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Can you put up 3 cords of firewood in a day?

 
pollinator
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Otis has met too many people that can’t put up even a single cord of firewood.  For many Otises, this is the very first metric they consider - can a person put up three cords of firewood in a day?

Woodland Care PEP page



I saw this, and my immediate reaction was "hell no". I'm not even sure how I would come close in my woods. If I were dealing with a big pile of seasoned rounds, next to the wood shed, and a hydraulic splitter it would be a "maybe". Does anyone consistently get close to this figure, without some serious mechanisation?

I saw a setup recently that had 100m row of poles, stacked about 4m high. They had an automated belt fed splitter/conveyor belt, forklifts and a palletised arrangement. The could definitely get through that load. For me with my chainsaw, splitting axe and wedges I think I'd be lucky to get through 1/2  a cord. I *could* do more, but when I get tired I stop. Chainsaws, heavy lifting, and tired muscles are NOT a good combo.

Am I missing something here?

I found a discussion of this over on hearth.com. Most people responding seem to suggest 1/2 a cord is about right.

Poll- how many cords can you put up in a day?
 
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Yeah, with half a dozen friends!

Seriously though, I could probably do a cord or slighly better, IF the wood was straight grained and split reasonably well, I was cutting rounds 18-20" diameter, splitting largish pieces, and I had a trailer large enough not to need multiple trips. Oh yeah, and some cooler weather.
 
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i think a lot of it depends on where you are and what kind of wood you’ve got. in the parts of the world, like montana, where they’re mostly burning nice, easy-splitting softwood, feels like it would go a fair bit faster than where you’re working with more recalcitrant hardwoods. and i think the otises in the heavier-hardwood areas would have their expectations informed by their surroundings.

it’s also not entirely clear in the wording of the text you quoted if the trees are getting cut down as part of the ‘putting up’ time period or if felling and processing are considered separately. with already-downed softwood trees (and a well-set-up and ergonomic processing area)  i bet i could come pretty close to 3 cords in a day.
 
Michael Cox
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Yep, moving material is a huge time and effort sink. In our case the round trip of simply getting to our woods and back is an hour. Not including loading/unloading time. A large trailer would make a huge difference to efficiency of getting material back, but we simply don't have one at the moment. We are bringing a boot load back each time we go, which is wildly inefficient.

Fortunately we have had plenty of material to process close to home over the last few years, so haven't needed to depend on hauling material recently. We can't depend on that long term.

Two weeks ago I scored a big load of timber from some tree surgeon working locally. It's not cut to length or processed in anyway, but it saved us DAYS of hauling if we needed to move our own timber. They dropped it all right next to the wood shed as well :D
 
Michael Cox
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Greg - I would interpret "putting up time" as meaning the whole process from start to finish. Felling, bucking, splitting, hauling, stacking. That time is going to be very situational, depending on what you have available and the tools you are using.
 
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I would have to know what “put up” means.  Am I splitting the wood .....cutting it into rounds ... etc?  If splitting, is a machine involved?  Climate comes into play. In MN at 20 below, it was easy to split wood.  Rounds would virtually explode.  Here in southern Illinois, it is a challenge.
 
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can a person put up three cords of firewood in a day?



I personally feel this is possible.

I also feel that my daughter could do this.

How long does it take to stake 3 cords of wood?

It has been a long time since we bought a cord of wood, though I don't remember it taking that long to stake it.

This is taken from: https://permies.com/wiki/146852/Put-Cords-Firewood-woodland-wood

To show you've completed this Badge Bit, you must provide proof of the following as pictures or a video (<2 mins):
  - harvesting some of the firewood that you will put up
  - action shot of putting up firewood
  - three cords of firewood stacked properly



I feel the key here is the word "Put up" which to me means to "put away".  May be the BB would be better if it said "Stake three cords of wood in a day".

I see nowhere that a person needs to prove that they cut the wood.  It says to show that you harvested some of the wood.
 
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Can a person stack 3 cords (384 cu ft) of wood in a day if it is seasoned, cut, split and dumped in a heap right next to the woodshed? Sure. A reasonably fit person should be able to stack a cord in about half an hour or so.

Could a single person fell, buck, split, haul, and THEN spend an hour and half stacking up heavy wet wood in a woodshed? Maybe if they were a character in a Jack London novel. Or the proud owner of a firewood processor; where you just load the logs onto a deck with a skidsteer, and the diesel engine does all the rest of the work. I know I couldnt do that much wood in one day.

With a mini excavator and a tractor I can get a cord of wood out of the woods in about 5 hours of work. Granted, my terrain is steep; a lot of the wood needs to be dragged around with chokers just to get it to somewhere that the tractor wont get stuck or roll over.

I can haul about a quarter cord on the cart, and it takes maybe 30 minutes to cut it up, so 2 hours per cord just to cut it to length. Splitting with an axe takes another 2 hours per cord, give or take. So adding some time for hauling and stacking it up, I figure I can do a cord from standing on the stump to the shed in 10 hours.
 
Michael Cox
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Anne - you are quite right, the BB doesn't say it needs to be done in a day. It also doesn't say that "put up" mean to fell, cut, split and stack. As you say, stacking a bunch of split wood that is next to the shed should be achievable for anyone. A few hours work most likely. I think you'd be pretty tired by the end of it, but it is definitely manageable.
 
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I would say hell no in my situation if it means from forest to stacked in the woodshed. I could do a lot to improve my efficiency with a better setup and mechanical infrastructure, but I’ve worked 12hr days with chainsaw and ax, have happily moved heavy stuff for a living most of my adult life. That amount of sawing and splitting in a day gets dangerous. I’d find something else to do after a cord or so, something where a mistake doesn’t mean grievous injury. I am not looking for an Otis as I’m financially independent, with no debt and 25acres and a nice house, but I also don’t think Otis wants to leave his land to a one legged, 7 fingered man and little regard for safety. I like Mike Oehler’s approach to hard labor, where 3hrs straight of digging etc is good for us, but after that find another muscle group to work out.
 
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There are a lot of factors in play here, not the least of which is the definition of "put up"!

For me the answer is no - my hands are small even for my height and a piece of wood an average guy could pick up with one hand, would require both of mine as my hand simply can't reach far enough around it. Add in some age-related arthritis in my thumbs, (like shoulders, thumbs are that well engineered) and I would not want to push it. This is an issue with a bunch of tools, like power drills and skill saws.

However, I suspect the underlying purpose of the comment is that 100 years ago, people did tasks like that from an early age and spent far less time sitting on their butts. I suspect that the general underlying level of fitness is the real point here. My grandmother "walked to the shops with a basket to buy food for dinner" on a daily basis whereas people now drive in a car and let the car carry the food home.

 
Michael Cox
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Jay Angler wrote:

However, I suspect the underlying purpose of the comment is that 100 years ago, people did tasks like that from an early age and spent far less time sitting on their butts. I suspect that the general underlying level of fitness is the real point here. My grandmother "walked to the shops with a basket to buy food for dinner" on a daily basis whereas people now drive in a car and let the car carry the food home.



Yep, that’s it. We are just feek and weeble softies :p

I suspect that in practice even if an old timer could put up 3 cords in a day they probably wouldn’t. They weren’t idiot. They understood that working tired was dangerous. They understood that over doing it one day made them less efficient the next.

And they were, just like us, always looking for an edge. How can they do something faster, safer, easier…
 
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The intro question of "can a person put up 3 cords of firewood in a day?" seems hypothetical, the actual requirement for the 3-cord wood badge found here: https://permies.com/wiki/146852/Put-Cords-Firewood-woodland-wood has no time limit but the intent is that you processed the wood, meaning you bucked, split, and stacked it all. Thus why the requirement includes a picture of harvesting as well as putting it up.

So I read the 3 cords in a day as a motivational/aspirational goal. And since my plans involve a RMH for heating a wofati and a rocket stove for cooking, I hopefully won't need to harvest and process around 2 years of wood in a single day.  
 
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I tried to pay attention the last time I was felling/bucking but I forgot...  I think I could fell, buck and transport 1-2 cords in a day to my wood pile.  I think I can split and stack a cord in a half day.  I'm dealing with birch and somewhat challenging woods.  Not dry straight pine, nor elm.

I also think in Paul's world/property, it's reasonable to put an 8" round in a wood stack and split it when you use it with a kindling cracker.  In my situation I need to split that or it won't dry in the first place.
 
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Hahahaha, no. Maybe one? If I had to? I like to do it one thing at a time. Go out and grab 1 cord a day until I have about 4. Then split it all into a big pile over the course of "howeverlongittakes" and stack it into the shed at leisure.

For accuracy's sake I should point out that I have 10 and 16 year old boys. So by "I" I mean "they", hahaha.
 
Michael Cox
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Dan Fish wrote:Hahahaha, no. Maybe one? If I had to? I like to do it one thing at a time. Go out and grab 1 cord a day until I have about 4. Then split it all into a big pile over the course of "howeverlongittakes" and stack it into the shed at leisure.

For accuracy's sake I should point out that I have 10 and 16 year old boys. So by "I" I mean "they", hahaha.



I like that. To me half an hour of swinging a splitter is a nice break from being stuck at a desk/computer working. I can do a few hours of it, but that becomes less fun. And usually there is no rush to get it done now. It's going to sit for a couple of years before we burn it. Splitting it next month instead of today makes no difference.

Mixing up the "heavy" jobs is just easier on the body.
 
Ben Zumeta
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While I agree that even the tougher amongst us now living industrialized lives might be weaklings 100yrs ago, I don’t think the chainsaw was widespread by then. They would have been hand cutting, so I think 3 cords would have been a monumental, if not impossible, feat for a days work. Moreover, they were not prone to the exponentially higher risk of death and mutilation that a chainsaw can cause versus a hand or crosscut saw, especially if operated while fatigued or untrained. I’ve used both quite a bit, and of course those 2” teeth on a 12’ crosscut saw could do a lot of damage, but it’s not going to kick back or break a chain and cut your throat.  Also, having worn chaps and proper ppe in the central California heat, 3 cords is an absurd proposition any time the wood is dry enough to be worth moving or splitting in many places. Our hardwoods are easier to split green here though.

If I consider the cost of just one minor accident, paying 375$/cord of hardwood starts to look more reasonable,. I am cutting my own mainly to know it’s the most sustainable harvest possible. I gather the best wood I find (tan oak, alder, and madrone)  from forest service burn piles a few miles from my house. I definitely should improve my setup, but without a few saws sharpened and primed for trading in and out I don’t think I could safely buck up,’let alone fell, load, transport and split three cords in one day. In the ideal conditions, the bucking alone is the equivalent of cutting 192 logs 1ft thick. That is going to require numerous sharpenings, fuel refills, and other maintenance. Then in an ideal situation breaking down those 1ttx16” rounds to 3” split pieces is another 2-3x, or 400-600 splits. I just don’t think anyone is going to be operating safely at the end of that day. This is someone who has hiked from Mexico to Canada, carried 80lb trail crew packs for hundreds of miles, done hard manual labor in the desert, and moved tons of material by hand in a day. Be safe, beak up the job and plant some peas for the rest of the day.
 
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I think most people can put up three face cords of firewood a day. Three full cords? No way. Firewood here is generally sold by the face cord, so 4'x8'x16". That is easily doable in a day. Maybe somewhere along the line someone confused the two?
 
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Hello,

On my own nobody interrupting me able to get in the zone, A trailer with a clear travel route to take the firewood to storage! and Its not raining heavily or over 40 degrees Celsius!
I would stake my reputation, I could do 4 cords of soft wood!

But if I am doing so May I Please,
I have something cold and sweet to drink!


I do believe that the original remark is referencing a Societal change of Values!

Some Cultural changes are negatively effecting to western society particularly the younger Generations!

However changes in generation values is not new! It has happened for 1000s of years!
References to changes in cultural values is even mentioned in a roman Phrase!

Tough times make strong men,
Strong men Make Good Times,
Good times Make weak Men,
Weak Men Make Tough Times!

I believe the answer to how to do something about this is to lead by example and to Build up and empower young People!
I personally Spend 3 hours a weak with my Niece and Nephew and Empower them and they are Exceptional Young People!

I hope it was ok to differentiate this forum to its real meaning!


 
Michael Cox
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Trace Oswald wrote:I think most people can put up three face cords of firewood a day. Three full cords? No way. Firewood here is generally sold by the face cord, so 4'x8'x16". That is easily doable in a day. Maybe somewhere along the line someone confused the two?



Interesting observation of face cord vrs cord. I've also seen them used interchangeably. A single face cord is definitely manageable in a not too heavy morning of work, from standing tree to split and stacked. A couple would be a reasonably heavy day. I think I'd be a bit sore after 3 of them. But I could do a face cord per day, day after day, mixed in with other jobs without too much trouble.
 
Trace Oswald
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That's pretty much exactly how I do it. Most of the firewood I cut is from blow downs, so if I don't have to take the tree down, cutting, splitting, moving and stacking a cord can be done in 2-3 hours. I only cut hardwood for firewood, so with pine or something it would go faster. After I cut a cord or so, I do something else. By then I'm getting tired, and tired people running chain saws is a bad idea. If I were in really good shape, I could do three face cords in a day. My dad can, and he is in his mid seventies. He's also been doing it his whole life, and only used a wood splitter for one year because he can split faster with a maul and the splitter slowed him down. I'll ask him if he could cut three full cords into firewood in a day when he was younger, but I'm betting the answer will be no.
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