather some photos of the four that were available to me at the lake lookout. Check them out. If you click the image, you’ll be able to read what each one says.

The Whip Willow Farm

Trophy Trout Discovered

Rangeley's Rustic Grandeur

The Rangeley Boat

Interesting little bit of history, eh? I thought so.

After Laura and I made it into town, we stopped by a local pub called Sarge’s. It’s a good place to eat and one of my friends from Jiu-Jitsu works there, so I liked seeing him. We had our usual beer and veggie burgers and left to go for a walk through town. Of course, since it’s a very slow time of year up there in Rangeley, not much was open. Kind of nice though, not seeing anyone.

Next time we visit, we’d like to check out the big and beautiful Rangeley Inn. That should be good. There’s also a restaurant called, “The Gingerbread House” in the next town over – Oquossoc, Maine. That one looks interesting and may be worth a stop.

Growing Swiss Chard Indoors Over Winter

Filed in Gardening by on November 2, 2014 0 Comments

My good buddy, Steve, invited me over to his place this past Friday. He wanted to give me some gigantic chard plants that he grew in his garden this past summer. Since the cold weather is moving in, either the plants die or head inside. He figured that we could dig the plants up and put them in pots. Then, I could take them home and place them in a nice sunny room inside our house. He told me that he’s been able to extend the growing season of chard for the past few years by moving the plants indoors. I was happy to jump at the chance to follow in the footsteps of one of the areas wisest and most enduring home farmers.

Check out what he gave me:

Swiss Chard

I know the picture is horrible, but I want to impress upon you that the plants Steve let me have are enormous, especially and seemingly after placing them inside one of our upstairs bedrooms. I think I took 4 or 5 plants. Just for good measure, he threw some celery in there as well. And as you can well imagine, I’ve been eating chard heartily for the past few days.

So, can you even grow swiss chard indoors over winter? Well, like I said above, Steve’s been doing it. From what the plants look like up in the bedroom after I re-potted them, I’m hopeful. They perked right up and are growing strong. And this website recommends people give it a shot because, as they say, “It is extremely easy to grow. A prolific grower, Swiss Chard tolerates poor soil, inattention, and withstands frost and mild freezes.

I’ve also read some comments on other gardening forums where people have claimed they’ve grown chard over the winter. I’m excited to see what happens because the last time I was in the grocery store (this morning), a few stalks of chard was going for $2.99. That’s a hefty price to pay for something that’s fairly simple to grow. Gee, at those prices, I must have eaten at least $12 worth of chard in the past two days!

The First Very Wet Snow of the Season

Filed in Weather by on November 2, 2014 1 Comment

There’s been a bunch of hoopla all week long about a snow storm that’s supposed to hit today. Even on I read two weather alerts. They both told me there was supposed to be 3-6 inches of snow by 4pm. Well, it’s 3:26 and we’ve got nothing. Perhaps a dusting on some wet roads.


Wet Road

Wet Road

I took those pictures on my way to Madison this morning. We ran out of our 48 eggs and I needed more. While I was driving, it was actually snowing and if you look closely, you may be able to see a flake.

I decided to run out to the store because the power went out at the house. There are some gusty winds and I suspect a tree landed on some wires somewhere. That’s what usually happens around here.

When I got back to the house with the groceries, the power was still out. Since I had made a nice toasty fire this morning, I thought it would be rather cool to cook the eggs on top of the wood stove. I did and boy was that neat. How far we’ve come as a people. Almost full circle. I now have to look up good vegetarian chili recipes because I’d like to simmer that on the stove all day. Hey, since the fire’s already going, right?

The power came back on a little while ago. It was only out for a few hours.

Before I left this morning and before the power failed us, I looked out the window. I was surprised to see Sam sitting in his truck in our driveway. He was just sitting there waiting for me to notice him. After I went outside to see what he was up to, I asked how long he was sitting there. He told me just a few minutes. He wanted help unloading the second load of wood in a few days he brought me. Here’s a picture of what he’s given me this week.

White Pine Lumber Scraps

The wood is white pine and as you can see, it’s basically lumber scraps. What I like to do is cut the scraps up log length and split them if need be. Then, I stack them in the garage to dry. I already have a pretty decent sized pile cut and stacked from what he and his father gave me over the summer. I’m not going to turn down this wood because pine is really great to burn in the wood stove, especially on cool days when I don’t need to be fully committed to an all day fire. You know, something just to take the chill off. I can also mix the pine in with my hard woods as a supplement over the winter. Word of caution: if you want to burn pine, be sure it’s totally dry. Wet pine causes creosote to build up in your chimney and we all know what happens after that. Also, just for fun, clean your chimney a few times a year. Ours is only about 10 feet tall and straight down, so it’s an easy task.

I’m waiting for this snow to happen. I have jiu-jitsu class tonight and if there’s no snow on the ground, I’ll go. If there is, I have to weigh the danger versus my will to brave it. We’ll see. Update: class has been cancelled. Apparently, there is snow somewhere.

The Prospect of Snow is Very, Very Exciting

Filed in Weather by on November 1, 2014 0 Comments

I’m not sure about you, but I get really excited when snow is on the horizon. And when I see the local ski mountains blowing snow like they currently are, I can hardly keep my pants on. Just ask the neighbors.

Sugarloaf Mountain is blowing snow right now. You can check out the current pictures on their Facebook page. And from what I understand, opening day is right around the corner. There surely is a group of people discussing the specifics this very moment.


I don’t think I’ve been like this in years past. Where I used to live in Connecticut and New York, if it snowed, it kind of just got in the way. That’s why I always yearned to live down south. But now, with something to actually do in the snow, life has changed. Just in the past week, Laura and I have noticed a sort of buzz in the air. We’re starting to see more people and the race is on to prepare for winter. Even Sam from up the road texted me last night telling me that it might snow tomorrow. I could read his excitement. Wonderful, isn’t it?

It’s getting colder, it might snow tomorrow, Thanksgiving is less than a month away and the state of Maine and the rest of northern New England is pulling out their skis and snowboards and buying season passes. I haven’t even mentioned snowmobiling yet. Don tells me that his sleds are now at the dealer being serviced for the upcoming season. I saw him drive his truck and trailer drive by the house the other day. I predict that within a month this state will come alive as it was not so long ago. And then, Laura and I can start hiking up on the hill again, like we did last season.

Fixing a Smelly Septic Pipe With Fernco Flexible Couplings

Filed in Home Improvement by on November 1, 2014 0 Comments

I’ve got a fun story for you. You probably won’t want to read it if you aren’t into smelly basements and septic pipes, but if you are, read on. You might be entertained.

When we moved into this house last November, I remember going down to the basement to check things out. One of the many issues I noticed was a slow drip coming from the main septic pipe. The way things are set up in this house is as follows: a main 3″ PVC pipe travels from upstairs all the way down into the basement via an interior wall. Almost all waste water feeds into this pipe through the walls above the basement. The only waste that doesn’t feed into the pipe is the downstairs toilet. That one heads directly into the basement and hooks into the same 3″ pipe, just below the floor. It’s very simple. After the downstairs toilet hooks into the pipe, there’s a 4″ “T” and then a 4″ PVC pipe leads all the way into the septic tank.

Now, I really didn’t give that slow drip much thought. I figured it was something, but perhaps if I didn’t look, it would go away. It would just disappear. Unfortunately, it never did. Thing is, every time I went down into the crawl space to look at the pipes, I really couldn’t see where the drip was coming from. I knew it was there, but all the PVC pipes were coated with spray foam insulation.

Here’s something for you – every time we had more than one person staying with us over the summer, the basement smelled like something died in it. I can remember a few months back, making trips into the basement looking for a mouse in the wall that didn’t make it and that was making the whole joint smell. It didn’t really smell like septic – just like something died in a wall.

Here’s something else for you – a few weeks ago, Laura visited with family for about 17 days. During that time, the basement didn’t smell at all. I hardly used any water at all during that time. Well, a small amount, but not really the big stuff such as the washer, etc…

While Laura was gone, I started thinking. I wondered why the smell in the basement had virtually vanished and why it was so prevalent when we had company over the summer. Just for giggles, I went down in the basement with some tools and began chipping away at the spray foam insulation. Do you want to know what I found?

Leaky Septic PVC Pipe

That’s right, a nasty looking leaky PVC pipe that wasn’t even glued to the 3″ pipe I told you about above. The main one that went through the floor. After I removed all the hard foam, I could easily slide the coupling over the pipe. Back and forth.

Here’s my hypothesis: when we had company over the summer, much more water was being used in the house. Toilets were being flushed, laundry was being done, kitchen sinks were being used. That water usage added material volume to the main septic drain pipe and the plumbing system as a whole. Since a pipe and coupling weren’t properly glued, septic gasses and a tiny amount of waste water was escaping into the basement. Enough to smell like something died in a wall.

When Laura left, not much water was being used at all. In return, there was little to no smell in the basement. Make sense?

By the way, the pipe picture above is after I cut it out of the existing setup.

In order to fix the issue, I had to replace a few sections of pipe. The problem was, since these pipes were already rigidly installed in place, I couldn’t use traditional PVC. I would never be able to connect things. I had to turn to some flexible Fernco couplings.

Fernco Fittings

Here’s how I solved the problem – I cut out the problem area. I felt that getting rid of the whole thing and replacing new was the best way to go. There were a lot of connections there and I had no idea what else leaked. I had three pipes to deal with: one coming from the house straight down, one running horizontally and another horizontal pipe exiting through the basement through the wall. You can see this setup in the picture above.

Fernco Quik Tee

To connect the main 3″ pipe to the downtairs toilet pipe, I used a Fernco Quik Tee. I then used a PVC street elbow to lead out of the Tee and into a Fernco 3″ into 4″ coupling. From there, I connected that flexible coupling to the main 4″ PVC pipe that goes to the septic tank. If you’ll notice in the second picture above, I cemented a very short piece of 3″ PVC to the street elbow so I had something to bite onto for that lower flexible coupling. By the way, a “street elbow” is just an elbow with a male end. We’re used to seeing two female sides – well this one has a female side and a male side.

I’d say it’s a job well done. The guy in the hardware store called it “redneck plumbing” but I really don’t see what else I could have done. The connections are tight and everything is now dry down there. Also, there is no smell at all. Next to amazing.

Wood Pellets vs. Firewood – Where to Put Your Money

Filed in Firewood by on November 1, 2014 0 Comments

I’ve been going back and forth with this question for some time now – which would I rather have, a pellet stove or a wood stove? I think it’s taken some chilly weather to answer what I’ve been looking for.

Last night, the temps dropped down to 34 degrees. Tonight, it’s supposed to go down to the 30s again and tomorrow night, 26 degrees with 1-3 inches of snow expected.


I guess things are right on track. A few days ago, Laura and I were talking to Don up the road and he told us that for years and years, everyone around here went snowmobiling on Thanksgiving. It’s only until recently that they’ve not had enough snow for that. Last year was a supposed fluke because the year before that, there was very little snow.

It got cold last year though – very cold. And because of that, heat has become a central part of my life. And like I mentioned above, I’ve been debating the question of where I want to put my money – to buy wood pellets for the pellet stove or to keep on collecting firewood. Eventually, I’ll have to buy firewood. What we have on the land here can only go so far.

I just picked up a ton of Tractor Supply brand wood pellets for $215 in Skowhegan, Maine. I think I mentioned somewhere on this blog that I had to haggle down for that price. They wanted around $250. In this area, I’ve seen cords of wood, delivered, going for $210. Somewhere out there, someone claimed that a ton of pellets is the equivalent of a cord of wood. Of course, that’s an impossible claim, not knowing what type of wood pellets you’re looking at and not knowing what species of wood your going to burn. But let’s ignore that.

We have both an Englander pellet stove and an Englander wood burning stove. For the past few chilly days, we’ve gone between them, seeing what gets the job done. In my mind, I keep track of how much wood we’re burning and how many bags of pellets we’re filling the pellet stove with.

Here’s what I’ve got to say about the whole thing: If someone out there could make a wood burning stove heat a home as consistently and as easily as a pellet stove can, we’d have the perfect solution. Until then, and even with the advantages of the pellet stove, I have to say that the wood stove takes it. It simply throws out more heat. And I’d also venture to say that it does so with less wood.

If it’s 35 degrees outside and above, the pellet stove is a really great item to have. You can pretty much set it and forget it. It’ll run all day and all you’ll be out is a bag and a half of pellets and a few cents on your electric bill. The problem is, and this is what we’ve been running into (especially in the midst of last winter), pellet stoves often can’t keep up as the main source of heat for a house. Wood stoves can. Especially wood stoves like our giant Englander.

Englander Wood Stove Fire

Since this morning, we’ve been running the pellet stove. The temperature in the living room has maintained a constant 58 degrees. It’s almost as if the stove wasn’t doing anything. This is what happened to us last season as well. If we didn’t have the pellet stove running 24 hours a day, it would really struggle to get the house temperature up to where it should be. About an hour and a half ago, I lit a nice fire in the wood stove and shut the pellet stove down. Now, the wood stove is in a room off the main house, so all I’ve got to move the warm air is a small fan mounted in a doorway. Within an hour, the whole house temperature is up five degrees and I feel like I’m at the beach. This experience makes me wonder about spending any more money on pellets when I can just spend the same on cord wood.

Do you have either a pellet stove or a wood stove? What’s your experience? Which do you prefer? I’d really love to know because right now, for me, it’s the wood stove – hands down.

I’m going to do you a favor here. If you’re interested in the benefits or drawbacks of both the pellet stove and the wood stove, check out these links. Some skilled and talented bloggers out there have chimed in with their two cents.

Pros and Cons of Wood Pellet Stoves
Comparing Pellet Stoves with Wood-Burning Stoves (this one’s really good)
Wood Stove vs Pellet Stove, Which is better?
Pellet Stoves vs. Wood Stoves: Which is Greener?

Firewood Prices – Maine vs. Lower New York

Filed in Firewood by on October 20, 2014 4 Comments

Just for giggles, I did a Google search to see what firewood prices are down where I come from – lower New York. I nearly choked when I saw what people are charging for wood in my home town.

Let me first preface this by telling you what firewood costs in my neck of the woods up here in Maine. And this is funny because just last night I was talking to someone (who didn’t believe that I actually hump the logs out of the woods on my back, by the way) and telling them there is absolutely no money in wood in my area. I go outside and put in some serious labor taking trees down, cutting them up into three piece sections, pulling them up on my shoulder and walking them out of the thick. After that, I throw the logs in a pile, cut them up and finally split them with an axe, not a splitter. Now, that’s really not all too difficult. It’s the walk to the garage that usually gets to me. It burns my legs out pulling my cart, by hand, across an acre with at least 100 pounds of wet firewood in tow. It can get exhausting. I figure that after a half day’s labor, I net about $35 worth of firewood. I can’t imagine describing what I do to someone as anything other than a hobby.

But yeah, back to the price of firewood up here – in Madison, I’ve seen signs offering a cord for $210, delivered. That’s why I say, there’s no money in firewood.

Now, in contrast to what I just shared with you, there is money to be made by selling firewood in lower New York and Connecticut. Check this out (and this comes from two websites):

Cord of firewood, seasoned – $420
Delivery – $52
Stacked – $54 per hour

Face cord of firewood – $350
Half face cord of firewood – $220

And just to let you know, a face cord is 1/3 the volume of a cord. So it’s 8’x4’x16″. A half face cord is half that, or 1/6 the volume of a cord. It’s a little more than a hoop full of wood, to put things in perspective. We’ve all seen a hoop of firewood. It’s a bit more than twice my wood rack. Can you imagine filling up, let’s say, two hoops (to be safe) of wood for someone and walking away with $220 cash? You’d be an fool not to, if you had the means.

Now, let’s do a little math here. A half face cord is 1/6 of a full cord. If you sold six half face cords per day to various people, you’d make $1320. Not bad for a cord of wood.

As I was reading one of the company’s Google+ pages, I came across a negative review. Someone was complaining about how the company couldn’t deliver as well as they would have liked. And get this – there was a snow storm coming that night. I guess these are the types of people who pay $220 per half face cord of firewood. People who wait for the impending doom of a snow storm to find the energy to order firewood. Poor soul had to buy those little bundles of logs out in front of a grocery store instead – sort of like a grocery bag of wood. Man, I’m doing something wrong. If I could sell the wood I’ve collected since last year for these prices, I think I’d eat two bowls of rice and beans tonight instead of just one. I’d walk my little hand cart all the way to New Jersey for that kind of money.

How To Make Wooden Sawhorses

Filed in Home & Living by on October 20, 2014 0 Comments

A few weeks back, I had a project to finish up in the downstairs bathroom. Apparently, the upstairs toilet, which is directly above the downstairs toilet, was dipping (not dripping, dipping). For whatever reason, it felt like the floor under the toilet upstairs sat ever so slightly lower than the rest of the floor in the bathroom. I couldn’t stand it, so I fixed it. All it took was a few 2x6s and some joist hangars in the ceiling of the downstairs bathroom to make an annoying situation less annoying.

I had some extra wood from this project, so I figured that I would head outside to make some sawhorses. I’ve been meaning to make these things for years, but never got around to it. But, like I said – I had some extra lumber (a 2×6), so the time was ripe.

These sawhorses aren’t perfect for all situations, but they are really good for people like me who intend to keep them in one location, such as a garage or a shop. They are bulky, difficult to handle and are heavier than those fancy aluminum Dewalt sawhorses you can find at the big box stores. They also take some room to store. But, if you are like me and want to own something you made by hand and have a sort of pride in when the time comes around to using them, these are perfect. And probably pretty strong – I don’t know, I haven’t put them to the test yet.

Are you ready to check out one of my sawhorses? Okay, here goes:

Wooden Sawhorse

Sawhorse Design

As you can see, I made the cross member out of the extra 2×6 I told you about. I then used 2x4s for most of the remaining parts. For the bottom of the cross member, I used two 7″ cuts of 2×6 as can be seen here:

Sawhorse Parts

How to Make Wooden Saw Horses

Here’s a picture of a side of the sawhorse. I attached a small 2×4 to hold the legs sturdy. I suppose I could have moved the piece down further, but I wanted to put a screw into each leg, the 2×6 cross member, as well as the small 2×6 spacer piece that’s hidden in this picture.

Side View of Wood Sawhorse

Okay, I figure I’ll give you a fast breakdown of the measurements and materials I used, just in case you like what you see. It took me a while to get past all the pictures of the world’s fanciest sawhorses and to gather enough information to get the project done. Here is what these sawhorses consist of. And these materials are good for two horses:

(2) 2x4s @ 36″ for top section of cross member
(2) 2x6s @ 36″ for center section of cross member
(4) 2x4s @ 36″ for cross leg braces – these are positioned 22″ down from top of leg
(8) 2x4s @ 34″ for legs
(4) 2x6s @ 7″ for leg spacers to be attached to bottom of cross member 2×6
(4) 2x4s @ 12″ to be cut diagonally as leg space braces

I think that’s it. To make these, all you really need to do is cut the materials from the material list above and put each sawhorse together. The only time you would even need to use a ruler is to measure the 22″ down from the top of each leg to place the leg braces in the proper position.

Please let me know what you think of these. I really like them.